[Today: Genesis 18] Abraham Discovers that with God – Everything is Negotiable. Have you ever negotiated with God? The Judeo-Christian concept of God is of an inflexible, distant being frowning down upon His subjects and carrying out His will. In our study today we will see that nothing could be further from the truth.
[Gen 18:1-33 KJV] 1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 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, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 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. 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. 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. 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. 9 And they said unto him, Where [is] Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 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. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah [were] old [and] well stricken in age; [and] it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 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. 15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. 16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 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; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. 20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 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. 22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. 23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that [are] therein? 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? 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. 27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which [am but] dust and ashes: 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]. 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. 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. 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. 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. 33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
The Lord again appears to Abraham while he is still in Mamre (v.1). Mamre is the name of the place where Abraham spent a lot of his sojourn and it means strength. God wants to bring you to a place of strength because He prefers not to negotiate with you over your destiny when you are distracted with problems and vulnerabilities. When you negotiate with God it isn’t about groveling it’s about negotiating as a covenant partner.
Originally in chapter 12 the Lord simply spoke to Abraham, but the level of intimacy increased to the Lord APPEARING to him. There are three modalities by which God generally speaks:
1.The acoustic response
2.The visionary response
3.The perceptive response
Abram primarily operated in the visionary response. He saw the Lord, he saw what the Lord was saying. Notice that the Father met with him in the heat of the day – in the quiet time. Our culture works to fill every moment of our day with information overload. We need to remember to get quiet in our day. Remember the admonitions in the following verses:
[Psa 4:4 KJV] 4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
[Psa 46:10 KJV] 10 Be still, and know that I [am] God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
God speaks in the stillness between your own thoughts. God re-named Abraham by putting the SILENT consonant of His own name in Abraham. By extension then He put His STILLNESS in Abraham. Still your mind, still your will and still your emotions. Learn to get quiet and allow God to insinuate himself into your consciousness that you might see, hear and know what He has to say to you.
As Abraham reclined in the heat of the day at the door of his tent (v. 3-4) the visitation of heaven escalated to an angelic visitation. When you encounter God do you ever leave room for anything other than vague sensing of His presence? What about angels? Remember the words of the writer of Hebrews:
[Hbr 13:2 KJV] 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
One experience I’ve had is what I call angel flashes. These are little flashes of light like flash bulbs that appear over things and at times that I need to take notice what God is doing. God delights not to announce himself when he steps in our lives. We need to learn to take notice of the subtle nuance of God showing up in our lives in unusual ways.
The visitation here is something known as the “angel of His presence.” Angels attend the presence of God. When they are in the glory they gravitate toward it with the response Holy, Holy, Holy. God intends that angels minister to you therefore He placed the glory they are attracted to on the inside of you according to Col. 1:26,27 “Christ in you the hope of Glory.”
As this visit unfolds (v. 6-9) again, we see that God doesn’t leave Sarah out. We hear it said that the day of the big preacher is over. I say to you that God is raising up not just singular individuals but POWER COUPLES. God originally created what man and woman are as one singular being. That level of one-ness is available in Christ today. Notice that he took Abram the way he was and Sarai the way she was. They were not perfect. They had trouble with honesty, they manipulated one another, betrayed one another and mistreated others because they had trouble in their marriage. Nonetheless they were God’s covenant partners. He committed himself to them when they were in their fracture. His involvement was not conditioned upon perfection or conformity. This is a foreshadowing of unconditional love.
In verses 10-15 we find one of my favorite passages in the Old Testament. Sarah laughs when God asserts the promise of a child to Abram and Sarah. I can see the sublimity of the moment that God is having a personal interlude with His friends. “Of course you laughed!” What a sweet exchange between the Father, Abram and Sarah.
In verse 14 we find the question that is pertinent for every one of us: Is there anything too hard for the Lord? The word hard there is translated “difficult.” Things that are beyond us are not beyond the Father. If there is nothing too difficult then what is the problem? Where is the answer? What does the Father say next? “In the appointed time…” There are two concepts of time in the bible: there is LINEAR TIME (Chronos) and APPOINTED TIME or FULNESS OF TIME (Kairos). At the Kairos, appointed time God is going to return or show up or manifest in the situation and the answer will be forthcoming.
[Luk 21:19 KJV] 19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
Patience will make you a possessor of your soul, of the object of your soul’s desire.
[Psa 37:4-8 KJV] 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring [it] to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
God not only gives the OBJECT of your desire but He causes your heart to crave what He intends to give you. The key is not to lean to the limited thinking of man (producing a Hagar/Ishmael solution) but to wait on the Lord and give Him the COOPERATION necessary to make it all the way through to your answer.
Why is God talking to Abraham about the distant cities of the plain (v. 16-18)? Because He wants us to participate in His wider purposes. He wanted Abraham involved in the decisions He was making about the region. In the New Testament there are four references to the fact that we are kings and priests unto God. Kings have kingdoms and jurisdictions. You have no idea how broad your influence is over your city and your area.
[Isa 45:11 KJV] 11 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
Notice the observation God makes concerning Abraham in v. 19. Here is the one positive reason God gave for choosing Abraham: He knew that if He gave Abraham sons that Abraham would command them in the ways of the Lord. It is not the pastor’s job or the role of religious institutions to teach, train or minister to our family. The church as we know it is a fabricated entity we have endowed with an illegitimate authority to do for us what God requires us to do for ourselves. Eph. 5 says it is the husband’s place to wash his wife with the water of the word and this verse points to the husband not the church, or Sunday School teacher, or Children’s program to train your children. It is your job and these other ministries are just there to augment what you are already doing. In this verse God predicates the greatness of Abraham on this premise. If we fail then we exclude ourselves from blessings that God intends for us to experience. We must see ourselves as being on our own recognizance and not leave these things to others who have not been called to it.
Notice how Abraham negotiates so boldly with the Father (v. 20-33). If Abraham had asked God to spare the city without condition God would have done it. Why? Because of His concern for Sodom or for Lot? No, because of His covenant with Abraham. In the custom of the day when you were in covenant with someone they were not required to prove their need for things in your power that they had need of. They didn’t need justify their intended use. This is why we see so many open ended promises in the teachings of Jesus.
[Jhn 15:7 KJV] 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
[Jhn 14:13 KJV] 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
[Jhn 15:16 KJV] 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
[Mat 7:7 KJV] 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
[Mat 21:22 KJV] 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
[Mar 11:24 KJV] 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them].
When preachers add religious qualifications to these verses they are adding to and taking away from the word of God. They don’t understand the nature of the covenant God made with Abraham and extended to us through Christ. When you understand the covenant you are very cautious about what you ask for because what you ask for you are then responsible for.
[2Cr 1:20 KJV] 20 For all the promises of God in him [are] yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
God’s default answer is YES. When you pray you do not have to overcome God’s reluctance to answer prayer because He has none. Many times where there is delay it is because He is giving us time to think about what we are asking, or He withholds because we are asking later prayers than contradict earlier petitions. God has no reluctance to answer prayer.
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