1 And Yahweh appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

...the timetable of heaven was in motion, and Sarah needed to be gathered into the embrace of the promise, and nurtured into hope just as soon as might be possible. The angel therefore appeared again unto the man, but he had come for the woman; for this visitation, although conducted through Abraham as head of his household, was expressly for the benefit of Sarah his wife, that she might be brought to faith.

And this time the angel did not appear alone, but came with two companions from the holy ones. Whatever would be said to Sarah this day would be established in the ears of two or three witnesses, who could vouch in heaven that the woman had heard the vital words. If she accepted them, they would lead her to the joy of conception, for the thought they contained was life-giving indeed.

Three strange and unexpected travellers

Now the appearance of the three was on this wise. The man of God sat at the entrance of his tent, beneath the shade of a mighty tree. The dwellings of Abraham had long been pitched among the sturdy oaks of Mamre, which lay northwards of Hebron through the valley of Eshcol. There the patriarch lived, canopied by the guardian arms of the ancient oak, which overhung the curtains of their tent. The leafy branches cast their dappled shade across the dwelling, and their shadow was welcome.

Each morning, in the hot months, the tent flap was opened and fastened back to encourage every little breeze, no matter how slight or shy or soft, to waft its freshness through the rooms. Abraham sat then in his tent opening in meditation and prayer, for the heat of the day 1 was especially fierce at noon, and noon 2 was thus a time for petition and rest.

The heat told not only the time of day, but the time of year also. For these were the months of harvest, when the maturing sun with gentle but irresistible power commanded the fruitful season.

The time of reaping had already passed and the garners were full of wheaten mounds of glistening grain. The vines of the valley had been gleaned and pressed, and the pure blood of the grape stored in earthen jars. The heat of harvest, which lay heavy upon the land, would soon make ready the olives for shaking and warm to mellow sweetness the dusky dates and last ripe figs, those precious fruits of the sun.

The days were hot, but this was the warmth that would swell the gourds and plump the nuts, and 'fill all fruit with ripeness to the core'. Summer was the season when all nature proclaimed God's power to nourish the conception of spring unto the birth of harvest.

He was Ail Shaddai indeed, who made all the land to be exceeding fruitful, by the outstretching of His hands. Surely, thought Abraham, if but one finger of God could touch his wife, she might be likewise blessed with this fruitful season. It was while thus he thought, and had perchance prayed, that a movement through the oaks caught his eye.

He was certainly startled to see these three men who stood almost beside his tent, travellers on a journey. For herein was a strange thing. Abraham's tent was in the very centre of the camp, and around him on every side were the places of loyal men who could be trusted quickly to detain any strangers who wandered without authority through a camp that was not theirs. How, then, the men had managed to arrive unopposed and unannounced before his own dwelling, was a mystery to the patriarch.

Yet despite the dramatic suddenness of their appearance before his tent, there was nothing remarkable about the men themselves that excited either curiosity or caution. They appeared footsore and travel stained from the dust of the road on which they marched, but apart from thisthey seemed quite ordinary, even to the patriarch's practiced eye.

He looked, but did not know them, of that he was certain. They were in fact perfect strangers, although just how perfect Abraham would only realize a little later. Abraham had always been a hospitable man, and to him every stranger was to be treated as an invited guest.

When therefore he espied these visitors his face lit up with genuine pleasure, and with the enthusiasm for which he was justly famed, he ran out to welcome them, wincing only a little when he stopped and bowed. 3

1  2 Samuel 4:5; Job 24:19; Isaiah 18:4; Jeremiah 17:8.

2  Psalm 55:17.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 5

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

Abraham is our example towards strangers and guests and brethren and sisters (Heb 13;1) Fear not to entertain (philonexia = hospitableness from philoxenos = fond of guests) strangers.

...We Know not the day nor the hour, but that we are living in the last times is sure and certain.

Abraham sat in his tent in the heat of the day, when Yahweh appeared, as three shaddai (powerful ones, not Adam/mortals).

Yet they appeared as men, although mighty celestial beings and messengers of Yahweh and suddenly interrupted his reverie. What was Abraham thinking? Will we be like the five wise virgins who had their lamps full of oil, or the five foolish virgins besotted with this world and mundanities.

Abraham was immediately hospitable to these strangers. Notice this. He was not aloof and self-centred, rather warm, sacrificial, and eager to give rest and succour to these thirsty and weary travellers in the heat of the day who had come from afar. He did not close the door on them and hurry off. He did not treat them like lepers, outcasts and unclean and withold communication. This is all the flesh.

