Genesis Chapter Eighteen


Read Genesis 18:1-8 – Abraham Entertains God’s Messengers


v.1And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;”


            Abraham has now been in the land of Canaan for about 25 years.  While he still lived in tents as a nomad, a wanderer, he has established his home on the plains of Mamre.  This is a region south of present day Jerusalem across the mountain ridge west of the Dead Sea.  It is in the Shephelah, an area used for the grazing of flocks for centuries.  It is also probably not far from where the birth of Jesus was announced to the shepherds.  Abraham is sitting on the door of his tent just as we might during the hottest part of the day to be in the shade or to catch a breeze.


v.2And 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,”


            As Abraham sits three men appear.  Abraham is a hospitable man as we’re reminded that we should be:


Hebrews 13:2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”


I Peter 4:99Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”


But these men are not strangers to Abraham, he recognizes them.


v.3And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:”


            Abraham calls one of the them “MY LORD” and begs or “PRAYS” that he will not go on past his house but will stop and stay, that Abraham might do Him some service.  The language in this scripture that one of these men was indeed the Son of God, serving as a messenger to Abraham.


v.4-5Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5And 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.”


            The services that Abraham proposes to provide to these messengers are those common to that time and that land.  He offers them water to wash their feet tired from walking as they rest under the shade of a nearby tree.  He also promises a morsel of bread for them to slack their hunger.  But, though he brought them plain, everyday fare, he did do more than just give them leftover bread.


v.6-8And 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. 7And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8And 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.”


            Abraham does much more that just bring a morsel of bread.  He has Sarah make fresh bread of the finest flour, has a young calf prepared, what we would call a veal and then served them himself.  He knows who his visitors are and is sparing nothing to provide for them.  Again we remember our lessons in hospitality from the beginning of the chapter.  Then we are told what business these messengers have with Abraham.


Read Genesis 18:9-15 – Sarah Will Conceive


v.9-10And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10And 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.”


            Just as God had promised Abraham:


Genesis 17:19And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”


The time has come for God’s promise to be fulfilled.  The Lord asks about Sarah and then tells Abraham that he will return to them the capability to produce a child.  Sarah, curious as any wife would be about these men that Abraham is entertaining, is listening.  The scripture would even imply that she’s eavesdropping.


v.11Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.”


            The Holy Spirit, through the pen of Moses, reminds us again that the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah was a miracle.  Both Abraham and Sarah are well beyond in age the time in their lives when they could conceive children.  We’re even told that Sarah’s body had ceased to function in the manner that a woman produces seed.  The Holy Spirit even puts the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah on the same basis as resurrecting someone from the dead:


Romans 4:19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”


v.12Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”


            When God had told Abraham before that Sarah would be the mother of nations he laughed:


Genesis 17:17Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?”


Now when Sarah hears that the time is near she laughs as well.  She is skeptical, asking if she would really enjoy the pleasure of a son at her advanced age.  The news that Zacharias and Elisabeth would bear John the Baptizer was greeted with similar skepticism:


Luke 1:18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.”


v.13-14And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14Is 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.”


            The Lord asks why Sarah laughed.  She obviously was told of God’s promise and that the time that this promised event was very near:


Genesis 17:21But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.”


The Lord rebukes Sarah, asking a very simple question; “IS ANY THING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?”  We know there isn’t.


Jeremiah 32:17Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:”


If necessary God could have brought children to Abraham and Sarah from the very stones of the earth:


Matthew 3:9And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”


Abraham and Sarah are reassured;  AT THE TIME APPOINTED…” God’s promise will be fulfilled.


v.15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.”


            Like a child caught doing something that he shouldn’t, Sarah, even in her old age lies and denies that she laughed.  But just as Mother always knew better when we did that as children so does the Lord.


Read Genesis 18:16-22 – God’s Plan for Sodom and Gomorrah


v.16And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

            It is now time for the messengers to whom Abraham has been providing his hospitality to go on to other business and they’re going to Sodom.  As though reluctant to end their visit Abraham accompanies them part of the way.


v.17-18And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?”


