Hope For The Lost: The Promise and the Struggle to Believe


Part 2 of 4The LORD appears. As the story opens we find our friend Abraham sitting at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. Right away several things jump out at us. The conjunction at the beginning of verse 1 along with the fact that the “him” and “he” are not identified as Abraham until verse 6 shows us that this chapter and 17 are connected. Some time has passed since the close of chapter 17 but this is still the retelling of the appearance of God to Abraham. Another thing is that, as Moses writes this, he uses the name that God gave him to use, the LORD. Remember that this four-letter name is the divine name of God which in English we use Jehovah or Yahweh. Moses is making it clear that the God who is appearing to Abraham is the same God who has led them out of Egypt into the wilderness. But that leads us to verse two where we read about three men. Then in verse 22, the men went toward Sodom but Abraham still stood before Yahweh. In verse 33 we read that Yahweh left Abraham but in verse 19:1 we see the two angels came to Sodom. So what are the identities of the three men? As you can imagine there are differing opinions on this. Whoever they are it is clear that this is an appearance of the Lord.Abraham’s hospitality. So as Abraham is taking a rest in the shade three men coming walking up in the heat of the day. Abraham acts according to the hospitality customs of that area. He entreats the men to not pass by but to allow him to take care of them. He offers to wash their feet and to bring a morsel of bread for them to eat. Apparently, Abraham did find grace in their sight and so they tell Abraham to do as he said. Abraham runs and tells Sarah to take three seahs of fine flour and make some cakes. The note in my Bible says that a seah was 7 quarts. If that is true then that is a lot of bread. That’s more than a morsel. But Abraham doesn’t stop there because he runs and gets a calf and has it slaughtered and roasted too. This treatment goes beyond common hospitality but he is showing them the greatest honor. Abraham then stands by waiting to serve them as they eat. Did Abraham know who he was serving at this point? I don’t know but this should remind us of Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”Assurance of Sarah. As the three visitors are eating they ask Abraham, “Where is Sarah your wife?” For us, it is a simple question, but in those days this normally would not have happened. First of all, men and women did not eat together. They would have been at least been separated by a veil in the tent. So Sarah would not have been around. And second, normal guests would not have called the host’s wife by name even if it was known to them. That would have been seen as too familiar. By now Abraham must have had some inkling as to what is going on. But Sarah is back in the tent listening in on the conversation. The LORD declares that Sarah would have a son. Sarah hearing this laughs to herself. Her struggle to believe is apparent. She looks at herself and then at the promise and says, “no way”. But this tent-side appearance of the Lord is for her, to strengthen her faith. And so the Lord asks Abraham why Sarah laughed and questioned the promise? Is anything too hard for the Lord? Then the Lord reiterates the promise. Before Abraham can say anything a voice from the tent says, “I did not laugh.” But the Lord corrects her and says, “no, but you did laugh.” God knows the hearts of his servants. He knew that Sarah was still struggling with her bareness. He knew that she had given up hope. But look at what the Lord does for her. He appears, eats her bread, and restores her faith. This encounter changed the heart of Sarah. How do we know? Hebrews 11 tells us that, “By faith, Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age since she considered him faithful who had promised.” As Fanny Crosby said, “Pass me not, O gentle Savior; Hear my humble cry; while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by. Let me at thy throne of mercy Find a sweet relief; Kneeling there in deep contrition, help my unbelief.