I love the saying, “He who laughs last, laughs loudest.” If there was ever a most appropriate use of this phrase, events recorded in Genesis 17-18 “fit the bill.”
In Genesis 17, El-Shaddai tells Abraham that he and Sarah will father a son. Abraham did what most 99-year-old men with a 90-year-old wife would do: he laughed. “This is impossible!” It seemed incredible and thus he laughed at what everyone knew was an impossibility. There was no precedent in human history and even the Canaanite fertility cults could make no such boast. But Abraham was not the only one who laughed, for Genesis 18 records that Sarah also laughed upon hearing the prophecy.
I would assume—based on a comparison of 17:21 with 18:14—that the events of these chapters occurred within a short time of each other; probably within a few weeks, if not days, of each other. God had promised Abraham that the birth would take place “in the next year” (17:21), and reiterated this in 18:14 by promising to return “at the time appointed.” Thus, a great deal of time could not have passed between the promise of 17:21 and that of 18:14.
Let me attempt to reconstruct the scene. Abraham has come home after his “covenantal encounter” with God (17:22). The scene would have been one of great interest, drama and perhaps even confusion. No doubt, it was a scene that would have involved a lot of blood, pain and discomfort. Questions would have been asked as to God’s covenantal commands and promises. Abraham would have needed to convince the men of his household to undergo circumcision.
Imagine this possible scene: Abram and Sarai are in their tent at night. They are alone and so they begin to speak in confidence with one another, “Sarai, God appeared to me and promised me that He indeed will give us a seed—for generations to come. In fact, our descendants will become a great nation; a nation of great people, including kings. All of this land—all the land of Canaan—will be theirs. In fact, Sarai, the promise is so sure that my name has been changed. I am no longer to be called ‘Abram’—‘father of many’—but ‘Abraham’—‘father of multitudes.’ Dear, I am indeed going to have a fruitful progeny. But not in the way that you and I had concluded, for indeed you will be the mother. You will have a son, and he is to be called ‘Isaac.’”
Now, consider how Sarai would have responded as she heard this name, for the Hebrew word for Isaac means “laughter.” I would imagine that her response would have been appropriate to the name: laughter indeed!
But then again, maybe she would have felt, “‘Isaac indeed! What a cruel joke. I have been barren all my life. I have moved to this foreign land, away from all that was familiar, and now I am mocked with this promise, which only highlights the emptiness of my womb. ‘Laughter’ indeed!”
No doubt, Abraham had related to her how he had laughed upon hearing this announcement. But he probably sought to assure her that they could count on the promise of El Shaddai. In fact, “Sarai, this is so certain that your name has also been changed. From now on, I will call you ‘Sarah.’ No longer will I call you ‘Sarai,’ but ‘Princess’ shall be your name. After all, what else is more fitting for a beautiful mother of kings (17:16)?” Again, one can surmise that her response was one of disbelieving laughter.
Perhaps as you have read the events of these chapters you have had a similar initial response like mine, “How could they ever doubt? How silly of them to respond to God’s Word with laughter born of unbelief rather than laughter born of joy!” But, as I said, that was my initial response. Soon, I had to confess that Genesis 17-18 often mirror my own unbelieving response to God’s Word. How often do I hear the Word of the Lord only to silently laugh with cynicism, “Surely it is too late for me? Surely God does not love me that much? Surely this promise is not for me; after all, look at my circumstances!” And yet, at the end of the day—or at the end of the trial—I find that God indeed had the last laugh.
In this study, let us learn to trust God. Let us learn that in all perplexities we can stand on the firm foundation of God’s promises. May we take comfort that things are not as hopeless as they may seem.
The Divine Reappearance
As we enter the events of Genesis 18 we are immediately confronted with an astounding scene. We find ourselves, in fact, on holy ground. For once again we find ourselves observing an encounter between a fallen, sinful man and the Triune God. We encounter a “theophany.” Let’s divide the passage into three sections.
A Holy Meeting
The opening words set the stage for what will follow, “And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre” (18:1). These words tell us that what we are about to read is not the account of a merely “neighbourly” exchange but rather an account of “when God meets man.”
Abraham is back home in the “plains” or “oaks” of “Mamre” (cf. 13:18; 14:13, 23; 23:17, 19). Again, it has probably only been a short time since the Divine visitation as recorded in Genesis 17. Perhaps Abraham has been contemplating the promises of God and no doubt he and the males of his household have recuperated from the procedure of circumcision.
