Genesis 18:1-15 (NRSV)
A Son Promised to Abraham and Sarah
This passage is one of my favorite portions of Scripture. It speaks of God’s presence with me, of God’s faithfulness to me, even in my disbelief. Ray Stedman says:
God is always testing us, and his testing does not come when we are warned and ready. Anyone can pass a test then. If I tell you that I am going to test you to see if you exhibit love under pressure, whether you can keep your temper when you are being irritated, and if you can be sweet when things are going wrong, you are likely to pass with flying colors.
But God never tests that way. His tests catch us unprepared, off-guard. It is when we are confronted with some simple situation that no one will know about that the tests of life really come: When you are relaxing at home and the phone rings and suddenly you are confronted with a call for help, or a demand for a response — and you had planned to relax and enjoy yourself all afternoon — what happens then? That’s the test.
When you are busy around the house with your hands immersed in dishwater and something is burning on the stove and the refrigerator has just quit and the sink is stopped up and you’ve got sixteen different problems on your mind, and your child comes up and asks you a question which is obviously of little importance, what do you do then? That’s the test.
When your neighbor or friend gets sick and somebody has to take care of the children — what do you do? What is your reaction? These are the tests of God. This is the way God tested Abraham.
Oh, to be as faithful as Abraham was! And the joy of knowing that even when I laugh at his promise, God is patient to bring me to understanding, just as he did with Sarah. Hebrews 11:11 says, “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise.” God will perform all that he has said!
(And — there is such beautiful artwork for this story!)
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day.
We can assume that this was God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, appearing to Abraham before His incarnation and birth at Bethlehem. We assume this because of God the Father it says, No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18), and no man has ever seen God in the Person of the Father (1 Timothy 6:16). Therefore, if God appeared to someone in human appearance in the Old Testament (and no one has seen God the Father) it makes sense the appearance is of the eternal Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, before His incarnation in Bethlehem.
2He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.
3He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.”
So they said, “Do as you have said.”
As Abraham did before the angels, so we also bow down before the Lord. HERE is a solemn and lovely song, “We Bow Down,” written by Viola Grafstrom.
6And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.”
7Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. 8Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
Hebrews 13:2 (NASB)
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
9They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
And he said, “There, in the tent.”
10Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.”
NEWS of a birth!
Now how many times has God promised this child to them?! But we need to hear God’s promises over and over again. It is a way God uses to encourage and develop our faith. Romans 10:17 says, So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?”
13The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.”
15But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid.
He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”
2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV)
If we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
“Abraham Welcoming the Three Angels,” by contemporary Israeli artist Boruch Nachson. Charming! Click HERE.
Mosaic of Abraham from Ravenna, 6th century. Click HERE.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.