Community Group Study “Genesis: Laughing at the Promise of God”

Before your community group meets:

Read Genesis 17:15-18:15 and write down 10-12 observations from the text like who laughs, who is in the story, and do any characters do the majority of speaking?

How did Abram express obedience to what God called him to in Genesis 17:9-14. Does the text give us any indication to how quickly or slowly he responded?

Why would Abram try to present Ishmael to God as the fulfillment of the promise? How does Abram’s laughter mirror Sarah’s response when she hears the promise in Genesis 18:9-15?

Reflect and pray, do you put up barriers and obstacles to God fulfilling his will in your life as he works out spiritual growth, sanctification and dependance to him? Spend time praying about these areas and meditate on Genesis 18:14.

Study Information:

It has been 25 years since God first promised to bless Abram and make a great nation out of his family line. In this time we have seen Abram struggle with fear and faith, try to manufacture God’s promise through adopting a servant as his heir, and learned of Sarah’s plot to use a culturally acceptable means to obtain a child by giving her servant Hagar to Abram as a wife. Their faith journey has been a jumbled mess of faith and fear based activity. Yet, God still pursues them and keeps his promise to bring about world wide redemption through this family line.

In Genesis 17:!5-18:15, God once again speaks his promise to Abraham and expands on it with added clarity — “your child will not be an adopted heir, he will not be through Hagar and his name is not Ishmael”. The promised son will come through Sarah and you shall name him “Isaac” which means “he laughs”. This is the first time Sarah is mentioned in connection to the covenant, the first time God tells Abraham who the mother of the promised child would be. Seven times in our text we are told Sarah will bear a son. You would think they would respond with joy and excitement, but both Abraham and Sarah laugh at this promise. They heard the promise separately at different times and in different places, but both had the same response… “this is impossible!” We get a list of obstacles and objections from Abraham and Sarah, but the Lord speaks in Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for God?” We know in our heads the answer is “no”, but often our hearts and lives say “yes”.

Every follower of Jesus will end up at times with disappointment in God and experiential doubts about his goodness, yet this text shows us how God is faithful, in his timing and that in his grace he pursues broken and weak sinners.

As you read the text and interact with the questions below, look for how both Abraham and Sarah express doubt in God’s goodness, how the Lord responds and where both characters end up in the text. When thinking and studying Sarah’s role in the story, pay particular attention to Hebrews 11:11. How does God show up in her doubt in a way that ends up with her attitude being called “faith”?

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?

Scripture and Discussion Questions:

How did God get more specific on his blessing and promised covenant in Genesis 17:15-16 and why is this important to the narrative of Genesis so far?

Abraham and Sarah express their doubts about God’s promise in the form of laughter. How do their doubts differ and how does each one respond?

List out all the obstacles God would have to overcome for Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 17:15-18:15. Why are people tempted to look at the obstacles instead of the word of God and promise of God?

How do all those obstacles make Genesis 18:14 all the more richer and sweeter for those who follow Christ?

Looking Ahead:

Read Genesis 18:16-33 and write down 10-12 observations from the text, like who is speaking, what places are mentioned, patterns in the text and things we learn about God’s character.

What does Genesis 18:17 tell us about God’s relationship with Abraham?

We learned about Sodom’s wickedness in Genesis 13:13 and 14:21-24. How does this text add to what we know and what is God going to do? (Look at Genesis 18:21, compare to Genesis 11:7).

Do you think Abraham’s words are bold in Genesis 18:23? Why or why not?

Why would Abraham care so much about Sodom that he bargains with God for mercy?

What do we learn about God’s character from this interaction between Abraham and God?

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