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God's Promise Comes True

Flex (Multi-Age)Year 2Unit 2Session 1

God's Promise Comes True

God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah came true when Isaac was born.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Wonder how Abraham and Sarah felt when they waited for Isaac—and when he was born.
  • Tell how God kept promises even when it seemed impossible.
  • Thank God for keeping the promises made to us.

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

The promise made to Abraham and Sarah in the last episode clearly includes the promise of a child, an heir. Yet here they are, childless. In Sarah's own words, "I am worn out and my lord is old." Over the years they've tried having a child via Hagar, the slave, and by designating the servant Eliezar as heir. But nothing works out, and God persists in his promise of a son.

One day three mysterious visitors show up at Abraham and Sarah's tent. Who are they? The text tells us that it is the LORD who has come for a visit. (Note that in the Old Testament, when "LORD" is in all caps, it refers to the holy covenant name of God, Yahweh.) It's all very mysterious, indeed, but the inspired writer will not or cannot tell us more.

Interestingly, this scene became a source for prayerful meditation in the Eastern Orthodox churches though its icons. More than mere pictures in the Orthodox tradition, icons are windows to look through in order to find spiritual truth. One famous and beautiful icon by Rublev called The Holy Trinity pictures this very scene. Check it out on the web.

Abraham hurries out of his tent to serve the strange visitors, without ever asking who they are. While elaborate hospitality is common in that part of the world, there seems to be something more going on here, some kind of recognition that these visitors are very special.

After dinner is served, they get to the point. "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Nothing is said about Abraham's reaction, but our eyes immediately turn to Sarah lingering at the door of the tent. That's the focus of the visitors' attention as well, since they first ask about her whereabouts.

And what does Sarah do? She laughs to herself. "Yeah, sure, I haven't seen Abe in my bed for some time, and these people say there's to be a baby bouncing on my sagging knees?" Of course, she denies the derisive laughter, but the point is made: "Yes, you did laugh."

All of this fits a biblical pattern. Often in the Bible, when God is going to do something new, it begins in childlessness or barrenness, a symbol of human helplessness. Think of Rachel; of Sampson's parents, of Samuel's mother, Hannah; of John the Baptist's mother, Elizabeth; and, of course, of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She's not barren but a virgin. After announcing her miraculous pregnancy, the visiting angel says to her, in words that closely echo what is said to Abraham and Sarah, "nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).

As we read so often in the Psalms, we find ourselves "waiting for the Lord." This story and so many others teach us that God will always fulfill promises, but not necessarily in the time frame we think reasonable. God is the God of the impossible possibilities. Isaac (which means laughter) is indeed born, and God has the last laugh.


Step 1 Breathe

Use this time to focus your attention on God.

Do this with me: calm your head, heart, and hands as you slowly breathe in . . . and out. (Demonstrate a few deep "in and out breaths" with eyes closed.)

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