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Genesis Eighteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Genesis 18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

the Lord appeared. This remarkable theophany is highly instructive. The Lord Jesus in pre-incarnate form and two of His angels all appeared in the form of three men, even eating with Abraham. The writer of Hebrews refers to this event when he says that “some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). Later the two angels move on to communicate with Lot in Sodom (Genesis 18:22) while the Lord remained to talk further with Abraham. Thus both the angels and God Himself can, when necessary, assume fully human bodies. Similarly, in His resurrection body, Christ “did eat before them” (Luke 24:43) and He said that, in the resurrection, all believers will be “as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). Our immortal bodies will be fully physical bodies, but, like the angels, not subject to the gravitational and electro-magnetic forces which govern our present bodies.

Genesis 18:2 And 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,

Genesis 18:3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

Genesis 18:4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

Genesis 18:5 And 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.

Genesis 18:6 And 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.

Genesis 18:7 And 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.

Genesis 18:8 And 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.

did eat. It is significant that not only Abraham, but also the three visitors—two of whom were angels, the other being Christ Himself in a theophany—all ate the meat prepared by Sarah and the servant. Whatever nutritional merits vegetarian diets might or might not have, they are not required by Biblical commandment. Note Genesis 9:3, 4; 1 Timothy 4:3-4.

Genesis 18:9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

Genesis 18:10 And 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.

Genesis 18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

Genesis 18:12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

Genesis 18:13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

Genesis 18:14 Is 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.

hard. “Hard” is the same word as “wonderful,” one of the terms used to describe the coming Messiah in Isaiah 9:6. God gave Sarah the faith to believe He could accomplish this wonderful miracle of rejuvenating her body, partly by letting her know He could hear her laugh even when she was out of His sight, and only laughed “within herself” (Genesis 18:12).

Genesis 18:15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

Genesis 18:16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

Genesis 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

Genesis 18:18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

Genesis 18:19 For 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.

command his children. This is the first specific reference in the Bible to the teaching of children, indicating that such instruction is the primary responsibility of the father and should take the form of commandments, centering first on the ways of the Lord, then on justice and judgment to fellow-men.

Genesis 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

very grievous. The iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full (Genesis 15:16), but these cities of the plain had reached God's limit, especially in view of their reversion to gross wickedness after the marvelous deliverance God gave them through Abraham and after seeing and hearing the testimony of Melchizedek, and even the witness of Lot.

Genesis 18:21 I 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.

Genesis 18:22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

Genesis 18:23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

destroy the righteous. This is the most remarkable passage of intercessory prayer in the Bible, also indicating how vitally important is the presence of even a tiny godly minority in an ungodly community. This model intercessory prayer continually appeals both to God's righteous character and His lovingkindness, as the basis for making the request. Abraham thought he knew of ten righteous people in Sodom (Lot and his family of two unmarried sons, two unmarried daughters, two married daughters and their husbands), not realizing that most of Lot's family had been caught up in the city's wickedness, and so stopped his intercession at ten.

Genesis 18:24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

Genesis 18:25 That 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?

Judge of all the earth. God is still the judge of all the earth, not only of the chosen nation, and Abraham recognized this.

Genesis 18:26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

Genesis 18:27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

Genesis 18:28 Peradventure 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.

Genesis 18:29 And 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.

Genesis 18:30 And 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.

Genesis 18:31 And 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.

Genesis 18:32 And 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.

Genesis 18:33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.