Isaac & Jesus
(excerpt from the sermon)
Sermon Series: Origins
We see some origins of God's salvation for all humanity when studied with the promise of Isaac and fulfilled in Jesus. We can see God weaving His story through the Bible. In Genesis 18:9-15, I want to concentrate here on Sarah's laugh, it says, “‘Where is Sarah, your wife?’ the visitors asked. ‘She's inside the tent,’ Abraham replied. Then one of them said, ‘I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!’ Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. So she laughed silently to herself and said, ‘How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master – my husband – is also so old?’”
Sarah's laugh is not one of amusement. It is called a laughter of incredulity. It is the state of being unwilling or unable to believe something. Sarah laughs because she doesn't believe this promise. In fact, if you remember in Genesis 16, she believes God is responsible for her bareness. Laughing at someone's statement because it is incredulous suggests a degree of scorn and mockery. Isn't it funny that Sarah is the only person who never believes what God says? None of us ever, ever struggle with believing God's word and His promises. Sarah looks at her weaknesses, which are her old age, her husband's old age, and the time. The time that has been delayed because God has not come through with His promise.
Can God come through? Will God fulfill His promise to her? Is God able and powerful to move through this situation? Let's look at some people who also laughed at what God was doing. In Mark 15:27-32, it says this, “Two revolutionaries [or two thieves] were crucified with Him, one on His right and one on His left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. ‘Ha! Look at You now!’ they yelled at Him. ‘You said You were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save Yourself and come down from the cross!’ The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. ‘He saved others,” they scoffed, ‘but He can’t save Himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe Him!’Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed Him.” Jesus is hanging on the cross and those passing by are laughing and mocking. It seems to be a weakness at this moment that Jesus is dying. If Jesus, who claimed to be God, is hanging on the cross naked, battered and disfigured, this is laughable. We as humans tend to look at the weaknesses of a situation and write it off. We look at obstacles, wars, limitations, and hindrances, and immediately we doubt that God is moving. Sarah looked at her weakness, her old age, her husband's old age and dismissed what God had said. The chief priests, the elders, saw a weak, defeated man on the cross and dismissed that He was God and that God was doing something. That God was fulfilling what He said to bring all of humanity to Himself.
In Genesis 18:13 it says, “Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.’” The word difficult, or hard, in the Hebrew (in this passage), means beyond wonderful. So you can translate it like this: is anything beyond wonderful, is anything beyond astonishing, is anything beyond supernatural for the Lord? In Genesis 21, something amazing happens. Sarah gives birth to a son and names him Isaac, which means laughable. She laughs because it is a joyful situation. It's an astonished laugh. It's a laughter full of wonder. How can a 90 year old woman give birth to a son? It is crazy. God did something supernatural in Sarah's laugh, and this time her laughter is different.
In Mary's life as well. When she learns that she's going to have a baby, what does she do? She sings for joy because she understands the miracle that's about to happen. When both Isaac and Jesus are born, it is to show God’s attributes. God is able. God is all powerful. God is faithful. He is inevitable. God longs to do mind-blowing things in our lives. God can intervene and will supernaturally show up. However, timing and method is on Him. C. S. Lewis says this, “The mind which asks for a non miraculous Christianity is a mind in the process of relapsing from Christianity into mere religion.”
If you are living a Christian life and you're experiencing miracles either small or big, and as Pastor Jeff would say, if you're not feeling or experiencing things bigger than yourself, there might be a problem. You are practicing religion. When you sing, do you believe the words that are coming out of your mouth, or is it religious repetition? When you read the Bible, do you actually believe His promises to you: that He can heal, that He can provide, that He can forgive, that He can restore, that He can save, that He can remove depression, that He can bring peace into your life?
But, like Sarah, we don't trust God. We don't trust God to do those things. Maybe it's taken 30 years for God to answer a prayer or fulfill a promise that you are desperate for. Does that rule out God's activity in your life? I'm here to tell you that God is inevitable. Nothing is going to stop God from achieving what His will is.God is inevitable because He's sovereign. He will accomplish His good plan for us personally if we are willing to do His will. He'll accomplish His plan for the world whether we like it or not.
If you are not a Christian, you've got to decide what to do with Jesus. God has shown, over and over again, in the Bible that He is inevitable. That everything God said He would do in the Bible, He did. Whether immediately, or years later – a good example: the resurrection of Jesus. We've talked about how you have to decide what to do with the resurrection of Jesus. If someone claims that He would die and then rise again after three days and then He does it and history proves that Jesus rose from the dead, there is nobody, I would want to know who this superhero is. I would like to know who He is. Mark Clark says this, that Jesus “defeated death the one thing no one has ever defeated; the thing so powerful and absolute that Greek gods even claimed they couldn’t reverse.”
Jesus defeated death, He's alive. So you have to decide. If you don't believe in Jesus, you have to decide what to do about the resurrection. He said that He would rise. It happened. Now it is your move. Another thing that you have to deal with if you do not believe in Jesus is His return. Jesus said this in Luke 21:25-28, “And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near! Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory.”
If you do not believe in Jesus, you've got to ask yourself if, when Jesus said that He's going to return, is He going to return based on the things we've talked about? That Jesus, or God, is always fulfilling what He said. If He said He's going to return, then He's going to return. All of us are going to stand before God and give an account of how we lived our lives. It is inevitable. And so you have a choice. If you're not a Christian, you've got a choice to either stand before God as His child or His foe. Are you ready to stand before God? Now, for the Christian, you've got to choose faith to experience God's wonder.
God has given you the power to live a missional life. Many of us live powerless, boring lives. There is no fruit of God working in our lives. We come into church, we listen to something, we run out and nothing changes. We don't experience the power of God leading us. There is joy and wonder when you step out into faith and operate in the power that God has given you. For example, you will never experience the power and joy of God in seeing someone come to know Jesus unless you share the gospel, unless you step out in faith and share your story and share God's story, what God has done in your life, with somebody else. It is inevitable that when you share the gospel, God's spirit will be working through you because He said so. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
How many of you believe that? How many of you believe what God said about this passage? How many of you believe that you've got the Holy Spirit? Jesus said, you have the power. You have power and authority to change the world. But why don't we believe it? Why aren't we changing the world? The reason could be twofold: We are content with living boring lives, or, like Sarah, we are so focused on our weaknesses. Many of us fail to be obedient to God's calling on our lives because we look at our weaknesses or our precarious situations. God is going to work through us in spite of our weaknesses.
When we choose faith in God's power, it is inevitable that God is going to do something supernatural, astonishing, something too wonderful for us to comprehend. Like Isaac was born in an unlikely situation. Like Jesus was born in an impossible situation. God's power will shine through, or in spite of, your impossible.
It is inevitable that God is going to answer your prayer with a now or a later. Whatever it is, God will answer it. Is that not something wonderful? Now, if God says that He will heal you, He will. If God says He will forgive you, He will. If God says He will lead you, He will. If God says He will empower you, He will. If God says He'll never leave you, He won't. If God says He will fight for you, He will. If God says He'll walk with you in the darkest times, He will. If God says He will strengthen you, He will. If God says He'll give you joy, He is going to give you joy. It is inevitable. Just like God kept His word through the birth of Isaac and ultimately through the birth of Jesus, both in extraordinary circumstances, both Sarah and Mary experienced wonder and joy because they believed God.
You can experience joy, you can experience wonder. You can experience a supernatural life if you choose to trust God and take Him at His word.
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