Genesis
Introduction 1-8 The LORD Appears to Abraham 9-15 Announcement of Isaac’s Birth 16-22 Considerations of the LORD 23-33 Intercession of Abraham
Introduction

Abraham is called “a friend of God” in James 2 (Jam 2:2323and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.). Another two times it is written of him he is a friend of God (2Chr 20:77Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?; Isa 41:88“But you, Israel, My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
Descendant of Abraham My friend,
). A friend is someone to whom you entrust secrets and considerations that you do not disclose to everyone (Jn 15:1515No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.). In this chapter the LORD informs Abraham of His intentions concerning him (verses 9-159Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There, in the tent.”10He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him.11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing.12Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my Lord being old also?”13And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear [a child], when I am [so] old?’14Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”15Sarah denied [it] however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”) and concerning the world (verses 20-2120And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.21I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”).


The LORD Appears to Abraham

1Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw [them], he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3and said, “My LORD, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. 4Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 5and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” 6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead [it] and make bread cakes.” 7Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave [it] to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. 8He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed [it] before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.

The place where Abraham is when the LORD appears to him is “by the oaks of Mamre” while he sits “at the tent door”. The word for ‘oak’ is derived from a word that means ‘strong’ or ‘hard’. The oak is known for its long life and also for the shade it provides against the heat of the sun. “Mamre” means ‘fatness’ or ‘vitality’. Abraham resides in a place that speaks of life force to which a long life is attached.

His place at the tent door makes him notice immediately that he gets visitors. He has control over what is coming his way and can see if he should be hospitable or if he should consider the visit as dangerous and not allow it. This place at the tent door indicates the place that each father has to take in his family. Every father is responsible for what he does and does not allow to enter into his house. The hottest part of the day is the moment when people prefer to hide as far as possible, but Abraham is at his post.

The LORD appears unto Abraham, together with two angels. Abraham knows the LORD and therefore recognizes Him. Instead of being scared, he runs to receive Him hospitably. He desires that the LORD refreshes Himself, of which the washing of the feet speaks, and offers Him a meal, which is a sign of fellowship and rest. He acknowledges and appreciates the enormous privilege of this visit.

We see how Abraham reacts to this visit from heaven with confidential freedom and at the same time with great reverence. He bows down to the ground and asks the LORD – Abraham speaks only to Him – not to pass him by (cf. Lk 24:28-2928And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther.29But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is [getting] toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them.). He takes before Him the place of a servant. The LORD and the angels accept the invitation.

This is how the Lord Jesus would like to be invited to every family. Only those who live as Abraham in separation from the world and obedience to God’s Word will enjoy this privilege (Jn 14:2323Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.).

Besides being an example of intimate fellowship with God, Abraham is also an example of hospitality. We, too, are called to be hospitable and that without grumbling (1Pet 4:99Be hospitable to one another without complaint.; Rom 12:1313contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.; Heb 13:22Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.).


Announcement of Isaac’s Birth

9Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. 12Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my Lord being old also?” 13And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear [a child], when I am [so] old?’ 14Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15Sarah denied [it] however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

The LORD and the angels ask for Sarah. There is interest not only in Abraham, but also in Sarah. For she will be the mother of the promised son and heir. She is not far away, she is in the tent. It points to the woman’s usual place in the family. This does not mean that the woman should not be allowed to work outside the home. At the announcement of Samson’s birth his mother is on the field and receives a visit from the LORD there (Jdg 13:99God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her.). It is about the motif, what is reason why the woman works outside the home.

Although Sarah is not present during the conversation, she is a listener. Through the question asked about her where she is and Abraham’s answer, she knows that the others know that she can hear them. Her stay is behind the LORD. She has, as it were, no face-to-face contact with Him, as Abraham does.

While they eat, the LORD announces that the promised son and heir will soon be born. If there is fellowship with God with us, He will also make known His thoughts about His Son and the coming of His Son to us, for “The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant” (Psa 25:1414The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant.
).

What is already known in a general sense, is now regarded as an event that is near. We may also know from Scripture that the Lord Jesus comes, even that He will come soon, but it is something else to hear from His mouth because there is fellowship with Him.

Sarah hears the announcement too, but does not believe it. She does not live in that close fellowship with God like her husband. She judges the circumstances and measures them against what is possible or impossible to people (cf. Lk 1:1818Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this [for certain]? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”). Her perceptions are correct, but her conclusion is not, because she does not take God’s omnipotence into account.

At the same time, she calls her husband “my lord”. This is to her credit, and in it she is set as an example for all believing women (1Pet 3:66just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.). Peter does not cite this example to make it clear that a woman must address her husband with ‘lord’. It is about Sarah not thinking it a shame to call her husband ‘lord’. The intention is to show that the woman must show due respect to her husband (Eph 5:3333Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must [see to it] that she respects her husband.).

The fact that she obeys him does not mean that she is his slave. The subjection or obedience of the woman does not mean that a man does not have to listen to his wife. Women have been given their husbands to help to keep them from foolishness. We also have an example of this from the life of Abraham. Sarah later tells him to do something. If he does not want to listen to her, God tells him to listen to her (Gen 21:1212But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.).

This example is an illustration of the relationships in the marriage of the Christian and here in particular about the attitude of the Christian woman. When believing women take the attitude towards their husband that Sarah takes towards Abraham, they look like Sarah spiritually and can therefore be called “her children”. They then show her nature and attitude. Women who follow Sarah in this, will also show that by doing good. For whoever does good and does the Lord’s will in it, may be protected by God.

