Lesson Twelve



Memory Verse: Hebrews 13:2
Further Study: Genesis 15-18, 19:1-30; Patriarchs and Prophets 136-144, 156-170; The Story of Redemption 75-79; The Bible Story, vol. 1, pp. 156-167

The Bible character I most understand is Sarah. Why? Because she’s a “fixer.” In her mind, she was God’s helper. While this sounds good, if you know her story, it isn’t. That’s why for me it’s full confession time: I’m a problem-solver and sometimes that gets me into trouble. Running ahead of God is never a great idea.

Running ahead of God is never a great idea.

God first gave His promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3. The promise is to make him into a great nation. This promise is repeated in Genesis 13:14-16, but God adds something—land. By chapter 15, we read the promise again, but more is added—an heir, a son of his body. Nation. Land. Son.

Now back to Sarah, our problem-solver. She sizes up what God has said—nation, land, son—recognizes she’s too old to provide the son, and decides to help. Her help comes in the form of Hagar, who gives Abraham Ishmael. Imagine living in this camp where two women contend over this “son of the promise” that Hagar has produced, but Sarah claims. Everything appears in place: nation, land, son.

Thirteen years pass before Abraham hears the covenant repeated. Imagine his surprise when God adds a new detail: a second son—Sarah’s—the real son of the promise. Think about this. Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, and Ishmael, key players in this drama, have lived for 13 years with the idea that Ishmael is the promised son. Imagine the mix of surprise, disappointment, disbelief, and confusion this caused. This was a serious turn of events. Or was it?

Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, and Ishmael have lived for 13 years with the idea that Ishmael is the promised son.

God’s plan always was for Abraham and Sarah to have a son. While Abraham and Sarah heard the promise, they lacked the faith to see how it would be accomplished. When Sarah stepped in to help, both of them lost sight of God’s plan because they were focused on the one they had created.

As a “fixer,” I can relate. I also want to hurry God along by doing what I can to make things go in the direction I’m sure He wants. This story is a good reminder to be patient. Yes, God gives us gifts of discernment, wisdom, and intelligence, but at the same time, if they are not connected to strong faith in God’s guidance and His timing, things can suddenly become what you want and not God’s desire for your life. Be patient. Trust God to work out His plan. When you do, you will be renewed.

Digging Deeper 

In Genesis 18, Abraham entertains three visitors, at first strangers until he recognizes it is the Lord Himself. Interestingly, although you might think their purpose is to visit with Abraham, in actuality, it is Sarah they have come to see. How do we know? Because the first question to Abraham is: “Where is Sarah, your wife?” (Gen. 18:9)

The message they have for Abraham is one he has heard before. This time it is repeated, but it is now said in the presence of Sarah. Up until this point, she was behind the tent flap listening. We do not know if she stepped out to be seen. We do know that she laughed—quietly, and to herself. Pregnant? Indeed! You can almost see her shaking her head.

The Lord hears and sees the laugh—the small expression of disbelief that still controls Sarah’s ability to comprehend such an amazing idea. And then the Lord asks, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (v. 14)

The Hebrew word used for “hard” is pala’ (paw-law). The same word is found in Isaiah 9:6, a verse you are familiar with: 

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

You don’t see the word, “hard,” what you see is the word “Wonderful.” Isn’t that something? When the Lord says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” He’s not talking about how difficult it is to cause an old woman to become pregnant. He’s referencing that it is “too wonderful,” “too amazing,” “too marvelous,”—more than words can describe.

And that is who our God is—He’s amazing, awe-inspiring, and more than we can understand. While Sarah’s laugh was one of disbelief, it is not why God named their son, “laughter.” This baby would be one where Sarah could not contain her joy for her son or the God that cared enough for her to offer her blessings above and beyond what she could ever imagine. Too wonderful.


Making it Real

The same word, pala’, used in Gen. 18:14 and Isa. 9:6, is used in other places of the Bible. Look up some of these verses and contemplate the “wonderfulness” of God. How has He been “too amazing” in your life?

Job 5:9
Job 37:5
Psalm 9:1
Psalm 40:5
Jeremiah 32:17


Respond & Share

In what ways do you “wait upon the Lord”?  Share your thoughts in the comments.


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.


Coming next week:

Based on John 1:29, Genesis 21:1-21; 22:1-19;
PP 145-155; 156-170; SR 79-83, BS, vol. 1, pp. 168-176


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