Bro Richard Lister - The Apocalyptic Messenger

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers

One of the men was evidently the leader and spokesman, and it was to him that Abraham addressed his words. The patriarch's discourse was a masterpiece of warmth and friendliness. There was a proper order for the extending of hospitality, and Abraham's gracious words, measured and genuine, missed nothing in the expansiveness of his kind and generous offer:

"My Lord", he said with characteristic humilfty, "pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant". Here then was the offer of sanctuary, given by beseeching them to stay and not to leave. His fervent welcome assured the men that he counted their visit as an honour, and that it would be his privilege to serve them.

Even now, his concern was for their care after the rigours of whatever journey had brought them here.

"Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet".

When the way was dusty, and the journey hot, travellers shod only in sandals experienced the greatest comfort in bathing tired feet. The water cooled and soothed, and left the whole body feeling refreshed and cleansed. When the pleasure of washing was done, there would be time enough to sit in peace, and Abraham urged the men therefore to "rest yourselves under the tree".

Every faithful host was concerned to see that guests had time to recover their strength, to rest tired limbs and to enjoy the blessing of shade, which gave respite from the merciless glare and relentless heat of the noonday sun.

Only when rest had brought its restorative power would sustenance be offered, but Abraham was quick to promise that he would fetch their needs, even as they rested. The portion he would bring before them, despite his own modest assessment of it as but "a morsel of bread", would fill the hungry soul, and 'comfort their hearts'.

A meal spent in the patriarch's company would, he promised, restore their vital powers and send them on their way with rejoicing of heart. And, lest his guests should demur at this unwonted generosity on his part, Abraham, with the lovely gentleness of persuasive tact, insisted that their very appearance in the midst of the camp was a providential opportunity, a heaven-sent chance that allowed him to refresh them this day.

"For therefore are ye come to your servant"

he said - and what he said, he meant. This was hospitality in all its gracious fulness: to promise safety, to bring water, to offer rest, to provide food and drink, to extend care, and to do all this with no regard for the inconvenience of the moment, the heat of the day, or the tiredness of his age.

He smiled at his visitors earnestly and solemnly they accepted his words, "So do, as thou hast said", they replied. Abraham called for water, that his guests might wash away the dust of Hebron that reddened their sandals and their feet.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 5

Entertaining three angelic visitors together

Whilst his visitors rested after the waters of washing, Abraham hastened into the tent, and besought Sarah to prepare the bread of fellowship, which was the foundation of all meals. Three things he asked of her, yea four in the fulfilment of this task.

The first was that only the best flour should be used in honour of their guests. The threshing and winnowing of the season was over, and the household had stores of the grain that would be baked as daily bread. But they also had fresh supplies of meal, ground only from the 'kidneys of wheat', the finest flour that would in aftertimes be used in the sacrifices of Israel. From this source alone 4 were the round hearth cakes of unleavened bread to be fashioned.

The second was that excellence of quality was to be matched by an abundance of provision. Three men had come and three measures would be prepared. Yet each of these was sufficient to feed and satisfy all three men, 5 and even then the fragments that remained would constitute an abundance.

Abraham's measure would err on the side of that generosity which is the partner of true and joyful hospitality. Enough and more than enough 6 was the spirit of this household that entertained angels unawares this day.

The third was that the cakes needed to be made with haste, so that the visitors might be provided for as soon as possible. The embers of the hearth needed to be raked clean, and the bread put to bake among the hot cinders of the fire, where it would quickly brown into the flat bread beloved throughout the east.

A sense of urgency and concern that none should be kept unduly waiting was part of the spirit of service that strove to render the best of care, in seeing to the comfort and welfare of their guests. If hospitality were to be shown, then it would be shown with open and willing hearts that rejoiced to serve to the uttermost.

How best might all this be done? Abraham knew the answer and had entered the tent for this very reason, for there within, was the one who was his boon companion in spiritual things. This then was his fourth request. It was Abraham's desire that Sarah herself should ready the meal, for she would do so after his spirit. It was, after all, a strange request to make.

There were hundreds of menservants who lived under the banner and charge of Abraham the Hebrew, and hundreds of maidservants, who might at his word have been commanded to bake bread for hundreds more of his household besides. 7 Yet Abraham asked Sarah herself to take the mixture and knead the dough, to blow upon the coals and stir the fire, to bake the bread and bring the cakes.

