What if Father Abraham was still alive today. What if he were to receive a Father's Day gift from every one of his descendants. I was thinking about this yesterday as I was driving around. Just think of all the neck-ties that he would have to return to Pennys'! I'm sure that he would have preferred some power tools from Home Depot! (Where's my wife.)
Yet, where we are in this series on Abraham, he is not yet the father God had planned for him to be. In fact, this is the ninth sermon we have had on this man this year and he has yet to produce a child God's way! Abraham is about a hundred years old and is just now becoming ready in God's eyes to be a dad. He's just not mature enough. A hundred years old! A hundred year it took him to be mature enough to be the dad God wanted him to be. Maybe modern men should think a little longer before becoming fathers, a little more preparation. Oh yes, he had become a father thirteen years earlier: Ishmael. But that wasn't doing it God's way. That was doing it his way, his own way. He lacked maturity then. Let's see, what's thirteen out of a hundred, Yes, he was still immature. Wow! What a responsibility it must be to be a dad.! Today, we will see just what kind of man Abraham had become before he was ready to be called "Father Abraham."
Look with me at Genesis 18. Remember, how God has just visited Abraham after 13 years of silence and restated His covenant with him. Abraham has just been reminded that he will be the father of many nations and that Ishmael was not the son of promise. The next part of the story evidently takes place just a very short time after chapter 17 that we studied last week. Look at Genesis 18:1. 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.
Here we find Abraham acting like it is "Father's Day." He kind of kicked back and relaxed taking a siesta, sitting by his tent flap. Sitting there where he can take advantage of any breeze that might come up over the ridge. I can picture him sitting there, kind of day-dreaming, looking up into the great oak trees that belonged to the chief in Mamre. Watching those leaves stir, he knew that every time those leaves stirred that the breezes was coming and that he would be refreshed during the heat of the day. But suddenly, something unusual catches his day-dreaming eye. "Is that a mirage? It looks like people coming. Travelers in the heat of the day. Most of the time they have already found a rock to sit under. They should want some shade. But, traveling in the middle of the day? Who could they be?"
Genesis 18:2. 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.
A Hebrew translation could easily read: As Abraham ran towards the strangers, Remember, he's a hundred years old. I can hear his wife now, looking through the tent flap, "Abraham, you're a hundred years old! Act your age. Quit running out there. Take care of your heart!" Bowing low to the ground does not mean that Abraham realizes who the strangers are. This was, and still is, Oriental custom when guests, even strangers, came calling. Visitors were about the only source for news and their company was greatly desirable. I can picture Abraham seeing these strangers saying, "Oh! I hope they come to my tent." Remember his extended family is around him. He's not just out there by himself. "I want those guys t come to my tent." He runs to meet them before anybody else can get there before they can change their mind and go a different way. Even enemies were entertained with respect if they stopped by. Even today in Iran and Iraq if an enemy comes to the tent they are treated with respect and given the best.
Genesis 18:3. He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.
The Hebrew word translated here as "lord" is simply a term of respect like "sir." In fact, in verse 12, Sarah uses this same term in referring to her husband as her master: Lord, sir. Couples who are considering becoming parents need first to treat each other with great respect. Abraham still does not know the identity of these strangers.
Genesis 18:4 and 5. 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."
Very well," they answered, "do as you say."
They seem to be a little reluctant as if they wished not to impose their presence on this home, or that they are going to travel on by. God desires to dwell only where he is truly wanted. It is always exciting when God chooses to visit with one of his created beings! And is also sad when those beings are too busy or too fearful that they don't have something good enough to provide for God, but who has that? This is none other than Jesus, Himself, and two angels. I can imagine the humor of the situation that is in front of Jesus. Here He is, visiting his great great great grandfather. He is going to eat a meal with his most famous ancestor centuries before He would be born in Bethlehem, only about 17 miles away. Before Abraham had even produced the son of promise. Here is this hundred-year-old man scurrying around in the heat of the day just to make Him comfortable.
