Genesis 18


‘The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He said, ‘If I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.’ ‘Very well,’ they answered, ‘do as you say.’ So, Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. ‘Quick,’ he said, ‘get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.’ Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.’ Genesis 18:1-8

These events happen around three months after Sarah’s promise, but she isn’t yet pregnant. The Lord appeared to Abraham and when Abraham looked up, he saw three men which he knew were divine messengers, hence why he bowed down.

They are the Lord Himself and two angels, there’s no doubting that this was the Lord Himself as we shall see later, and the idea of Deity taking on human form isn’t foreign to the Scriptures, after all this what He, the Word, John 1:1-3, did in the New Testament in the form of Jesus, John 1:18 / 1 Timothy 6:15-16.

Abraham invites the three of them in and as part of the custom of the day, he washed their feet, John 13:1-17 and prepared a feast.

‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ they asked him. ‘There, in the tent,’ he said. Then one of them said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So, Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’ Then the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.’ Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But he said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.’ Genesis 18:9-15

It’s clear there was something different about one of the messengers because He is addressed as LORD, Yahweh and both Sarah and Abraham knew they were in His presence. When they ask, ‘where is Sarah?’ we’ve not to think they didn’t know where she was, but it the custom of the day and for obvious security reasons that all women didn’t show themselves to visitors. The host was to provide the food, but it wasn’t custom for the man to eat with the visitors.

The promise of a child is now repeated, this was within three months of the last promise, Romans 10:17. Just like Abraham laughed in the last chapter, here we find Sarah laughing, why?

She was old in age and still thinking in human terms, she laughed within herself, she needed to understand that it was impossible to have children on her own, but with God all things were possible, Romans 9:6-13.

The Lord heard her laughing and her laugh is answered, she was afraid but needed to understand that nothing is hidden from God and He will answer our prayers in His time, Genesis 18:14 / Isaiah 9:6.

Why did Sarah laugh?

Because she thought this was Abraham’s responsibility to bring about children.

‘When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.’ Genesis 18:16-19

It was the custom in those days, that the host went out with their guests for a little while. Abraham and Sarah have been reminded of her promise of a child but there’s another reason why these three visitors came, to rescue Abraham’s nephew Lot, from the cities the Lord was about to destroy.

God’s plan was always to bring about the Messiah through Abraham’s descendants, Genesis 3:15. Abraham was privileged because of his faith to get an insight into what was about to happen to these cities, judgment for sin, 2 Peter 2:6 / Jude 7. Surely, we understand that God will not tolerate sin forever, judgement is coming, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.

‘Then the LORD said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.’ Genesis 18:20-21

We’re not to think that God didn’t know what was going on and that He had to go and see for Himself, when the Bible speaks about God ‘going to see what’s happening’, it’s simply the writer’s way of expressing what God is doing in human language.

‘The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: ‘Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ The LORD said, ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.’ Then Abraham spoke up again: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?’ ‘If I find forty-five there,’ he said, ‘I will not destroy it.’ Once again, he spoke to him, ‘What if only forty are found there?’ He said, ‘For the sake of forty, I will not do it.’ Then he said, ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?’ He answered, ‘I will not do it if I find thirty there.’ Abraham said, ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?’ He said, ‘For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.’ Then he said, ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.’ When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.’ Genesis 18:22-33

As the two visitors went toward Sodom, Abraham stays with the Lord and it’s then he asks the Lord, are you going to destroy everybody?

Abraham acted as a go between for the people and the Lord. He obviously didn’t know what was really going on in Sodom and Gomorrah in terms of their sin, this is why he thought that surely there would be at least ten people who lived there who were righteous. He must have known that the Lord wouldn’t punish the righteous along with the unrighteous, Luke 18:8 / Matthew 25. The Lord agreed that He wouldn’t destroy the cities for the sake of ten.

This is the kind of heart God wants from all of us, a heart that cares for people souls, a heart that’s willing to do whatever it takes to save the few who will listen. As we shall see later there were only four righteous people, that’s why God will destroy the city. God was drawing from Abraham’s heart and we must believe that the Judge of the Earth, will always do what is right.

Go To Genesis 19



"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."