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Summary: Abraham

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GOD'S FRIEND (GENESIS 18:1-8, 16-33)

An English publication offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of entries received were the following: "One who multiplies joys, divides grief"; "One who understands our silence"; "A volume of sympathy bound in cloth"; and "A watch which beats true for all time and never runs down."

But the entry which won the prize said, "A friend--the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out."

An internet entry proposed that the best definition of a true friend ever given was that of the little boy who said that a true friend was somebody who knew all about you and still liked you. Another said, There are two kinds of friends in life, the one that says "call me if you need anything," and the one who shows up on your doorstep and says, "What can I do?"

Chapter 18 progresses from the Lord's voice話 in chapter 12 and His vision in chapter 15 to His visitation of Abraham presently. Previously the Lord appeared to Abraham and spoke to him on at least five occasions (Gen 12:1, 12:7, 13:14, 15:4, 17:1). "The Lord appeared" occurs for the first time in the Bible (Gen 12:7). Twice the text says "the Lord appeared to Abram" (Gen 12:7, 17:1) and once the word of the Lord came to him in a "vision" (Gen 15:1). In chapter 12 it was a one-way disclosure by God but by chapter 15 they had a two-way discussion. In this chapter the Lord finally made a personal visitation to Abraham to see if Abraham was ready to be the father of nations as well as the friend of God. More than God's friend (James 2:23), Abraham was God's friend forever (2 Chron 20:7, KJV), but how exactly does a friend treat his God, his family and his neighbors.

How does a friend respond to a doomed neighbor? What can he or she offer to a world that is lost and dying? What can you do for to ungodly, unashamed and unrepentant sinners?

Be Hospitable in Service

1 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. 2 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. 3 He 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." "Very well," they answered, "do as you say." 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread." 7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 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. (Gen 18:1-8)

A student in the second month of nursing school was given a pop quiz by the school professor. The conscientious student had breezed through the questions until the last one, which read: 'What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

"Surely this was some kind of joke. How would I know her name?" remarked the student who had seen the tall, dark-haired cleaning woman in her 50s several times. So she handed in the paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward the quiz grade. Absolutely, said the professor. "In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello". The student learnt the janitor's name - Dorothy and had never forgotten that lesson.

Abraham's hospitality to God will later be contrasted with Sodom's hostility to God. It was a hot day (v 1), far worse than the normal burning, blazing and baking desert day. Experience from waiting for a bus in Hong Kong tells me that it takes me less than 10 minutes in the sun to sweat. Abraham jumped into action the moment he saw the strangers, especially when he could guess their identity. He did not wait to be asked, bowing low (v 2) as no one in the Bible before him did, bringing the three men water (v 2) to wash their feet and then providing them shelter (v 4). The patriarch then called himself "your servant" twice (vv 3, 5) -- the first person to do so in the Bible - and addressed God as "my Lord" -- "my Lord" (v 3) and "ashes" (v 27) also make their debut in the Bible. Next he selected the finest flour (v 6) and the choicest calf for a feast (v 7) -- all the very best. He did not sit with them but stood in respect (v 8) while they ate.

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