Hospitality is a Christian duty. Because our conversation is in heaven, the Christian life is touched with heaven, and we do not know what we do. Christians are a chosen people, blessed of God, and their faith transforms the ordinary. Hebrews 13:2 says that Abraham entertained angels unawares. We need to be faithful in our duty, for we never know what God's plan and purpose is.
How wonderful is the service of this old man! Abraham was 99 years old, yet he runs to do service to the three visitors. His was not a bitter and crotchety old age, but blessed and useful.
But where is Sarah? She also must receive the promise, for it is by her own faith that she received strength to conceive seed (Heb. 11:11). She had her own faith, but it was far from perfect. She is in the tent, and when she heard that she was to have a son, she laughed within herself. Not a mocking, public, scornful laugh; but a laugh of perplexity and doubt.
``My Lord being old,'' she says inwardly. It is her inner speech that is commended by I Peter 3:6,7:Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
Both Sarah and Abraham had progressed in godliness. It was not just outward form for them, but the reality of the heart. He dwelt with her with understanding, honoring her. She truly was submissive to her husband, not for outward, vain-glorious and pious show, but from sincerity and truth. Sarah was no weakling. She could say to her husband in another place, ``Hagar has got to go. Her child will not be heir with my son Isaac!''
The Bible calls this an adornment; and their prayers were not hindered. There is a wonderful example of this right here in Genesis 18.
God's purpose toward Sodom.
Abraham was a friend of God, and God speaks highly of him in verses 17-19. ``Known,'' means ``chosen in love.'' Abraham would see a godly seed, because God has chosen him in love. God would not fail to communicate to His friend what He would do to Sodom.
The wickedness of the city was very great. God had determined judgment upon it. The sin of Sodom is described in Ezekiel 16:49. It is a mistake to think of the sins of Sodom as being mainly sexual, even though the city has given its name to corrupt sexual practices. But sodomy and sexual perversion were but symptoms of far deeper corruption, described by Ezekiel:
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And thy were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. --Ezek. 16:49,50
They were filled with pride. They were preoccupied with the body, not the soul. Food, physical pleasure obsessed them. So did idleness. Instead of giving themselves to profitable labor and useful service, they thought only of pleasure. Sexual abandon is the natural result. God has not called us to lie around, pampering the body. According to Romans 6, the body is to be an instrument of righteousness. All that we do for one another must be done by the body. We use our bodies for reading, talking, listening, giving cups of cold water with our hands, walking from place to place to carry the Gospel of peace. We are to present them to Christ, and use them in his service. The body is the means for doing good to all men. It is to be an instrument of service, not pleasure.
Sodom had no compassion, and did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. How pungent this is! We are called to have compassion on one another, to strengthen the hands of the poor and needy. We are not to make victims of them, but we are not to beat them down either. I can remember people of both sorts in my life: those who encouraged and strengthened, and those who had no compassion and tried to beat me down.
Sodom was haughty. They displayed their pride and were not ashamed to commit abominations. This was the end of the path that began with pride, for God resists the proud and abandons them to wickedness. The people of Sodom thought they did not need anything that they could not provide for themselves, because they were preoccupied with the body and its pleasures.
The Intercession of Abraham.
Abraham was a great man. Two of the visitors went on the Sodom. The LORD (Jehovah) stayed yet with Abraham. Can you imagine a man who had power with God; who could pray for a city and be heard? Calvin said that Abraham's persevering prayer was heard because he left the issue to God. He was not arrogant, but looked for comfort and consolation. Will you destroy the city utterly? Was Abraham thinking of his nephew Lot?
Abraham appeals to God's own nature. Will not the Judge of the earth do right? God cannot God deny Himself by acting unjustly. Abraham is not subjecting God to human reason; but Abraham is reasoning from the nature of God.
God Does as He Pleases.
God agrees to spare Sodom for ten righteous souls. He did not spare Jerusalem for ten, but this passage does show us that God does not lightly bring judgment; that He is merciful and gracious. He is longsuffering to the trees that do not bring forth fruit and gives them time to do so. He sends Jonah to Nineveh, for He has compassion. Though it often seems true that the righteous are judged with the wicked, yet God has a different purpose for His people. Certainly Christian people suffered in the destruction of Hitler's Germany. There were Christians who lost everything in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d.
But we need to see the end. The Christians who lived in Jerusalem in 70 a.d. fled, according to the words of Christ; but they spread the gospel throughout the world. They did not perish with the wicked; although they lost their homes and friends in Jerusalem.
What great substance there is here in this chapter! What a wealth of information and instruction. You can be a great benefit to your family and friends it if you live in fellowship with God; have your family in order, and seek the praise and glory to God.
Do not ever say that one man cannot make a difference. Abraham did. Abraham knew that there were two mighty angels on their way to Sodom, and that the great city was in terrible peril. Most men would have wrung their hands in helplessness, and most men could not have done what Abraham did. The key is that Abraham was the friend of God. He was justified by faith, just as we are, and God confided in Abraham just as Christ confides in his people today (John 15:14,15). Do not think that prayer is little, that prayer is not important. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, the Holy Spirit says.
Why did Abraham stop at ten righteous? I do not know. Maybe he was doing mental arithmetic: Lot, Lot's wife; 4 daughters, two husbands. 8 souls. Surely there would be two more. This shows how wicked Sodom was. Only three escaped the city. Lot and two daughters, but that is another story.
The lesson today is about the friend of God. One friend of God can have more impact on history than millions of those who love the world, and seek to be friends of the world.
May God bless you.
Trinity Covenant Church (R.C.U.S.)
6050 Del Paz Drive