Story 30: Entertaining the Angels of God

Genesis 18:1-15

Three angels visiting Abraham by Johann Lucas Kracker (1752 – 1776) from Premonstratesian cloister in Jasov in Jasov, Slovakia.

One day, Abraham was resting out by the entrance to his tent.  It was the time of day when the heat grew to its worst. Abraham sat looking out on the glorious trees of Mamre where he and Sarah had chosen to live.  They were far from the cities of immorality and shame that his nephew Lot had found so attractive.  Abraham looked up and noticed that there were three men standing close by.  Abraham lived in a region where visitors did not come very often.  When they did, they had often journeyed long distances.  It was considered a great honor to serve them and show them hospitality.

Abraham jumped up and rushed over to the men who had been travelling in the terrible heat.  He bowed low to the ground in front of them and 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 that you can be refreshed and then go on your way–now that you have come to your servant.’”

The men agreed.  Abraham hurried to Sarah and told her to make some bread.  Then he ran to pick out the best, most tender part of meat from a calf and gave it to a servant to prepare.  He went and got some curds and goat’s milk.  These were delicacies in Abraham’s day, and showed the high honor Abraham was giving these men.  How attentive Abraham was to his noble guests.  This was a lavish meal for a nomadic family living in tents!  As they ate their banquet feast, Abraham stood nearby and waited on his guests under a tree.  The men asked him where his wife was.

Abraham said, “‘There, in the tent.’”

What the Bible says next is interesting.  These three men who came to visit Abraham were no mere humans.  Two of them were angels.  One of them was the LORD.  Wow.  Those are some pretty important houseguests.  The Lord said to Abraham, “‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah, your wife, will have a son.’”

Now, Sarah was inside the tent listening in on the conversation.  When she heard what the LORD said, she started laughing to herself.  Didn’t this Man know how old she was?  Didn’t he see that Abraham was not a young man?  It was too late for them to have children!  She said to herself, “‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’”  Oh, the precious heart of a woman.  Even as she lacked faith in God Himself, her heart longed for the treasure of a baby in her arms.

The LORD knew exactly what was going on in Sarah’s mind.  He 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.’”

Oops.  When Sarah heard that, she was scared.  She lied and pretended that she hadn’t laughed.   But the LORD argued with her.  He could read her mind!  He said, “‘Yes, you did laugh.’”  God restored her back to honesty with His rebuke.  He showed her that He could read her thoughts.  He understood her doubts.  And surely the LORD who could read her mind could also give her a child.

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