You know, it's amazing that God will visit with His beings, His created beings. It blows my mind. And my minds is nothing like Solomon's, who was the wisest man that ever lived. He had a hard time believing that God would descend from on high to dwell with man. In his prayer of dedication for the newly completed temple, the most marvelous structure ever built by man, Solomon said, "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!" - 1 Kings 8:27
This must have seemed like a father coming home from work and seeing the castle of blocks that his little boy had built, and choosing to live in that castle of blocks. Can you picture that? Yes, you might say, "Okay, I might sit there for a minute. But live there? When you've got a perfectly good bedroom at the end of the house? But that's what God did. He came down and dwelt in the best that man could build.
God loves us. Isaiah 57:15 says, For this is what the high and lofty One says--he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit..." Wow! God desires to dwell with those of humble heart.
Just look at Jesus when he finally did arrive as a man and walk with us. He wasn't content to roam around on the world He had created, He chose to depend upon and to live with human beings. The home of Lazarus was a favorite hangout. The home of Peter, the home of Zacchaeus, who worked for the IRS. Jesus chose to stay with him. The homes of publicans and sinners. Jesus' reputation was tarnished because of whom He chose to dwell with. And take heart. He even eats with Christians who have lost faith in Him, as long as their hearts are open. You remember on the road to Emmaus, two of His followers: their faith at rock bottom. Jesus walks with them, talks with them, enters the house with them and eats with them. People who had been His best friends, who had lost all faith in Him, but Jesus was there. It matters not what is provided as long as the heart is receptive.
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." It doesn't say anything about conditions. It doesn't say you have to have everything prepared. The furniture dusted, the carpet vacuumed. It doesn't say what you have to have on the table. All it says is that we have to open the door. I am sop glad that somebody painted that picture long ago of Jesus knocking at the door, there is no door knob. Jesus will not force His way into our hearts.
Hebrews 13:1-3 states, "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." have you ever entertained an angel? You may not know.
I just finish a book last Saturday night. I stayed up all night to read the thing. I couldn't put it down. It was about a family of Seventh-day Adventists in Nazi Germany trying to survive as Christians. It talked about the mother, who was traveling from one town to the next to bring her children food in the city from the country. As she floundered in the snow, and was about to die, a truck pulled up and the man in the truck got out and helped her in and said, "Let me help you." And he took her all the way to the city because the trains weren't running any more. She came back to life sitting in the cab of that truck, thawed out, and when they got to her door, she got out of the truck with her groceries and the things her friends had given her, and as she turned around to thank the man, the truck driver was gone, and the truck was gone and there were no tracks in the snow. You never know who you're with.
This leads us to what Jesus Himself said regarding those who would be welcome to His eternal home. Keep Genesis 18 marked and go to Matthew 25.
Here we find Jesus in His own words discussing what it will be like when He comes again. Matthew 25:31-40. "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, (Not just two this time.) He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.
"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go and visit You?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it for Me.'"
A story is told of a little German boy who always left the door of their humble home open during meal time just in case Jesus came by to share in the meager meal with he and his mother. One day, a beggar stood in the doorway asking for a handout. The boy looked at his mother and said, "Perhaps the Lord couldn't come Himself, and had therefore sent this poor man as His representative."
Let's go back to Genesis 18 to see how Abraham handle his visitors. Genesis 18:6. So, Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread."
Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 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.
What a rush of a meal. Abraham tells his wife to bake some fresh bread. "No, the left-overs from lunch won't do. We have guests. Go bake some fresh bread." And even though she has to do this over hot rocks in the heat of the day, there is no record of complaint. I believe that one reason for this is that she knew that her husband would not be sitting idle while she did all the work. He would be doing his part. In fact, we find him choosing the best from his flock. This was no task for a servant. He wanted to choose the best of the best for these strangers. Then he brought an Oriental delicacy to his guests: curds and milk. He also is the one who serves the guests throughout the meal. He stands by, waiting for any request they might have. Amazing! Who is this man, Abraham, that has changed to this? Abraham is the head of his clan, yet acts the part of a servant. It sounds to me as if he is becoming more and more Christ-like! Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, served His disciples in like manner.
Can you picture God and two angels sitting under a tree and eating steak, bread, butter and milk? I would like to have seen that meal. Did they talk back and forth? "Please pass the salt." What was that like to watch God and two angels sit there and eat a real meal? They could have easily said, "Oh no, don't go to any bother. We don't need anything." That would be telling the truth. This is God. They didn't need anything. Indeed, God needs nothing from us to do as He wants to do. But God will take the best that we have to give and turn it into something greater!
