Sermon on Genesis 18:1-14
Text: 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. 2 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.
3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 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.”
6 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.”
7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 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.
9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10 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. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Throughout the Scriptures, God gives us many fine examples of faith-filled living for us to imitate. For example, in our Gospel Lesson for this morning, we observed Mary. There were many things that could have been done to welcome Jesus and his disciples into her home. Instead, we find her sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to everything that he had to say. This is a wonderful example for us to follow of putting the hearing and learning of God’s Word as an utmost priority in our lives. As we study the account in Abraham’s life, we will see that there is much that we can imitate in our Christian living, as well. IMITATE THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM: 1. His Humility, 2, His Generosity, and 3. His Trust In God’s Promises.
Before we look at how Abraham lived his life, we would do well to see why he lived this way, what his motivation was. We get a glimpse of this as verse 1 relates, “The LORD appeared to Abraham.” We will get to the reason for this visit later in our sermon. However, the fact that the LORD appeared to Abraham shows that there was a relationship between the two of them. What was the basis of this relationship? Was it present on account of Abraham’s wealth? Was it because of the prestige that Abraham had in the land in which he was living? No, there were other men who were just as wealthy, if not wealthier that Abraham? There were others who exercised greater power than Abraham. Did the LORD come to Abraham because he was such a moral man? When you read the book of Genesis, you see a man of moral integrity in Abraham. However, you are also privy to many times when he was not perfect. He lied. He didn’t always trust that God would do what he said he would do. If the LORD were to visit due to the perfection of a person, he would never have stopped at Abraham’s tent. No, the reason the LORD appeared to Abraham was that he was a believer. As such, all of his sins were washed away. Abraham trusted in the LORD as his only hope for salvation. He believed and he put his faith into action.
By God’s grace, you and I are also in this relationship with God. God doesn’t love us because we are so perfect. It certainly wouldn’t take too much self-examination to see the many ways that we have sinned against God. Just like Abraham, we have lied to and about other people. We haven’t always trusted that God would do what he said he would do for us. As a result, we do not deserve to have God visit us in love, but in his wrath over sin. However, God has looked upon us in his grace. He sent his Son into the world to rescue us from our sins. Jesus came to live, die, and rise again so that our sins would be forgiven. He has promised us that one day we will live with him forever. He gives us these gifts and more because he loves us. When we see all that God has done for us, we want to thank God with our lives. Let’s continue our look at this account in our spiritual father Abraham’s life and see how we can imitate him in our lives.
Abraham was sitting in the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day, probably early in the afternoon. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. “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 favor 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.’” (Verses 3-5) Please note the attitude that Abraham displayed toward these three men. Abraham was one of the wealthiest of his day. However, when he saw these men, “he hurried . . . to meet them and bowed low to the ground.” He called himself “your servant.” He felt that, if he could serve them, it would be his privilege (If I have found favor in your eyes). Abraham would have been well within his rights to dismiss these men as his inferiors and that he didn’t owe them anything. However, Abraham didn’t act that way. He even didn’t act that way because it would have gone against good manners. As a child of God, he was willing to look at others in humility and look for ways to serve them.
How can we imitate Abraham in this aspect of our lives? We are to look at others as better than ourselves and look for whatever opportunity we can find to serve them. This flies completely in the face of what the world proclaims loudly and clearly. It says that you have to look out for yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will. You have to get ahead. Don’t be a doormat. Our sinful nature would far rather be served than to serve anyone else. The other thought that goes along with this is that we will serve others, but they better remember it and pay us back in kind some day. We are willing to serve others who are near and dear to our hearts, but look the other way when a person with whom we may be at odds with needs help. May we follow the example of Abraham, who had a position of power, yet he considered himself a servant to those men who appeared to him that afternoon under the trees of Mamre. He saw service to them as a privilege. This was something that he got to do, not had to do. Of course, the greatest example of one who humbly came to serve was Jesus. Though he is the Son of God, he came to the earth to serve all by his work of salvation. It is on that background that the apostle Paul tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Abraham said to the men, “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.” (Verse 4-5) This would have followed the customs of the day. Because of the hot, dusty climate, it would have been refreshing to wash your feet. You offered something to eat. It’s interesting to note that the words translated “Let me get you something to eat,” say in the Hebrew, “Let me get a morsel of bread (for you).” What an understatement. He hurried in to Sarah and told her to get three seahs (or 36 pounds) of flour and make some bread. He ran out to the herd and got a choice, tender calf that he slaughtered and prepared for his guests. Meat wasn’t a staple of everyday meals. It was reserved for feasts and special occasions. When all was ready, Abraham placed this meal in front of his guests. He gave them more than just a snack or a light lunch. He set a feast in front of them. He did more than the bare minimum. Out of love for God, he gave his best to these three guests.
