Abraham & his Three Visitors — The LORD visits Abraham & Sodom’s sinfulness.
Reading 1: Genesis 18
Reading 2: Isaiah 3:8-11
Reading 3: Hebrews 13:1-2
I hope you are ready for a full reading – there are two huge stories in one chapter today! As you read, marvel at God’s generous heart, and the close relationship between Abraham and God.
First the visit of the three “men” to Abraham and Sarah – remember this couple is old, but it doesn’t stop them offering traditional hospitality to these three visitors. The “men” (for these were really two angels and the Lord) must have stayed around for a while because in that culture all the cooking was done over a fire so meat and bread do not cook rapidly. This was not a fast-food pit-stop on the interstate, it was more like visiting friends for Thanksgiving!
Notice the humor and kindness in the way God speaks to Abraham and Sarah. It is understandable that she should find the promise of a son humorous – she and Abraham are both well beyond the prime of their reproductive years! But God seems to smile as He asks “Why did Sarah laugh?” and then gently teases her “No, but you DID laugh!” when she denies it in embarrassment. God’s heart toward us is full of love and generosity. He is patient with our weakness and understands our failings. He is seeking hearts that want to do His will by having a living relationship with Him.
Then the second half of the chapter shows the depth of Abraham’s relationship with God. Remember, this is not a Christian asking God to forgive sin with the knowledge of the cross and resurrection; Abraham’s understanding of relationship with God is likely rooted in honor and awe, with some healthy fear mixed in!
Notice how it is God who begins the conversation: He wants to be known and understood, His desire from the beginning has been to partner with humanity in stewarding this world. Now He has a man whom He can trust more than many. And in God’s explanation of what He is about to do, we see another glimpse of God’s heart. This is not an angry God on the warpath against sinners, but a loving God responding to the outcry from part of His creation when men violate God’s design and cause great suffering, yet justify it as right by the approval of the majority. God says “I have heard a great outcry” and “I am going to see” then He adds: “If not, I want to know.” This shows me that God’s desire is to find our sins less blatant if possible. He would prefer to lead us out of sin than to judge us for sin. We see the same heart in Jesus’ ministry.
Catching this heart for mercy, and knowing that his nephew Lot and family are in Sodom, Abraham starts to intercede with God until he reaches the point where it might be possible for his relatives to escape the inevitable judgment. Ten people is all that is needed for Sodom to be spared. What a strong relationship with God for Abraham to do this! Many of us would hesitate to do that with a stranger, let alone a friend!
And there we leave it… in the manner of the best suspense stories… we will see what happens tomorrow!
Together: how have you reacted when God has surprised you?
Have a great day!