Son of 90-year-old Sarah
Don’t call her Grandma1 The LORD appeared to Abraham, who was camped near the oak grove that Mamre owned. Abraham was sitting at the tent opening in the late afternoon, the hottest part of the day. 2 When Abraham opened his eyes, he saw three men standing not too far away. He hurried over to welcome them, bowing humbly in front of them.
3 “Sir,” Abraham said, “If you would like, please stop for a while and rest. 4 Let me bring you some water so you can wash your feet and then rest yourselves under the shade of this tree. 5 I’ll bring you some bread so you can regain your strength and visit with your servant before you continue your trip.” The men said, “Okay.”
6 Abraham hurried into the tent. He told Sarah, “As quickly as you can, break open a big sack of your best flour. Work it up into dough and bake some loaves of bread. 7 Abraham then rushed to the herd of cattle grazing nearby and he picked out a calf. He had a servant butcher it for a meal. 8 Abraham brought them the beef, along with some milk and warm chunks of cottage cheese. While they ate in the shade of a tree, Abraham stood nearby.
9 They asked Abraham, “Where is your wife, Sarah?” He said, “She’s in the tent.” 10 One of the men said, “I’m coming back this time next year. By then Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening behind him, from inside the tent near the opening. 11 Abraham and Sarah were old as all get out. And Sarah wasn't having her monthly periods anymore.
12 Sarah quietly laughed to herself and thought, “How on earth can I possibly have the joy of becoming a mother when my husband and I are both old and worn out?” 13 The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘How can I have a baby when I’m this old?’ 14 Is a wonderful miracle like this—or anything else—too hard for the LORD? I’m coming back this time next year. And when I do, Sarah will have a son.” 15 “I did not laugh,” Sarah replied. She was afraid to admit the truth. The Lord said, “You sure did laugh. I heard you.”
Abraham defends Sodom16 The three men got up to leave. They looked down in the valley toward Sodom and started walking in that direction. Abraham walked alongside to see them off. 17 The Lord said, “Should I keep it a secret from Abraham what I’m about to do? 18 After all, Abraham is going to become the father of a great and powerful nation. Every nation on the planet will be blessed and better off because of him. 19 I picked him myself so he can teach his family and the generations to come to behave themselves and to do the right thing so the LORD can deliver on the promises he made.”
20 The LORD told Abraham, “I’ve heard terrible things about what’s going on in Sodom and Gomorrah. 21 I’m going to go down there and check it out myself. If it’s not as bad as I’ve heard, I’ll know.”
22 Two of the men started walking toward Sodom. But Abraham stood in front of the LORD. 23 Abraham walked over toward the LORD and asked, “Will you kill the good people with the bad? 24 What if there are 50 good people in the city? Will you wipe out the city then? 25 No way would you kill those good people when you kill the bad ones. No way. You are the judge of everyone—a good and fair judge who does what is right.”
26 The LORD said, “You’re right. If I find 50 good people in Sodom, I won’t destroy the city.” 27 Abraham said, “Since I’ve had the chutzpah to speak up before the Lord, even though I’m not worthy of being heard, allow me to ask this. 28 What if there are five less good people in Sodom? What if there are only 45 good people there?” The LORD said, “If I find 45 good people there, the city is safe.”
29 Abraham said, “Suppose there are only 40.” The LORD said, “If I find 40, the city is safe.” 30 Abraham said, “Don’t get angry at me for pushing you a little further, but suppose there are only 30?” The LORD said, “If I find 30 there, the city is safe.” 31 Abraham said, “Since I’ve shown this much chutzpah in speaking to the Lord, what if there are only 20?” The LORD said, “If I find 20, the city is safe.”
32 Abraham pressed it even further. “Please don’t get angry if I speak just one more time. What if there are only 10?” The LORD said, “If I find 10, the city is safe.” 33 When the LORD and Abraham were done talking, the LORD went on his way and Abraham walked back to his camp.
About 22 pounds, 10 kg.
Curds, made from sour milk.
How hard is it to believe that Sarah got pregnant when she was 90 years old? A 70-year-old woman in India was the oldest person on record to have a baby. Her husband was 77. We have to add another 20 years for Sarah and 23 for Abraham. Sarah was 90 and Abraham was 99 when celestial travelers shocked them with the news that they were going to get pregnant. Do you think this story is accurate, or perhaps exaggerated a tad?
The Genesis writer says that the Lord is among a trio of men who visits Abraham’s camp in the heat of the afternoon. This story sounds a bit like the Genesis account of God walking in the Garden of Eden. And the trio of men might raise the question of whether or not the other two are the rest of the Trinity: Jesus and the Holy Spirit. How do you react to this story of three celestial beings taking a walk on earth?
Earlier, Abraham was the one laughing when God told him “Sarah will have your son. You’ll call him Isaac [Hebrew: he laughs]” (17:19). Now it’s Sarah’s turn to laugh. The Lord, apparently still disguised as a human, told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son by this time next year. Sarah overheard this and “quietly laughed to herself” (18:12). The writer never explains why God named Isaac after laughter. What do you think works about that name?
Does it seem odd to you that when the Lord is walking out of Abraham’s camp and on his way to Sodom that he would say to one of his traveling companions, “Should I keep it a secret from Abraham what I’m about to do?” (18:17)?
Why do you think God would need to take a walk to Sodom to be able to see what was going on there? As the Genesis writer tells the story, it sounds as though God didn’t know: “I’ve heard terrible things about what is going on in Sodom and Gomorrah” (18:20).
LIFE APPLICATION. Could the “terrible things” (18:20) going on in Sodom and Gomorrah have been any more terrible than some of the stuff that goes on in most major cities today? If not, what should be our game plan? Get the heck out of Dodge? Picket the sinners? Brighten the corner where we are? Curl up in the Man Cave and watch the ballgame?
LIFE APPLICATION. Abraham actually negotiated with God in an attempt to protect the city of Sodom, where Lot lived. People today sometimes negotiate with God. What would be a few examples? And do you think God takes those negotiations seriously?