“Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed…”
“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself…”
“And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh…”
When one reads the words of the verses quoted above, one would wonder, what was so funny that these couples were laughing. What were they laughing at? In the third verse we see that it was God causing them to laugh, but what did God do to make them laugh this way? Did he tickle them or tell them a really ridiculous joke or what? I mean the whole thing was so funny that laughter found its way into the name of their son. For the name “Isaac” means laughter. Whatever it is that made them laugh this way must have been really funny indeed.
When we get to find out the full story of this account we’d realise that it was not a joke. Usually when someone tells a joke, it is both the person telling the joke and those listening that laughs. God made them laugh but they were the only ones laughing. God wasn’t laughing with them. Apparently God was serious and didn’t expect them to laugh at what he was telling them. When Sarah laughed God didn’t find it funny for it is written, “And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh?” (Genesis 18:13). So he didn’t find it funny but these couple were laughing at the whole thing.
What he told them was a simple thing of what he was going to cause to happen. He said Sarah is going to have a child and the couple found that to be so very funny. It is written, “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? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.” (Genesis 18:13 – 15).
Now the ways of God are such that makes the human mind wonder. When it is so adversely contrary to our understanding of things it can make us laugh. For an Hagar to give birth was not funny, but the thought of Sarah giving birth was funny. Hagar giving birth is very comprehensible, so if God had told them of Hagar giving birth they won’t have laughed, but Sarah? However this was the way God chose to fulfil his promise. The ways that makes men laugh.
The Comedy Of Our Most Holy Faith
“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”
Now, my brethren, our faith is like that of Abraham in every way. If there is a faith that is not like that of Abraham, that faith is a counterfeit faith. If therefore the faith of Abraham had in it things that made men laugh, so our faith, which is truly like that of Abraham, has things that make men laugh. Things that are difficult for a man to understand.
For example, the truth that Jesus is the Son of God is hard to understand and could cause the human mind to laugh. In his days in the earth men did laugh at such claims and others were provoked and sought to even kill him because of it. Yet is it the cardinal doctrine of our faith. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is also one that is strange to the human reasoning. How can three be one and one be three? Weird isn’t it? Yet is it a core doctrine of the Christian faith.
The Christian faith is a mystery, not a mere theory, and must be taught as a mystery. Theory makes plain, but mystery renders confusing. A “Christian” faith void of mystery is a counterfeit. It is written, “Likewise must the deacons be grave… Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” (1 Timothy 3:8 – 9). So the Christian faith has its mysteries, but they who are true Christians indeed, though they may not be able to wrap their brains round the doctrines of the faith, yet do they hold it still in full conviction. They who hold to a faith that can be fully explained and understood by the human mind are holding a faith void of mysteries, and such a faith is a counterfeit faith.
I get surprised when people find it hard to believe things written in the Bible just because they can’t wrap their brains round it. We, as Christians, hold the doctrines of the Bible in simplistic belief that doesn’t require our fully understanding the doctrine. Also, people who try to bend the Bible and interpret verses in ways that allows them conjure a doctrine that is fully comprehensible to the human mind are just being foolish. They are only making counterfeit faiths. The type that is fully understandable like Hagar giving birth. Just like Hagar’s conception was the device of man to bring about God’s promise, that is what we do when we create a doctrine we understand fully with our little brains. But we know that such a faith can only produce an Ishmael who was cast out with his mother. But that which is of the true faith which was by promise and according to God’s own word caused men to laugh greatly. And the promised child to whom the promise was made was himself called laughter. Not only was he called laughter but he was even laughed at.
But it is he who laughs last that laughs best. Let men laugh now at the truth because we understand it now only in part, the way Ishmael mocked Isaac (Genesis 21:9), but a time is coming when we shall understand it fully and then shall their folly be glaring and laid bare. Then shall they be cast away like Hagar and Ishmael.
