Genesis Chapter 18 Promise of Isaac and Promise of Sodom’s Destruction

Jul 1st, 2009 | By | Category: Genesis, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Genesis Chapter 18 Promise of Isaac and Promise of Sodom’s Destruction

Gen. 18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

Gen. 18:2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

The arrival or appearance of the three “men” to Abraham was like an appearance from Jehovah. The detailed description makes us feel that we were there with Abraham.

Notice Abraham’s posture: he was sitting in the door of his tent “in the heat of the day,” that is, around noontime when it was hot. The tent was located in the plains of Mamre in Hebron (Gen. 23:17-19). The burial plot Abraham later bought for Sarah was in a cave in the field of Machpelah in Mamre.

Abraham ran to meet the three men. He had been sitting in the tent door when he noticed in the distance the three men coming toward him. Although Abraham was about 100 years old at this time and he had been sitting, he rose up like a youth and ran to meet them. Here is an older man doing something few young people would do! Most would just rest and wait and stand up only when the visitors were within speaking distance. Abraham exhibited enthusiasm and hospitality. And he “bowed himself toward the ground.” God Himself had communicated with Abraham several times, and yet here Abraham bowed before the three strangers. No doubt they looked very noble, but it was still commendable of Abraham. And hence we are told, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2). Such generosity of spirit was a practice of Abraham’s.

Gen. 18:3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

Abraham’s use of the address “My Lord” indicates that one of the three “men” had an even more noble appearance—and of course he would be the Logos.

Gen. 18:4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

Verse 4 informs us that Abraham’s tent was near a tree. He told the three to sit in the shade, and he would get some water so that they could wash their feet and refresh themselves.

Gen. 18:5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

Abraham said he would “fetch a morsel of bread,” which turned out to be a feast. A Mideastern bedouin custom is to extend hospitality and safety to a guest. Since both Arabs and Jews descended from Abraham, the custom no doubt had its origin here.

Gen. 18:6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

Gen. 18:7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

Gen. 18:8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

The words “hastened,” ”quickly,” “ran,” and “hasted” give the thought of speed, for Abraham wanted to fulfill his obligation before the three continued on to their destination. He told Sarah to quickly knead and make bread of three measures of fine meal—these were generous portions. Next Abraham ran to the herd to get a choice “tender and good” calf, which “a young man” dressed in haste. Abraham then took butter, milk, and the dressed calf and served the three “men” (spirit beings). Like a servant, he stood under the tree with them while they ate to make sure everything was all right. When the meal was over, it was time for some conversation.

Gen. 18:9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

Sarah Laughed to herself

Sarah Laughed to herself

Gen. 18:10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

The three personages asked, “Where is Sarah thy wife?” The question shows they knew her name, recently given (Gen. 17:15). Now Abraham realized the three were more than just nobles, for they had superhuman intelligence—they were angels!

Sarah was in the tent. When she heard her name, her ears perked up. It is interesting that after “they” (plural) asked where Sarah was, the Logos (“he”) took over, announcing that Sarah would have a son.

The details of verse 10 reveal that the tree was in front of the tent door. Therefore, earlier, when Abraham had “sat in the tent door in the heat of the day,” the tree had shaded him (verse 1).

Gen. 18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

Abraham and Sarah were old, and Sarah’s child-bearing years had ceased.

Gen. 18:12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” In other words, she laughed silently, and her thoughts are revealed to us. Evidently, the Logos had his back to her while he talked to Abraham.

Here we learn that Sarah was hearing the message about Isaac’s birth for the first time, so Abraham had not told her of the experience that had taken place about a week earlier, when God announced the coming birth of Isaac in nine months (Gen. 17:15-21). The proof is that “Sarah laughed within herself” when she heard the news.

In regard to Genesis 18:1,2, we can surmise that while Abraham was sitting in the tent door around noon, he was probably thinking about God’s message, but he had not told Sarah because he did not want to discourage her. While he was meditating, the three “men” appeared in the distance.

Gen. 18:13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

Gen. 18:14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

The Logos asked Abraham, “Wherefore did Sarah laugh?” Then he rebuked her: “Is any thing too hard for the LORD [Jehovah]?”

Gen. 18:15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

Sarah denied that she had laughed because she was now afraid. (Her statement was true, for she had not laughed audibly.) However, the Logos responded, “You did laugh,” showing that even our thoughts are noted—and we are accountable for them.

Abraham had the same reaction when first told the news that Sarah would have a son (Gen. 17:17). He had laughed and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to one who is a hundred years old, and to Sarah, who is 90?” Sarah laughed within herself and said, “Shall we, who are old, have such pleasure?” (Gen. 18:12).

Gen. 18:16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

The three rose up and started to depart, their faces being set in the direction of Sodom.

Abraham realized they were determined to go to Sodom, and he “went with them to bring them on the way.” An Arab/bedouin custom is not only to greet and extend hospitality to visitors but also to escort them a short distance to see that they start safely on their journey.

Gen. 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

Gen. 18:18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

Gen. 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Speaking for Jehovah, the Logos said in effect, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do, seeing that he will be faithful?” In view of the fact that Abraham was proclaimed faithful even though he had not finished his course—and hence would have prophetic information disclosed to him—what is the lesson for us? The principle is that God always informs His people in advance of things necessary for them to know if they have sufficient interest. When the due time comes for revealing, the information is given to the Lord’s servants. “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Gen. 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

Gen. 18:21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

Gen. 18:22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

“Sodom” represents Christendom. Because of his faithfulness up to that point, Abraham was told that Sodom was to be destroyed. Abraham was the father of the faithful, that is, the father of a special class of the faithful. (Rom. 4:16). Sometimes the revealing does not come until prophecy is fulfilled, but many prophecies are to be understood in advance.

In telling Abraham, the three tried to maintain their role that they were just passing through. The revealing occurred along seemingly natural lines, but Abraham realized the three were superior beings. Although they knew the condition of Sodom, they intentionally used a casual method for Abraham’s development and to give him time to think. If things are done too suddenly, opportunities are lost—both for the teller and for the recipient—so a diplomatic approach was used here to bring out certain responses in Abraham.

The report was that Sodom’s sin was “very grievous,” and the three were going there to see if the report was accurate. Right away the thought dawned on Abraham that Lot was in Sodom, and Abraham was concerned for the few righteous. The other two “men” continued on, but Abraham delayed the Logos.

Gen. 18:23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

Gen. 18:24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

Gen. 18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Gen. 18:26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

Gen. 18:27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

Gen. 18:28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

Gen. 18:29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.

Gen. 18:30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

Gen. 18:31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord:

Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.

Gen. 18:32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

Gen. 18:33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

What an interesting account! Abraham kept trying to bargain, but he was afraid to go below ten righteous individuals because Lot and his family might get destroyed too. However,  Abraham would have realized that there were not even ten righteous in the whole city. His words are interesting each time he asked that the number be lowered. He became increasingly timid to speak but asked anyway. How dreadful was the condition of Sodom that not even ten righteous could be found!

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