Sunday, July 11, 2021

Genesis 18 Devotional Bible Study by Steve Wilson

Genesis 18

The Three Visitors

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

 

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

 

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

 

So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs[b] of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

 

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

 

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

 

“There, in the tent,” he said.

 

10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

 

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

 

13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

 

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

 

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

 

Abraham Pleads for Sodom

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.[c] 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

 

20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

 

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.[d] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

 

26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

 

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

 

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

 

29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

 

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

 

30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

 

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

 

31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

 

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

 

32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

 

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

 

33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

 

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 18:3 Or eyes, Lord
  2. Genesis 18:6 That is, probably about 36 pounds or about 16 kilograms
  3. Genesis 18:18 Or will use his name in blessings (see 48:20)
  4. Genesis 18:22 Masoretic Text; an ancient Hebrew scribal tradition but the Lord remained standing before Abraham
  5. Genesis 18:24 Or forgive; also in verse 26

 

 

Abraham the Hospitable Host

Genesis 18:5

“Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

 

The Scripture says Abraham “hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground” when he saw these three men passing by. Then, he “hurried into the tent” to ask Sarah to break some bread. Then, he “ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf” for a servant to cook.

 

Abraham had no idea who the three visitors were, but he went out of his way to serve them. You can just picture him racing around his camp greeting them and making preparations. And he calls himself their servant.

 

It makes me wonder, what is our attitude toward people? Do we see them as annoyances (Oh, great! Three guys showed up at my door, so now I have to try to be polite) or as opportunities to practice humility and servanthood like Abraham did?

 

The question for me is why Abraham was so hospitable to these men. We know from reading the story that the “men” were God and two angels, but Abraham apparently did not realize this at first. Also, they weren’t traveling with a caravan, so I don’t imagine he thought he would get much of a reward for his trouble.

 

Maybe he treated them so well because he thought they were exactly what he was: men made in the image of God.

 

That’s the only reason we need to go out of our way to serve another human being. When we serve them, we’re honoring the image of God within them. We’re honoring their Creator by honoring them.

 

How can you be more of a servant to someone today?

 

 

God DOES the Impossible

Genesis 18:10

Then one of them said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’”

 

Sarah was past the age of childbearing and had never given birth before, even though she had tried for years. But notice what God says: It will surely happen.

 

But a woman as old as Sarah doesn’t normally have children! God is not limited by what normally is.

 

But these two have tried for years, and it hasn’t worked! God has never tried to make it happen; only they have.

 

But Sarah’s body is obviously incapable of carrying children. Being God, He is above and in control of everything. Sometimes, He acts and does what doesn't seem possible. Sometimes, He acts on nature to make it do something that it normally wouldn’t. He is God and is not bound by the rules or conditions currently in place. Nothing can stand in the way of His will.


What situation are you facing in your life that seems impossible to overcome? What do you hope for that doesn’t seem like it could ever happen?

 

Listen for God’s word on the matter. If He says it will happen, it surely will.

 

 

Can't Lie to God… But Why Would You Want To?

Genesis 18:15

“Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But he said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.’”

 

Get the picture of this in your mind. God tells Abraham that Sarah is going to have a son. He’s not even talking to Sarah. Sarah is inside the tent while Abraham is entertaining his three guests. Yet she hears what God says and laughs to herself about it (she’s laughing quietly enough that she thinks she can deny it). And even though she’s laughing to herself, God still hears her.


And when God questions her about it (since He knows she’s listening), she lies about it and tries to deny her doubts. Was she afraid of admitting she had laughed at God? Was she trying not to be rude about doubting what He had said?

 

But notice that God doesn’t condemn her laughter or her doubts. He simply repeats the promise.

 

God hears everything we say, sees everything we do, and knows everything we think. But rather than that being a scary thing, it's actually comforting. The God who works miracles is always aware of what we're going through. He knows our fears and our doubts, and He's right there with us in them.

 

God doesn't let us get away with anything, but He never leaves our side either. When you have a God like that, a God who is on your side all the time, why would you want to try to hide anything from Him? Instead, surrender to His powerful care and listen to Him reassure you, just as He did with Sarah.

 

 

"Shall I Hide...?"

Genesis 18:17-19

“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

 

You know that God doesn’t tell us everything, right? He doesn’t have to. And there are plenty of things that are better for God to keep hidden, such as when you’re going to die or when Christ will return. It’s better for us to live in constant preparation for those days.

 

In this passage, God questions whether or not to tell Abraham about what He is going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah. He decides to tell Abraham because He wanted to reveal His nature to Abraham and teach him. He said that Abraham was going to “direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just,” so God told Him what He was going to do to demonstrate His righteousness and justice.

 

God has also told us what He’s going to do when He shows His righteousness and justice by punishing sinners at the time of judgment. It teaches us about Him and serves as a warning for us to do “what is right and just.” For all our talk of God’s grace, let us not forget that His righteousness and justice demand that sin be punished. We need to take sin seriously because God certainly does.


He is gracious and merciful, but He tells Abraham what He’s going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah to show that He won’t tolerate sin.

 

 

Trusting God to be Who He Is

Genesis 18:25

“Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”


Abraham pleads boldly and repeatedly – but also respectfully – for the righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. He knows his relatives, Lot and family, are living there, but he doesn’t mention them by name. He may have been thinking of them, but he makes his prayer more general.

 

He also couches his prayer not on the merit of the righteous people in danger but on God’s character. He’s basically saying, “It wouldn’t be right to kill the righteous along with the wicked, so You’re not going to do that, are You?” Abraham then has to trust God’s reassurances that He will do the right thing.

 

Do you trust God to do the right thing? Do you trust Him to fulfill His nature and act according to His character even when you don’t understand what He’s doing?

 

The key to our faith is trusting God to be God. That means trusting Him to be who He is. There is no Right above Him. He is the standard of right and wrong, just and unjust, good and evil, wise and foolish. He is Good. He is Just. He is Wise. And He doesn’t change. He never acts contrary to His goodness. He never takes an action contrary to His wisdom.

 

Whatever God does is the goodest and wisest thing possible. If you can believe that, you won’t have a problem trusting Him in difficult situations. Abraham trusted Him and was able to return home, not worrying about whether God would do the right thing in Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

 

 

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