Abram's nephew, Lot, had long since left for greener pastures and Ishmael was now a boy of 13 and growing up fast. His father, Abram, was 99 years old.
Although Abram loved Ishmael dearly, he wasn't the son God had promised him so long ago, he was the son Sarai had conned him into having with her maid Hagar.
Abram sighed, what a mistake that had been! The two women had been fighting ever since and Sarai would have nothing at all to do with Ishmael.
'The poor kid,' Abram thought sadly, shaking his head in despair, it wasn't his fault. Ishmael couldn't work out why his "aunt" Sarai hated him so much and he tried so hard to be nice to her, too.
Abram sighed again and went outside the tent to get a bit of fresh air. He looked into the night sky and gazed up at the stars. While he was doing so God spoke to him.
"Abram," God said, "can you count how many stars there are in the sky?"
"Dear Lord!" Abram answered, "There are far too many stars in the sky for me to count them!"
"Well Abram," God replied, "just as it's impossible for anyone to count the number of stars in the sky, it will be impossible for anyone to count the number of your descendants. They will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will make a mighty nation out of you, but you must serve Me faithfully and live a blameless life."
Abram was awestruck and he bowed with his face to the ground.
God then told him he would become the father of many nations and Kings would be among them and to show that He would keep His promise, God changed Abram's name to Abraham, which means 'father of many nations.' God also changed Sarai's name to Sarah and He told Abraham. "I will bless Sarah and give you a son through her. She will become the mother of many nations."
Abraham thought that was just so funny and trying very hard not to laugh, he asked God, "How can I become a father when I'm nearly 100? And besides, Sarah is nearly 90, so how could she possibly have a baby at her age? Why not let Ishmael inherit what you promised me?"
"No!" God replied. "You and Sarah will have a son and you will name him Isaac. He will be born to you and Sarah this time next year. Don't worry about Ishmael, he'll be o.k. I'll look after him. I will bless him and make a mighty nation out of him, but My everlasting promise will continue through Isaac and his descendants.
A few months after God made him that promise, Abraham saw three men walking towards him across the desert sand. He wasn't sure if they were real or a mirage. The hot desert sun can play tricks on your eyes and make you think you see something that isn't really there and these men appeared to be shimmering in the bright sunlight. But as they came closer, Abraham could see that they looked like three ordinary men, so he relaxed.
What Abraham didn't know at the time was the men were really angels sent from God to fulfil His promise to him.
Abraham ran to meet the men and asked them would they like something to eat and drink before they moved on. When they agreed he ordered some of his servants to fetch some water and towels to wash the men's hot dusty feet. While they were doing that, Abraham ran back to the tent and asked Sarah to bake the men some bread. Then he arranged for a calf to be made ready for roasting. When all was prepared Abraham went back and sat down and ate with the three men in the shade of his tent.
While they were eating, the men asked Abraham where Sarah, his wife, was. (It was the custom in those days for men to eat separately from women). Abraham replied that she was in the tent.
One of the men then said that next year Sarah would have a baby son.
Sarah was listening in to their conversation and when she heard what the man said to Abraham about her having a baby, she burst out laughing! She couldn't help it, to Sarah it was not only impossible, but a really great joke as well!
Imagine if your great-grandmother was told she was going to have a baby, I bet she'd think it was very funny too and laugh! But the trouble was the men heard Sarah laughing.
"Is anything too hard for God?" one of them said. "I promise you that next year I will come back and Sarah will have had a baby son." The men then left and just as they said, the next year Sarah did have a baby son and Abraham named him Isaac, which means 'laughter.'
Well, kids, God did keep His promise to Abraham and he did indeed become the father of many nations and his descendents are as numerous as the stars in the sky as He said. You're one of them and so am I! How? Through the most important of all Abraham's descendants, the King of kings, born as a baby in a stable at Bethlehem on the very first Christmas morning, whose name is Jesus.
By believing in Him, you become part of Abraham's family and all of God's promises to him, belong to you. (Gal.3-29)