It was the token of his appreciation of the covenant promise so recently given to them. They were, by divine proclamation, solemnly bound together in the matter, and in honour and respect to his wife therefore, he bade her join him in the privilege of this service. Hospitality was a solemn duty and the honour lay in the performing of it personally.

Abraham therefore would wait upon his guests himself, and he invited Sarah to join him in an act of generosity that would come from their own loving hands. They would labour as one in the preparation of this fellowship meal for their unknown visitors. Were they indeed heirs together? Then they would extend hospitality together, and the warmth and alacrity of their service would show just how united they were.

Sarah smiled at him in his urgent haste and bent readily to the task of stirring the coals. She had always loved his spiritual enthusiasm and his ardour for the way of the truth, which never dimmed, vigorous now even in his old age. She took up flour of the best sort, and in ample measure, just as Abraham had instructed her, and soon she was busy with the part she would play in this mutual labour of love and service for others.

Their spirit of dedication would become an example to all their offspring. The work of hospitality is one of the few practical ways in which husband and wife can labour together in the truth, and it is a thing of joy that they can do so. True hospitality springs more easily from a happily married couple, and for these two, as for others, it would be a measure of the unity of their household.

4 Genesis 18:6: the expression "fine meal" is a combination of the two words - coleth (fine) and qemach (flour). The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states that whereas qemach was ground from whole kernels, coleth was ground exclusively from the inner kernels of the wheat. This finest of the wheat was the required standard for the mincah offering under the law (Leviticus 2:1). One Rabbinical commentary (Vajikra Rabba) describes coleth as the qemach of qemachs.

5 The term "measures" used in Genesis 18:6 is seah, three measures of which constituted an ephah. An ephah was ten omers, one of which provided a daily ration sufficient for sustenance (Exodus 16:16,36). Each seah measure therefore would have fed all three men for the entire day. Yet Abraham expended three times this amount in preparation to feed but three men for one meal. This was truly a copious provision.

6 This idea, enough and more than enough, is the spirit of the expression, "Give a portion to seven, and also to eight" (Ecclesiastes 11:2).

7 Given that he had 318 trained servants capable of fighting, it is estimated that Abraham's whole encampment may have been almost 1,000 in number (Genesis 14:14).

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah

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.

Hastening to render the honour of hospitality

Leaving his visitors, their visitors, resting beneath the great oak, Abraham ran again, this time to the herd. Despite the fact that he had herdsmen aplenty, he was anxious to select the animal himself. 8

His keen eye, alert and shining with the joy of service, sought and found a fine calf of the season. The young animal still drank of its mother's milk, and Abraham knew that the meat would be succulent and moist. The calf was separated from the herd and given to a young man with instructions to slay the animal, to drain the blood, and to bring a portion dressed for cooking to the fire.

The young man worked with deft speed, conscious ofAbraham's spirit of urgency. Abraham ran again to the tent, and soon maidservants were bustling to do his bidding. The meal was prepared swiftly, because the servants all hurried to their tasks. An old man commanded his household by the spirit of his own example and, imbued with his enthusiasm, they ran with haste to match the master, if they could! 9

The visitors, washed and rested, were ready to dine, and Abraham brought forth the fruits of the labours of his household. Flat wheaten cakes still warm were piled high in small woven baskets. A wooden platter, heaped with meat cooked in thin strips, was set down

before the men, and with it came bowls of leben, 10 sour but refreshing to the palate.

Lastly, Abraham offered the milk of the flock that they might drink their fill of its nourishing goodness. It was a lordly repast indeed greatly exceeding the morsel of bread he had promised them. To give beyond expectation is part of the wonder of true service.

All this then was set before the visitors, but it was in a sense, set before another as well. The food was given to the men, but the gladness of its giving was an offering unto God. The unleavened bread was the consecrated gift of their own labours, the works of their own hands.

The butter and milk betokened the richness of their generosity, and that choicest part of their service, the goodness of a willing heart. The savoury meat, tender and good, came from the slain offering of their own personal dedication.

Strangers cannot repay the kindness that is shown to them, but Abraham and Sarah sought no requital in kind, for this was their free will offering to God. Their hospitality was a sacrifice and one that pleased the Father well, for that which His messengers consumed, God Himself had indeed accepted.

Abraham did not partake with the three, for he had already eaten before the men arrived. Besides, it was his pleasure to stand on their attendance, observant of their needs, ready to step forward and remove an empty bowl or add to their drinking vessel. His position as chief of his c!an did not stop him from serving in humility, and herein lay a part of his greatness. 11

8 The phrase in Genesis 18:7, "and Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good" suddenly assumes greater significance concerning the patriarch's own spirit of service, when the size of his encampment is considered.

