The City of God 3.0 (Genesis 18:1-15)

Back in Chapter 13, Moses told us that Abraham pitched his tent in the midst of a grove of sacred trees, near a Canaanite city called Hebron. And there he built an altar to the Lord.

And at that time we noticed that Hebron was a very significant place for Abraham to settle: it was the highest city in the land — and still is, even today; the sacred trees it guarded were some of the oldest known trees in the world at that time — 1000’s of years old even then; and the city stood near the center of the range of mountains that dominate the land of Canaan. Which means that Hebron was a major sacred center for the Canaanites, the home of some of the most powerful gods in the land. So for Abram to settle beside this city, among these ancient sacred trees, and then build an altar to his God…well, this was his way of announcing to the world: “This entire land — everything that I can see from here — belongs to my God now.” Which was an amazing act of faith!

And for the last twenty years — or more — Hebron has been Abraham’s home. He has built friendships there: at least three of the local Canaanite sheikhs have made covenants with him, they even supported him when he went to war. He has had some mind-blowing mystical experiences there: God himself has made a covenant with him! He has even built a family there over these last 20+ years: he has one biological son, and — even more amazing — he now has literally hundreds of spiritual sons, because every male in Abraham’s community, from infants to old men, have been joined with Abraham in the covenant of circumcision.

So what Moses has been showing us is that, for the last twenty years, God has been rewarding Abraham’s act of faith. Despite Abraham’s various sins and failures, God has continued to bless Abraham and his household.

What Moses wants us to see is that Abraham has been living on a mountain, in a grove of trees, in the presence of God.

In other words: Abraham has been living in the garden of the Lord, in the garden of Eden, and he has been living there ever since Chapter 13.

Now, in Chapter 18, Moses starts this new episode by telling us — again — the name of the place where Abraham has been living:

[1] The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.

Now, why does Moses suddenly remind us, specifically, that Abraham is living near the great trees of Mamre? For five chapters he has not bothered: the Lord has interacted with Abraham several times, and not once did Moses remind us, “Hey, by the way, all this is happening near Hebron.”

So why, now, does Moses name-drop “the great trees of Mamre”?

This is why:

The first time Moses used the phrase “the great trees of Mamre” was when Abraham first settled there — which was right after Lot, Abraham’s adopted son, abandoned the family and moved down to live near the city of Sodom, which — Moses specifically told us — stood on a plain as green and well-watered as the garden of the Lord.

The second time Moses used the phrase “the great trees of Mamre” was in the very next chapter, when Abraham had to go and rescue Lot from slavery. It turned out that “the garden of the Lord” that Lot moved to was not the truegarden of the Lord”: when Lot left Abraham’s household he actually left God’s presence, God’s blessing and protection. And Lot should have learned his lesson then and returned to Abraham’s house — but apparently he did not, because he has not been mentioned at all over the last several chapters. Lot is still not part of Abraham’s circumcised family.

Now, for the third — and last — time, Moses uses the phrase “the great trees of Mamre”. Why? What is he doing?

Moses is pinging our memory. He is reminding us that — despite appearances — this place in the mountains is the true garden of the Lord. He is reminding us that, two times now, Lot has rejected the true garden, and has chosen to live apart from God’s blessing. He is telling us that Lot is about to re-enter Abraham’s life once again. And he is wanting us to wonder if, perhaps, the third time will be the charm. Will Lot finally get the message and return to the blessing and protection of Abraham’s God?

And Moses wants us to ask this question with some urgency. Because, for the whole last chapter Moses has been using all of his skill as a writer to let us know that there are storm clouds on the horizon of Abraham’s world.

All the way through Chapter 17 he was drawing deliberate parallels between the life of Noah and the life of Abraham: Noah was blameless and walked with God, Abraham was blameless and walked with God; Noah’s family entered the ark on the very day God told them to, Abraham’s family entered circumcision on the very day God told them to; immediately after Noah’s family entered the ark God’s judgement began to fall, immediately after Abraham’s family entered circumcision —

Ah, but we have not gotten there yet.