            We are about to see a change in the status of Abraham before God.  He is going to become more of a friend of God than just a servant.  The Lord asks his messengers, should he reveal to Abraham what is about to happen?  Near the end of his ministry, the relationship between Jesus and his disciples changed in the same manner.  Jesus told his disciples:


Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15


Just as Jesus ceased to call his disciples servants and to call them friends because of the things that he had revealed to them; the Lord is ready now to reveal to Abraham his purpose as a friend.  The Lord knows now that Abraham is going to be faithful; he is going to be able to keep the promises made to him.  Abraham has proven himself.


Genesis 22:18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”


Galatians 3:8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”


v.19For 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.”


            Oh! that God could say this about each one of us today.  Abraham has just been paid the highest compliment that any man on earth could possibly desire.  The Lord says “I KNOW HIM”,  HE WILL COMMAND” and all his household will “KEEP THE WAY OF THE LORD.”  Abraham will not falter or fail.  He will do what God has commanded all fathers to do.  Under Moses:


Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;” Deuteronomy 4:9


And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:7


Under the law of Christ:


Ephesians 6:4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”


v.20And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;”


            The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities in league with them is so great the God can no longer tolerate them.  The messengers later tell Lot that they intend to destroy these cities:


Genesis 19:13  For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.”


v.21I 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.”


            Just as God went down to see Babel and what the people were doing, now he is determined to go see about the sin in these cities.  He will confirm that what he is hearing is true.


v.22And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.”


            So the two messengers with the Lord left and went on toward Sodom but the Lord delays and stays with Abraham.


Read Genesis 18:23-33 – Abraham Petitions God for Sodom


v.23And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?”


            Now knowing that the Lord was to visit Sodom and Gomorrah Abraham has either been told or through his own reasoning knows that they will be destroyed.  He asks the question, will you destroy the righteous along with the wicked?  His nephew Lot is there.  Lot, in spite of living in this pit of sin and degradation is still a righteous man.  The wrath of God is a terrible thing.  When Korah and the 250 princes rebelled against God and against Moses, God was ready to destroy the entire Israelite nation.


And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 21Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. 22And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?” Numbers 16:20-22


v.24-25Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? 25That 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?”


            If there are fifty righteous people in the city Abraham has asked God not to destroy it.  He is bargaining with God.  Jeremiah in his grief over the city of Jerusalem writes:


1Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.” Jeremiah 5:1


He was ready to pardon Jerusalem if only a single righteous man could be found, but it was not to be.


v.26And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”


            The Lord agrees to honor Abraham’s plea.  If there are as many as 50 righteous souls in Sodom he will spare the city.  But sadly this will not happen.  The remnants of Israel weren’t any better:


Ezekiel 22:30And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”


v.27-28 “And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: 28Peradventure 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.”


            But Abraham starts to have second thoughts about his petition to the Lord.  He knows the condition of these cities and fears that God will not find 50 righteous souls in Sodom.  So, at the risk of the wrath of God, he humbles himself, saying he’s just ashes and dust of the ground but asks if God would spare it if they were only 5 short of 50 and God agrees to spare Sodom if only 45 righteous men can be found.  But Abraham is still concerned.


v.29-30And 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. 30And 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.”


            Abraham continues to fret and worry.  First he asks God to spare Sodom if only forty righteous can be found, then reduces the number again to thirty and each time God agrees to spare the city.


v.31-32And 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. 32And 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.”


            Abraham continues to worry about his request and the city of Sodom so he continues to bargain with God and God reduces the number to twenty.  Abraham is still not finished; so like Gideon who sought God’s assurance:


39And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. Judges 6:39


Abraham asks one last time for God to spare Sodom if only ten righteous are found and God agrees.


v.33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.”


            Abraham’s pleading for Sodom is over, the final number is 10 righteous souls but they will not be found.  The Lord goes on his way and Abraham returns to his tent.