9 Note that this becomes a key aspect of this episode. Abraham hastened to Sarah (Genesis 18:6), he asked her to hasten the cooking of the cakes (verse 6), the young man hastened to dress the calf (verse 7). It was all Abraham's spirit!

10 Genesis 18:8: The. term for butter, chemah, is descriptive of a sour milk culture similar to modern Jewish leben. It follows a similar procedure to yoghurt but uses a different microbiological culture.

11 Such also is the spirit and character of Christ (Luke 12:37).

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah

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 "word of promise" 12

There could be nothing plainer or clearer than these simple powerful words. They contained within themselves the vital proof of their certain fulfilment, for the guarantee of accomplishment lay not with them but with God.

"I will return" was the promise made, and hidden within this declaration, so definite and sure, was the promise of the outpouring of spirit power that would quicken both the man and his wife, and make possible the birth of the son of their love.

How glorious had been their hospitality this day, offered to angels unaware. They had welcomed strangers without any thought of personal reward, but had, in fact, entertained heaven's immortal and illustrious ambassadors. And how gloriously were they blessed with heaven's repayment. For here was a recompense of their kindness, which so far exceeded

their own generosity as to eclipse it in glory.

12 For so it is described by the apostle (Romans 9:9).

13 The apostolic admonitions to hospitality seem almost certainly to have Abraham and Sarah's example as their foundation (Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Peter 4:9,10). In particular the famous passage of Paul is clearly an inspired commentary on this very episode (Hebrews 13:2).

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 5

11 Now [Avraham] and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

Embracing the covenant blessing together

Abraham's determination to fulfil God's requirement affected Sarah. She knew this much, that everything Abraham had reported, he believed. He would not have asked the menfolk to perform this embarrassing and painful operation, unless the divine commandment was so. And if he was determined to fulfil the angelic command with such speed and diligence, it was obvious that he believed the promise with all his heart.

She knew from the remarkable events of this day that he was convinced, and she yearned to share his conviction with all her heart. But Sarah was not yet ready to join him on the top of the mountain. She still stood with leaden feet in the valley below and knew not how to climb.

Abraham understood his wife's dilemma. He had heard the angel speak, and she had not. His spirit of faith helped him to see the end in view, but Sarah could only see the way and the enormous difficulties that lay strewn along the path. His own faith had soared when the angel had spoken, but beyond the entreaties he had already made, he knew not how to lift her thinking to see the impossible and dare to believe that it could be done. How could he transport her into the heights he had known and warm her heart to the certainty of the son who would come?

He had indeed understood great things this day, for he had learned that he and Sarah were equal in the sight of God when it came to the fulfilment of this promise. But there was so much to do, to bring them both to equality of faith, and he had learned most of all that this was now his special, personal responsibility. He needed to be appreciative of her complete involvement in the promise, and to convince her of the truth of this.

He needed to be sympathetic of her fears, and to spend time with her in order to build and nourish that faith which casts out fear. He needed to be considerate of her needs in this matter, which were vastly different from his. He needed to give honour unto his wife, to help her overcome her personal feelings of inadequacy. In short, he needed to show the spirit of loving sacrifice in care for her state, so that they might truly embrace this covenant blessing together. All this would require patience and love and time.

He had leapt to the conviction of faith, in joyous disregard of the physical impossibilities that confronted them. He had simply believed, but she was not ready. She would match him yet, but she would come to faith by a different way. With Sarah, the practicalities were not so easily set aside. A man might brush them off as obstacles of little moment, but she was a woman and she knew how real the difficulties were.

Only when her heart was won and her feelings of doubt assuaged, could her mind be centred firmly on the promise and the prospect of its fufilment. There was much for Abraham to do indeed, that he might 'dwell with her according to knowledge, and as being heirs together of the grace of life. 23

Abraham gave earnest thought to the matter over the days that followed the angelic visitation. He had time to do so, for all the men abode in the camp for several days until they were made whole again. 24 Yet he need not have been concerned. For even as he pondered on how to help his wife, help was at hand. Ail Shaddai would not provide this promise without also providing the means for its fulfilment.

The Angel of the Name manifest to Abraham, was even now travelling near their very encampment, and would appear shortly. Did Sarah need the proof that Abraham already had? Then the angel of God's love would visit them again, and this time she herself would hear his glorious voice.