It is important that a woman herself also lives in close fellowship with the Lord. Sometimes it is women who have a deeper fellowship with the Lord than men. Mary of Bethany (Lk 10:3939She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.) and Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:1616Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).) are telling examples of this.

The LORD, to Whom nothing and no one is hidden, knows what Sarah thinks to herself. He rebukes her for her unbelieving reasoning. Sarah denies that she laughed. At the same time we read that she is afraid. She fears. Therein we indirectly she her faith (Heb 11:1111By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.), for the fear of the LORD is the principle of knowledge and wisdom (Pro 1:77The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
; 9:1010The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
; Psa 111:1010The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do [His commandments];
His praise endures forever.
).

The LORD rises in His grace far above Sarah’s behavior by answering with the splendid, always encouraging word: “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? We hear the answer to this question from the mouth of Jeremiah: “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jer 32:1717‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,). The LORD repeats the promise that Sarah will have a son in a year.


Considerations of the LORD

16Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. 17The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? 19For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” 20And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” 22Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD.

These verses begin and end with a message about the departure of the two angels to Sodom. They “looked down toward Sodom” (verse 1616Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off.) and they “went toward Sodom” (verse 2222Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD.). In the verses in between we are made partakers of the deliberations of the LORD. He discusses with Himself whether He will make known to Abraham what He will do with Sodom and Gomorrah. He mentions the conditions Abraham meets to involve him in His plans. Everything in his house is ruled by God’s Word. If things are so, God can make His thoughts known. God cannot make such announcements to people like Lot.

To convince us of His absolute righteousness, the LORD informs us that He will descend to get confirmation of what has come to His attention. He knows everything that happens on earth. But also here He involves us in His way of working and describes this in a way that we can understand and follow. He doesn’t judge without having carried out a thorough investigation of the case.

When the time of departure has come, Abraham sees his guests off. He “send them on their way in a manner worthy of God” (3Jn 1:66and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.). He wants to enjoy their company for as long as possible. This gives the LORD the opportunity to share His thoughts with Abraham (Pro 3:32b32For the devious are an abomination to the LORD;
But He is intimate with the upright.
).


Intercession of Abraham

23Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep [it] away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are [treated] alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” 26So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.” 27And Abraham replied, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the LORD, although I am [but] dust and ashes. 28Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy [it] if I find forty-five there.” 29He spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose forty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do [it] on account of the forty.” 30Then he said, “Oh may the LORD not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do [it] if I find thirty there.” 31And he said, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the LORD; suppose twenty are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy [it] on account of the twenty.” 32Then he said, “Oh may the LORD not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy [it] on account of the ten.” 33As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the LORD departed, and Abraham returned to his place.

God’s communications concerning Sodom and Gomorrah have an effect on Abraham which is worth to be imitated. Instead of retreating into complacency because judgment does not affect him, he becomes an intercessor for others. Before that he comes “near” (verse 2323Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?), he comes close to the LORD. This must also be the effect for us in everything the Lord reveals to us about the judgment that comes over the world.

This prayer of Abraham is the first prayer we find in the Bible and it is a prayer to spare Sodom. Abraham has already acted in favor of the city before and has freed its inhabitants from the hand of its enemies for the sake of Lot (Gen 14:11-1611Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed.12They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.13Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram.14When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.15He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.16He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.). Now he intervenes for her in a different way, as an intercessor, again for the sake of Lot.

Abraham undoubtedly abhorred the wickedness of Sodom. He never wanted to live there, like Lot did. Yet he prayed fervently and urgently for her. We must hate sin, but feel sorry for sinners and pray for them. God takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Eze 33:1111Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’).

God’s desire should also be our desire. That desire is expressed in the first place in our intercession (1Tim 2:1-41First of all, then, I urge that entreaties [and] prayers, petitions [and] thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.). Intercession does not require a gift, but a heart that shares in God’s feelings. Or should He also be astonished about us, because He finds no spirit of intercession in us (Isa 59:16a16And He saw that there was no man,
And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
And His righteousness upheld Him.
; Eze 22:3030I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.; 13:55You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the LORD.)?

Abraham’s faith grows with every answer to his prayers. Each time he gets what he asks for. We see in him “the holy impudence” of prayer (Lk 11:88I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him [anything] because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.) that bridges the infinite distance between creature and Creator. This is the kind of prayer that constantly insists on God and doesn’t indulge until He gives in. Each time the LORD confirms that He will spare the city for the sake of the righteous if they are found there. It is an encouragement to us that we must continue to ask, for God hears the prayer of the righteous.

Abraham prays with knowledge of God. He knows Him as “the Judge of all the earth” Who deals justly (verse 2525Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are [treated] alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”; Job 34:10-1110“Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do wickedness,
And from the Almighty to do wrong.
11“For He pays a man according to his work,
And makes him find it according to his way.
). That is the starting point and the basis of his intercession. He knows that God will never slay the righteous with those who do wrong. He also approaches God in the deep awareness of his own smallness before Him in the recognition that he is dust and ashes (cf. 2Sam 7:1818Then David the king went in and sat before the LORD, and he said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?; Job 42:5-65“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
6Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
). As we approach in that attitude, we may know that our prayer is pleasing to Him (Pro 15:8b8The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
).

As long as Abraham asks, the LORD gives. We have here abundant evidence of prayer answering. When the LORD has finished speaking because Abraham asks not further, He goes away. It seems as if Abraham eventually does not get what he asked for, but in the next chapter we see that his prayer has been answered (Gen 19:2929Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.).


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