Genesis 18: Abraham Intercedes for Sodom

1 And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth

-Abraham’s act obviously meant recognition. Even though this passage says “men”, they obviously did not look like ordinary men and since Abraham was already wealthy like a king, it probably was not because they appeared rich or important. Abraham recognized these men as being God’s men either through instinct (Holy Spirit) or because he realized he had seen one of them before. The fact that he says “O Lord” in the next verse means that he recognizes one of them as who he thinks is God Himself. As we talked about before, if it is only an angel, the angel would correct Abraham and not allow him to make the mistake of referring to an angel mistakenly as God. Since this being has the appearance of a man, it is quite likely that this individual is Jesus, God the Son. The other two men must have been angels accompanying Him and Abraham somehow understood that this One was of more importance than the other two and were only accompanying.

3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6 And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. 8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

-This confirms that these beings did come in the form of men that they would eat and did not appear as a spiritual being only resembling a man. They appeared to have normal bodies like you and I. We’ve talked about there being four different words in Hebrew for the English word “man”. The word used here is the plural of “enosh” which if you recall means man in the mortal, fleshly sense. We see Abraham give them the utmost respect as guests, even washing their feat. If Abraham thinks he is entertaining God, he must be in both excitement and panic. How does one entertain God if he comes by your house? This demonstrates both Abraham’s faith and his submission to God up to this point. Abraham has come far enough in his journey that he knows who is boss. He knows who he owes everything to. Even let them eat while he stood by, not even eating himself. A “seah” is a unit of measurement of roughly 7.33 liters or one third of an “ephah” which is 22 liters.

9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”

-”The way of women had ceased” obviously means that she was old enough to have reached the state of menopause. There was now no physical way she could possibly have a child now even if she could before. It would truly, by all definitions, take a miracle at this point. Her age would have probably been the equivalent of 60 years old today. One amazing small mention that is easy to miss if in verse 12 when she calls her husband “lord”. What a stunning display of respect. In 1 Peter 3:5-6 in referring to marriage, Peter writes, “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord…” By her conduct in scripture, Sarah is considered an excellent example of a good wife. I gave her credit last chapter as well but just in this one word, we see a perfect example for wives everywhere. As mentioned before, husbands must love and sacrifice for their wives and wives should respect and honor their husbands. In this, the most joy in marriage can be found. The fact that Sarah referred to her husband in this way even while laughing about something else, tells me that they must have had an excellent, loving marriage. This was a day where men did take multiple wives and Hagar was not given early on even though it was very cultural to have children through a servant if the husband and wife could not conceive. “have pleasure” in this last verse certainly refers to the joys of having a child.

13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

-Sarah was ashamed when she realized she had just laughed at something God had said. I can imagine the look on her face and her hand coming up to cover her mouth quickly, like a child who just said a bad word in front of his parents. How we are like children to God, even when we are old! And how He is a loving and understanding father! God did not scold her for this but merely encouraged her to have faith.

16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

-This is another bizarre inclusion in the bible if you do not understand the entire bible and the nature of Jesus, God the Son. God appears to be talking to Himself, no really! He asks Himself if he should hide the truth from Abraham. Is He thinking and considering? God does not need to think and consider. Thinking suggests indecisiveness and not knowing. God knows everything; therefore, He never has to think and consider. What is happening is God the Son, the one in the form of a man, is asking God the Father what to do. Jesus is perfectly submissive to God the Father, calling Him Lord. He does nothing apart from the will of the Father. Even though Jesus Himself is God, we know there are things that Jesus does not know that God the Father knows. We are told in by Jesus Himself in Matthew 24:36 regarding the end times says “…concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” So there are things that are kept from God the Son, including the end of the world. Jesus must have been asking earnestly what He should do from the Father because He does not know what to do in advance. He is there under orders awaiting the next order. So Jesus is sent to investigate Sodom and Gomorrah and only God the Father knows if He will destroy it. It is a chilling thought to think that Jesus could come to Earth and could even be on Earth right now doing the Father’s will. How would we possibly recognize Him if He appears like an ordinary man. We don’t have a clue what He looks like and He can probably look like anyone. Perhaps we should all be like Abraham was here and be perfectly hospital to anyone, any stranger that comes to visit. You never know if the person your are entering could be an angel, or even God Himself!