So Chapter 17 actually ended on a cliffhanger. God has set all the pieces in place: the garden of the Lord is there, in the mountains of Canaan; the circumcised people of the Lord are gathered there, safe within the protective walls of God’s covenant. All that remains is for Judgement Day to begin. And we are left asking, “Will Lot repent and return to Abraham’s family in time to be saved?”

Well…I have to say: it does not look good. The countdown has begun. The Lord has appeared to Abraham while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Lot has a little more than 18 hours left, and the clock is ticking.

And so [2] Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. [3] He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. [4] Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. [5] Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

Now…these three men are shrouded in mystery. And Moses seems to want it that way: he deliberately messes up his grammar in order to make these men confusing.

For instance: he started by saying “the Lord appeared to Abraham”, which would lead us to expect one person. But then, in the very next verse, he says Abraham saw three men. Okay. But then, when Abraham greets them, he says, “my lord” — he is talking to one person. But maybe Abraham recognizes that one of them is a “lord” and the other two are his servants. But then some Hebrew versions of this text suggest that Abraham actually said, “my Lord” with a capital-L, as in: “my Lord God.” And then, all the way through this chapter and the next, Moses keeps switching back and forth: sometimes he refers to the Lord as “them”, and in other places he refers to the three men as “him”.

Very strange. Very confusing. Is this “the Lord” travelling with two angels? Or, are all three men “the Lord”? For thousands of years theologians have had a lot of fun trying to figure this out —

We are not going to.

We are going to limit ourselves to an easier question: does Abraham know that this is the Lord God who is visiting him? Or is he just being hospitable to three human strangers?

So anyway, Abraham has just invited them to stop and rest a while.

Very well,” they answered

— three men speaking in unison? See how strange that is?

Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

[6] So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

And this is about 24 litres of flour, by the way, so…this is going to be a lot of bread. But Abraham does not stop there:

[7] Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. [8] He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them.

Now this is a major feast!

Which is a little funny, because, back in verse 5, when he invited them to stop in, he actually offered them a “snack”, not a full meal. And, who know’s why? Maybe he said “snack” because if he had said “feast” they might have said, “No, no, no, we don’t have the time for that!” or they might have said, “Oh, no, no, no, don’t go through all that effort for us!”

Whatever his motivation, it is clear that Abraham really wanted these men to stop and eat with him — and with his household, because clearly this large amount of food is intended for more than just three people.

So, while they ate, Abraham stood near them under a tree.

— another reminder that they are eating together in this sacred garden on a sacred mountain. And it seems that Abraham is standing by as the master of the feast, the MC we might say today.

But someone is missing: [9] “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

— again, speaking in unison?

There, in the tent, ” Abraham said.

Now, two questions: how did these men know Sarah’s name? And why is Sarah in the tent?

Well, it could be that they know Sarah’s name because they are the Lord, so this could be intended to be a hint to Abraham that he is not dealing with three ordinary men. But: Sarah has been involved in preparing the feast, probably working with a large team of servants, so it is entirely possible that her name has been spoken several times since they first arrived.

But if Sarah was involved in preparing the feast, why is she not there eating it? Could it be that, in Abraham’s culture, women and men did not eat together? That is possible. But then: why would the men ask where Sarah was, as if they expected to see her at the feast?

We do not know if men and women ate separately in Abraham’s culture; for sure, God’s law does not require men and women to eat separately. But later on in Genesis, Moses does mention at least one reason why a woman might remain in her tent during the day: if she is having her period. And this idea is reinforced in the Book of Leviticus, when Moses writes that anyone who touches a women during her period will be unclean til evening. So in those days it was common for women to retire into their tents, into their homes, for one week of every month, in order to keep from ritually defiling others in their community.

Now, Sarah, at 90 years old, has long since stopped having periods. So, if Moses is suggesting that, at some point during the preparations for the feast, Sarah suddenly began to show signs of fertility…well, that would definitely be a signal to her — and to Abraham — that something very strange is happening. Right?

