The Lord Appears to Abraham

             Gen. 18:1, 2 "And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 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…" 

            On this occasion when the Lord appeared unto Abraham, he appeared as one in the midst of three.  We frequently find the Lord in the scriptures described as appearing as one in the midst of three.  The Godhead is described for us in 1 John 5:7: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."  The Lord set forth the Godhead as the authority to baptize in Matt. 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"  Additionally, when Christ was crucified on the cross he was one in the midst of three that were crucified.  There are numerous other examples in the scripture where Christ is pictured as one in the midst of three.  This teaches us, among other things, that we should consider Christ as the Son of God in the midst of three that include also the Father and the Holy Ghost. 

            Next, the name used for God in this passage is "LORD."  Anytime we see the word, LORD, in all capitals we know that this word is derived from the word, Jehovah, or "JHVH."  The word, Jehovah, refers to God as the covenant making and covenant keeping God.  Thus, the LORD appeared to Abraham as the covenant making and covenant keeping God.  This is the most frequent word used to describe God in the many appearances that he made to Abraham.  Whenever we find the word, LORD, to describe God this should trigger in our minds that the main subject of the passage is about God being the covenant making, covenant keeping God. 

            Additionally, the Lord appeared as a man to Abraham.  Abraham's view of the Lord was as a man.  Of course, in the New Testament we read where the Lord came down from heaven and took upon himself the form of a man.  We know that he came down as a man to redeem his people from their sins.  Also, we read that as a man, he is God manifest in the flesh: 1 Tim. 3:16 "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."  What we understand of God today is through the scriptural picture of Jesus as a man.  We understand the love of God through the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ.  We understand the goodness of God through all the good works that Christ did while here in the flesh.  We understand the forgiveness of God as we view the Lord's forgiveness of those that crucified him.  Thus, our understanding of God is generally through the eyes of a man viewing God, the man, Christ Jesus.  There are many things that we cannot understand about God today, but what we can understand, God has made known to us in light of what we are capable of understanding as men. 

            There were two angels who were with the Lord.  The number two in the scriptures is associated with the subject of witness.  The word, angel, literally means messenger.  These two heavenly messengers gave witness of the justice of God in this chapter and the next.  These two angels also took on the form of men as they appeared to Abraham as men and later to Lot as men.   


Gen. 18:2-8 Abraham's Response to the Lord's Visit

             Gen. 18:2-8 "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, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 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.  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.  And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.  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."

            When Abraham saw the Lord and the two other men he reacted with haste and zeal to go meet them.  How different this is to what most people respond to the opportunity to worship today.  Oftentimes, many people come when they feel like it or when they have nothing else to do.  When many come they are late for the beginning of service and seem not to be concerned about it.  In contrast to this, Abraham ran to meet them.  Abraham felt he needed the fellowship of the Lord much more than the Lord would need his fellowship and he reacted to go in haste to meet and fellowship with the Lord.  This should be our reaction today to the opportunity to meet with the Lord.

            Second, when Abraham met the Lord he bowed himself to the ground.  Bowing before others is recognition of their superiority and importance.  It is an act of worship.  It is also recognition of being a servant before the one to whom you are bowing.  The problem so many people have is that they view God as being their servant to respond to their needs and whims.  Abraham did not view the Lord that way at all.  Neither should we view the Lord that way.  We are not our own, we are bought with a price.  Therefore, we should humble ourselves before the Lord and recognize that we are His servants.

            Third, Abraham desired the extended presence of the Lord: "My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:" Abraham knew that it was of God's mercy that he had come to visit with him.  He also knew that God could make his visit as short or as long as He desired.  God is sovereign and his actions are sovereign.  We should, like Abraham, recognize that the Lord is sovereign and that his visits are by his mercy towards us.  We should also desire, like Abraham, that his visits with us be extended, the Lord willing.  What great blessings it is to us that the Lord come and visit with us. 

            Fourth, Abraham sought to serve the Lord rather than to be served by the Lord: "Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 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.  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.  And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.  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." 

            So many, today, come to worship service with the attitude that I am here to see how that I might be served or entertained.  They approach God in prayer with the attitude of "what can God do for me today?"  They approach the worship with the attitude of "what can we get out of this?"  If they are not entertained to their satisfaction they complain or vow not to return.  Abraham's reaction is just the opposite.  He approached the opportunity to visit with the Lord as an opportunity to serve the Almighty and thought and acted with the desire to serve his Lord.  How much better it would be for us today if we had Abraham's attitude toward the worship and service of God.  Rather than thinking, "what can I get out of the service," we should be thinking "what can I do to better worship and serve the Lord." 

            Fifth, Abraham set forth to do for the two men that were with the Lord as he set out to do for the Lord.  Oftentimes, people give lip service to their love for the Lord and for their desire to worship and serve the Lord.  Yet, their reactions to the people of God are different from the lip service they give to worship and serve the Lord.  This principle is illustrated to us in the following passage: 1 John 3:14-17 "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" 

            The Lord said: Matt. 25:40 "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  Our actions towards our brothers and sisters in Christ should be the same as our actions toward Christ.