Here again, we have a wonderful example to imitate. There will always be the temptation to do the bare minimum or the least we can get away with. May God help us to be generous in all that he has given to us, namely our time, our talents, and all the material blessings that are ours. In the work place, rather than doing the bare minimum that you have to do, go and see what else can be done. In all of our homes there are always things that need to be done. Rather than just doing what is expected of us, if we see that we can be of service to others, let us do so gladly. We can also pursue this path in matters relating to the church. For example, we think of our offerings. It seems that there are so many places where we spend our money that God may just get the leftovers. May God help us to remember that all the material possessions that we have comes from him and that he loved us so much that he sent his Son to be our Savior. In addition, We can come up with so many excuses why we can’t do things for the church. I’ve done my time. I’m too busy. No one appreciated what I did when I did something in the past. Again, remember our motivation for giving of ourselves generously at work, home, or church. We do this in thanksgiving for all that God has done for us. The apostle Paul encourages us, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
After they had eaten their meal, we get to the main purpose for this visit. “Then one of them said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’” (Verse 10) In the chapter preceding our text, God had told Abraham that he would have a son and would name him Isaac. Now the LORD comes face to face with Abraham and repeats this promise and reveals its time of fulfillment. He wanted Sarah to hear this promise with her own ears. What was Sarah’s response? “So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” (Verse 12) Humanly speaking, one could hardly blame Sarah for her doubt of the fulfillment of this promise. After all, at this time, she was 89 years old. She hadn’t had any babies in the past and it seemed impossible that it would happen now. We do not hear of such doubt from Abraham. In the previous chapter, when God announced the upcoming birth of the child, Abraham laughed, not in doubt, but in pure joy. God had created the faith in his heart that held God to his promises. By faith, he had come to know the answer to the question, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Verse 14) is always “No.” He believed it because God said so.
May God help us to imitate this aspect of Abraham’s life, as well. God has made many promises to us in his Word. When all is going well in our lives, it is easy to say, “I trust in all of God’s promises.” However, what about those times when things aren’t going as well? How about those times when human reason says that there’s just no way. It might be that we are going through a financial difficulty. Perhaps, we are suffering due to an illness or injury. There are also spiritual questions that might come to our minds. If there is a sin that we have committed and it continually gnaws away at us, we might question whether God has actually forgiven that sin or not. We talk about life after death and an eternity in heaven. How do we know that’s true? After all, no has been there and come back. At those times, may we remember the rhetorical question that God asked in our text, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?”. We thank God for revealing the answer to us, as well. No, there is nothing too hard for the LORD. Because God has said it, we can count on it. We can trust in God’s promises, because he will keep every one of them. So we say with the apostle Paul, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Children learn a great deal by imitating their parents. They learn to speak. They learn to eat and all of the other skills that they need in life. This morning, we have a great man of faith in front of us, Abraham. May God help us to imitate his life. He humbly served others. He was generous in dealing with others. Most importantly, he trusted in all of God’s promises. Having heard again what God has done for us, may we be moved to live lives that thank him for all that he has done for us. May we be moved to serve one another. May God help us to be generous with all that he has given to us. May he strengthen our faith so that, in all the various situations in our lives, we trust in all that he has promised us. May we learn well from Abraham’s example. Amen.
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