But we don’t know for sure if this is the message Moses is trying to send. Is the fact that the men know Sarah’s name supposed to be a hint to Abraham that he is actually eating with God? Is the fact that Sarah has suddenly disappeared from the feast supposed to be a hint to Abraham that this is God he is showing hospitality to?

We just don’t know.

[10] Then one of them said

— so now they are not speaking in unison? —

[10] Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”


Now that is definitely a weird thing for a guest to say.

And by this point Abraham’s spidey-senses must be tingling. Because it is possible the visitors overheard Sarah’s name earlier, it is possible that Sarah has some other trivial reason to avoid the feast — but now: how do these men know that a son is what Abraham has been missing all this time? How do these men know that God himself has already promised Abraham once before that Sarah will bear him a son?

So at the very least, Abraham has to be wondering if these three men are prophets sent from God.

But this statement is actually even weirder than that. Because the way this visitor says it, “I will surely return to you about this time next year…” this is a very strong way of speaking, the strongest possible way to speak in the Hebrew language. In other words, this visitor is not really speaking as a prophet, he is speaking as if he, himself, when he returns next year “during the time of reviving” — the spring time — he will be the source of the miracle.

So, really, by this point, Abraham must wondering if these three men are more than just prophets sent from God. Who knows? Maybe he is remembering Hagar’s experience in the southern desert 13 years before this, when the Lord appeared to her in the form of a man…maybe Abraham is starting to realize that it might just be possible to sit down and eat with God.

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. [11] Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing

— that is an understatement!

[12] So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

And you can hear the grief and the bitterness and the self-loathing in Sarah’s heart as she scorns herself as “worn out”.

[13] Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’”

And then the Lord gets to the punch-line, his central point, his central rebuke: [14] “Is anything too hard for the Lord?

And over the years a lot of people have thought that this rebuke is a little unfair. Because, after all, Abraham laughed the first time he heard that Sarah would have a son, and God did not yell at him. So why should God now rebuke Sarah for, basically, doing the same thing her husband did?

And over the years people have offered a variety of explanations. The most common approach is to say that Abraham’s laugh was a surprised laugh, while Sarah’s laugh was a disbelieving laugh.

But if we look carefully at these verses we see that God is not actually talking to Sarah — at least, not directly. She is eavesdropping, but God is actually talking to Abraham. This rebuke is not directed at Sarah, as so many have assumed: it is directed at Abraham. When the Lord says, “Hey, is anything too hard for me?” he is actually pointing to Abraham’s failure to act in faith.

But when did Abraham fail to act in faith? Didn’t he just circumcise every man in his household, just a few days or weeks ago, as an expression of his faith in God’s promise that Sarah would bear him a son?

Well, yes, he did. But apparently he did not believe God’s promise strongly enough to pass the message on to his wife. Because what is clear here is that this is the first time Sarah is hearing this promise! She is laughing with the same shock and disbelief that Abraham showed just one chapter ago.

Now, when Abraham laughed the first time, God went easy on him because…you know: it was a shock! But there is absolutely no reason for Sarah to be shocked now because her husband should have told her the good news already.

And that is why the Lord challenges Abraham here: “Hey, why did your wife laugh like that just now? I’m just spit-ballin’ here, but it almost seems as if you did not tell her my promise. Why not? Were you afraid of getting her hopes up or something, just in case it did not happen? Don’t you know that nothing is too hard for me to accomplish?”

And then the Lord repeats his promise: “I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

The Lord is not rebuking Sarah. In fact, he is gentle with her. Sarah despises herself, she calls herself “worn out”, “useless”, “tak guna”. But the Lord does not do that. He does not repeat her thoughts word for word, he changes them. He softens them. He does not call her “worn out” and “useless”: she’s just old. That’s all. It happens even to the best of us.

But still…despite the Lord’s gentleness, it is pretty obvious at this point that this is the Almighty, Terrifying, Creator of the universe sitting there in their camp.

And [15] Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

Which is technically true: she laughed to herself. She did not laugh out loud.

