Faith, Service & Obedience: Genesis 18:1-15

Faith, Service & Obedience: Genesis 18:1-15
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday March 26, 20

Notes/Not a Transcript

Last week, we saw God by His grace encouraging the Faith of Abraham, and today we see it again.  We see Abraham responding rightly to God – in faith, service, and obedience.

God initiates the contact, inspires the faith, He communicates and enters as well as guarantees the covenant, and by his omnipotence ensures the outcome on the contract of his Character, and we will see that NOTHING is too hard for the Lord.
In fact, that is an often-repeated theme across scripture, finding its first mention here. 

Genesis 18:1–15 (ESV)
1 And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.

The oaks of Mamre were mentioned earlier in Genesis 13.
In chapter 12, Abram lies and says that Sari is his sister to the Egyptians.  They experience plagues:

Genesis 12:16–19 (ESV)
16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.
17 But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.
18 So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?
19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.”

In chapter 13, Abram and Lot separate,

Genesis 13:14–18
14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward,
15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.
16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.
17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”
18 So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Abram ends up in the oaks of Mamre, where he worships Yahweh.
Here again, in Genesis 18, he is in Mamre – sitting in the door of his tent.  Remember, last week, we saw Abram have an encounter with God, telling him he’d have a male child that God guarantees, and Abram believes Him by faith.  As he is sitting in the tent at 99 ripe years of age:

2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth
3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.

“He lifted up his eyes and looked.”   This is familiar language in scripture. Look at

Joshua 5:13 (ESV)
13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”

He lifted his eyes and looked, and there he saw 3 men standing before him.  How did they get there?  I don’t know. The scripture doesn’t say.  Who are they? We’ll start to see this is what theologians would call a theophany.  A theophany is God appearing before humanity. He accommodates people by stepping into time and communicating with flesh and blood.  Here Moses records that the theophany takes on the form of a man as Abraham believes he sees 3 men.  But as we move to the second half of verse 2, we see that Abraham recognizes this isn’t a normal visitation.
Whether he fully grasps the theophany construct or not, we’re not sure, but he knows this isn’t a regular visit.  This is the first of 10 scriptural visitations from angles found in between Genesis 16:7 and Zechariah 1 & 6.
We see Genesis 16:7, 21:17, 22:11, 31:11, and two fascinating ones in

Genesis 16:7 (ESV)
7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.

Genesis 21:17 (ESV)
17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.

Genesis 22:11 (ESV)
11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Genesis 31:11 (ESV)
11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’

Exodus 3:2–5 (ESV)
2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”
4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

The Angel of the Lord here is the lord, and this is theophany.

…he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed to the earth.
Watching young men work with older men is fascinating.  Older men are slower and more measured.  They’re not just throwing their back into the work (they cannot anymore, the body breaks down), so they work at an even pace.  Perhaps applying years of experience and ending up on top of the younger guys rushing around throwing themselves into it. 
Older men move slower.
They’re outside Egypt, and it is HOT.  It is the middle of the heat of the day we see Abram run from the tent door to meet them and bow himself to the earth.  “to the earth,” so we have 99-year-old Abraham who was just cooling himself in a tent now running and laying himself out on the ground.  He has recognized something about these men. Look at the following words in V3:
“O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.
“O Lord” is Adonai. He recognizes one of these 3 is a theophany, visitation from God Himself hence his running and His laying out worshipfully on the ground.  The entire tempo of Abraham changes from this admission on.

We see Abraham responding rightly to God – in faith, service, and obedience.

4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree,
5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”

Abraham is refreshing his guests and is of faith, serving this group from his abundance.  For every group or individual that shows up outside his Tent, is he running around, bowing to the ground, having his wife make bread, killing a fattened calf, and washing feet while he has them rest under a tree?  Well, scripture is silent on that, but most likely not – he recognizes something about these 3 men. There is something different here.

6 And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.”

99-year-old Abraham is still moving quickly in the heat of the day, rushing Sarah to make cakes of the best ingredients.  He isn’t saying hey, toss up a snack. He is saying from our best, let’s serve these people.

7 And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly.
8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

He’s still rushing. He is now running to get a calf having it prepared (in a hurry). He is preparing them a charcuterie board and then look at the end of verse 8, And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.  There is something about this group of 3. He’s rushing and pushing everyone to prepare this great meal, making them a choice spot under his favorite sitting tree.  Perhaps, in this spot where he built and alter and worshiped God after escaping from Pharaoh.  Want to see how hard things are for God, study why Pharaoh wanted to let Abraham and Sarah go, and see what God did to cause that? 

God again now comes to him to encourage his faith, and we see Abraham responding rightly to God – in faith, service, and obedience.

Church, what an excellent example for us.  Abraham responds to God in faith, service, and obedience – we should desire the same.

9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah, your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.”
10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah, your wife, shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him.

Sarah is undoubtedly curious about what is going on here. Indeed, Abraham let her know from chapter 17 that God came to him and changed her name. Good luck carrying that message to YOUR wife.  So now, Abraham has been running around barking orders to get people to create this mid-day feast. He made father Abraham’s charcuterie board, killed a calf, cooked it, and set these visitors up in his favorite spot. Now, he is standing by under a tree, not leaning back with them, eating and chatting but standing by while they eat.

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.
12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’
14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you,

We’ll see Sarah acting not out of faith but from disbelief, scoffing at the news that she’d be with a child.  And on the one hand, all the signs said her 90-year-old body wasn’t having a baby.  However verse 14 ‘is anything too hard for the Lord”, we see this sentiment a lot,

Job 42:2 (ESV)
  2    “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV)
17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Another pronouncement about a strange birth, this time to Mary about the promises of Messiah.

Luke 1:35–37 (ESV)
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Church is anything too hard for the Lord?  Look at Zechariah 8:4-8 nothing is too hard for the Lord.  Matthew 3:9, he can make children for Abraham from rocks. Nothing is too hard.

Zechariah 8:4-8 (ESV)
4 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age.
5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.
6 Thus says the Lord of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the Lord of hosts?
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country,
8 and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”

Matthew 3:9 (ESV)
9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

Ephesians 3:14–20 (ESV)
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Church NOTHING is too hard for the Lord.
Your job situation?  Your relationship situation?  Your unveiling friend or relative?

Abraham realizes this, and Abraham responds rightly to God – in faith, service, and obedience. What about us?

We should get so much encouragement out of knowing we, by faith, serve and are obedient to the God of all creation.  Who made impossible promises to Abraham by His covenant, on the guarantee of His Good name and delivered. 
So when we read,

Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
John 10:28 (ESV)
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

2 Peter 1:19 (ESV)
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

Church, those promises are guaranteed on the character and nature of God himself. God who said to Sarah:

about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

She did laugh; she had doubts, but God was pulling them through.  God initiates, guarantees, encourages, and makes the way.  We see Abraham responding rightly to God – in faith, service, and obedience.  Perhaps Sarah’s example wasn’t the best, but God is seeing it through – Mary’s response to a similarly unique birth announcement was fantastic.  Sarah laughed. Marry sang:

Luke 1:46–55 (ESV)
Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
46 And Mary said,
       “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47        and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48    for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49    for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50    And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51    He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52    he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53    he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54    He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55    as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

We see Abraham responding rightly to God – in faith, service, and obedience.

Church, what an excellent example for us.  Abraham responds to God in faith, service, and obedience – we should desire the same.
Church NOTHING is too hard from the Lord.
Your job situation?  Your relationship situation?  Your unveiling friend or relative?

Abraham realizes this, and Abraham responds rightly to God – in faith, service, and obedience. What about us?

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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