22 Genesis 17:23,26 - note the expression, the 'selfsame' day.

23 1 Peter 3:7: there is much in this passage that is singularly apposite to the situation in which Abraham now found himself. The recognition that his wife was indeed the heir together with him of the promise of the "grace of life" was the very circumstance of the moment, and may have been the basis for the apostle's comment.

24 After the manner of Joshua 5:8.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 4

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

The laughter of anguished inadequacy

Sarah, listening at the tent door, could not see the face of the angel, but she could hear the tone of his voice. There was nothing doubtful about his words, for they rang with an assurance and conviction that stirred her. But the practicalities of her position were inescapable, and she knew it. For all her married life, year after year, she had experienced the normal signs of ability to bear children.

Many moons had passed before she had realized that perhaps she was barren, yet even then hope had not been extinguished entirely. For these were the years of her youthfulness, when flesh was firm and eyes sparkled, when hair glowed lustrous and shining, and still the bloom of vital freshness clung to her person like a rare fragrance.

There was still time enough to give birth. But early years gave way to the seasons of maturity that rolled across their lives, and Sarah had known them all, as only a woman is aware of them. Each season was unique, yet similar in this one thing, that despite the continuing cycle of her womanhood, the joyous hope of bearing a child had gradually, inexorably, faded further away.

And now old age had come and settled like a mantle upon her, and her silver hair was the sign of a woman old enough to care for grandchildren, but far too old for motherhood itself. Her body told her so, for now the final proof had come. She had been brought to the point where fruitfulness was no longer possible, for

"it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women"

Faced with the indisputable evidence of her own body, she could not see beyond its incapacity. She yearned to accept the promise of life, but her own feelings of inadequacy and weakness were a barrier that prevented the conception of faith.

"And it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" (Genesis 18:11,12)

Such was her situation that some time had now elapsed since they had come together as one flesh. They were one in mind and heart, but to be one in body was no longer their experience. And if the joy of this had passed, then the unutterable pleasure of bearing a child as a result of their union was a thing not even to be contemplated. 14

Alone with her thoughts, she laughed within herself, but her laughter was the emotion of personal doubt and fear. She was neither bitter nor sarcastic, for her careful and loving tone in speaking of Abraham told otherwise. This woman who reverenced her husband, and that in her heart, was not of a scornful spirit. Her laughter, self-deprecating and wry, was instead the measure of her painful hurt, for had she not laughed, she would have wept.

At once the angel spoke with the woman's lord.

"Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?"

The question, immediate and pointed, surprised both husband and wife. Abraham, unable to read his wife's thoughts and unaware of her reaction, was disturbed at what the angel had suggested. As for Sarah, she was amazed beyond words.

She had laughed within herself, and yet the man had heard her. Surely it was not possible. And yet his words, with uncanny and uncomfortable accuracy, had focused on the one thing that she had dwelt upon, her inability to bear through oldness of age. Could it be that the man really had read her mind so plainly?

She was suddenly smitten with the uneasy thought that this stranger was no earthly visitor, but the messenger, perhaps, of heaven itself.

14 The matter of pleasure here must reach beyond the mere restoration of physical intimacy. The promise was specifically - "Sarah shall have a son", and this is the immediate context for the reference to the pleasure or delight she did not dare to contemplate. Similarly, the angel's reiteration afterwards is not to the experience of mere pleasure in being one flesh with her husband, but again to the promise that she shall indeed bear a son.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah

 Admin. Having browsed through various translations I  suggest they do favour Bro Roger's interpretation of Gen 18: 12. Marriages though close and loving may also become platonic in declining years. This resulting from physical decline and/ or deteriorating health. This appears to be their case "Now [Avraham] and Sarah were old and well stricken in age" [v11] 

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

With God all things are possible

The angel, without pausing for a spoken answer, continued his words, and Sarah knew with that swift and sudden rush of certainty, that here was the angel of God. She looked at her husband, and knew from his countenance that it was so.

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

The angel's challenge concerning the omnipotent power of God was searching, and they both knew the answer. There was nothing wrong with Sarah's distrust of the flesh, but distrust of God was a matter altogether different.

To be so filled with our own inabilities that we consider God Himself to be incapable of solving them, is not humility but secret pride. To believe that our problems loom so large that even Ail Shaddai cannot lift and bear away their burden, is to vaunt our weakness above His strength.

Sarah's old age had extinguished all natural hope, but she had not replaced it with spiritual faith. Yet she was halfway there in dealing with her problem. She already knew that it was beyond her power to solve. All that was needed was for her to believe that it was not beyond God's.

