Genesis 17 was yesterday's focus of Through the Whole Bible. In an earlier post, I had addressed some of the other factors of that chapter. I've also preached on both Genesis 17 and 18 which you can find at that link.
Today, the focus is on Genesis 18 (Link). There are a couple of factors to consider in this chapter.
The first is this: God provides for the fulfillment of His promises, and oftentimes that provision is different from what we might expect. How that comes forward into your life is likely different from how it came forward for Abraham and Sarah.
For example, you're not going to be the father of the Hebrew people. That job is complete: Abraham got it. It is also likely that you're not going to father a child at age 100. In point of fact, given life expectancies these days that would be quite reckless and dangerously close to violating the biblical principle of parenting your children responsibly.
Yet, with all the appropriate nods to the wisdom found in Scripture regarding life and work and such, we still have to address the example of Abraham and living by faith. Here God tells Abraham specifically when the child will be coming. Sarah, meanwhile, laughs at the idea. Laughs. Abraham had finally accepted that God could do this in the last chapter, but here it really hits home for Sarah.
She's the one who will be doing much of the work, anyway. The idea sounds just like nonsense to her.
What idea sounds like nonsense to you? Being a missionary? Being okay with your kids being missionaries? Staying in that annoying job to share the love of Jesus with the people around you?
Generally we find the commands of God to be easy at one level, but filling out our whole life in obedience ends up being too "hard" because of some obstacle that we see. That obstacle, though, is invalid on its face: if God gave the command then He will provide the guidance and substance to obey it.
It may not be obvious: if the command is to go and tell and your heart is for going and telling in a foreign nation, you may have to adjust how you get there. After all, just because one missions agency won't send you doesn't mean you shouldn't go. Just because one door is locked does not mean that another door does not exist.
Read the whole of the Bible and follow the guidance God has given there. Pray for whatever wisdom you lack (see James 1) and then trust and act.
The second part is this: you will not offend God by pleading for mercy for others.
That's an important consideration for us as we strive with living in a non-Christian culture. Which we do and always will, until the Millennium comes, so we might as well get used to the idea. Living around people means living around those who likely deserve God's judgment.
Truly we all deserve God's judgment. It is simply that some have come to Christ for forgiveness and others need to do so.
Our time, then, ought to go into pleading with God to withhold that judgment so that more have time to seek His mercy. I fear that too often, our efforts are for God to bring that judgment sooner instead.
Which is wrong. Let us plead that, on account of a few that are near to the faith, God would withhold judgment that more would come to faith!