Genesis #16: The Promise - A Friend of God

Genesis: The Promise  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:45
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Some things to notice:

Genesis 18:1 NIV
The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.
Most of us read this verse and we probably don’t think much about what we read. But if you were a Jew, the word LORD would spark all sorts of trouble.
You see the word we read as Lord wasn’t a word at all. In fact it was just a group of unpronounceable consonants.
It would be replaced with Adonia or The Name as they read from the text in the Temple.
Why does this matter? Because Scripture is telling us unequivocally that it was God who is here. This isn’t an important person, a lord, in the sense of having Abraham’s respect, but Adonia… God himself.
That means this was

An Encounter with the Son

Scripture teaches us:
Colossians 1:15 NIV
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
When God is seen, it is the Son of God. We understand that God exists in a triune nature, Father, Son, and Spirit. The son is the physical person of God.
The son isn’t part of God… but as Paul went on in Colossians:
Colossians 1:19 NIV
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
Not part of the fullness of God, but ALL of the fullness of God was in teh son.
So This Christmas, we aren’t just expecting Jesus to come to earth… this is God the son who humbled himself to become human, taking on the limits of humanity in order to become our sacrifice, our victory, our righteousness.
I know that’s a lot for one verse. But lets get on to verse 2 because it seems that Abraham didn’t know it was God.
Genesis 18:2–8 NIV
Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
I don’t know about you, but just reading this text makes me tired.
It sounds like someone getting ready for Christmas.. but doing it all in one afternoon.
When we read this we heard several times that Abraham was in a hurry… he ran to get water, then to get them food, then ran to have the food prepared, then to serve the food. He was racing around like some of us do during this time of year, trying to get everything done.
One thing that struck me was that he got a calf prepared for them. A few years ago, we got a steer butchered we kept half of it and it was enough to feed our family for nearly a whole year.
Abraham went’ above and beyond what we might expect. But what his behavior does is remind us of the:

The Lost Art of Hospitality

In Abraham’s world, and still in many eastern, African, and Spanish cultures is the importance of hospitality.
Even for strangers like these three were for Abraham and Sarah.
We in the west don't really understand this sort of behavior. We might go overboard, but when we do, it’s special. In these cultures, guests are always special. Even strangers like we have here.
After all the racing around, look what happens:
Genesis 18:8–9 NIV
He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree. “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said.
He brought out the food, and left them alone to eat… and simply waited for them to finish. He had done all this for them.
That’s right he had been busy doing good things… but just like Mary the sister of Lazarus in the NT; it was busy-ness that got in the way.
For Abraham, for Mary, for you and I…

God’s voice is loudest when we slow down

Busy-ness isn’t the only reason we miss hearing God’s voice.
Closed mind,
Hard heart,
Frantic Life
Abraham’s lifestyle wasn’t open to listening… he was too busy. Granted he was busy doing good things. But his life was too full to stop and listen.
I’d ask if you had ever been there… but I won’t. you don’t need to be asked.
Fortunately, for Abraham - and for us - God is patient.
Genesis 18:9–15 NIV
“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
Sarah is laughing just like Abraham was in the last chapter… although she contains it a bit more. But not so much that God doesn’t know.
It’s funny because this isn’t how it’s supposed to go. But by now, one thing we have learned is that:

God’s plan has it’s own schedule

Whether God is bring a baby to fulfill a promise, a new job to provide for your needs, salvation for a loved one, healing from an addiction or illness; God’s plan has it’s own schedule and you can’t change it.
What we have to do is move into it step by step.
We can’t skip steps 5-10 just because we want to. God moved Sarah and Abraham incrementally to where he wanted them.
Look at what he asked them in v19
Is anything too hard for the Lord?
God’s slowness isn’t rooted in his weakness. Sometimes God’s slowness is part of what he wants to accomplish in us.
Genesis 18:16–21 NIV
When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
Abraham had a great promise on him
To live into this great promise, there was much he needed to understand.
God’s Justice was one of those things. God wanted Abraham to see how God’s justice works out.
It seems that God doesn’t know for sure how bad it is for some reason, but in reality this is a teaching moment for Abraham… otherwise God would have gone and done what he came to do...

Understanding is found in God’s presence

This is about Abraham, not Sodom. It’s about his gaining understanding in God’s presence. He is enabled to see things from God’s perspective.
When we do that we are better for it. Whenever we can stand away from the situation and see it the way God does.
Genesis 18:22–33 NIV
The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.” Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.” Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
Ok get this picture. Three get up from supper to leave and Abraham goes withthem. Two walk on off toward Sodom, but The Lord remains with Abraham.
Abraham finds out what is going on and look what he does in vs 23… Abraham stands before the Lord. Abraham is standing between God and Sodom.
This is a picutre of the intercession that is going on here.
Not only does Abraham stand between God and Sodom, but he pleads their case to the Lord
This is a picture of what happens when we pray for one another. We step in for others.
When you pray for others it matters
Prayer changes things.

Prayer changes things

Abraham is thinking… God cant destroy all the people because of sin. We might expect him to say… lord can’t you just destroy the wicked”. that would make sense wouldn’t it? But that’s not what he does.
Abraham has known the goodness of God. Abraham knows how God’s grace has changed his life. That God has decided that he would be a blessing to all the world. So he asks God to change the script.
Instead of judging all by the sinfulness of some, why not spare all by the righteousness of some? Abraham declares that grace is a better way
God seems to like the way Abraham is thinking and from that point they get into a give and take as to how many need to be good.
This shows us that God isn’t eager to destroy. Often times we think God is out to get us, but as Abraham found out here, that’s not the case

God’s word in our life:

Abraham - Standing for others


The way we live affects others

Psalm 37:28 NIV
For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish.
1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Luke 18:42–43 NIV
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Proverbs 14:26 NIV
Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.

How we can fill the gap

Micah 6:8 NIV
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Act Justly: Do right,
Love Mercy: Be generous
Walk humbly with God: Stay close to Jesus

Your faith matters

Not just to you, but to everyone around you.
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