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

And this seems like such a strange end to the conversation. It’s like…okay. That was awkward…

But actually this is a beautiful end to this conversation.

Because, if you recall, after Abraham laughed in Chapter 17, God teased him a bit: he told Abraham to name his son Isaac, which means “He Laughs.” Which was God’s way of saying, “Ha ha! See? You laughed in disbelief, and so from now on, every time you say your son’s name, you are going to remember that you did not believe me — and yet I still kept my promise! The joke is on you.”

Well, here, God’s approach to Sarah’s laughter is different. Her grief has been greater than Abraham’s. Her pain has been deeper. Her faithfulness has cost her far more than it has cost her husband, because here, 25 years after leaving her homeland she still has not received any kind of meaningful reward!

So is it any wonder that, the first time she finds herself in the presence this God that her husband has been talking about all this time, this God that she has never met before, this God that has never spoken to her, this God who has never answered a single prayer she has prayed — well, is it any wonder that her first response to this God is fear, and that her first words ever spoken to this God are a lie?

We should not be surprised at all that she would respond like this.

And this is the beautiful part: God is not surprised either. And so, despite Sarah’s fear and unbelief, the Lord is gentle and compassionate toward her. The first words that God ever speaks to Sarah are an expression of his power to know and to do all things: “Yes, you did laugh…” he says. And then, hanging in the silence that follows, if we listen closely enough, we can hear his unspoken promise for the future: “and you will laugh.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not Isaac.”

But he said, “Yes, you did Isaac.”

And you will Isaac.

So here we are, late in the afternoon on the last day before Judgement begins. By this point, less than 14 hours remain on the clock. And on a literary level these are the questions Moses wants his readers to be asking: is Abraham’s nephew Lot going to make it back in time? Is Abraham going to rescue him, like he did before? And what kind of judgement is this going to be, anyway? Will it be like the judgement on Babel, where God cursed Ham’s civilization with the chaos of broken languages? — or will it be like the days of Noah, when God cursed Cain’s civilization with the chaos of water and death?

And these questions will be answered, bit by bit. But for now we are going to pause and ask: what does this part of the story mean? How are we supposed to apply this to our lives?

Or, for that matter, what was Moses trying to teach his people, the ancient people of Israel, through all this?

Well, as we have already noticed, for more than a chapter now Moses has been highlighting the parallels between Abraham’s life and Noah’s. He has been taking the structure and symbolism of God’s covenant with Noah, and expanding those things into Abraham’s covenant.

Why has he been doing this? Because Noah’s episode was only a general introduction to God’s plan of redemption: it was a very simplified overview. And the problem with an overview is that it is not detailed enough to guide the daily lives of God’s people.

For instance: Noah’s family was saved by entering the ark, Abraham’s family is saved by entering circumcision — that much is clear. But what was it like to live in Noah’s ark while judgement fell on the world outside? Moses did not say, because Noah’s ark was just an introduction to the concepts of salvation and judgement.

The story of Abraham’s life is Moses’ way of expanding on the concepts he introduced with Noah, so that his people can see how they are supposed to live inside the ark of God’s covenant while they wait for God’s judgment to begin.

And this was an important question for Moses to answer because that is exactly the situation the Exodus generation found itself in. Just as Abraham had been led out of the judgement that fell on Babel, so also the people of Israel had been had been led out of the judgement that fell on Egypt. Just as Abraham had been brought to a mountain where he entered into the covenant of circumcision, so also the people of Israel had been brought to a mountain where they had entered into the covenant of sprinkled blood. Just like Abraham, the people of Israel are now safe inside the ark of God’s covenant, waiting for judgement to cleanse the land of Canaan so that they can inherit it…

And since they are having to wait like this, the question becomes: what kind of people ought they to be while they wait? What kind of lives ought they to live in the shadow of Judgement Day?

This episode is the beginning of Moses’ answer: like Abraham, they need to live lives of holiness and faith, watching for the day when the angel of the Lord himself will appear and lead them into the land. When he appears they are going to need to recognize him and welcome him and listen to him, otherwise…they won’t be going anywhere! — they will be left behind, they will fall in the wilderness.

