Summary: God is at Your Door. Be prepared to serve him. Be prepared to listen to him.
Ding-dong! “Is anybody home?” What do you do when someone is at your door? It depends on who it is doesn’t it? If it’s a friend you will make your way quickly to the door to let him/her in. If it’s a stranger you probably won’t be so accommodating, at least not until you find out what that stranger wants. I know because I’ve seen that look on hundreds of faces when I’ve been out canvassing. The reception I get as a stranger at the door is quite varied. Sometimes I’m made to feel like a nuisance, other times I feel like a curiosity (“What, you’re not a Mormon?”). Most of the time I feel quite welcomed especially when people realize that I’m not there to sell them anything.
What would you do if God were at your door? How would you receive him? Would you invite him in, or slam the door shut and run out the back? The fact is God is at your door. Jesus said in the book of Revelation, “20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20). So what should you do now that you know that God is at your door? In order to answer that question let’s take a look at what Abraham did when God was at his door.
Our text unfolds as Abraham was sitting in the doorway to his tent during the heat of the day. Perhaps he was dreamily mulling over the recent events of his life in which God had appeared to him and renewed his promise to give him a son, even in his old age. Maybe he was trying out the new names God had given to him and his wife. He was no longer to be known as Abram but Abraham, which means “exalted father.” His wife was no longer to be called Sarai but Sarah, which means “princess.” Both names were to remind the couple that through them God would establish a great nation, a nation from which kings would come, including the King of Kings who would save the world from sin.
Perhaps because he was lost in his thoughts Abraham didn’t notice the three men standing a little ways off from his tent, at least not right away. They were strangers and therefore the protocol of the day dictated that they not approach the tent until invited to do so. When Abraham finally noticed them standing there with the mid-day sun beating down on their head he leapt to his feet and hustled over to the traveling party. Once in front of them he bowed low to the ground and said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 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” (Genesis 18:3-5).
Don’t you like the way that Abraham greeted these strangers? Though he was rich and powerful and had an in with God he did not think it beneath him to bow before these strangers and offer them his services. With his humility Abraham teaches us that our neighbor is someone for us to serve, not take advantage of.
And boy, did Abraham ever serve these strangers! Once he seated his guests and provided water for them to wash their feet he ran to his wife Sarah and asked her to make unleavened cakes from three seahs of flour. Do you know how many foot-long pieces of flat bread three seahs of flour makes? 128 loaves! Fresh bread wasn’t the only thing on the menu either. Leaving Sarah, Abraham ran off to his heard where he picked out a calf that would provide the tenderest meat for his guests. This was quite a treat because meat was usually only served on festive occasions. To top things off Abraham set out some cottage cheese for the guests to munch on and then like a waiter at an expensive restaurant he stood off to the side ready to attend to his guests’ needs.
Through all this Abraham showed that he was not only humble but very generous towards his neighbour. It was as if Abraham was serving God himself. Well he was wasn’t he? Yes, Abraham was serving God along with two angels but at the time he didn’t know it! Abraham wasn’t just putting on a good show to impress these visitors because they were from heaven; he was just treating them the way he treated all of his guests. Had we stumbled into Abraham’s campsite that dusty afternoon he would have demonstrated the same humility and generosity to us.