Is Any Thing Too Hard for the Lord?

God’s Omnipotence in the Law

5 min

Three visitors approached the tent where Abraham and Sarah lived. The patriarch and his wife did not at first know the special nature of their guests nor the life-changing message that they had to deliver. Nevertheless, Abraham and Sarah extended to the visitors the best of their hospitality.

“And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat” (Genesis 18:6–8).

The next recorded words from the visitors surely were not what Abraham was expecting. “And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife?” (Genesis 18:9). In those days, men did not converse with women nor inquire about another man’s wife. Besides, the women’s section of the tent was divided from the public section of the tent, and Sarah’s preparations inside the tent would not have been visible to the guests. Yet these visitors not only asked about Abraham’s wife—they also knew her name!

Abraham answered truthfully, “Behold, in the tent.” If the mention of Sarah’s name surprised Abraham, the next words from these visitors surely shocked Abraham as well as Sarah, who was listening behind the curtain. “I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son” (Genesis 18:10).

The next verse makes it very clear that such conception was physically and naturally impossible. “Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women” (Genesis 18:11).

God had certainly promised previously that Abraham would have a son. In Genesis Chapter 12, when Abram was 75 years old, the Lord had promised that He would make of Abram a great nation and that his seed would possess the land of promise. Years later, seeing that he was childless, Abram assumed that the Lord must have meant that his servant would inherit the land.

But the Lord made it very plain that this was not the case. “This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be” (Genesis 15:4–5).

At this point, Abraham responded in belief. “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

Yet later, human misunderstanding crept in, and Abraham and Sarah determined upon a plan that would bring a child into the world through Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar. When Abraham was eighty-six years old, Ishmael was born: “And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram” (Genesis 16:15–16).

The meaning of the boy’s name Ismael was “A man from God.” But again, the Lord made it clear that this child was not the son of promise.

It was during these long, agonizing years of waiting that God revealed Himself to Abraham by a new name. “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God” (Genesis 17:1). This is the first use in Scripture of the Hebrew term אֵל שַׁדַּי El Shaddai, usually translated “Almighty God.”

The term Almighty is used fifty-seven times in the Hebrew Bible. It exclusively applies to the God of the Bible. The term denotes God’s omnipotence — that He and He alone is all-powerful. Animals may be strong; men may be mighty. Kings may have authority. But only God is almighty, possessing all authority in Heaven and on earth!

Abraham knew this truth. He believed in the Almighty. In the context of God revealing to Abraham the name “Almighty,” He emphasized again the specific promise of a son. “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (Genesis 17:19).

Yet, despite all these repeated promises, Sarah still lived in doubt and unbelief. While hiding behind the tent door, she had laughed at the idea that she would have a son! “Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” (Genesis 18:12). Notice that Sarah’s laughter was internal. She did not laugh audibly. She did not protest verbally. She “laughed within herself.”

Yet the Almighty knew her unbelief, and He called her out regarding it. “And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?” (Genesis 18:13).

Why do we laugh at God? Why do we doubt His promises? Why do we question His authority? Sadly, most of us are more like Sarah than like Abraham.

But God graciously responded to Sarah after bringing to attention her doubt. He had already called Abraham from doubt to faith. Now He calls Sarah to take the same step of faith and to believe in His omnipotence—that what He had promised He was (and still is) fully able to perform.

“Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14). This is a question that we all must reckon with.

Most of us as Christian believers, when asked if we believe in the omnipotence of God, we would probably say “yes.” But it is one thing to believe in God’s omnipotence as a doctrinal statement, and it is something entirely different to believe that God is able to intervene in our own circumstances.

Every time that we hesitate to pray for a loved one, thinking that the person is unreachable, we are doubting the omnipotence of God. Every time we give up on a prayer request for healing, salvation, or restoration of a relationship, in essence we are denying the omnipotence of God. Something that hits even closer for most of us: any time that we worry or fret about our circumstances, we are denying the omnipotence of the Almighty!

The Lord wants to bring us to maturity of faith. That is why He asks us as He asked Abraham long ago and Sarah heard at her tent door, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” He continued, promising in no uncertain terms, “At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son” (Genesis 18:14). Isaac, the son of promise, was the fulfillment of these words.

God has “given unto us exceeding great and precious promises” (II Peter 1:4). Are you trusting in His Word? Are you tempted to doubt, fret, or laugh at His promises in disbelief? Remember: nothing is too hard for the Almighty.

One of the names of God is Almighty, and sadly it has fallen out of use in these modern times. When was the last time that you prayed to God, specifically calling upon His name as the Almighty — trusting Him to do great, even impossible, things for His glory? May God give us the grace to believe as Abraham and Sarah both learned to believe, “being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21).

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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