Abraham was taking his daily rest, sitting at the opening of his tent in the heat of the day and he saw three strangers approaching. Living in the desert we know what the heat of the day can be like. Abraham was both curious and hospitable. Hospitality was a BIG deal in that day and place and Abraham was quick to serve these visitors. These visitors were two messengers of the Lord and a pre incarnate Jesus. Nothing about their appearance told Abraham who they were but as they talked, he learned he was entertaining royal visitors. We learn some things about Abraham here. Many scholars believe Abraham was one of the wealthiest men ever. It would have not been out of place for him to call on a servant to meet these three visitors and serve them. But Abraham served them himself. Sarah made bread and a servant cooked the meat, but Abraham served the men. At this point Abraham was 99 years old. He could have invited them to sit while he finished his rest but that is not what we see.
Abraham served these visitors in a hurry. He ran to meet the visitors. He hastened to tell Sarah to make bread and he ran to get a tender calf. This is an old man running around in the heat of the day. It wasn’t until the three visitors were served that Abraham stood still. And Abraham and Sarah served the three men their best…fine flour and tender and good meat. He was humble, bowing down to these visitors. Abraham called himself a servant and in fact stood nearby as they ate to make sure they didn’t need anything.
This was no ordinary visit. The Lord had come to deliver the good news that this time next year He was fulfilling the promise He had made to Abraham. Sarah would have a child, a son. It seemed so unbelievable that Sarah laughed, and wondered if anything so amazing could really happen to people as old as they were. While Abraham had laughed out of amazement at what God would do, Sarah laughed out of unbelief. And the Lord asks a rhetorical question. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Of course, the answer is no. God always keeps His promises.
We also see in this reading the close relationship Abraham has with the Lord. We have seen glimpses of this before but now their relationship is on full display. After they had eaten and delivered their news the three men moved to leave Abraham’s camp. Two of the men continued on and the Lord remained, standing with Abraham. The two cities were wicked, and the Lord was about to wipe them from the face of the earth. But Abraham pleads for any righteous people there might be in the cities. Would God be so harsh as to destroy the righteous with the wicked? Abraham begins the negotiations…if there are 50 righteous people will God destroy them? And so, the conversation goes. Abraham now knows he is debating with the Lord. The negotiations stop at 10 righteous people and God will not destroy the cities. But we know there were not 10 people in Sodom and Gomorrah who were right with God.
The two messengers went into Sodom where they were welcomed by Lot’s hospitality. Lot however has one foot in the world and one in the world of the things of God. He is trying to do the right things, but the pull of the world is strong. The men warn him to take his family and leave town because they are going to destroy it and remove the wickedness from the face of the earth. Lot searches for his daughter’s boyfriends but they refuse to leave the world. The men end up dragging Lot, his wife and two daughters out of the city…telling them to flee and do not look back. They are to leave the things of the world behind. And as they flee God begins to send fire and brimstone down upon the cities. Fire in scripture is always a sign of judgement. God is judging the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire. While Lot and his daughters have somewhat of a relationship with the Lord, Lot’s wife is of the world. She is leaving behind all the things that were important to her, things that defined who she was. She turned back to take one more look at what she loved most and was turned into a pilar of salt. God does not want any to perish but He will not tolerate evil forever.
Over and over in scripture we will see the trouble God’s people create for themselves because they do not trust God to keep His promises. Already we have seen it with Abraham and Sarah and Hagar. We humans grow impatient when God does not act right away. And we worry that life will not turn out the way we have it planned. Lot’s daughters no longer had future husbands. So, they took matters into their own hands, getting their father drunk and having relations with him. Both became pregnant. The older daughter’s son became the father of the Moabites and the younger daughter’s son was the father of the ammonites. Both of these tribes became foes of God’s chosen people, the Israelites.
Just as the descendants of Ishmael fought against the descendants of Isaac, so too the Moabites and Ammonites became enemies of the Israelites. We see other comparisons as well here. The Lord came with two messengers to visit Abraham and Sarah. He brought good news. His promise would be fulfilled. But the Lord did not go on to Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham was sitting in the gate of his tent while Lot was in the gateway of a wicked city. Abraham was still living in a tent, a pilgrim passing through the world. Lot had abandoned his tent and moved into the city. He had settled in the world. Abraham walked by faith, Lot by sight. It was daylight when the visitors arrived at Abraham’s tent. He was walking in the light. But it was evening when the two men arrived in Sodom. Lot was walking in darkness. And while Abraham hastened to serve the visitors, Lot made no effort to serve them.
The Lord’s visit to Abraham brought renewed hope and excitement. But Lot lost everything when Sodom was destroyed. We read in Romans 12:2 to not be conformed to this world. We live in this world, but we are not of this world. The world is ruled by the evil one who seeks to keep us from God. His goal is to destroy and defeat. Our true home is in heaven with God the Father and Jesus the Son. Jesus has promised He has gone there to prepare a place for us.
We live in a world where evil crouches at the door, seeking to rip us away from God. He lies and twists words and tempts us with amazing and shiny things. We read and study and pray so that we are not tempted to follow the evil one. We read and study and pray so that we recognize the voice of God over the noise of the world. The Lord walks with us through the world and eventually brings us home.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W