Genesis 18 - Outline of Genesis (Book Notes menu page)
18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him {ie., Abraham} in the plains of Mamre:
and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
18:2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him:
and when he saw [them], he ran to meet them from the tent door,
and bowed himself toward the ground,
18:3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight,
pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
18:4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched,
and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:
18:5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts;
after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant.
And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
18:6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said,
Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead [it], and make cakes upon the hearth.
18:7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good,
and gave [it] unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.
18:8 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.
the LORD appeared... (v.1,2)- in the form of a man.
The LORD {Jehovah} had appeared to Abraham on previous occasions. However, we were not told how He appeared: whether in a spiritual vision or in a form visible to the human eye (eg., 12:7; 17:1).
An appearance of God in human or angelic form is called a 'theophany.'
Abraham could not have seen God the Father (cp. Joh 1:18). Therefore, this and other OT theophanies are pre-incarnate appearances of God the Son. Note, that while the LORD appeared on the earth (as God the Son), the LORD (God the Father) was still in command from heaven (cp. Gen 19:24).
Abraham's hospitality may have been his customary treatment of strangers.
But these were not common travelers. The three men included God the Son accompanied by two angels (cp. 19:1). It is possible that Abraham did not recognize his guests until they began to speak of God's promises (v.9,10. cp. Heb 13:2).
     On the other hand, Abraham's eagerness, and his request, that they 'pass not away' (v.3), suggest that he suspected his guests were supernatural. cp. Judg 6:16-19
Here we find Abraham...
  1. providing refreshment for the Lord (in loving & obedient service). v.1-8
    Note the energy with which he served: he looked, he ran, he bowed, he hastened to engage others in the preparations..., he ran, he fetched, he took, and he set the meal before them.
    Then he stood as a servant while they ate.
    Sparing no expense or effort, he was there for Him.
  2. enjoying communion with the Lord. cp. Joh 14:23; Rev 3:20
    Abraham fed upon the Lord's Word to him -
    • in reference to God's promises to him. v.9-15
    • in reference to God's purposes toward Sodom. v.16-21
  3. interceding for others before the Lord. v.23-33 [CHM]
Here we see why Abraham is called ''the friend of God.'' 2Chr 20:7; Isa 41:8; cp. Joh 15:13-15
18:9 And they said unto him, Where [is] Sarah thy wife?
And he said, Behold, in the tent.
18:10 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.
18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah [were] old [and] well stricken in age;
[and] it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
18:12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying,
After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord
{ie., husband} being old also?
18:13 And the LORD said unto Abraham,
Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
18:14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD?
At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life,
and Sarah shall have a son.
18:15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid.
And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.
Sarah's laughter (v.12,13), like that of Abraham (17:17) may be an expression of amazement.
The message seemed too good to be true. cp. Psa 126:1-3
  • Yet, her fear, when confronted, hints at a degree of unbelief, or at least of confusion at how this could be possible. The Lord re-affirmed His Word to strengthen her faith. v.14; cp. Luk 1:18-20, 34-35
  • Her denial was ineffective, because the Lord sees the heart.
    Note that she was rebuked for her denial, not for her laughter (v.15).
    Following the birth of Isaac, she would laugh for joy (Gen 21:6,7).
Is anything too hard for the Lord? - cp. Luk 1:34-37; Mat 19:26
This verse, and others like it, are often taken out of context by miracle seekers.
Whatever God has promised, He can and will perform.
But no one should presume that He will perform what He has not promised.
God does not act outside of His will. In this case, God had revealed His specific will.
Abraham & Sarah could trust Him to keep His Word.
However, those who expect God to act, only because they think He could or should, will be disappointed. cp. Psa 115:3; 1Joh 5:14,15
18:16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom:
and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
18:18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation,
and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him,
and they shall keep the way of the LORD,
to do justice and judgment
{ie., righteousness and justice};
that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
18:20 And the LORD said,
Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great,
and because their sin is very grievous;
{Gen 13:13}
18:21 I will go down now, and see
whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it,
which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
18:22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom:
but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
shall I hide from Abraham the thing which I do?-
''The way to know the divine purposes about this present evil world, is not to be mixed up with it, in its schemes and speculations, but to be entirely separated from it. The more closely we walk with God, and the more subject we are to His Word, the more we shall know of His mind about everything.'' [CHM]
- - Abraham's view of Sodom's future was not clouded by the perspective of the Sodomites. They were consumed with the business of prosperity and pleasure, and gave no thought to coming judgment.
- - Abraham was consumed with keeping the way of the Lord, and with watching for His promises. Therefore, the Lord revealed to him what He was about to do. v.19
     In contrast, Lot, a believer who was caught up in the things of the world, was unaware of God's purpose, until the angels forcefully removed him from Sodom. (ch.19)
Abraham's knowledge of the Lord's purposes motivated him to pray
that those believers, who were defiled by the world, might escape its judgment.
I will go down and see...- cp. Gen 11:5
The Lord is careful in judgment. His justice is according to truth.
When Christ returns to judge the earth, He will exercise this same careful righteous judgment (Isa 11:1-5).
18:23 And Abraham drew near, and said,
Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
18:24 Peradventure
{ie., suppose} there be fifty righteous within the city:
wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that [are] therein?