People who are trained to prove everything they know by mathematical, statistical, and scientific methods, and to reject anything that can’t be proved by this means are grossly unfit for handling the mysteries of the Christian faith. If the mysteries of the faith can be proved by these means, then is it unfit to be called mysteries. So must anyone who wishes to handle the mystery of the faith first discard all of the vain wisdom of this present world.
Concerning this Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:4-7, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” Faith, which is true wisdom, is all about believing what God says, knowing who has said it, not knowing by what means he’s going to do it.
This does not mean we believe foolishly or that we have no reasonable grounds for holding that which we hold true. If one would take time to study his Bible he’d see that everything we hold is certainly true, though we don’t understand them fully. It would also be glaring that to believe anything contrary to that which is written is absolutely foolish.
For example, people who would prefer to serve a God they can understand fully wrest against the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. But such people should not bother themselves about understanding God first before considering whether they understand their own selves. Not their best friend but their own very selves. Though we possess ourselves and know ourselves more than any other, for we know our thoughts, our motives, our feelings, etc. which are hid to others, and theirs hidden to us, yet we know ourselves only very little. For example if someone should look at you, you’d rightly say he looks at you because that is you he’s looking at. Yet he is only looking at your body. If someone should poke fun at your physical appearance, you’d rightly say why are you mocking me? Yet it is your body he or she is mocking. The day you die that body shall lie there without the real you. But while you live that real you remains hidden and people only interact with your body. Yet that body is you and there’s still a part of you that once it departs your body decays. Yet you are not two but one.
A thought pops up in your head, let’s say, “slap that guy.” But something prevents you to rethink. Then you deliberate within yourself as two people holding a conversation. All the while your body is not a part of it. It is only after these guys holding the conversation are done that the body reacts, that is whether to slap or not to slap. Yet you are not three but one. We don’t even know at what point the intangible meet with the tangible to translate into an action. I believe this is why it is by the words of our mouths that we shall be judged and not necessarily by the thoughts of our head (Matthew 12:37). This is because every time the mouth speaks there is a conspiracy of your whole being. That is your spirit, soul and body. If you’ve not spoken yet, it means that at least your body is not agreed to the act so their is no full agreement.
To know fully well that we are made of more than one entity, Solomon says, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Proverbs 16:32). It takes one person to rule over another, making them two. I think the people behind the English we speak today knew a bit of this truth about our nature and that is why the word “I” is used in the plural sense. So we can say, “he reads.” But when using “I” we say “I read.” Because I’m not a singular but a plural. So we are not just a body, but we are more than that, having more to our being than the eyes can see or the thoughts can think.
Let him therefore who seeks to explain God to the fullest first of all explain himself to us to our satisfaction, then we can know he is qualified to attempt to fully explain the nature of his friend to us. After that he can attempt to fully explain the nature of a creature other than a man to us, say a monkey. But even when he can explain the nature of a monkey to us, we don’t want to hear him use that petty mind of his to seek to explain the nature of our transcendent and unseen God to us.
Why should we be going about looking for men with feeble minds to explain things for us when we have the words of the Almighty with us to tell us everything we need to know? Richard Baxter wrote these following words, “I stand and look upon an heap of ants, and see them all with one view; they know not me, my being, nature, or thoughts, though I am their fellow-creature; how little then must we know of the great Creator, though he with one view clearly beholds us all?” It is the report of that Almighty Creator that we believe though we don’t understand it for its transcendence. Herein is wisdom, herein is the faith of Abraham, and to hold a belief contrary to what he says, just because it is easy to be understood and explained, is folly.
Brothers and sisters. This is our faith. If the faith you hold to is such that you understand fully, then it did not proceed from God but from men. Let us not allow ourselves to yield to the pressure of wanting to have a faith that can be fully comprehended by the human mind. But let us hold on the truths of scriptures in simplicity, for that which is of God is of necessity truth, and such transcends human reasoning.
Prayer: Dear Father, we know that your ways are beyond what our minds can fathom. Yet give us a childlike faith that shall hold the mysteries of the faith is fullest convictions. This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.