Abraham Intercedes for Sodom

22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

-What a bold question! But an all to common one. So many people say the reason they have a hard time believing that a God exists is that bad things happen to good people. This comes from a misunderstanding of what good is. We think of good in the world as someone who is generally nice and does harm others. We think of good as a child, innocent. So when we see major disasters and horrible unspeakable things especially that which is done to children by sick and twisted minds, many people cannot believe a righteous God would allow such a thing. We fail to understand that we are all evil and all live in an evil, sinful world. We also don’t realize that death is not the worst thing to happen to a person. We don’t realize that God will use evil for good and use these horrible things to reveal Himself to people. These horrible acts do not disprove God but on the contrary, show what happens without Him and why we need Him. We have no ability to do anything by ourselves good apart from Him and natural disasters or bad people doing bad things is an excellent reminder that we are not safe. We are never safe. There is no such thing as safe. It is an illusion that we create. We are not in heaven right now and at any moment death can instantaneously come to us and our families. We are utterly helpless and at the mercy of God. We must constantly remind ourselves that God is not beholden to us and has no obligation to save us and anything He does is purely grace. We, even little children as hard as it is to imagine, deserve death for our sin. Anytime people die or a bad thing happens to a “good” person, it is less than what is deserved. But God does show mercy, God does intervene, God does answer prayer to those who call out to Him. But if a major disaster is happening and you are about to die and you call out to God for the first time in your life sincerely, do not expect to be saved. After all, who are you? God does not know you. When have you ever taken the time to know Him or thank Him for what He does for you? But to His adopted children. He often saves them or at least takes away some of the pain if it is their time. But if they die, all that means is that the path to being with God is accelerated. Death is not the worst thing that can happen, it can even be a blessing.

26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” 27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

-I find this passage humorous myself. Abraham isn’t asking what is truly on His mind. Abraham does not know if there are as many as ten righteous in that city. In fact, he may doubt that there is. He is asking God because he knows that his nephew Lot lives in Sodom and will be killed if God destroys the city. Abraham considers Lot righteous and we know that God counts faith as righteousness. If Lot has faith that God spoke to Abraham and is indeed real then perhaps God will spare him. Lot has always been like a son to Abraham and he even journeyed into modern day Syria with an army to rescue him. He does not want his kin to be killed. However, many interpret this passage as Abraham caring for human life in general. But Abraham does not ask God not to destroy the city for the sake of children who live there and are innocent. He is only asking about “righteous” people. He obviously has at least one righteous person in mind. If Abraham really did have concern for the children or “innocents” that don’t know better, then he at least knew that God would not make an exception because we are still only a few hundred years removed from the flood. Abraham may know what had happened to the Earth generations before and no that it is not above the Lord to destroy the world if everyone in it is wicked. This is why he asks if there are any people righteous, like Noah was, would he spare them? We don’t know if Lot living where he was would have been considered righteous but perhaps like Noah, because Lot was like a son to Abraham and Abraham was considered righteous, perhaps Lot was spared for Abraham’s sake just as Noah’s sons were.

Spanish Words:

encinar = oak forest, grove

alzar = to lift, raise

postrar = to prostrate, weaken

traer = to bring

recostar = to lie down

bocado = mouthful, bite

sustendar = to sustain

prisa = hurry

mantequilla = butter

reir = to laugh

juicio = trial

clamor = clamor, roar, outcry, toll

justo = fair, just

Genesis 16: Sarai and Hagar

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.

-Being Egyptian, Hagar was most likely acquired during their time in Egypt. Despite Abram’s success in having faith in God in the past, we see a loss of patience on both their parts. They decide that is has been far too long and God must be waiting for them to figure it out and so they have the idea of having a son this way. Based on scripture, God did not actually say that the son Abram will have will be through his wife Sarai, it is only assumed. God has only said up to this point that Abram will have a son and a nation will come from him. They must have thought that maybe this is what God meant. It says here that they had been in Canaan 10 years, that is a very long time to wait on God. Abram would have been 85 to 86 years old at this point which may have been the equivalent of about 60 years old to us. That is already an old age to be having a child though its certainly possible for a man but Sarai is only 10 years younger than him so it may not be possible for her (without divine intervention of course). It’s reasonable to imagine they were looking at the facts, had not heard from God since the covenant was made some years before, and figured this was the only option. Knowing the whole story, the lesson we need to draw from this is to have patience and wait on the Lord. Whatever the Lord says will happen no matter what, no matter what we do. All we do is make things harder on ourselves by trying to second-guess God.

4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

-It says that Hagar was given to Abram as a wife and there is no mention of this being done in secret although it may have been. If Hagar was truly a wife just as Sarai was, then why shouldn’t Hagar be treated as the “main” wife since she is pregnant and will give Abram an heir. In her mind, why is she still the servant when she is now the “better” wife for having given Abram a child? These are the consequences of sin. They had not been given the law yet but they must have had some knowledge that what was done was wrong and that marriage is between one man and one woman. Look at the problems having two wives has created. What a headache for poor Abram! He tells Sarai, “Look she’s your servant, you deal with her!”. It does say Hagar looked at Sarai with contempt but it doesn’t say she did anything worthy of expulsion from the household. She had followed orders when she was given to Abram. This is an example of the perfection of the law of God. Polygamy simply does not work and it isn’t the way we have been created. Marriage is a beautiful thing that reflects the divine nature of the Godhead. In Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul reveals that marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the church. But it also reflects the nature of God Himself. God the Father is the authority and shows love to God the Son. God the Son submits to and respects the will of God the Father. This is the same for how it is supposed to be for Husband and Wife. Because of sin, no husband and wife can fulfill this all the time but the strongest marriages are when each make an effort to reflect this relationship whether they understand it or not. When suddenly you have two wives thrown into the mix, how does that work? The husband would have to show the exact same sacrificial love to both wives and both wives would have to somehow be completely submissive to the same husband. This is almost as chaotic as it would be if there were two Jesus’, it just doesn’t make any sense. There is the Holy Spirit, but He has the role of the children in a family relationship submitting to both but each “parent” has a different role. This is also why single parent households are less likely to produce stable, successful children. Things have been created the way they are for a reason.