18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked:
and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee:
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
{cp. Deu 32:4; Psa 11:5-7}
18:26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city,
then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
18:27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now,
I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which [am but] dust and ashes
{Gen 3:19}:
18:28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous:
wilt thou destroy all the city for [lack of] five?
And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy [it].
18:29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said,
Peradventure there shall be forty found there.
And he said, I will not do [it] for forty's sake.
18:30 And he said [unto him], Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak:
Peradventure there shall thirty be found there.
And he said, I will not do [it], if I find thirty there.
18:31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord:
Peradventure there shall be twenty found there.
And he said, I will not destroy [it] for twenty's sake.
18:32 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.
18:33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham:
and Abraham returned unto his place.
...the LORD... communing with Abraham -
Here is an amazing thing: The ever-living One, Creator of all, in communion with a creature made of dust.
The word translated 'commune' {HB=dabar, speak, talk, converse} is very common in the OT,
occurring more than 1100 times as a verb, often referring to the communications between men. The first occurrence is when God 'spake' to Noah following the flood (Gen 8:15). The noun form of the same word {HB= dabar, word, speech, language, matter, thing} occurs more than 1400 times. In the first occurrence, it is rendered as "language" (Gen 11:1). See also Gen 15:1, where it occurs twice ('things,' 'word').
     In the present chapter (Genesis ch. 18), the noun form occurs twice (as 'thing' in v.14, as 'manner' in v.25). The verb form occurs eight times: in v.5, they 'said' - - in v.19, of what God 'hath spoken' - - in v.27,29,30,31,32, Abraham 'spake,' or 'speaks' - - in v.33, the LORD 'communing.'
     Thus we understand that 'communion' with God involves (in part) verbal conversation with Him. But, because sin separates man from God, the natural man neither wants nor has access to such fellowship (Isa 59:1,2). Mercifully, God has opened the way of access, through the blood of the Lamb, at the Mercy Seat (Ex 25:22). As Abraham worshipped the LORD at the altars which he built, so believers worship through the new and living way which God has provided, through Christ's sacrifice in our behalf.
     Yet, though the word is familiar and the way is open, such communion is not common.
Observe the order of the communion between God and Abraham...
  1. three men stood by him (v.2)...
    The chapter opens with the LORD standing outside Abraham's tent door awaiting an invitation... Abraham's recognition and desire to honor Him... and the LORD's acceptance of his worship ("they 'said,' So do as thou hast said." v.5)
  2. that which the LORD 'hath spoken' unto him (v.19)...
    The conversation was initiated by the LORD, who spoke to Abraham concerning the things which He had previously promised (v.9-15). The promised son would soon be born. This 'thing' {word, matter} was certain (v.14), because the LORD had spoken it.
         The LORD also revealed another matter which had previously been hidden from Abraham, namely the impending judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (v.17-21).
         The Word of God caused Abraham's heart to laugh with joy for the soon coming son, and also to grieve for loved ones who were under the shadow of approaching judgment.
  3. Abraham stood yet {ie., still, persistently} before {ie., in the Presence of} the LORD (v.22)...
    He was already standing in a privileged position, having immediate access to the Ruler of all things.
    But having a matter on his heart, he continued in that place, while others departed to do their work.
    Today, believers, in Christ, enjoy this 'standing' (Heb 10:19-22).
  4. Abraham drew near (v.23)...
    He approached the LORD, to present his petition.
    How often do we, who have an understanding of God's Word, and who enjoy access before the Throne of Grace, neglect to draw near, to plead in behalf of others? cp. Heb 4:16
  5. Abraham based his intercession upon the Word of God (v.23-25)...
    • The revealed purpose of God: the judgment of Sodom.
    • The revealed character of God: the righteous Judge of all the earth.
    • The apparent inconsistency of judging the righteous with the wicked.
  6. Abraham prayed in an attitude of humility...
    • as one, with no intrinsic value or authority, speaking to the Lord {HB= Adonai, Master, Ruler} over all (v.27).
    • as one, whose limited understanding, might irritate the One with all wisdom (be not angry {ie., hot, incensed}, v.30,32).
  7. the LORD went His way as soon as He had left communing with Abraham.
    How kind and loving is the LORD toward His children!!!
    There is not the slightest hint of impatience.
    Rather, it is evident that He takes pleasure in communion with His own. Rev 3:20
Abraham's prayer was motivated by God's Word and the resulting concern for Lot and his family.
Why did Abraham stop at ten righteous persons? (v.32)
  1. Perhaps he thought that Lot & his family exceeded that number.
    As the story unfolds, we will see that only Lot could be considered righteous.
  2. Perhaps he thought that a request in behalf of 'one' was too large a thing to ask.
    Had he asked, God might have revealed His plan that if one were found, he would be preserved, but the city would be destroyed.
  3. Perhaps Abraham persisted in prayer to the limit of what he perceived to be God's Will,
    stopping short of the point of presumption. cp. 1Joh 5:14-16
          Through communion with the Lord, he became fully convinced that 'the Judge of all the earth' would indeed do right (v.25). Abraham could 'return unto his place' (v.33) confident that the Lord would justly fill His 'place' as Judge.

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