And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had spoken.…
I. Back there in the beginning, God's call to Abraham had been accompanied by a promise. "From thy kindred, and from thy Father's house unto a land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing, and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." So accompanied with the call came the promise. He was to sacrifice — but sacrifice was only a rougher path to a smooth and shining end. Out of its thorns was to blossom a better destiny than Abraham otherwise could possibly have gained. It was not all cross for Abraham; it was crown, too, and the cross was but the ladder climbing up which he should reach and wear the crown. What was true for Abraham is just as true for you and me. There comes to us no call of God, how rough and heavy soever its yoke may seem, that is not cushioned too with promise, that does not point onward and upward from itself to some vast and burdened blessing which otherwise we could not gain! You must yield a bad habit. Yes, but in order that you may enter into a great self-mastering.
II. And the energy to do the duty, the strength to bear the burden, is to be found where? This is where it is to be found — in faith in the promise. Well, Abraham yields to the call and puts faith in the promise, and goes on and enters Canaan. They have staid in the land for several long years, and still their tent is voiceless of a child. They have been much blessed in other ways. Abraham is a person held, too, in very good repute. His name and position are most honourable. Every way and on every side the best things seem to come to Abraham — except the one special thing which he desires most of all, and which is absolutely essential to lift him into the high destiny God has promised him. He is still childless. I think, too, Abraham must have been just now in a despondent reaction after a great strain. The anxiety about Lot, and that military expedition, had taxed him terribly. I think all this, because the Word of God, which just now comes to him, seems to be a word answering to just such a mood as this. And then the Lord illustrates the glory of this promise to him. "Look up," God said to Abraham; "canst thou tell the stars to number them? So shall thy seed be." It is a great thing when a husband and a wife are united in the same faith. It is a great thing when they stand in equal faith, and so together pass forward into the uncertain years. Usually where a man and wife are believing people the wife has the greater faith. It is she who gets the firmest hold upon the Divine promises. It is she who rests on them the more utterly. It is she who, by many a faithful word and by the serene example of her trust, gives heart to the husband's failing courage, gives swiftness to his more laggard step. It was not so with Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was more a man of faith than Sarah was a woman of faith. And Abraham instead of being led on in the right way by his wife was led off in the wrong was by her. I have no time to wait to tell you of all the gain and shame which came to Abraham and to Sarah from this false step. How, even though Ishmael came to the tent, discord came with him; how jealous Sarah grew, and then how cruel. From the time of that second manifestation of the promise and the ratification of it full fourteen years have sped away. Ishmael has been born, but Ishmael is not the promised seed. Still Abraham's tent is empty of the true heir. I think Abraham had fallen into a lower sort of life since he had gone off in the wrong way. I suppose he tried to be content with Ishmael. That is the way a great many Christians live. They do not think that God means all He says. Possibly He may mean half; but never all, to them anyway. They must get on as best they can with a little joy and a little peace, and be very thankful for that little, and never hope that they can have much more. And then God comes to break in upon him with another and better word of promise still. He comes to him announcing for Himself a new name — God Almighty, Omnipotent, the God with whom nothing is impossible. "Abraham," He says, "I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect," that is, sincere in faith — upright. And then the promise is again renewed in terms more unmistakable. Abraham is to have a son and Sarah is to be its mother. All God's thoughts for us are always greater than our thoughts for Him.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.