Summary: A sermon on how god appeared to Abraham and Sarah to encourage them in the promise - somewhat like when Jesus was transfigured on the Mount of Transfiguration.
February 6, 2005 Genesis 18:1-15
Dear friends in Christ,
The writer to the Ecclesiasties had this to say about laughter -
Ecclesiastes 2:2 “Laughter is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?”
Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless.
It makes you wonder how much time we waste, then, watching sit-coms which are specifically made to make us laugh. America’s quest for laughter, according to an elderly Solomon, is foolish. When we take a good look at this world, what is there to laugh about?
What am I talking about? Look at yourself. Is it funny when you see how much time and money you waste on yourself, when you could be spending it telling people about Jesus? Is it funny to listen to yourself complain about the very gifts God has placed in your lap and given you for your enjoyment? Is that funny to you? Is it funny when you know you ought to work harder at work and not talk badly about other employees, but you do it anyway? Does God laugh when he hears you complain about doing your chores at home?
Look at the world. Is it funny to know that a majority of them will end up burning in hell? (Matthew 22:14) Does it make you laugh when you see people struggling as to whether marriage should only be between a man and a woman? Is it a laughing matter to hear the teachers of our schools telling us that the world evolved - that we are here by our own design and strength? Is it funny to you that Mormons believe that their “living prophets” are really sent from heaven? Does it make you chuckle when your purse is stolen? Does it bring a smile to your face to be diagnosed with cancer? This is no laughing matter.
Yet somehow in the midst of this completely corrupted world, we try to ignore all of this and do our best to laugh. We joke along with our co-workers. We laugh at the perversion on the television. We make fun of those who are caught in sin and publicly embarrassed by an affair or a lawsuit. We close our eyes to the spiritual truth that without Christ - they will end up in hell. This is not a good laughter.
Our text for today introduces us to another kind of sinful laughter. It’s the laughter of doubt. God had told Abraham that Sarah - his 89 year old wife - was about to have a child in accordance with time. In other words, this child wasn’t going to come from a stork flying through the sky or by some kind of scientific extraction of DNA having developed in some man made incubator. This child was going to be the product of Abraham and Sarah having natural sexual intercourse. Nine months later, the baby would come popping out. The DNA story might have been more believable for Sarah. “Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” After having about twenty five years with Abraham’s word - telling her that she would be a mom - she seemed to grow cynical. How could she - a worn out old woman - be able to have a child? So she laughed it off as a pipe dream. Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? The LORD was not happy with Sarah’s response.
I can recall about eight years ago there was a strapping young man that I was trying to reach out to back in Norton. I had taken him through one or two Bible Information Classes - which he started in response to some marital difficulties he was having. As time went on, he dropped out of class, ended up getting divorced because his wife was unfaithful, and ended up remarrying. About two years later I happened to run into him in the grocery store. I encouraged him to restart his Bible classes with his new bride so they could get on the right foot. How did he respond? He laughed - thought it was funny - and more or less blew me off. I don’t think he was trying to be rude, but that really made me angry. Here I was trying to offer him a view of salvation and heaven and a wonderful foundation for life, and he laughed it off. The 1st Commandment says, “we should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” It is one thing to laugh at God when He tells you to DO something. This is a bad enough slap in the face of the LORD. But when God tries to promise you a wonderful gift, and you laugh it off - isn’t this even worse? I mean, you can understand someone being too lazy to do something you tell them to do. But why would someone laugh off a free gift? When you pass off the Lord’s Supper as no big deal - something you don’t really need, isn’t that the same as laughing at God. When you forget your baptism and act as if it were no great thing - you are saying to God, “ha, thanks for the bath - but don’t expect me to hang it on my wall!” When God offers you a pastor and a church and fellow members to help bless you - and you instead cynically ridicule and make fun of your fellow Christians or your pastor - or laugh them off as not that important - isn’t that the same as laughing at God? The same could be said for prayer, personal Bible study, you name it. The LORD was not happy with Sarah’s laughter. He isn’t happy with ours. We shouldn’t take these matters lightly.