And just to reinforce this point, Moses repeated it several times in the Book of Exodus. Several times the Lord speaks through Moses and says this: “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him…My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the [Canaanites], and I will wipe them out.” In other words: before judgement begins, the angel of the Lord is going to appear to his people and lead them to a place of permanent safety.

So Moses is beginning to answer the question, “How should God’s people live in the shadow of Judgment Day?”

This is what he is saying: “Be watchful, as Abraham was! Expect the angel of the Lord to visit you! And when he does, pay attention to him and listen to what he says!” — like Abraham did.

Now, was Moses right? Did an angel of the Lord appear and lead God’s people into the land?

Well, it is interesting to notice that, just after the people crossed the Jordan River, and just after they re-entered the covenant of circumcision, a mysterious man suddenly appeared to them who claimed to be the “Commander of the army of the Lord” — and then that man went on to claim that he was God himself. And right after that, the city of Jericho was judged and destroyed.

Was that the angel of the Lord Moses was talking about? Yes. But even that whole cycle of salvation and judgement was only a preview of things to come. And Moses, the prophet, knew that. And so, even before his people crossed the Jorden, he prophesied a day, even further ahead in the future, when God would send them another angel of the Lord, another messenger, a prophet who would be raised up from among the people of Israel.

In other words, this would be an angel of the Lord who was also born as an ordinary human being. But even though this “angel” would be a man, Moses’ instructions for his people were the same: “When he appears, you must listen to him! Otherwise…!”

Well, many generations later, the angel of the Lord was born as a human baby, an Israelite baby. He grew up, and told his people who he was. He told them that Judgement Day for the land of Canaan was just around the corner. And he offered to save all who would follow him to safety.

Unfortunately, most of the leaders of the Jewish people refused to listen to him. They rebelled against him. They arranged his execution. They killed the angel of the Lord that Moses had told them to watch out for!

And even more unfortunately, just as Moses predicted, the angel of the Lord did not forgive their unrepentant rebellion: less than 40 years after his execution, the city of Jerusalem was judged and destroyed. The Roman Empire came in, completely wiped out the city, and deliberately laid waste to the land. And so, just as the angel of the Lord had warned them, the Jewish people lost their city and their land, and they were scattered among the nations…where they still are to this very day.

And all because they followed the wrong leaders, and rejected the Messiah they were supposed to welcome.

But now: the Good News. The leaders of Jerusalem killed the Messiah, but he did not stay dead. He rose again from the grave, and then he circumcised the hearts of all those who did listen to him, he gathered God’s people into the ark of God’s covenant, the ark that the bible calls the Church. He promised that this ark would keep them safe on the Day of Judgement —

And sure enough, it did: for almost 40 years the early Christians lived under the shadow of Judgement Day, knowing that it was coming but not quite knowing when. But the angel of the Lord had told them what signs to look for. He had told them to Pay Attention! Stay Ready! Do not invest too deeply in this city, in these lands, in this world, because all this is passing away!

And so, when the signs appeared, the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem remembered their Messiah’s words. They listened to him, just as Moses had told them to. They obeyed him: they ran for their lives, and so they escaped, just as the angel of the Lord had promised that they would.

And ever since then, the Church has continued to wait. Just like the people of Israel during Moses’ time, just like that first generation of Christians, we also live under the shadow of Judgement Day. We know that it is coming, but we do not know quite when. The New Testament has given us a few signs to look for, and we have been commanded to Pay Attention, and Stay Ready. We have been warned not to invest too deeply in the world of men.

But in the meantime: how are we supposed to live inside this ark of God’s covenant while we wait for the redemption of our bodies and our world?

For instance: are we supposed to live completely cut off and isolated from the unredeemed people outside?

No. Our ark is not Noah’s ark. The walls of our covenant community are not made of wood, they are made of water and God’s Spirit. It is baptism and the Holy Spirit that sets us apart from the world around us, which means that we are allowed — we are commanded — to interact physically with the physical world, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us holy even while we rub shoulders with things that are not holy.