The angel's words, spoken to a woman's heart, were echoed again and again in later testimonies on the divine omnipotence. 15 Truly there was nothing too hard for the Lord, for with God all things are possible. Abraham, the man of God, already believed this. It was time that his +ife joined him, and the angel's words would lead her there.

"I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son".

The very repetition of the words was a gentle admonition to believe them. But one thing more was added for Sarah to ponder upon. The visitation would be "at the time appointed". So this man knew the time of her conception, and if he knew the time, then he must also know the means. But if he knew the means, then surely he must be the angel of the Lord who had spoken with her husband, and promised that she would indeed bear a child at God's set time.

Sarah was suddenly afraid. She could but see his back parts and not his face, but she felt overwhelmed with the knowledge that the angel of God was here present in the midst. She was embarrassed and ashamed that she had laughed at his words, and anxious to cover her mistake.

15 Indeed, the spirit of this expostulation would reverberate throughout Scripture, as God repeatedly declared His power to perform anything He has promised (Numbers 11:23; Jeremiah 32:27; Zechariah 8:6; Luke 1:37). Such declarations culminate in the glorious statement of Ephesians 3:20.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 5

15 Indeed, the spirit of this expostulation would reverberate throughout Scripture, as God repeatedly declared His power to perform anything He has promised (Numbers 11:23; Jeremiah 32:27; Zechariah 8:6; Luke 1:37). Such declarations culminate in the glorious statement of Ephesians 3:20.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 5

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

Sarah's denial because of fear

Caught in a situation that was made awkward by its public nature, Sarah tried to cover her embarrassment by a little lie. Certain in herself that she had made no sound, she sought to deny the laughter of which the man accused her.

Her disavowal was wrong. Yet even godly men and women can sometimes utter foolish and untruthful things, especially when confused, or embarrassed, or afraid. All three were true of Sarah at this very moment, but especially was she afraid.

She was afraid of her own uncertainty and doubt that had prompted her reaction in the first place.

She was afraid of how Abraham might perceive her, especially after his efforts over the last few weeks to lift her mind to the possibilities of faith. She was afraid of her own inability to move injoy towards the promise. Her husband had run in gladness beyond the tent door when he saw the men who brought such hope. But she stood, immobile in the opening, and knew not how to pass beyond.

She was afraid at this public revelation of her inner thoughts, which hitherto she had imagined were secret only to herself. She was afraid of one who knew things about her which none ought to know, and afraid of what else such an one might say. She was afraid of the knowledge that she stood behind an angel, and perhaps most of all, afraid of the thought that his promise might be true. Yet this fear, which had led her to utter unwise words, might be turned to good account if it could be converted into the fear of the Lord that leadeth to life.

This the angel intended, and his mercy therefore would not allow her to escape from her own denial quite so easily. He would rebuke her, so that she might learn to fear the omniscient God who seest the reins and the heart.

The conversation of mortals can be confirmed beyond dispute by the earnest declaration of a 'nay, nay' 16 Yet a single nay from the lips of one of the Elohim is even more absolute in its decisiveness. "Nay", said the angel, "but thou didst laugh".

The words were not uttered in stern judgement or condemnation, but they were unequivocal all the same in calling her to account. The angel was insistent that Sarah consider her reaction. He wanted to impress upon her not only that he knew with certainty that she had laughed, but that he also knew why she had laughed.

He wanted her to appreciate that just as he could hear the grieving anguish of her heart that caused her to laugh within herself, so also could he see the doubtful thoughts of her mind which prompted such painful mirth. He would make her to understand that he, the angel of God, knew of her personal feelings of weakness, and yet was unwavering in the word of promise towards her. 17

Sarah knew of her own inadequacy with excruciating exactness, but the angel's purpose in speaking directly with her was to quicken her belief in the all sufficient, all surpassing greatness of the Lord, who alone could supply her deficiency.

The discussion was ended, and the men arose to take again their journey. At once Abraham was astir and seeking their intended direction, began to walk with them, moving beyond the camp on a path that travelled eastward. He knew, of course, that his guests were angels, but he would have done this anyway, for it was typical of the man that he would help to bring them forward on their journey.

From the first moment of greeting to the last moment of farewell, Abraham and Sarah's spirit of hospitality was a gracious offering of spiritual conversation, generous provision, and attentive care. Their hospitality extended even to the point of seeing their visitors safely on their way. 18

The primary purpose of these three was to visit God's wrath upon the grievous sin of Sodom, in an outpouring of fiery judgement that would destroy all who lived there. Yet in the marvellous economy of God's way, mercy had rejoiced against judgement this day, for before these ministers of flaming fire unleashed the mighty cataclysm, they had made this glad detour to the oaks of Mamre to ignite Sarah to the promise of life.