7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.”

-This is the first time “angel” has been mentioned in the bible and this angel is not described or explained like the Cherubim was in the Garden of Eden. The word in Hebrew used here is “mal’ak” which means “a messenger”. Without a description, it might be possible this isn’t an “angel” the spiritual creature but someone else with a message. This is also another instance when it could have been Jesus who appeared. This “angel” did not simply deliver a message but asked a question that God would already know the answer to such as when Adam and Eve were hiding in the garden. God had asked them why they were hiding and who told them they were naked. We’ve already talked about how God the Father comes in the form of fire and God the Son comes in the form of a man. We are not told this angel was in the form of a man, but to suggest this also could have been Jesus is possible. If Jesus was in the garden with Adam and Eve walking with them essentially “playing dumb” then this could be Jesus as well doing the same thing. In other mentions of angels, a message is delivered or a task is performed, there is no questioning and the order in the next verse sounds like a command given by the being called an angel here and not simply relaying a message. Angels have no authority in themselves and are merely servants. In other instances of angels such as with Gabriel’s appearances, the angel explains that they have been sent by God to say or do something. It’s very clear they are not the source of the act but are doing it on God’s behalf. This is not indicated here. Shur is a desert region just east of Egypt so it seems Hagar was fleeing back to her homeland.

9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction.

-Further evidence that this is not just an angel is that He says “I” will surely multiply your offspring. It sounds like this angel just made a vow to Hagar as God had done to Abram in promising the offspring cannot be numbers as well. Not only that but this Angel also names her son and says “the Lord” has listened. Melchizedek, who we discussed could have been Jesus, also referred to God the Father in this way. Ishmael is believed by many to be the ancestor to which many if not all the Arab people’s in the middle east apart from the Jews descend from. This would certainly fit the definition of multitudes. Muslims believe in addition that Mohammad was a direct descendant of Ishmael and the nation referred to by the angel is those who follow the Muslim religion. The problem with this is that this angel doesn’t say that one of her descendants will birth a nation, it says all her descendants will and they are clearly identified as offspring which would suggest ethnicity, not a belief system.

12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

-It’s a very common interpretation to view this verse not just as referring to Ishmael but all of Ishmael’s descendants as well, the Arab race. The problem with this interpretation is that it literally says this will be true of Ishmael. It does not say his descendants, his nation, his people. Are all Arabs wild donkey’s of men? It seems to me quite racist to apply this to every Arabic person even if it were only true in a general sense. Abram is not representative of every Jew that would descend from him, why would Ishmael be of Arabs? We also don’t know that Arab’s are all descended from Ishmael, they are likely a huge mix of many different ethnic groups over time. We do see that Ishmael himself was this way later on so it seems what has been stated here has already come to pass. Even looking a the original Hebrew, there is no reason we should assume this applies to all Ishmael’s descendants. If it does, why would God tell us this. What is the purpose of knowing Arab’s will be trouble in the world? I think this is the case where we are looking at current events and assuming scripture is talking about our times solely because it is what we are familiar with. The Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and European nations in general have all been great trouble for the world. It would be easy to accept this prophesy if it were referring to Europeans with all the conquest and imperialization that has taken place in both Africa and the New World. It does not matter the ethnic group, mankind is evil and capable of stubbornness, in fighting, and being wild donkey’s of men and there is nothing exclusive to Arab people’s in this regard.

13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

-Could she have simply been mistaken by calling this angel God? We see in Revelation 22:8 when the apostle John begins to fall on his feet and worship the angel giving him this message and the angel forbids him and explains that he is a servant like him. God is the one to worship. This angel does not correct her further solidifying that this messenger was not an angel but rather God the Son. It’s warming to know that she has always felt that there has been someone looking after her and guiding her and recognizes that this is the being that had always done it.

14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

-Here is an image of the region this well is likely located: http://bibleatlas.org/region/kadesh-barnea.jpg . We do not know the exact location of this well and its likely it was destroyed or possibly built over in the thousands of years since this happened.

15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

-it says here that Abram called the name of the son, Ishmael. It does not say whether Hagar told him what happened or if Abram coincidentally called him by the name the angel said he was to be called. The name Ishmael in Hebrew means “God will hear”. It seems reasonable Abram would choose a name like this seeing as he finally has his heir that he believes is the one God had promised all along but we are not told.

Spanish Words:

atender = to pay attention, look after, attend to

ruego = request

concebir = to conceive, imagine

afrenta = affront, insult

desprecio = contempt

afligir = to afflict, distress

sumisa = submissive

contada = counted

fiero = firey, ferocious, wild, cruel

dio a luz = give birth