So, if we are not supposed to withdraw from the world, then: how are we supposed to live? What kind of people ought we to be?

Well, over the next few chapters, Moses is going to have a lot to say about how God’s people should interact with the nations of the world. But for now, for today, we are going to limit ourselves to the example he gives us right here, in this passage: the example of Sarah.

Sarah waited a long time for her redemption. She was 65 when her husband uprooted her and dragged her across the world, talking all this crazy talk about a new god that wanted to make him into a great nation etc. etc. But she was 90 years old before her husband’s God actually spoke to her directly! Even the slave-girl Hagar got to hear from God before Sarah did.

And yet, she went along with it. She followed her husband, even though there was no hope offered to her. And for that she is praised.

Now, yes, she did make mistakes along the way: she did pimp out her servant girl to Abraham, and then she physically abused that girl so badly that the girl finally ran away; she did laugh at God’s promise, and then she lied to him about it and actually argued with him…but why are we surprised? Would we have done any better?

Well, no. History says no, we have not done any better. Because, just like Sarah, the Church — Jesus’ bride — has been waiting a long time for her redemption. And she has lost hope sometimes. At various points in history Christians have gotten caught up in the politics and pleasures of this world of men. Sometimes we have tried to seize redemption for ourselves; sometimes we have tried to help God set up a physical kingdom on earth…and those things have always gone badly. And so, just like Abraham’s wife Sarah, sometimes Jesus’ wife — the Church — has been seen as a bit of a shrew on the world’s stage.

But the New Testament writers have a very high view of Sarah, despite some of the nastiness we see in her life. And they have a very high view of Jesus’ bride.

For instance, Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, praised Sarah because she “obeyed Abraham and called him her lord.” She did not give way to fear, even though living with Abraham was sometimes a scary thing! And Peter links Sarah’s stubborn faithfulness directly to her hope in God.

And the funny thing is, Peter is talking about this passage in Genesis. This is the only place where Sarah actually calls Abraham “my lord.” And so, where most people read this episode and see a weakness in Sarah’s faith, Peter reads it and he sees…reward. He sees a  woman who has been running a 25-year-long marathon of faith. He sees a woman who is finally nearing the finish line. She is staggering, exhausted, bleeding from the times she has fallen. Maybe, by this point, she is crawling. But none of that matters, because just ahead of her now is the crown of righteousness she has been longing for all this while, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, is going to give to her: the everlasting glory of being the mother of the laughter that will bring joy to the whole world.

That is in Peter’s first letter to the Church. And then, in his second letter, Peter goes on to apply this to our situation. He says, “Look, friends — brothers and sisters — it is going to feel like a long time before redemption comes for us. It is going to feel like God is taking forever to bring Judgement Day!

But,” he says, “when it does come, the day of the Lord will come suddenly, like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.”

Then Peter asks the question we have been asking — and answers it: “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?

This kind of people: “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

Like Sarah, the Church has been running a marathon of faith for the last 2000 years, and like Sarah, we do not know how close we are to the finish line. And like Sarah, each one of us is also running an individual marathon of faith. We live out our lives under the shadow of Judgement Day. And sometimes, when we catch a glimpse of that looming darkness — that awesome, terrifying presence of the Lord! — sometimes we are afraid that it is going to fall upon us also.

Well, when that fear comes upon us, then let us do this, let this be our application: let us preach hope to one another. We are here in the ark of God’s covenant. We have been led out of the place of judgement, and gathered together, and set apart, by water and the Spirit. We are waiting, we are safe! — even when we laugh, even when our faith fails us.

Just like Sarah, we all try to use self-righteousness to kill our fear of judgement. When we come face to face with God, we all lie and say, “No, I did not laugh! My faith is strong! Don’t be angry with me — !”

But now, just like Sarah, through Christ we get to hear our Father’s voice saying, “Yes, you did laugh. Yes, you still do laugh sometimes.

“And: yes, you are going to laugh.” 

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