It is at this point in time that the Lord appears to Abraham, for two purposes. First, to reaffirm His promise with regard to Isaac (18:9-15), and second, to announce His judgement upon Sodom and Gomorrah (18:16ff). In other words, the birth of the seed of Abraham would be in conjunction with the judgement of the world.
As noted in a previous study, these “theophanies” were rare events in Scripture; and because rare, they were precious.
It should also be noted that when the Lord “appears,” or when He is seen as “coming” in Scripture, it is always in connection with the furtherance of His purpose, which is to establish His kingdom (see 12:7; 17:1; 26:2, 24; 35:7, 9; 48:3; Exodus 3:2; 16:10; 14:10, etc.). And the scene in Genesis 18 is no exception.
In other words, even though this appearance of God to Abraham was intensely personal and “individual” it was by no means “individualistic.” It had a wider purpose: the fulfilment of His plan for the ages.
And so it is when the Lord “reappears” to us in those precious “visitations.” When God, as it were, wraps His arms around you, it is done for the purpose of embracing His church. We would do well to keep before us that our personal edification is to result in the corporate edification of the church. As we study the record of this divine visitation, let us keep in mind the larger toledoth.
Now that the theme of the scene has been set we can proceed and see how this “theophany” took place: “1and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground” (18:1-2).
We are told that it was while Abraham was sitting outside of the door of his tent, in the middle of the day, that this divine reappearance took place. One can imagine the scene. Abraham is taking a relaxing reprieve from the intense Middle Eastern sun when he looks up and sees three men approaching his dwelling.
Note that Abraham addressed one of the three as “Lord” (“Adonai”) (18:3, 13) and that once “the Lord went his way” (18:33) the other two, who are clearly identified as “angels” in 19:1, carried on towards Sodom. So, it seems the Lord appeared to Abraham in human form and that He was accompanied by two heavenly messengers. Once again, we are probably being “confronted” with the preincarnate second Person of the Trinity. Indeed, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). And how did Abraham respond?
A Hospitable Manner
And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.
These verses must be examined, for they are included in the record for a definite reason: perhaps to exhort us to “be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).
Abraham, after bowing in respect, addresses “Adonai” and invites his “esteemed guests” to rest while he offers to wash their feet and to feed them a meal.
One can imagine how Abraham would have excitedly gone into his tent and told Sarah of these guests, “My Princess, you’ll never guess who just came down the path to our abode: Adonai and two of His angels have graced our home! Hurry, please, and make some bread while I go and prepare some veal.” I wonder if Sarah didn’t think, “‘Princess’ indeed! I love that man dearly, but I wish he would stop with this nonsense about me being the mother of kings!” Nonetheless, she cheerfully complied with his request, calling him “Lord” (1 Peter 3:6).
The meal was prepared and now everyone settled down for a fine feast. Everyone, that is, except Abraham: “he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat” (18:8). Perhaps Abraham was too overjoyed to even think about eating. Perhaps his hunger for God was so overwhelming that to be merely in the Lord’s presence was “meat enough!” And so it should be for us as we gather weekly for the Divine reappearance.
On the Lord’s Day, as we gather for corporate worship, we should do so with the same sense of “privilege” to sacrifice and serve that marked Abraham’s behaviour. Consider that we gather on the Lord’s Day not to be served, but rather to serve. We have gathered to offer unto the “Unseen Guest” our acceptable worship. Hence, we should—like Abraham—zealously and sacrificially prepare to offer to Adonai our best.
May I exhort you to gather on the Lord’s Day having done what is necessary to properly honour God? Let me give state some practical ways in which this can be done.
First, prepare your heart. Read the Word; pray; keep the TV off; don’t check your email; sing a hymn; read a devotional; meditate on a truth; avoid conflict; guard your tongue; guard your heart! Importantly, this will need to begin the night before. The right time to begin preparing for Lord’s Day worship is Saturday evening.
Second, prepare your body. Get a good night’s rest; go to bed early; perhaps skip breakfast (if eating makes you lethargic in the service); in the afternoon, get a nap or engage in exercise. Do whatever is necessary to be enabled to offer your best to God.
Third, as you enter worship, make sure that you properly offer what you have prepared. That is, be sure to participate. Sing—even songs that are difficult or new, or not your favourite; don’t use the singing aspect of worship to become the slot for reading your bulletin!
Fourth, realise that, at worship, we are each to take a backseat. We should, as it were, “stand by” under a “tree” and focus only on serving the Honoured Guest (18:8). That is, as we gather we should remember that God is the “audience,” not us. Let us forget about ourselves, come into His presence and worship Christ the King.
We are not performers. We are worshippers. We are, in a sense, “serving spectators” of the great drama of redemption as it is “acted out” before us by God Almighty. In other words, it’s not about us but about Him!
