The Lord Visits Abraham
Comments for Study 14
Memory Verse 18:18-19
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I. Three Visitors (18:1-15)
>1. How did Abraham show hospitality to the guests? How is Abraham's actions described? What was the content of the meal? How did members of Abraham's household participate in serving the guests? What does this show about his family? About the LORD?
Genesis 18:1 "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."
* "The LORD" -In Hebrew "YHWH" or "Yahweh". See lesson 2 for expounding on this. Also see the comments to the proceeding chapter.
* "appeared to Abraham" -One of the characteristics of being God's child is that he is with us and appears to us, but not in all his glory (Matt. 28:20). In chapter eighteen's case, the LORD appeared to Abraham as an angel. Most would say that in this day the LORD does not appear to men as he did to Abraham and the rest of the Old Testament peoples. I believe that this has been true in most cases but it does not mean that he hasn't been appearing to more and more people in the last few years in dreams and visions. Yet it is true that Jesus will not rest his foot on the earth again until he comes in glory with his angels. Jesus himself said in Matthew 26:29, "I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." (See also Mark 14:25, Luke 22:16) And in Matthew 24:23-27, "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (See also Mark 13:21, Luke 17:23-24). Finally, in Acts chapter 1 the angles said he will come as he ascended and Revelation reveals that all in the world will see him coming at the same time, not on an individual basis.
To make myself clear I believe there can be and will be exceptions; such as Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus (9:3-5,27); to Ananias in 9:10; to Ap. Peter in Acts 10, to Ap. Paul again in Acts 18:6 and in chapter 23:11 the LORD stood by Apostle Paul. The LORD also appeared to Apostle John when he was given the book of Revelations.
* "near the great trees of Mamre" -Abraham had been here before in chapters 13 (verse 18) and chapter 14 (verse 13).
* "while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent" -This was in the shade as well as most likely, equivalent to sitting at the gate of a city.
* "in the heat of the day" -early afternoon.
Genesis 18:2 "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."
* "Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby" -At least two of the "men" were angels as indicated in 19:1. This seems to also be the case in 16:7 when the "angel of the LORD" appeared to Hagar. The third may have been the LORD himself (1,13,17,20,26,33 and especially 22).
* "men" -The fact that the LORD appeared as a man shows that God can come in the flesh. Thus the teaching that Jesus is God in the flesh is nothing new to the Bible.
* "When he saw them, he hurried for the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground" -The story in 2-8 illustrates Near Eastern hospitality in several ways: 1. Abraham gave prompt attention to the needs of his guests (2,6-7), 2. He bowed low to the ground (2), 3. He politely addressed one of his guests as "my lord" and called himself "your servant" before he realized that they were angels (3,5); 4. He acted as if it would be a favor to him if they allowed him to serve them (3-5); 5. He asked that water be brought to wash their feet (4); 6. He prepared a lavish meal for them (5-8); 7. He stood nearby (8), assuming the posture of a servant (22), to meet their every wish.
Hebrews 13:2 is probably a reference to this passage and 19:1-3. It says, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."
Genesis 18:3 "He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by."
* "If I have found favor in you eyes" -Again showing hospitality. (See above.)
* "my lord" -(See above.) This was just to show hospitality. Abraham did not know it was the LORD yet. Notice the small case letters.
Genesis 18:4-5 ""Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 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.""
* "Very well," they answered, "do as you say." -The LORD did not reveal himself right away. He let Abraham serve him and the angels first.
Genesis 18:6 "So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread."
* "Sarah. "Quick get..." -Sarah helped. She did not complain.
* "bread" -A plural word referring to round, thin loaves.
Genesis 18:7-8 "Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 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."
* "gave it to a servant" -distribution of the work.
>2. What was the message of good news they brought? What was Sarah's response to the good news? Did they want her to overhear? Why?
Genesis 18:9 ""Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him. "There, in the tent," he said."
* Here the LORD made mention of Sarah thus revealing the purpose of the visit; that is to reveal that she would be the mother of the promised son. The LORD wanted her to overhear and for her to know that they wanted her to overhear.
Genesis 18:10-12 "Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him." Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?"
* Paul quotes this promise of Isaac's birth in Romans 9:9 and relates it to Abraham's spiritual offspring.
* "laughed" -In disbelief, as also Abraham had at first in 17:17 (or so some believe, but not all).
* Because of verse 11 it can be said that not only does the LORD know what we do in secret, but he also knows why we do it.
>3. What did the LORD say to Sarah? Why? What did he want her to learn?
