Summary: Christmas reminds us how God can do the impossible
Is Anything to Hard for the Lord?
In our study of the life of Abraham we have noticed, many times, encounters between the Lord and Abraham. It was the voice of the Lord that called Abraham to leave his familiar surroundings and go to the land of promise. It was the voice of the Lord, heard through Pharaoh that rebuked Abraham for leaving the land of promise and going to Egypt. It was the voice of the Lord that told Abraham, after he separated from his nephew lot, to look up and see the land that he was giving to Abraham’s descendants. It was the voice of the Lord, heard through the Melchizedek that reminded Abraham of his source of victory and blessing. It the voice of the Lord, through a vision, that the Lord cut his covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter fifteen.
In all of the Lord’s encounters with Abraham, three of those encounters had to do with the appearing of the Lord before Abraham. The first time that the Lord Appeared to Abraham is found in the seventh verse of the twelfth chapter of Genesis; there we read, “The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.” The next time the Lord appears to Abraham is in chapter seventeen. In Genesis chapter seventeen we are told in the very first verse, “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram…” The appearing of the Lord in Genesis twelve and seventeen precedes the voice of the Lord. Most of the encounters have been n audible, and somewhat visual through means of visions. But two of those encounters are described in a visual manner of God appearing. We can only speculate on how the Lord appeared, but the evidence given in verse twenty-two of chapter seventeen reveals that at least one of these appearings of the Lord was a visual appearing, “When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.” Clearly this advent of the Lord was a visual advent to Abraham.
In Genesis chapter eighteen we are once again confronted with the reality of the advent of the Lord to Abraham. That is, the Lord, after going up from Abraham in verse twenty-two, will now once again appear to Abraham, “Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre.” The text does not tell us exactly who the Lord appeared to, but we can know that the antecedent to the personal pronoun “him” here in verse one is none other than the Abraham of the previous chapter.
The fact that the author uses a personal pronoun for Abraham instead of his proper name gives us indication that this chapter is connected to the previous chapter. In the previous chapter the Lord appeared to Abraham to reaffirm and expand his covenant with him. In chapter eighteen the Lord’s appearing deals with the covenant with Abraham, but here he will not expand upon it. This time he reaffirms the promise of the child through Sarah, but now, in chapter eighteen, Sarah is going to be aware of the promise, if she is not already, and if she is, she is going to hear it from the Lord himself.