Fifth, let us look at this scene and realise that hard work was necessary for an acceptable “spread” to be laid out before this “heavenly host.” And so it is for you and me as we seek to worship the Lord. Consider the musicians, the Sunday School teachers, the planning of the services. We must not offer any less than our best and we must join hands in this true labour of love.
Sixth, there is definitely the presence of “planning” and “propriety” in this scene. And so must be our gathering. Only the best would do and so must our gathering be: “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Finally, note that this was a family affair. Husband and wife worked together to present the best in honour of the divine appearance. And so ought it to be for the church’s Lord’s Day worship. Families must worship together, offering their best in honour of the Unseen Guest.
Now, let us move onto the second major section in our study.
The Divine Revelation
One would almost “expect” this as a result of the “theophany.” That is, when the Lord appears it is usually for the purpose of revealing or communicating truth. And this was certainly the case here. The purpose was clearly to give reassurance with regard to the Lord’s promise in Genesis 17. Let’s pause for a moment to consider what probably had transpired after the Lord’s revealing presence as recorded in that chapter.
Abraham comes home and tells Sarah about what the Lord had promised. And, based on 18:12, she no doubt thinks that he is having a major “senior moment.” Abraham had failed to convince her and thus the Lord graciously condescends in order to help her to see the truth. She was, in the words of John Currid, a “reluctant believer.”
Let me apply this for a moment: we may have little success in persuading others with regard to the truth of God’s Word, but the Lord can “persuade” an unbeliever in an instant. So let’s do what we can to get them to where the Lord is! Let’s see this in action.
The Intended Recipient
“And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him” (18:9-10).
Note the question of 18:9, “Where is Sarah thy wife?” Several observations must be made about this question.
First, they obviously knew where she was: right inside the camel skin door of the tent. After all, Adonai knows everything! Thus, it is clear that the question was intended to attract her attention. They intended for her to hear what they had to say.
Second, notice that these “strangers” called her by her new name: “Sarah” (i.e. “Princess”). This no doubt would have been a shock to her. If they didn’t have her attention before they certainly had it now! I can imagine her pressing her ear up to the flap of the tent in curious anticipation of what they would say. And she hears them repeat what Abraham had already told her, “Sarah thy wife shall have a son.” But I want us to note the use of the pronoun “he” in 18:10, followed by, “I will.” This was not the voice of an angel; it was the voice of the Archangel, the Lord Jesus Christ—Adonai! She clearly was the intended recipient of God’s Word. What condescension!
Are you not glad that God condescended to make sure you heard His Word? In His gracious providence He made sure that you were listening. He made sure that you were in church, or that you came across that tract, or that you heard a particular “word.”
Recently, I had to go to a government office to collect some papers that I needed. Ordinarily, I dread going to these offices, because the queue is always long and it usually takes a good while to get what you need. As I entered the building, I saw an elderly couple—members of our church—speaking to an employee at the office. I heard the wife say to this lady, “Don’t tell me God doesn’t answer prayers!” Beckoning for me to come to them, she introduced me to the lady with whom they were conversing, “This is Pastor Doug. Talk to him: he can answer your questions.” As it turned out, these church members had been witnessing to this lady. I was able to share the gospel with her again, and the following week I was able to hand her a copy of Ultimate Questions by John Blanchard.
I don’t know all that God has planned for this lady’s life. Perhaps, however, she is a “Sarah” whom God put in the path of an elderly couple from our church in order to hear the gospel. Perhaps God will change this woman’s heart so that she will understand and receive the gospel. I cannot say for sure, but one thing is certain: when God gives us opportunity to share His truth with someone, let us take that opportunity, praying that God would work t convince that unbelieving heart of the truth of the gospel.
God, in His kindness, will indeed get His Word to the Sarahs of this world; to those who are to be a part of His kingdom purpose. Not one of His sheep will perish.
But further, God, in His Fatherly care, will make sure that His children will receive the faith-building “encounter” that is needed:
- Philippians 1:6—Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:22-23—And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
- Romans 8:28-30—And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
The Inward Response
“Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” (18:11-12).
Sarah definitely heard the message—loud and clear. She heard the astounding news that, within a year, her body would be “regenerated” and that she would conceive, carry and deliver a baby boy. In fact, she had heard this before—from her husband (who kept calling himself “father of multitudes”). It would appear from 18:12 that she no longer had any sexual desire, and no physical ability to conceive. The term “waxed old,” in fact, is not very flattering: she was “worn out.” Her body had ceased with the necessary physiological and biological cycle by which she could have children. What possible hope could she have?