Genesis 18:13-14 "Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."
* "Then the LORD said to Abraham" -The LORD did not talk to Sarah about here laugh here but Abraham. Why? Some would say that as the husband he was responsible for her.
* "Why did Sarah laugh" -Not that the LORD didn't know, but that the LORD wanted to reveal something to Sarah and Abraham.
* "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" -The answer is no, for Sarah as well as for her descendants Mary and Elizabeth (Luke 1:34-37). Nothing within God's will, including creation (Jer. 32:17) and redemption (Matt. 19:25-26), is impossible for him.
Genesis 18:15 "Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not laugh." But he said, "Yes, you did laugh."
* Sarah's change of attitude was to the right. But here lying showed that she did not accept the fact that God is omnipresent, omniscience, and omnipotent.
* "But he said" -The LORD was very patient with Sarah in his teaching her. The LORD is patient, forgiving and understanding.
II. Abraham Pleads for Sodom (18:16-33)
>4. Why did the LORD ask the question in verse 17? Why did the LORD chose Abraham? What is "the way of the LORD"? How is this related to God's promise to Abraham (19)?
Genesis 18:16-19 "When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."
* Abraham was God's friend, and because he was now God's covenant friend, God convened his heavenly council at Abraham's tent. There he announced his purpose for Abraham and for the wicked of the plain-redemption and judgement. He thus even gave Abraham opportunity to speak in his court and to intercede for the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham was later called a prophet. Here, in Abraham, is exemplified the great privilege of God's covenant people throughout the ages: God has revealed his purposes to them and allows their voice to be heart (in intercession) in the court of heaven.
* "so that he will direct his children" -Abraham was to teach his children of the LORD and the way of the LORD and the promise of the LORD. In this way Abraham was a shepherd to his household.
* Matthew 10:15 says, "I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town."
And Matthew 11:23 says, "And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day."
* "chosen" -Literally "known" as in Amos 3:2.
>5. Is verses 17-19 connected to 20-21? Why? What outcry is the LORD talking about? What did it lead the LORD to do? What would he know by seeing the city? Why did he tell Abraham this?
Genesis 18:20-21 "Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."
* "outcry" -A cry of righteous indignation (as in the blood of Able) that became one of the reasons for the destruction of the cities (19:13).
* "sin so grievous"- The sin of Sodom was already proverbial and remained so for centuries.
* "I will go down" -The result would be judgment, but God also comes down to redeem.
* "see" -Not a denial of God's infinite knowledge but a figurative way of stating that he does not act out of ignorance or on the basis of mere complaints.
* God destroyed Sodom as an example to Abraham to what happens to the ungodly. 2 Peter 2:6-8 says, "if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)--"
>6. What was Abraham's prayer topic? Why was he so concerned about Sodom? What does this show about him? What does his prayer show about his relationship with the LORD? What does the LORD's response to Abraham's continual plead show about him and how he viewed Abraham?
Genesis 18:22-25 "The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing--to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
* Our prayer to God can change the course of history, within God's will and approval. James 5:15-18 says, "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops."
* Lot's family was in Sodom. Abraham still had a shepherd's heart for Lot and his family. Abraham risked himself for Lot.
Genesis 18:26 "The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
Genesis 18:27-28 "Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?" "If I find forty-five there," he said, "I will not destroy it."
* "I am nothing but dust and ashes" -Abraham's attitude before God was not based on his godliness or self-righteousness, but on the LORD's love and grace.
* We can learn about prayer from Abraham; to be humble, persistent, bold, open to God-like talking to him.
* Abraham based his plead on God's justice and authority and righteousness.
* God listens to our requests and is patient. He wants us to pray to him.
Genesis 18:29-30 "Once again he spoke to him, "What if only forty are found there?" He said, "For the sake of forty, I will not do it." Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?" He answered, "I will not do it if I find thirty there.""
Genesis 18:31-33 "Abraham said, "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?" He said, "For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it." Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?" He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it." When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home."
III. The LORD Destroys Sodom (19:1-38)
>7. How did Lot show hospitality to the two angels? How does Lot's hospitality compare to Abraham's? How did the people of Sodom treat Lot and his guests? Were there as many as ten righteous men in the city? (4-5)
Genesis 19:1 "The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground."
* "he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground"-A sign of complete submission and worship.
Genesis 19:2 ""My lords," he said, "please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning." "No," they answered, "we will spend the night in the square.""
