The Lord Appears To Abraham
The LORD appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.
“My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.”
“All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”
Genesis 18:1-5 (NLT)
Abraham was taking his daily rest during the heat of the day when he saw three strangers approaching. Few people ever traveled when the sun was so hot, so Abraham was immediately both curious and courteous. Hospitality is the first law of the East, and Abraham faithfully obeyed it.
The three strangers were the Lord Jesus Christ and two of His angels (Gen. 18:1, 22; 19:1). There was nothing about their appearance that told Abraham who they were; but as he fellowshipped with them, he learned that he was entertaining royal visitors. His ministry to the Lord was so acceptable that we ought to follow his example today.
To begin with, he served the Lord personally. Remember, Abraham was ninety-nine years old and a wealthy sheikh, and he could have entrusted this task to his chief steward or one of his more than 300 servants (14:14). Instead, he decided to minister to his Lord personally.
He also ministered immediately. Abraham could have ignored them by pretending to be asleep, or he could have asked them to sit down and wait until he had finished his siesta. But Abraham was a man of faith, and faith does not delay when it comes to serving the Lord.
The Role Of The Patriarch In Family Life
In order to understand the description of Abraham of the founding father of Israel’s faith, we do well to recognize the key role a patriarch such as Abraham played in family life during this pre-monarchic period. The social structure of the time had three tiers:
- Clan and
- Family/household. (Joshua 7:14)
The important unit was the household. It consisted of a patriarch – responsible adult male – his wife, his sons and their wives, his grandchildren and various other dependents. Since lineage/descendent in patriarchal societies was passed along through sons, married daughters join their husbands’ households.
Various Biblical passages reveal much about Abraham’s patriarchal household. The patriarch was responsible for the socioeconomic and religious well being of his entire household (Gen. 14:13-16). In Genesis 18, for example, Abraham’s hospitality toward his three visitors reflected kingship responsibilities that even included the protection of honorable sojourners or resident foreigners (Lev. 19:33-34). Providing water for dusty feet and serving an elaborate meal granted honor upon guests, and, as in Abrahams case, indicated his generosity.
At the same time, Abraham in Genesis 18 may have realized that he was entertaining heavenly guests and therefore have been exceptionally hospitable. The bond established during their subsequent table fellowship produced a blessing from one of the guests and established a basis for Abraham’s intercession for Sodom.
Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. He said, “Hurry. Get three cups of our best flour; knead it and make bread.”
Then Abraham ran to the cattle pen and picked out a nice plump calf and gave it to the servant who lost no time getting it ready. Then he got curds and milk, brought them with the calf that had been roasted, set the meal before the men, and stood there under the tree while they ate.
Genesis 18:6-8 (MSG)
This chapter emphasizes that Abraham ministered to the Lord speedily. He ran to meet the visitors and hastened to tell Sarah to bake some bread. He ran to get a tender calf and saw to it that the young man hastened to dress the meat. Keep in mind that this is an old man running around in the heat of the day! Only after he had served his guests did Abraham stand still.
Abraham served the Lord generously and gave Him the best that he had. Sarah baked bread from “fine meal”, and the meat was “tender and good”. No leftovers or second-rate fare for such important guests! What a contrast to the priests in Malachi’s day, who did not give God their best (Mal. 1:6-14).
Abraham’s service was marked with humility. He bowed to his guests, called himself a servant, and called the feast only “a morsel of bread.” He served the three visitors and then stood near to be available if needed. He interrupted a comfortable afternoon nap to become a servant to three strangers; but because of that service, he received tremendous blessings for himself and his wife.
Finally, he served the Lord cooperatively and involved the ministries of others. Sarah baked the bread; a young man dressed the meat; and no doubt other servants brought Abraham the butter and milk.
When we serve our own ministries, or ourselves our work perishes; but when we serve the Lord, He gives lasting and abundant fruit (John 12:20-28).
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Obedient
NIV Archaeological Study Bible