A Prophetic Visit — Genesis Chapter 18
This blog post will cover the devotionals #91, 92 for Genesis Chapter 18.
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 Genesis 18:1-15
It’s interesting that, as soon as Abraham saw the three men at his tent, he knew that the Lord was there. It says that He appeared to him, which is what we saw happen previously, when Abraham was ninety-nine years old (Genesis 17:1). Thus, he probably knew it was God because he recognized Him from the last meeting they had. He quickly asked them to stay and rest so he could refresh them. They stayed long enough for bread and beef to be cooked, and they ate and had their feet washed. After they finished eating, they began their conversation by inquiring about his wife—calling her by name. He repeated the same message from their last meeting. ‘Sarah, your wife, will have a son.’ The first time God told Abraham this, Abraham laughed in his heart because of how old they were. This time, Sarah heard it and she laughed in her heart for the same reason. Of course, God knew what was in her heart—just like He had known with Abraham—and asked, “‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Will I, who am old, surely bear a child?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord?...Sarah will have a son.’” Sarah denied laughing out of fear (as if she could hide even her thoughts from God Himself), saying, ‘I did not laugh.’ God simply responded, ‘No, but you did laugh.’ Both Abraham and Sarah had gone through experiences of belief mingled with doubt—they believed something God said would happen, but didn’t believe He would do it His way, and they thought they knew better how to work it out (or that it couldn’t actually be worked out). God was so patient but straight-forward in constantly reassuring them that, despite their doubt or fear, He was in control. I love the way that Sarah worded her internal dialog, “‘Will I have pleasure?’” Even at her old age, it'd still be pleasing to bear a child. Thus, both these points are addressed in Isaiah 55:11, 12. “Thus My word will be, which goes forth out of My mouth: it will not return to Me void, but it will accomplish that which I please, and it will prosper in the thing I sent it to do. You will go out with joy and be led forth with peace: the mountains and hills will break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
 Genesis 18:16-33
We saw the Lord coming to meet with Abraham once again in devotional #91, and after they’d eaten, they spoke about Sarah’s upcoming pregnancy and her response to it. As they got up to leave, however, they had one more thing to say to Abraham. He accompanied them on the way out, heading towards Sodom. At that point, God stated that He shouldn’t hide from Abraham what He was going to do (or, as we’ll see later, what He was going to allow to happen), because he’d become a great and mighty nation and train his household to walk in God’s ways. Thus, He said, “Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which has reached Me; and if not, I will know.” Abraham knew what that meant, and he humbly approached God, asking, “Will You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” Why did God come to have that conversation with Abraham? Did he need to be reminded that Sarah would have a son? Maybe. Did he need to know that God was going to give up Sodom and Gomorrah to the natural consequences of their sins? Probably not. However, we know how God feels about letting His children perish, and how He wants us to cooperate with Him in preventing it from happening (we’ll discuss what ended up happening with the cities of the plain in our Genesis 19 devotionals). Ezekiel 22:30, 31 says, “And I searched for a man among them that would make up the hedge and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I would not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore, I have poured out My indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath: I have repaid their own way upon their heads.” God came to Abraham because He knew his character and that he’d stand on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah in intercessory prayer. God wanted someone to pray so that He would be allowed to step in and spare them from what was coming (just as He had wanted with Noah and the Antediluvians). This was necessary because God never forces His presence where He isn’t wanted. The people of the cities of the plain certainly didn’t want Him, nor were they praying for His presence in their life or their cities. Abraham did that before God even left his presence! He asked if God would spare them if fifty were righteous, which He agreed to. He continued asking the same thing, but for ten less each time (I think Abraham knew that there was a small chance of there being so many righteous in the wicked cities), forty, thirty, twenty, and lastly, just ten. He also knew his nephew and family were there too, so that probably made his petition even stronger. God agreed to protect the cities for even ten righteous. The wicked don’t realize that they owe the preservation of their life to the presence of the righteous in their land. Not only is their area (and thus, their life) maintained for the sustaining of the life of the righteous, but even without the presence of the righteous, they themselves are maintained because of the prayers of the righteous—who invite God on their behalf.