They left behind a subdued but thoughtful woman, who was now at least uncertain of her certainty, unsure of her earlier conviction that she could not bear. She was not alive to the fulness of faith as yet, but the first stirrings of thought had been kindled in her heart that would warm and heal the dreadful cold of her doubt. Her problem lay within herself It would need to be overcome there. But the secret to overcoming was to surrender herself entirely, first to thought, and then to belief in the wondrous and omnipotent power of God.

16 Matthew 5:37; James 5:12.

17 It is true that the expression, "I will return unto thee ... and Sarah shall have a son", uttered by the angel in both Genesis 18:10 and 14 would seem to embrace both the man and the woman in the promise of quickening. It is also true that both stood in need of this physical renewal (Romans 4:19). Yet the emphasis of the record, and of this angelic visitation, is clearly for the purpose of bringing Sarah rather than Abraham to faith.

The apostolic comment would seem to support this, for there the emphasis is on the divine intervention that would take place in her life rather than Abraham's. So, "For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son" (Romans 9:9).

18 The Abrahamic standard of farewell would likewise become the basis for apostolic custom and practice (Acts 15:3; Romans 15:24; 3 John 6). .

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 5

17 And Yahweh said [one of the angels speaking in soliloquy], Shall I hide from [Avraham] that thing which I do;

18 Seeing that [Avraham] shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of Yahweh, to do justice and judgment; that Yahweh may bring upon [Avraham] that which he hath spoken of him.

The friend of God and his family of faith

Whilst Sarah reflected to herself and Abraham walked the path with angels, the spokesman of this threefold company spoke as if in soliloquy...

The answer was self-evident. He was about to tell the patriarch the reason why they looked with such stern mien against the city where his nephew dwelt. He alone would be told of the impending catastrophe, but then he after all, was the Friend of God.

There are many who might claim a friendship for God, based upon their love of His principles and their obedience of His ways. But to claim a friendship from God is not the prerogative of any man. Only God Himself can declare whether He reciprocates the affections of earthly beings. Yet the Deity held this man in such esteem that he was counted as bearing a special and unique relationship with the Lord.

He would, for this very reason, enjoy the finest privilege that friendship brings, the mutual sharing of thoughts and intentions. 20 Abraham was by divine admission the friend of God,21 and God's purpose would not be hidden from His friend.

That friendship, moreover, was one that the Lord Himself initiated. He had chosen Abraham, and singled him out by an abundance of revelations which He vouchsafed unto him. The very reason for these heavenly visitations was to open Abraham's wondering mind to the glorious magnitude of the divine plan.

When the revelations were ended, God had truly chosen and inspired His friend 22 to walk in the way of truth. But He had also moved him so powerfully that Abraham would command his children and his house, that they also should keep the way of the Lord. So deeply was Abraham affected by his relationship with the Almighty that he, in turn, etched the divine principles that guided his life on the minds of his household.

The great and mighty nation, which finally would spring from him, would be more than his natural descendants. They would be his spiritual offspring who, following their father, would know the Lord through the practice of His principles in justice and judgement.

They would show the likeness of their father, inasmuch as they would also walk in the footsteps of his faith. Abraham's household would indeed become the guardians of the truth in their successive generations, those that would "keep the way of the LORD".

20 John 15:15.

21 This is an astounding title for a mortal to be given, yet the patriarch is described in this way three times: 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23.

22 That this is the sense of the text is evidenced by most translations (cp. RSV, NIV, NASB, GLT etc.). In fact Rotherham's translation says, "For I have become his intimate friend to the end that he may command his sons and his house after him", thereby suggesting (and probably rightly so) that this very passage is the basis for the later inspired comments which call the patriarch by that special epithet, the Friend of God.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 5

He was a man of unstaggering faith, under circumstances of the most faith-trying character it is possible to conceive of (Rom. 4:19, 20). His works were as great as his faith (Jas. 2:23), as his willingness to offer up his only son and heir testifies.

His intercession for Sodom illustrates equally his profound regard for righteousness, and the mercifulness of his disposition.

The Christadelphian, Sept 1888

20 And Yahweh said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

Impending judgement and earnest intercession

Beyond Hebron, northward across the Judaean plateau, yet also eastward by way of the sun's rising, there stood a notable height. When the summit was reached the hills stretching beyond seemed suddenly parted in the midst, and through the cleft northwards again the circle of Jordan could be seen.

