Friday, September 30, 2016

Genesis 18:1-15 comments; Sarah's doubt

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; 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, 3  And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4  Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 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. 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. 7  And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 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.

    9 ¶  And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 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. 11  Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13  And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 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. 15  Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

These three men are appearances or angels of spiritual beings and one of them is God Himself, in the form of pre-incarnate Christ; the Word by which all things were and are created (see Psalm 104:30; Isaiah 48:7; and John 1:1-18).

Abraham tells Sarah to make three cakes from three measures of meal. It is interesting to note that three of the world’s great religions will come from Abraham and Sarah’s offspring; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Note the corrupting influence of leaven as it is kneaded into three measures of meal in the following verse. Perhaps God is not impressed with the practices of either of these “great” faith traditions in their hypocrisy.

Matthew 13:33  Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Luke 12:1  In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

As Abraham has a meal prepared for these men they ask where Sarah is, another question for which they obviously know the answer and one of them makes an important statement. He, clearly the Lord, promises to return unto thee according to the time of life which is a reference to the presence of God’s will in Sarah’s childbirth.

Now it is Sarah’s turn to laugh, as both her and Abraham are now very old and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women meaning she was no longer fertile and no longer menstruating.

The Lord’s response was to make the claim by way of a rhetorical question that nothing was impossible with God and to repeat the certainty of Sarah’s childbirth. Jesus made a similar statement when comparing the difficulty of becoming a believer if one is possessed of wealth.

Mark 10:25  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26  And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? 27  And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Sarah, afraid at being challenged for laughing, denied she laughed but the Lord contradicted her attempt to hide her doubt. Many conservative Christians will deny that they have any doubts about God’s promises, about the truth of the gospel, or even about God’s very existence but God knows what is in your heart. Don’t be angry at the atheist when you yourself have said in your heart at certain times, “how is this possible?”

Mark 9:24  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

We live in bodies of flesh, assailed by misfortune, disappointments, disease, fleeting joys and pleasures, and then death. Often, we are overcome by the apparent randomness and uncertainty of life. And yet, if we belong to God and are sensitive to His involvement in our moment to moment lives as clearly laid out in the Bible we are assured that His power is real and His promises are true.

Modern Christians have been led to believe by their preachers that if a thing happens like childbirth it is just by a natural process that God started but is not really involved in unless He is asked to intervene and wills to do so. Modern Christians believe that God cannot be involved in the evil that can befall them. They ignore the lessons of the Book of Job and wrench the promises made to Israel out of context and apply them to themselves to their eventual dismay. Or they embrace worldly values, lusts, and pride and insist they have not, harming their faith when things go wrong.
But, if you are honest, speaking to God in prayer and opening your Bible inviting the Lord to speak to you through His words, then you know that nothing is impossible with Him and He will do and has done what He has promised. Don’t pretend you’ve never doubted God as Sarah has here.

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