* "My lords" -In Hebrew "adown" or "Adon" or "Adoni." It is from an unused root meaning; "to rule; sovereign, i.e. controller (human or divine):-lord, master, owner."
Like "Elohim, Adonai is a plural of majesty. The singular meaning is above. It is used, as might be expected, of the relationship between men (like master and slave, Ex. 21:1-6). When used of God's relationship to men it conveys the idea of his absolute authority. Joshua recognized the authority of the Captain of the LORD's hosts (Josh. 5:14), and Isaiah submitted to the authority of the LORD, his Master (Isa. 6:8-11). The New Testament equivalent is "Kurios" and translated "Lord" by the NIV.
Since "Yahweh" was God's personal name by which he was known to Israel, in postexilic times it began to be considered so sacred that it was not pronounced. Instead the term "Adonai" was usually substituted, and by the sixth-seventh centuries A.D. the vowels of Adonai were combined with the consonants YHWH to remind the synagogue reader to pronounce the sacred name as Adonai. From this came the artificial word "Jehovah". But all of this underscores the awe in which the name "Yahweh" was held.
* "No" -Lot was a little ashamed of his surroundings.
* Bad company can corrupt a good character.
Genesis 19:3-5 "But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom--both young and old--surrounded the house. They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."
* differences with Abraham: no calf, no help, he didn't run.
* "all the men from every part of the city of Sodom"
* "both young and old--surrounded the house" -all ages were wicked.
* "so that we can have sex with them" -homosexuality
>8. What can you learn here about Lot's relationship with the people of the city? What does 2 Peter 2:7 say about his life in Sodom?
Genesis 19:6-8 "Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."
* "No, my friends" -so he wouldn't get hurt.
* "Don't do this wicked thing" -2 Peter 2:7, "and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men"
* "Look, I have two daughters" -where Lot got his wife is never revealed but it can be said that most likely he was not married when he left Haran with Abraham.
* "who have never slept with a man" -Lot was raising his family in the ways of the righteousness amongst sinful neighbors.
* "Let me bring them out to you and you can do what you like with them" -Lot didn't like his daughters to well as compared to those who visited him. When this was proposed in Judges 19:22-25 it happened. Lot's actions here aren't those to be followed for it's not out of love, but out of the right thing to do.
Genesis 19:9-11 ""Get out of our way," they replied. And they said, "This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We'll treat you worse than them." They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door."
* "This fellow came here as an alien" -Lot wasn't that close to them.
>9. What did God's servants decide to do about Sodom (12-13)? How did Lot respond to the angel's warning and urgent push to leave? Why was it so hard for him to leave? Why did he finally go? Where did he want to go? Why?
Genesis 19:12-14 "The two men said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here--sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking."
Genesis 19:15 "With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.""
Genesis 19:16-17 "When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!"
* "When he hesitated" -Lot had all his possessions there. He enjoyed the rich life.
* "the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and let them safely out of the city for the LORD was merciful to them" -Remember Abraham's prayer.
Genesis 19:18-20 "But Lot said to them, "No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it--it is very small, isn't it? Then my life will be spared."
* "Look here is a town near enough to run to" -Lot thought he would die if he went to the mountains. His heart was in the world. He lacked trust in God.
Genesis 19:21-22 "He said to him, "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it." (That is why the town was called Zoar.)"
Genesis 19:23 "By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land."
Genesis 19:24 "Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens."
* "Then the LORD...from the LORD" -In this verse the LORD is distinguished from the LORD. The first is the LORD on the earth with Abraham, the second in heaven. This is a example in the Old Testament of the trinity, although only two LORD's can be stated for sure here. Both are "YHWH" or "Yahweh" in the original Hebrew. This happens again in the Old Testament in Hosea 1:4-7.
Charles C. Ryrie's book Basic Theology has a good write up on the trinity.
>10. What happened to Lot's wife? Why? To Sodom and Gomorrah?
Genesis 19:25-26 "Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities--and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."
Genesis 19:27-29 "Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."
>11. What was the problem of Lot's daughters? How did they rationalize their sin? What was the tragic fruit of this family? What can you learn from contrasting the faith and lives of Abraham and Lot?
Genesis 19:30-32 "Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. Let's get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father."
* "for he was afraid to stay in Zoar" -because of what the LORD did to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Genesis 19:33 "That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up."
Genesis 19:34-36 "The next day the older daughter said to the younger, "Last night I lay with my father. Let's get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father." So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father."
Genesis 19:36-38 "So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today."
* "Moab...Ben-Ammi" -Both were later against God's people.