Talk about a laughing stock! As I was snow skiing in California this past weekend, I got onto the lift with my buddy, Justin. I felt some pressure on my feet, looked down, and my skis got caught and snapped off as we were going up. So, the operator stopped the lift as we were about 100 feet away going up the mountain. Everyone turned to see as to why the lift had stopped. He climbs up the the icy mountain to us with my skis, reaches up, and pops both of them into my boots. Everyone clapped as he was the hero and laughed at me as the idiot. Haha!
As we look at the story of Isaac, it is amazing to catch how much God recorded laughter. The story begins with God reaffirming and further explaining His covenant to Abraham as God was going to make Abraham’s name great, cause a great nation to come from him, and give them a place to dwell as His people (Gen 17:1-8). Abraham’s response was falling on his face in worship (17:3). Then God explained that these promises would come from Abraham’s 90-year-old wife, Sarah. Abraham’s response to that was falling on his face again, but not in worship this time…instead, in laughter (17:17). Abraham suggests to God that his son Ishmael by Hagar should be the son of the covenant since there is no way that Sarah could have a baby in her old age. God promises to bless Ishmael as well, but the son of Sarah would be the son through which His covenant continues (17:15-21). God’s covenant cannot be stopped!
The story continues as the Lord appeared to Abraham somehow in the form of three men. I’m not even going to pretend I know how to explain this…I just believe it! Abraham starts running around from the excitement of this visitation. He frantically tells Sarah to get some food together for their guests. While Sarah was at the door of the tent, Abraham was under the shade of the oaks with the three men. She heard them tell Abraham that she would have a son this time in the next year. Have you ever had a 90-year-old woman in your church stand up and say, “Please pray for me because I’m pregnant”? Well, if you have, you surely took her to the hospital. Not to the birthing wing, but to the mental ward! Even in the time of Abraham, that was impossible. After hearing the prophecy, Sarah laughs to herself thinking this has gone far enough. How am I supposed to have a baby at 90? My ability to give birth is long gone! Even though Abraham didn’t hear her, God heard her. He asks why she laughed. Then another pointed question comes straight from God, “Is anything too impossible for Me to do?” God affirms that Sarah will surely give birth by this time. Overhearing the whole conversation and trying to cover her skepticism, Sarah denies her doubtful laughing. There was no doubt on God’s part as He directly says to her, “No Sarah, but you did laugh” (Genesis 18:1-15).
Isaac is the chosen son through which God’s covenant will continue with God’s people. But remember, all Scripture points to Christ. Through the story of Isaac, God is preparing His people for the true Son of the covenant. The unity between the stories is remarkable. When the angel, Gabriel, comes to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, Mary doesn’t laugh. Instead, she mutters in bewilderment, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Gabriel gives her a familiar answer, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:34-38). Like Mary, Sarah is filled with amazement when Isaac is born. She laughs again, but this time in faithful joy (Genesis 21:6-7).
We cannot escape from the theme of laughter in this story. Are you one who may think the ways and people of God are silly, and so you laugh? Please know, nothing is impossible with God! Could you be reading this and you lack laughter in your life because you are void of joy from focusing on life’s troubles over God’s works? Find your joy in Christ once again! It is possible that you are reading this and your greatest fear as a Christian is people laughing at you for your faith, so you live avoiding humiliation. Even if it brings laughter, live in such a way that you are serving Christ to bring Him joy even though it may seem silly to an unbelieving world. The glory of Jesus, the Son of the Covenant, will spread through our joyful faithfulness!