Genesis 18: Abraham's Friendship With God
The friend of God is visited by three individuals. The revelation contains a message of blessing and judgment.
On scale of importance in your life, how high do rank communion with God?
Genesis 18 reveals the intimate fellowship Abraham enjoyed with God. The Lord comes with a two-sided message. One of blessing regarding the birth of Isaac, the other of judgment regarding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
vv. 1–4 - Jehovah appeared to Abraham. The text refers to “the Lord” (vv. 1, 10, 13). God loves to meet with His people. The God of heaven sits down to eat with Abraham. v. 3 - Three men are before him, but Abraham addresses just one, and calls him Lord. Is not this the pre-incarnate Son of God accompanied by two angels? It is evident that throughout the Old Testament, the one who would eventually assume a human nature permanently, is revealing Himself to His saints in temporary episodes. We also see something that becomes clear in other passages; namely, that Christ is often accompanied by angels when He comes to bless or judge. In this visit, both occur.
vv. 5–8 - Observe Abraham’s liberality and hospitality, characteristics required in elders and encouraged in all believers.
vv. 9–15 - note the knowledge. The Lord speaks and knows that Sarah would conceive, when she would conceive, and what she would conceive. In addition, the Lord discerns her internal laugh. This is the Son of God. Why does Sarah laugh? It is not like anything is being revealed that’s different to the previous chapter. But perhaps Abraham had not communicated that part of the message. Maybe he didn’t want to raise her hopes again. But this is an important detail, because it raises our hopes not just in a child from a dead womb, but a child from a virgin womb.
vv. 16–19 - Abraham, like all of us, had a testimony before God. God knows Abraham will be a faithful witness to instruct on the authority of the Word, obedience to the Word, and the promises of the Word.
vv. 20–21 - the cry is like the blood of Abel in Genesis 4. From Ezekiel 16 we learn that there was, amid material abundance, a neglect of the poor and needy. But it was more than that. When God reveals judgment to men, it is to draw out of them a response to intercede.
vv. 22–33 - the chapter closes with Abraham interceding before God. The prayer has some challenges in terms of how to view it. Abraham is praying for the city to be spared for a certain number of righteous people, while God is sending the angels to remove the righteous before the cities are destroyed. The entire exchange ends up revealing how little Abraham understood of how many believers were there, and how justified the judgment was. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (v. 25). Absolutely He will. In v. 27 the language, “Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes” brings together a sense of boldness and humility, which ought to adorn all prayer.
The friendship of God ought to be our highest priority. The New Testament reveals Christ has a desire to fellowship with His people. (Rev. 3:20). Note that the timing of God’s visit was after the circumcision, which indicated their separation. God comes to a separated people. While the angels rescue Lot, God does not visit with him. Many miss out of divine fellowship because they are too entangled in the world.
God’s great works are tied to His Word. “Is anything too hard / wonderful / supernatural for the Lord?” (v. 14). This i s not a word to suggest that God will do anything you want if you just believe enough. It is tied to the promise of a son. In other words, if God has promised something, though it may seem impossible, it will come to pass. This is a good word for those that think their sin is too great to be forgiven. However impossible you think it is for God to forgive particular sins in your life, He will do it. Or maybe for those you think they won’t reach heaven. Yes, you will.
Fathers, Abraham’s instruction of his household is to be an example. Your use or neglect of God’s means of grace can generally predict the strength or weakness of the spirituality of your household. Why read and sing occasionally when you can do it daily? Why bring them to church once, when you perhaps have 3 or 4 opportunities every week?
Be careful not to draw parallels between God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah and natural disasters. This is a divinely revealed judgment, like the flood. A picture of the final judgment. But in no instance of a natural disaster today does God come and say, ‘here is why this is happening.’ However, natural disasters have their own message, and according to Jesus in Luke 13, it is a general call to repentance.
Whatever we make of Abraham’s praying, the most basic takeaway is that God’s people will be prompted to pray, and specifically to pray for the elect of God. Why is prayer our last resort? Why is it the Cinderella of the church? Studies, fellowship nights, etc but you can’t get many people to pray.
Children, remember, righteousness is by faith. We saw that in Gen. 15:6. Keep that in mind when reading about the righteous and the wicked in this chapter. Ultimately, it is a matter of saving faith or unbelief. God is going to spare Lot because he has, despite his shortcomings, genuine faith in God. God won’t merely judge you by your obedience to your parents, but by your obedience to the gospel.
“I am afraid there are not many men of Abraham’s sort in the world even now; but, wherever there is such a man, with whom God is familiar, he will be sure to be one who orders his household aright.” — Charles Spurgeon