*Last time*, God told Abraham that his wife, Sarah, would at long last bear a son, and that Abraham should circumcise himself and arrange to have all other males circumcised.
One day by the terebinth trees at Mamre, Abraham was sitting in the opening of his tent. He was trying to get the benefit of any cool breezes that might spring up, for it was at the hottest time of day. Then he saw God passing by in the company of two other men.
Abraham ran out to get their attention. On reaching where they were, he bowed low to the ground and said, “Sirs, if I have deserved your favour, do not pass by my humble self without a visit. Let me send for some water so that you may wash your feet and rest under a tree. I’ll fetch some food so that you won’t be hungry. Then you can continue your journey.”
God looked at his two companions who nodded assent. “We’ll accept your hospitality by all means” said God.
Abraham ran back to his tent and said to Sarah, “Take three measures of flour, knead it and make some cakes. And hurry, because they are for God who is just outside.”
Abraham next ran to his cattle and chose a fine tender calf. He gave it to a servant and said, “Prepare this and hurry, for it’s for God who is just outside.”
When the food was at long last prepared, Abraham brought it out and set it before God and his two companions who were showing impatience. God and his two friends immediately began tucking in while Abraham hovered in the background, anxious that they had all they wanted.
“Where’s Sarah?” said God while chewing a piece of meat.
“In the tent Sire” said Abraham.
God, after chewing some more, said, “This time next year, Abraham, I’ll come back to you, at which time Sarah will have a baby boy.”
The ninety year-old Sarah, who was standing just inside the opening to the tent, could hear all this. Thinking it was palpable nonsense, she laughed and said to herself, “To think that I would bear a child when I am so old, and when my husband is so old.”
God, whose ears missed nothing, had heard Sarah’s laugh and what she’d just said.
“Abraham” said God.
“Are my ears playing tricks on me? Did I just hear Sarah laugh and say she’s too old to bear a child?”
“I’m……..I’m sure she didn’t Sire.”
“There’s nothing I don’t hear” said God. “How dare Sarah laugh at me. How dare she. Who does she think she is? Does she think there’s anything impossible for Me? Well, does she?”
“Of……..of course not Sire. I know that she thinks the world of You and that there’s nothing You can’t do. She gets down on her knees and prays to You nightly.”
“Sarah!!” roared God, “I know you’re listening. I know you can hear all we’re saying. Come out from where you are. I want to talk to you.”
Sarah ran out from the tent and stood trembling before God.
“Why did you laugh at Me?”
“I didn’t, Sire?”
“Yes you did. There’s nothing I don’t hear.”
“If I did laugh, Sire, it was only because what you said about me having a baby boy made me so happy.”
“Don’t lie, Sarah. I know the difference between being laughed with, and being laughed at. Yours was a laugh at. You were laughing at me. Don’t deny it. If you do, it will be the worse for you.”
“Oh Sire” said Sarah who had begun to weep, “yes, I now realise that I did laugh at you. I don’t know what came over me. I’m an old woman, Sire. Sometimes I do and say foolish things. Please forgive me. Oh please……please”. Sarah dropped to her knees and her tears spilled onto the hot and dusty ground.
“Think no more of it” said God. “You are going to have a son. I’ll return next year to see him.”
“Thank you, thank you Sire”.
God waved Sarah away and she ran back to the tent.
God and His two companions on finishing their meal, stood up and looked in the direction of Sodom which was their destination. Abraham went with them to set them on their way.
Source: Genesis 18, 1 – 17.