Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 16-18.
When Sarai was 75 years old she gave up on having a child, yet she wanted Abram to have a son. So, she gave Abram her slave, Hagar, to be his wife. As one could expect, this went badly. When Hagar became pregnant she started to treat Sarai with contempt. Sarai blamed Abram, who told her that Hagar was her slave so she could do as she pleased to her. Sarai then mistreated Hagar such that Hagar ran away. God appeared to Hagar and told her to return to Sarai, where Hagar’s and Abram’s son Ishmael was born. Despite the mistakes they made, mistakes which stemmed from their inability to trust God, both Abram and Sarai are held up to us as exemplars of faith.
Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 and Sarai was 89, God came to Abram once more. At this time, God told Abram that his name would be Abraham and Sarai’s name would be Sarah. Furthermore, Gold told Abraham that Sarah would bear him a son, who would be the father of kings. Abraham laughed to himself at the thought of having a son when he was 100 and Sarah was 90 (the ages they would be would be by the time a child conceived then would be born) and asked God to honor His promise through Ishmael. God rejected the idea that Sarah was too old to bear children, but promised to make Ishmael the father of twelve rulers (just as Jacob/Israel was the father of the twelve tribal patriarchs). If Sarah could bear a son at age 90, none of us should consider ourselves too old for whatever task God calls us.
I usually refrain from writing the same point about a passage which I know I have written previously. However, I think the point about the negotiations between Abraham and God over the number of righteous people necessary to save Sodom and Gomorrah is worth going over again. Whenever I read this I am reminded of when Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to yeast. It only takes a small number of righteous people to transform a society of wicked people into something acceptable to God.