So, yes, she heard the Word but she did not receive the Word, and 18:12 makes this abundantly clear. She laughed in the face of God’s Word. But, like many a cynic, her laughter was that of a coward: she laughed “within herself.” “Imagine: shall I, who am biologically worn out and sexually disinterested, even engage in such activity and subsequently conceive a child? Preposterous!” The promises of God were rolling off her unbelieving heart like water off a duck’s back.
Now, perhaps you think that I am being too harsh but I think not. For Sarah had a believing husband who would have taught her the truth. And later when she was confronted (18:15) she lied to the Lord. All I am saying is that Sarah’s response of laughter was far more cynical and “out of line” than was Abraham’s (17:17). And yet all is not lost. In fact, the reason for this pointed promise (18:9-10) was to instil faith in Sarah’s heart. Indeed, we can all testify of God’s longsuffering with our hardened hearts.
Let me bring this section to a close. Sarah was indeed facing the facts, and there is nothing wrong with this. God expects for us to face the facts. He created us to be reasonable. But, as we shall soon learn, the believer, the follower of Jesus Christ, is called to face the facts but not to focus on the facts. That is, the believer not only “faces the facts” but he also “faiths the facts.”
The Divine Rebuke
The story and the passage now comes to a close. And in these closing words is recorded one of the greatest, the most comforting rhetorical question to be found in Scripture, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” To ask the question it is to answer it.
This question is found in the Lord’s rebuke to Sarah and (perhaps) to Abraham as well. Let’s listen to this rebuke, make some observations, draw the exposition to a close, and conclude with some practical applications.
The Patriarch’s Responsibility
“And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (18:13-14a).
Though Sarah has displayed unbelief in secret, “inwardly,”—“within herself”—He who searches all things is well aware of her folly. And He exposes it; yet how gently He does so! He does not address her directly—yet. No, He addresses Abraham.
I find it very interesting that the Lord initially addresses Abraham with regard to Sarah’s unbelief. Now, this could merely be because Abraham was the one that He was talking to. It could have been out of tenderness towards Sarah. Quite possibly. But coupled with this may also have been the principle of biblical male headship. Would it not accord with Scripture for God to hold Abraham accountable for Sarah’s lack of faith? I think so. Do we not hear in this scene “echoes of Eden”? The Seed is “on the line.” Will there be another fall? Or will the man and the woman persevere in belief in the goodness and promises of God? Will Abraham, like Adam of old, fail in his patriarchal responsibility?
Consider that Sarah’s faith would be affected by Abraham’s faith. How long had it been since the events of Genesis 17? Surely the males in his household had believed him (17:23-27); was his wife less convinced? Obviously she was. Now, I am not saying that her unbelief was his fault, but it was his responsibility.
Husbands, how are we doing?
God next instructs Abraham (18:14a) with regard to His character, and He would expect Abraham to teach this to his wife. Abraham was to teach Sarah about the “wonderful, miracle working” power of God. That is, he was to be a theologian to his wife.
These words would have served both as a rebuke as well as an encouragement to Sarah. And so it is often with the Word of the Lord. It rebukes, corrects and comforts us at the same time.
A Reiterated Promise
God then repeats His earlier promise so that Sarah will hear it—and really hear it this time, “At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son” (18:14b). And hear it she does.
God promises that within a year He will “return” and at that time Sarah will be a mom! God’s promise was that He would “regenerate” her womb. And regenerate He did (21:1).
Yes, God does the otherwise impossible. As Currid wrote, “Indeed God’s infinite wisdom and power make the laughable into the believable.” As David wrote, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Psalm 139:6).
God’s purpose will be fulfilled. He will fulfil it. Sarah no doubt came to believe in God’s power as she came to realise His promise and His all-knowing presence (14:12-13). May we know the same!
The Pointed Reproof
The passage closes with the Lord’s very direct reproof to Sarah, “Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh” (18:15).
Sarah lies. She fears and she plays the fool out of fear. God graciously reproves her for her sin. Yes, this was gracious, for to be convicted of sin opens the path to cleansing. No doubt, this scene, which took place on “holy ground,” produced holiness in one who at first was faithless and then fearful. By God’s gracious power she became fruitful. She laughed in unbelief. And yet, within the year, God replaced her disbelieving laughter with the laughter of belief: a son named Isaac (“laughter”). God indeed had the last laugh!