The plain was well watered but its inhabitants were wicked. It was to this vantage point that Abraham led the men, as the day began to wear away. It was to here again, early on the morrow, that he would hasten in anxiety to view their handiwork. When the men reached the place of which Abraham had spoken, they stopped and looked toward Sodom, down through the great ravine.

The cities of the plain lay there far beyond, and far below the angelic gaze. Abraham felt thankful that he and his household were far removed from what went on below. The people of the plain revelled in their wealth and fulness, but theirs was a world of depravity and sin, which destroyed all spiritual thought and life.

Abraham, however, the Friend of God trod the mountain heights above, and offered prayers at his own altar, alone in the isolated fastne:s of Mamre's stony hills. He was separate from the evil, but close to the One whom he worshipped, close enough in fact for God to take him into His confidence.

But Abraham was not advised of Sodom's fate for friendship's sake. Nor was he warned in order that he might intercede for others, although he sought to do so. He was told so that he might know God's attitude towards ungodliness. He was informed before the event, so that he could witness the destruction and know that it was the righteous judgement of God.

It was a tremendous lesson for the man, and an even greater one for the nation that would spring from him. For God, in the omniscience of His foreknowledge, had already decided on the man who was to be the father of the faithful. Without removing any of the man's free will, God knew the greatness of his heart to rise to spiritual things, and to manifest faith's response.

Having therefore selected him according to His sovereign will, He appeared unto the man and made known unto him His mind, His character, and His purpose by the mouth of the Angel ofthe Name.

And it was characteristic of the spirit of this man, that having heard of the judgement to come, his immediate concern was for the care of his brethren. Down in the plain were members of the household of faith, and Abraham sought by petition with the angel that the whole should be spared for the sake of the righteous.

It was typical of the generous spirit of the man that he should so petition. He did not countenance the sin of Sodom. 23 but he did seek that they should be spared for the sake of those who were known of the Lord in that place.

He knew at least that Lot was a righteous man, and perhaps also that he was truly vexed by the ungodly behaviour of those he dwelt among. 24

23 As Genesis 14: 22, 23 witnesses

24 2 Peter 2:6-9.

26 And Yahweh said, If I find in Sodom 50 righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

27 And [Avraham] answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto Yahweh, which am but dust and ashes:

Abraham considers it presumptuous to bargain with God, but his sense of need, his concern for Lot, drove him to it.

He does so, however, in a very reverential manner which can well be imitated by us in our approaches to the Father. Abraham was "heir of the world" (Rom. 4:13), and yet manifested deep humility towards God.

Bro HP Mansfield - The Christadelphian Expositor

32 And he said, Oh let not Yahweh 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.

Abraham's intercession for the righteous in Sodom began with a number that might reasonably have represented an ecclesia within the city. 25 It ended with the ten who formed Lot's immediate faibily, 26 and Abraham was hopeful that his intercession had thereby spared his relative, his family and his city.

"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." (Genesis 18:32)

With this assurance the patriarch had to be content, and with his pleadings ended, and the response received, the angel was gone.

The patriarch returned to his place, to his wife, and to the household of which he was the head. He needed not to convince Sarah that they had spoken with angels, for she had also realized this. Her awareness had come at a different time from his, but she knew that he who had promised the gift of a son was God's angelic messenger.

It had been a strange yet memorable episode in their lives. On this day they were united as one by the shared experience of this heavenly visitation. Truly, they were heirs together of the promise, and Abraham was intent on dwelling with her according to the knowledge that had been so wonderfully imparted to them on this day.

The "time of life" of which the angel had spoken, the quickening powers which were to come upon them, must be but a short period away, for already they were within a year of the birth. 27 Isaac was about to be conceived, and the power of God was about to begin the invisible renewal of their bodies that it might be so.

25 An appropriate number for an ecclesia (cp: 1 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 2:7; Luke 9:14)?

26 Abraham must have been truly hopeful that his solicitation on Lot's behalf had saved his family, for he would have known the details of the family circle. There was Lot himself (Genesis 19:1), two sons (verse 12), two married daughters and therefore also two sons-in-law (verse 14), his wife and two unmarried daughters (verse 15). This made ten. Surely at the least all these were faithful!

27 The angel had previously intimated that Isaac was to be born within twelve months of the proclamation of Genesis 17:21. Given the nine months needed from conception to birth, the events of Genesis 18-20 must all fall within three months.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 5