Summary: This is part 32 in our series on the Book of Genesis. In this sermon we discuss chapter 18 when God and the two angels appeared to Abraham and spoke with him concerning God's promise and God's judgment of Sodom.
Heavenly Visitors (Genesis part 32)
Text: Genesis 18:1-15
By: Ken McKinley
Now if you know your Bibles then you know that in the next chapter is the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah story – where those two wicked cities are destroyed. And Bible scholars like to point out the contrast between that chapter and this one. How God personally meets with Abraham and dines with him contrasted with God’s judgment upon sin and evil. How Abraham offers kindness and serves God and the two angels with Him contrasted with how the men of Sodom want to do vile things to the angels.
Now there are a lot of things we could look at in our text, but I want to focus on mainly on one thing today, and that’s that we see that God is able!
So first; in verses 1 – 15 Abraham is out relaxing in the heat of the day. He’s found himself a shady spot at the door of his tent, and he’s taking it easy, when all of a sudden the Lord and two angels show up. The next thing we see is Abraham up and busy, running around, getting food and water for his guests.
Now if you’ve been with us for awhile, you know that we’ve been looking at Abraham for the last few weeks – starting back in chapter 12. And we’ve talked about how Abraham and his family have been set apart, how God has entered into covenant with Abraham and how God has made a promise to him that he would have a son. And actually; that’s going to be working towards fulfilling a promise that God made all the way back in Genesis 3:15. Remember that? That’s when God said that through Eve, God would bring about a Savior who would crush the head of the serpent and undo everything that sin introduced into the world.
And we’ve been tracing that line through Seth, then to Noah, and then to Shem, and finally to Abraham. And what we’ve seen is that Abraham is a man, just like you or me. He’s come to trust God, and God has declared him righteous based on his faith alone, but there have also been times when Abraham really blew it and has messed up because his faith has wavered. There have been times when Abraham let his lack of understanding or his doubts get the better of him. But throughout it all, God has remained faithful. In-fact; last week we saw how God was aware of Abraham and Sarah’s wavering faith, and He reiterated the promise in order to give them assurance. And now… He’s dropping in for a visit again.
Now this is what we call a Theophany, which comes from two Greek words, “theo” Which means “God” and “phaneia” which means “to show.” Basically it’s a rare instance when God visibly shows Himself in some form to a human being. This isn’t the first time for Abraham. Remember in chapter 15 when God entered into covenant with him and Abraham had the vision of the “torch” passing between the offering? But this is the most intimate approach since God walked with Adam in the Garden. So why did God even bother to do this? Most likely its so that He can draw near to Abraham without killing him.
So… God takes on this human form, and this shows us how far He is willing to go to relate to Abraham and bring him assurance. Now think about that for a minute. There have been a lot of people throughout history who have said that God is impersonal; that He’s basically just created the world and left it to its own devices.
But this is showing us that God is personal, and that He’s personally invested in what’s going on here on earth. He hasn’t just wound it up like a clock and let it go. This is the Supreme Being, Almighty God, who created the heavens and the earth, and who created man in His image, and He is interested in His creation and wants a personal relationship with us. So God is not just Abraham’s Creator. James 2:23 says that “Abraham was a friend of God.” And that’s where we get our understanding that being a Christian isn’t just about being religious, but it’s about an individual, personal, intimate relationship with God through Christ.
So God comes to see Abraham, and we can see from our text that he’s a little bit surprised. The text implies that he was probably nodding off; which is understandable, it’s hot, and he’s 100 years old, and then suddenly he notices his heavenly visitors. He jumps up and runs toward them (and again that’s pretty impressive for a guy who’s 100 years old). Then he bows and says, “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant…” Now that’s telling us that Abraham must’ve understood that this was God. First of all he’s running around like a 10 year old, he’s bowing down, he calls Him “Lord” and he says literally, “If you will have grace on me now…” It’s actually pretty cool in the Hebrew, because what Abraham is saying is something like, “Lord if you will have grace on me now, don’t pass on by, but instead let me serve you.” That’s amazing to me. How many times do we go to the Lord in prayer and we say things like, “Lord please bless me.” “Lord I need this particular thing.” “Lord please do this particular thing for me.” But here’s Abraham saying, “How can I serve YOU?” That’s someone who has faith and who knows that God is going to supply all of his needs.