Tuesday, October 8, 2013

International Sunday School Lesson for October 13, 2013

                         “A Promise to Sarah”
International Sunday School Lesson for October 13, 2013

Scripture Text: Genesis 17:15-17; 18:9-15; 21:1-7

Purpose: To celebrate God’s faithfulness

Bible Lesson

Genesis 17:15-17; 18:9-15; 21:1-7  (CEB)
  15 God said to Abraham, "As for your wife Sarai, you will no longer call her Sarai. Her name will now be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and even give you a son from her. I will bless her so that she will become nations, and kings of peoples will come from her.
   17 Abraham fell on his face and laughed. He said to himself, Can a 100-year-old man become a father, or Sarah, a 90-year-old woman, have a child?

9 They said to him, "Where’s your wife Sarah?
And he said, "Right here in the tent."
10 Then one of the men said, "I will definitely return to you about this time next year. Then your wife Sarah will have a son!"
Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were both very old. Sarah was no longer menstruating. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, I’m no longer able to have children and my husband’s old.
13 The Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Me give birth? At my age?’ 14 Is anything too difficult for the Lord? When I return to you about this time next year, Sarah will have a son."
15 Sarah lied and said, "I didn’t laugh," because she was frightened.
But he said, "No, you laughed.”

1 The Lord was attentive to Sarah just as he had said, and the Lord carried out just what he had promised her. 2 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham when he was old, at the very time God had told him. 3 Abraham named his son—the one Sarah bore him—Isaac. 4 Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old just as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born. 6 Sarah said, "God has given me laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me."7 She said, "Who could have told Abraham that Sarah would nurse sons? But now I’ve given birth to a son when he was old!"

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

For me, the most important thought from today’s text, comes from chapter 18 verse 14 “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”

Most of us are fine with God’s promises as long as we think they are possible. God’s promise of land seems possible. However, a promise of a natural born son from a woman who has stop menstruating for many many years seems highly unlikely.  Now men like Noah conceived children at the age of 500 (Gen. 5:32 “When Noah was 500 years old, Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”)  For Sarah to believe she could conceive was going to require an intervention by “The Creator God.” Both Abraham and Sarah are credited with a lot of “faith.” But some of that may be credited after this miracle birth.  

If we go back to chapter 17, when Abraham was told about having a son from Sarah I find it interesting that Abraham wanted God to use his plan rather than the one God had planned for him and Sarah. 18 To God Abraham said, "If only you would accept Ishmael!" Abraham, like a lot of us, thought his way was better than God’s way.

God’s promises always come true.  Even when it requires a miracle of a virgin birth, or “dried up old woman,”  to paraphrase. Even when it takes thousands of years to fulfil.

Even today, the seeds of both Abraham and Sarah combine to fulfil the promise of land from Egypt to the Euphrates, from two sons, one from Hagar and one from Sarah. That strife between Hagar’s and Sarah’s sons continues even to this day.

I think the fact that God did bless Ishmael is something we must accept, although the whole world would benefit from the offspring of Isaac, through the Messianic gift that would be given through Isaac’s and Sarah’s linage.  
Abrahams name change from Abram would go from “he is exalted” to “ancestor of many nations.”  Sarah’s name change was less significant, with only a dialectical variation, her name would remain “princess.”  Isaac’s name means “laughter.”  Verse 21:6 has an interesting twist, you can interchange Isaac and laughter, it could read “God has given me “Isaac” (laughter). Everyone that hears about it will “Isaac” (laugh) with me.
What circumcision was for Isaac, baptism is for us, a covenant agreement, requiring a community to nurture. Martin Luther is said to have thought of his infant baptism as a time when God came to him before he was able to turn to God. The call from God is the same for both “Walk with me and be trustworthy” [Gen. 17:1]

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