The Righteous & the Wicked (Genesis 18)
Preparation (verses 1-8)
The hospitality Abraham shows the three visitors was typical for that time and place. He goes through all the usual courtesies in giving them a welcome. However, it seems that Abraham goes even beyond the norm by considering it his own privilege to serve them—i.e. pleading with them to “please” give him the opportunity to serve. He minimizes his own efforts in serving them by saying he will get them a “little water” and a “piece of bread,” when in reality he gets them a choice calf and cakes and curds. His actual service to them far exceeds the initial offer he made to them. As they eat, Abraham stands– he waits their table and serves them continually. Just as he bows himself to the earth before them, so also his ongoing demeanor toward them is one of both hospitality and honor.
Promise (verses 9-15)
The Lord personally assures Abraham that in a year’s time, his wife will have given birth to a son (v. 10). In doubt, Sarah secretly laughs at the thought of a woman of her age giving birth. God’s good news to Sarah seems to good to be true! Though she laughed “to herself,” the Lord heard her. Sin is never hidden (c.f. Hebrews 4:13). Sarah adds lying on top of her unbelief by denying that she laughed, but still the Lord’s rebuke is gentle, reminding her that there is nothing too difficult for the Him, and restating once again the details of the promise (v. 14). In the end, we know that Sarah believed this promise of God, “since she considered Him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11).
Do you find yourself in a similar situation to that of Sarah? Having received the promises of God, do we still find them difficult to believe. Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). We’re assured that “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). He has promised us eternal life (John 11:25-26) and everlasting security (John 10:28-29). Is this good news too good to be true for you? Or do you confidently believe that Christ has secured your place in heaven and are you fully hoping in the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of all your sins?
Privy (verses 16-21)
In brining Abraham into the know about is going to happen to Sodom, the Lord shows the intimacy that exists between them (Isaiah 41:8). This friendship between God and Abraham is possible only by grace. There is never any access to God available except through grace! The sin that is happening in Sodom is known by God, and God now makes known to Abraham HIs deliberations. While Abraham and his family are being blessed, the people of Sodom are being cursed.
Pleading (verses 22-33)
The two messengers head off to Sodom, while the Lord stays with Abraham. Now that he has been informed about what the Lord intends to do to Sodom, Abraham appeals to God on the basis of his argument the righteous character of God as Judge (v. 23). In making his petition to God, Abraham rightly positions himself in humility, recognizing that he is “but dust and ashes” (v. 27). However, humility on Abraham’s part does not mean passivity. As long as there is a remnant, there is hope—so Abraham prayed! It’s interesting to see that with all of the major things going on in Abraham’s life, he was not so self-absorbed that he failed to be concerned for others. Amazingly, though Abraham stopped at 10 instead of continuing further, God eventually does rescue all the righteous (Lot’s family). What a great encouragement for us to pray! Even when we get the details wrong, God hears the heart of the prayer and loves to answer.
– In the end, it’s clear that Abraham was heard by God when he prayed (c.f. Genesis 19:29). How much more so will Christ’s prayer be heard by His Father? Christ has prayed to His Father that we be with Him where He is, in order that we may see His glory (John:24). How should such a prayer affect the way we view our security in Christ? How should the certainty that Christ is heard by His Father affect the way we ourselves pray?