Many years had passed since God had made this promise to Abram, and he was getting older and older. He still didn’t have any kids, and it’s kinda hard to have descendants without kids! He was getting impatient!
As the years passed, God made another promise one clear, starry night. “Look up at the sky. See all those stars? Try and count them. Trying to count your descendants will be just as hard!”
Abram believed God’s promises, but time was moving on, and Abram and Sarai were getting old! Finally, Sarai decided maybe God needed some help. She suggested that Abram take her Egyptian slave Hagar as a wife as well. Hagar had a child, and they named him Ishmael (which means “God hears”). Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born! But God was clear…Ishmael was not the child He had promised.
More years passed. Ishmael was now 13, and his dad Abram was 99. God appeared to Abram again and said, “You’re gonna be the father of many nations. In fact, let’s not call you Abram any more. Your name is now Abraham.” (Abram means “exalted father”, but Abraham means “father of many.”) “Many nations will come from you, and some of your descendants will even be kings! Your wife Sarai also gets a new name. Let’s call her Sarah. She is gonna have a son. Those kings I mentioned will also be her descendants!” Sarai and Sarah both mean princess.
That was it. Abraham started cracking up. He was splitting his sides! He was laughing so hard that he fell over, and the tears came. Did God know how old he and Sarah were?! People don’t have babies when they’re that old! That’s just silly! Then he said, “What about Ishmael? You could give him that blessing.”
So God said, “True, but Sarah will have a child. Since you thought that was so hilarious, you get to name him Isaac, which means ‘he laughs’! I will also make Ishmael the father of many, but Isaac will be the one who gets the blessing, and his descendants will be the ones I promised you. In fact, Mr. ‘He Laughs’ will be born a year from now!”
A little later, Abraham was hanging out at the entrance to his tent, when he looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He got up and hurried over to them and invited them to stay a while. It was hot, and they looked like they had been traveling. Then he hurried back to his tent and said to Sarah, “Quick! Make some bread for our guests!” He ran over to his herds of cattle and picked out a calf, which he told a servant to cook. When everything was ready, he brought the bread, veal (calf meat), milk and cheese to the guests, and they ate. They asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
“Right over there,” Abraham said, pointing to the entrance to the tent.
Then one of the guests said pretty loudly, “I’ll be back in a year. By that time, Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah didn’t want to seem rude by laughing out loud, but she could hear the conversation. She thought that was the funniest thing she had heard in a long time! Pffffftttt…a child?? Seriously?! Did they know how old she was?? “How could that happen when I’m all worn out and way too old to have children?” she muttered to herself.
Then the guest, who turned out to be the Lord, said, “Hey, why did Sarah just laugh and ask how that could happen when she’s old? Is there anything that is too hard for the Lord? I’ll be back next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Now Sarah was scared. He wasn’t supposed to have heard that! She said, “Huh? I didn’t laugh!”
“Uh, actually, you did,” said the Lord.
Sure enough, just as God had promised, Sarah finally got pregnant. Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was 90, when the promised child was born. Just as God had commanded, they named the baby “He Laughs.” Sarah said, “Who would have guessed that I’d be this old and nursing a child? I’m laughing with joy, and everyone who hears about this is gonna laugh too! God has brought me laughter!”
“Look around. Look to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west. I will give everything you see to you and your descendants. In fact, you’ll have so many descendants that counting them will be like counting grains of sand! Go ahead and explore the land. I’m giving it to you.”
Picture Source: http://hdwallsource.com/sea-stars-9002.html
“Look up at the sky. See all those stars? Try and count them. Trying to count your descendants will be just as hard!”
Picture Source: http://hdwallsource.com/stars-wallpaper-2282.html