Open your bibles with me and read Genesis Chapter 18. There are 33 verses, but it is an easy, good read!
Overview: 3 visitors show up (which are actually angels) in the heat of the day and Abraham shows them hospitality by having Sarah cook for them, and he kills a calf for them. These visitors tell Abraham that they will be back in 9 months and Sarah will have given birth to a baby boy. Sarah hears this from the tent and laughs thinking it is impossible. The Lord says “Why did Sarah laugh? Is anything too hard for the Lord?”. The Lord then reveals to Abrahm, as they stand and look down the land into Sodom – that he has heard a great outcry against Sodom and is going to destroy it if the angels who are traveling there find the outcry to be true. Abraham intercedes on behalf of Sodom and asks God “Will you really destroy the righteous with the wicked? If you find 50 there, will you spare the city?” God agrees if he finds 50 righteous, he will spare Sodom. This goes on as Abraham keeps lowering the number and ends with God saying that if he can find just 10 righteous, he will not destroy Sodom…”
Lessons we learn from today’s scripture:
- Abraham was eager to show hospitality to these 3 visitors. In Abraham’s day, a person’s reputation was largely connected to his hospitality – the sharing of home and food. Even strangers were to be treated as highly honored guests. Meeting another’s need for food or shelter is still one of the most immediate and practical ways to obey God. It is also a time-honored relationship builder. And in Hebrews 13:2 it suggests that we may actually entertain angels unknowingly when we are kind to a stranger. At a Women’s Retreat I attended last year they subject of “Hospitality” was a workshop. It ignited something in me – and I have tried to show more “hospitality”. To open my home for a cup of coffee and conversation for those who are having a rough day. If you know someone going through something – invite them over for a cup of coffee or sweet tea and let them just talk while you listen. While we can’t fix things – only God can – we can lend a listening ear and then do the most powerful thing possible – pray with them and help them give it to God! (This was a hard lesson for me to learn. Years ago, when “listening” I always felt I had to respond with some words of wisdom that would just instantly change the situation and make it all better. Because I’m a “fixer”. But God has shown me over the years that sometimes I can give some obvious, practical advice that they may not see since they are in the middle of the situation – but most often I need to just listen, point them to what God says about it in His word, and then pray with them, and for them. Maybe you’re reading this and you’re a “fixer” and it’s exhausting you – learn to have empathy and then give it to God.)
- “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” – The obvious answer is “Of course not!” – So, the next time you are facing something – insert this into the situation. “Is this day in my life too hard for the Lord?” “Is this habit I’m trying to break too hard for the Lord?” “Is the communication problem I’m having too hard for Him?” – Asking the question this way reminds you that God is personally involved in your life and nudges you to ask for his power to help you!!
- Sarah lied about laughing because she was afraid of being discovered. Fear is the most common motive for lying. We are afraid that our inner thoughts and emotions will be exposed, or our wrongdoings discovered. But lying causes even more problems – every.single.time. It is better to just go ahead and be honest and face the consequences.
- Did Abraham change God’s mind? Of course not. The more likely answer is God changed Abraham’s mind. Abraham knew that God is just and that he punishes sin, but he may have wondered about God’s mercy. Abraham seemed to be probing God’s mind to see how merciful he really was. He left his conversation with God convinced that God was both kind and fair. Our prayers may not change God’s mind, but they may change ours just as Abraham’s prayer changed his. Prayer better helps us understand the heart of God.
- Why did God let Abraham question his justice and intercede for a wicked city? Abraham knew that God must punish sin, but he also knew from experience that God is merciful to sinners. God knew there were not 10 righteous people in the city, but he was merciful enough to allow Abraham to intercede. He was also merciful enough to help Lot, Abraham’s nephew, get out of Sodom before it was destroyed. If you are still breathing and have not repented of your sins – God is also giving you a space of mercy to do so.
- God was not unfair in His dealings with Sodom. (1) He agreed to spare the entire city for just 10 righteous people. Yet 10 were not found. (2) He showed great mercy toward Lot, apparently the only man in the city who had any kind of relationship with him. (3) he showed great patience toward Lot – almost forcing Him out of the city before he destroyed it. The thought I had while reading this note in my study bible … Lot had this relationship with the Lord because he had been raised in the Faith! If you have a prodigal who is out in “Sodom” – keep praying, keep interceding, watch God move!
- And finally – God showed Abraham that asking for anything is allowed, with the understanding that God’s answers come from God’s perspective. Theya re not always in harmony with our expectations. Only God know the whole story. Are you missing God’s answer to a prayer because you haven’t considered any possible answers other than the one you expect?
Let’s be like Abrahm and intercede for our country that is currently so far from God. Let the revival start right here in our hearts!
**Some notes taken from the Life Application Study Bible.