A Divine Response
As we conclude our study we need to drive home and thus “take home” an important application from this passage. Like all exposition, this one contains a divine expectation. The Lord expects us to respond in a way that honours Him. There are scores of applications that we could highlight from this passage, but I want for us to “zoom in” on one. Namely, this passage teaches us that, in our Christian pilgrimage, we need to face the facts but we are never to focus on the facts. Let’s dig into this principle.
Consider Sarah’s initial response to the Word of the Lord. Her thoughts, as revealed in 18:12, were an example of someone facing the obvious facts. And on the surface there is nothing wrong with this. The problem was the way in which she faced these facts. In fact, the question mark and the presence of the word “shall”, indicate the problem. That is, she assumed that since the facts were against her that there was no hope. She assumed that the “face of the facts” was the only “face” to be seen! What se needed to do was to face the facts and then look beyond them to focus on the Father.
In other words, after facing the facts she needed to focus on the ultimate fact, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” Let me state it in a rather odd way: the believer is called to face the facts and to faith the facts. Consider some biblical examples.
On two different occasions the Lord Jesus Christ faced a multitude (thousands) of hungry learners (Matthew 14:14-23; 15:29-39). On each occasion, He asked the disciples how much food was available. He was actually causing them to “face the facts.” He then wanted them to learn that nothing is too hard for the Lord. And notice what He did once the facts were faced. He focused on the Father, which is evidenced by the fact that He gave the Father thanks and broke the bread (Matthew 14:19; 15:36). The facts were faced, but the facts were faced with the ultimate fact and the miracle occurred.
Again, consider Peter and the episode of the raging sea. The Lord tells him to walk out of the boat and onto the water. To his credit, he focused on the Lord and overcame the “obstacle of the obvious.” But when he stopped focusing on the Lord and began to focus on the facts then he began to sink. And so it is with you and I (see Matthew 14:22-33).
Finally, consider the ultimate example: the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus spent 33 years facing the facts—and all of these facts were in opposition to what He came to do: to firmly establish His kingdom (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15). Consider the following: He faced the fact of hatred and attempted murder by the powerful and prestigious of the day. He faced hostile and hardened politicians. He faced slander and misrepresentation. He faced hunger and homelessness. He faced dull-headed and slow-hearted disciples. He faced betrayal. He faced being an outcast in His own family. He faced the onslaught of the evil one and attacks by the pawns of the evil one.
In the “end” He faced a kangaroo court, a travesty of justice, cruel beatings and, finally, murder.
And yet, in all of this, do we not see that His focus was not on the facts but rather on the Father? From His youth (Luke 2:49) to His death as an adult (Luke 23:46) His focus was on His heavenly Father. That is, He did not ignore the opposing facts but He faced a greater fact: the Person, power, plan and purpose of His Father.
Believer, when we are faced with hopeless facts then we are called to respond in the same way. We are to focus by, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross [a fact], despising the shame [another fact], and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Yes, we are to consider (read, “focus”) on He whose focus is on the Father.
Now, let’s “connect the dots.” Are you facing the fact that you are married to an unbeliever? I humbly ask, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Are you facing the fact of unemployment? Well then, dear child of God, focus on this, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8). “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
Are you facing the fact of raising children in the midst of an ungodly culture? Is anything too hard for the Lord? Focus on God’s promises. Moses was raised in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon; yet both men—in those godless cultures—were raised for God.
Are you facing the fact of the opposition to the Great Commission? The fact of a growing presence of Islam? I ask, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Are we facing the fact that the reformation of the church is arduous, slow and dangerous work? Are we facing the facts of criticism, attack and evil attempts to derail the church from this God-honouring journey? Let us shout with confidence, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Of course not!
Whatever facts you face, regardless of their discouraging nature, face the ultimate fact: El-Shaddai will deliver on His promises!
Finally, let me address those of us who are face-to-face with the fact of failure(s). As I indicated earlier, 18:15 is a word of grace. Sarah needed to come face-to-face with her sin of unbelief if she would be cleansed, if she would be fruitful through being faithful.
Hebrews 11:11 is a somewhat contested verse. As it reads in the kjv (“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised”) and esv (“By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised”) it indicates that Sarah was faithful and thus she conceived. I adopt this traditional reading. It makes sense with the context of events of Genesis 18 and subsequent chapters.
Genesis 18 reveals Sarah’s unbelief: a “faith failure.” But this was not the last word with regard to Sarah. For she obviously came to the place where she believed God —in the face of the facts—to face the risk of faith. God honoured this and she became fruitful.
Dear child of God, failure need not be final. Hear the Word of the Lord today. Yes, He has heard you laugh at His promises but He will forgive. And what was a pitiful laughter will become a joyful laughter because, in the end, God always has the last laugh.