HYMN:Lift high the Name of Jesus (Gettys)
Lift high the name of Jesus,
Of Jesus our King.
Make known the power of His grace,
The beauty of His peace.
Remember how His mercy reached
And we cried out to Him.
He lifted us to solid ground,
To freedom from our sin.
Oh sing my soul,
And tell all He’s done,
Till the earth and heavens are filled with His glory!
Lift high the name of Jesus,
Of Jesus our Lord.
His power in us is greater than,
Is greater than this world.
To share the reason for our hope,
To serve with love and grace,
That all who see Him shine through us
Might bring the Father praise.
Lift high the name of Jesus,
Of Jesus our Light.
No other name on earth can save,
Can raise a soul to life.
He opens up our eyes to see
The harvest He has grown.
We labor in His fields of grace
As He leads sinners home.
READING GENESIS 18
The Three Visitors
18 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. 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.
3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 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.”
6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 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.
9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10 Then one of them 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. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
Abraham Pleads for Sodom
16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
SERMON The Lord Visits
We catch a glimpse, today, of the incredible relationship that existed between Abraham and the Lord. In this 18th chapter Abraham stands out as a prophet of the Most High God.
What we have recorded for us here are two incidents – one of which brings God’s blessing – the other of which will bring God’s judgment.
In verses 1-15, we find God blessing Abraham – as a result of Abraham’s hospitality:
Heb 13:2. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
The second half of the chapter both reveals that Abraham is a prophet and that God’s plan is one of judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.
So, it is a chapter of both blessings and judgment.
The blessing first.
The LORD repeats what Abraham has already been told about the fact that Sarah will have a son. However, more details are now given – the date of the birth is given as “about this time next year” (vs. 10).
This old couple were to learn that HIS power is greater than anything they have ever encountered.
God is a wonderful and powerful God of promises – but equally He is a powerful God of justice – and that comes out clearly in the second half of the chapter from verse 16.
God’s plan of judgment for Sodom was outlined to the prophet Abraham. To His servants, especially the prophets of old (see verse 17), God revealed His plans.
And God also promises that so long as Israel sticks to HIS model of justice (vs 18) they will become a great and powerful nation. verse 19 – by ‘directing his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord …’
The home had a crucial role to play in passing on the living faith in a Living God to the succeeding generations.
But God will not bring judgment without first thoroughly investigating the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah – that is why He says in verse 21 “I will go down and see …”.
Abraham turns out to be a man with a real heart of compassion – and so he speaks up for Sodom.
God’s power is shown both in blessing His children and in judging the wicked.
It is good to be reminded what Amos tells us (Am 3:7)
Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.
We learn something about Abraham’s hospitality – simply that it was the outworking of his life of obedience to God. This wasn’t the customary eastern welcome – this was him walking blamelessly before his God.
We learn something about the power of God to bring life from a dead womb.
Finally, if it was true that Ishmael’s birth announcement bore many of the hallmarks of the announcement of the coming of Jesus to Mary, then this supernatural birth even more so points to that Virgin Birth that we celebrate at Christmas time.
HYMNCome people of the Risen King (Gettys and Townend)
Come, people of the risen King,
Who delight to bring Him praise.
Come, all and tune your hearts to sing
To the Morning Star of grace.
From the shifting shadows of the earth
We will lift our eyes to Him,
Where steady arms of mercy reach
To gather children in.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Let every tongue rejoice!
One heart, one voice, O Church of Christ, rejoice!
Come, those whose joy is morning sun
And those weeping through the night.
Come, those who tell of battles won,
And those struggling in the fight.
For His perfect love will never change,
And His mercies never cease,
But follow us through all our days
With the certain hope of peace.
Come, young and old from every land,
Men and women of the faith.
Come, those with full or empty hands,
Find the riches of His grace.
Over all the world, His people sing,
Shore to shore we hear them call
The Truth that cries through every age;
‘Our God is all in all’.