WHO ARE THOSE MASKED MEN?
Some of you would have no idea of who I am talking about when I speak of the LONE RANGER. He is way before your time and he doesn't fit into our culture anymore. Pity. He had a strict moral code and even the actor, Clayton Moore, was a great ROLE MODEL for children.
Actually, the Lone Ranger was rarely alone. He hung around with his Indian sidekick Tonto). He rode a WHITE STALLION (I never liked the white stallion as much as Zorro's Tornado. I guess I liked the black look. I still wear black, but without the cape and mask. They seem to suit Antonio Banderas better).
Anyway, the Lone Ranger would be introduced each episode with the tune of the WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE (then Robin Hood got in on the act and used the same theme music). Towards the end of each episode, as the Lone Ranger galloped away towards the sunset, he would shout to his stallion "Hi-yo, Silver, away!" No-one ever asked what "HI-YO" meant or why he said it, but this was inevitably followed by someone asking "Who was that masked man, anyway?"
And that's the question I find myself asking when I get to Genesis 18. Abraham meets with 3 men with SECRET IDENTITIES. He doesn't even ask them who they are? All we know is that they are more powerful than either Zorro or the Lone Ranger and their theme tune would more appropriately be HANDEL'S MESSIAH.
Genesis 18:1-2 (NLT) mysteriously speaks of 3 men who visit Abraham. WHO ARE THESE MASKED MEN? (OK, so they are not wearing literal masks but they're real identities are masked from us. Who are they?) I know that One of them is the Lord Himself in human form from later on in the passage, but WHY THREE? The Lord and two angels? The Lord and two prophets? The Trinity in human form? Did the Lord need witnesses concerning the promises He was about to make with Abraham and then the judgment He inflicted on Sodom?
This is all a bit weird and Abraham starts to act even more weird, bowing down, washing their feet, feeding them and waiting on them like a servant before he even asks them who they are and what they are doing here. Even then he doesn't ask the questions I am dying to ask. He had to be interested, surely?
The visitors seem more interested in asking the questions and after Abraham waits on them like a servant and provides a barbeque lunch, they ignore him and ask about his wife, calling her by name (Genesis 18:9). How did they know Abraham's wife was Sarah? And why are they so interested in his wife anyway?
Then comes the bombshell!
In Genesis 18:10 one of them says, "I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!" Now this is a nice positive word to leave with a couple to encourage them when they have been trying to have a child, but it's a bit cruel to say to a couple who are BEYOND CHILD BEARING AGE and have always wanted children of their own. They don't know Abraham's wife. SHE IS 90 YEARS OLD! Abraham himself is certainly no spring chicken!
"Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. ... she laughed silently to herself..." (Genesis 18:12). I mentioned this story to some women in their 90's the other day (I work in an aged care facility) and THEY LAUGHED TOO!
In 2006 CBS News reported on a 62-year-old woman, Janise Wulf, who "gave birth to a healthy 6-pound, 9-ounce baby boy, becoming one of the oldest women in the world to successfully bear a child." CBS didn't mention Sarah.
In Genesis 18:14 the Lord says, "IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?"
The answer to that question is "NO." It is the most important question in the Bible in a way. It needed to be answered by Sarah as she took a step of faith in believing God. It's a more important question than "WHO WERE THOSE MASKED MEN, ANYWAY?" or "How did they hear Sarah laugh? Why did they eat a meal if they are angels?" and all the other questions I have about that passage. When it all comes down to it, the really important thing I need to decide about the Lord is whether He is TOTALLY ABLE to direct my life or not. When I get that right then I have acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord of my life.
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