Because God sat there and ate this meal with Abraham, he could never say, "Was that a dream. Did that really happen? Was that a vision?" Every time he looked out at his herd, there's a calf missing. God had eaten it, a constant reminder that God was there and that a son would be born.
You know, God never leaves us in His debt. Trust Him. Trust Him with your tithe, trust Him with your offering, trust Him with your family, trust Him with your life!
Men, do you see what kind of father Abraham was going to be? A father who keeps God a priority. The best way to keep your family first is to keep God first! He can do far more for your family than you can, if you believe in Him. Abraham made sacrifice to God by giving Him the best. If you want the best for your family, give your best to God first. Then He will take your best and multiply it for your family. When a family is united in serving God, attention is drawn away from each other's faults and focused on God!
Genesis 18:9. "Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him.
"There in the tent," he said.
Now things get a little interesting. First off, did God know where Sarah was? Yes indeed. He knew right where she was. She had her ear pressed up against the tent flap. "What are they saying?" You know, this may have been Abraham's first proof that these were no ordinary visitors. This Spokesman of the three knew his wife by name. Not just her name, but her new name that she had not had for very long! It was against Oriental custom to ask a man about his wife, much less know her name, much less know her new name, which she had not had very long. Sarah instead of Sarai.
It was customary for the wife to sit just inside the tent door when a guest arrived. Guests knew that whatever they said could be heard by the unseen woman. But at this point, I can picture Sarah with her ear pressed against the tent flap and listening more intently than she had ever done before. "Who is this that knows my name?" What else did he know? Her hair must have been standing up on the back of her neck.
Genesis 18:10. Then the Lord 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.
Wow! "This time next year, you're going to have a son." He had been promised a son for decades, but this is the first time he had actually knew when it was going to happen. "Wow! Within a year this promise is going to be fulfilled." Abraham must have been ecstatic! He after-all, already believed in the power of God. But Sarah had not had the one-on-one contact that her husband had enjoyed. Her faith was not at the same level as his. This whole encounter was for her benefit!
Genesis 18:11-12. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?"
It was so unbelievable! She must have thought, "This has been my desire since I was young. And now is it going to come when I am old? Is God going to give my body strength enough to conceive and strength enough to carry a child for nine months? Wow!" What kind of miracle was going to have to take place there? Strong enough to take care of that child?
Genesis 18:13-14. Then the Lord 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 that appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."
Our innermost thoughts and doubts cannot be hidden from the Lord, can they. Yet, even though Sarah still did not believe, the promise is restated. Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Verse 15 says, Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not laugh."
Can you picture her in a sweat that is not caused by the heat of the day? This "man" even knew her thoughts. It must be dawning on her that this is God! The God that had spoken to her husband five times before. She is now afraid that she has laughed at God so now she covers it up with a lie. Lying to the face of God. How does God react to such an affront?
Genesis 18:15 continues, But he said, "Yes, you did laugh."
No thunderbolt of Divine judgement crashed upon her tent. After all, this is His great-great-great-great-great grandma. What do we have to fear. We are God's children. No reprimand for her audacity. Just simple truth given calmly and gently. Four words. the only words that we know of that God spoke to Sarah. "Yes, you did laugh." But what a difference those four words made. Just the simple truth given calmly and gently had the impact of changing her life. Psalm 130:3, 4 says, "If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared."
What did this encounter with God do to Sarah? Hebrews 11:11 (KJV) tells us, Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
God's treatment of Sarah helped her faith in Him to grow, grow enough so that He could start the line of decedents that would eventually produce Himself in a little stall in Bethlehem.
When God comes to your home, are you ready to invite Him in? Are you willing to give your best to Him? This Father s day, also give thought to you Heavenly Father. It is said of modern families that the children usually move back in with their parents. Our Heavenly Father is actually looking forward to that day.
Let's read Revelation 21:1-3. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Sources: Abraham, The Obedience of Faith by F.B. Meyer Exploring Genesis by John Phillips
Hymn of Praise: #92, This Is My Father's World Scripture: Revelation 3:20 Hymn of Response: #289 The Savior Is Waiting
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last updated 6/16/2002 by Bob Beckett.