In my wilderness season I forgot that God reveals Himself repeatedly in scripture as our provider. As I sought to find my provider one of the stories that leapt out to me is that of Isaac. Today we read all that occurs before Isaac’s birth.
Read: Genesis 18-19
“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,[a] 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.”
Reflect: Ok there is a lot here that leaps out. First, God appeared in physical form to Abraham and he recognized Him!!! Abraham immediately offers to act as a servant for these men. He doesn’t call over a slave to wash their feet but instead offers to do so himself.
As the conversation continues the men tell Abraham that in a year’s time Sarah will be pregnant and 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 theLord? 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.”
I can’t blame Sarah. I’d laugh too. In fact, I didn’t trust my own heart’s desire being answered when our time to move finally arrived. Sarah knew she was past the season of being able to bear children. She knew it was physically impossible. And the longer I reflect on this story, I more convinced I become that God’s timing was specific to include this part.
God made sure that Sarah and Abraham knew from the conception of Isaac that this child was a miracle from HIM. There would be no ability for thoughts later that they had figured things out on their own. This child, this promise was coming when it made no human sense.
Not only does God tell Sarah and Abraham their child is coming, but He points out that Sarah’s faith needs some stretching.
“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.[c] 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.[d] 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.”
I don’t want to skip the second half of Chapter 18. As Abraham and God are walking (!) together God reminds Abraham He has a plan for Abraham’s life. “I have chosen him and I will direct his children.” I’m not sure if Abraham’s boldness came from this reminder or simply getting to speak to God face to face, but as the Lord tells Abraham he is going to destroy Sodom he tries to talk God out of it. He is respectful in his language, but Abraham asks a specific question. “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”
I don’t fully understand the timing of these events, but as we move on to Genesis 19 we discover that two angels have arrived at Sodom. I feel like there is something to be pointed out here.
Genesis 18:22 “The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.” and then Genesis 19:1-2 “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
The angels were on the way to Sodom when God and Abraham had their conversation. God didn’t tell Abraham that He knew Sodom didn’t have 10 righteous people. He let Abraham flesh out his concerns and answered every question Abraham had at the same time knowing the angels were on their way to Sodom.
Lot greets the angels the same way Abraham did, and suggests they stay the night with him. Chapter 19 is a sad one. I think it is included in such detail to show the very clear reason God chose to destroy the city. Go ahead and read the chapter for yourself.
At the end of Genesis 19 we see Lot in a deep wilderness both literally and figuratively. This chapter shows beginning of two tribes. The significance is easy to overlook, but Moab would not only be a people the Israelites (Abraham’s people) would battle, Ruth who is in the lineage of Jesus was a Moabite.
Record: Can you think of a time you responded to God as Sarah did?
Why do you think God came to Abraham in person to talk about Isaac’s birth?
Why do you think God showed Abraham Sodom?
What do you think about the timing of Genesis 18:22 and Genesis 19:1-2?
What do you think about the way Genesis 19 ends?
Review: In my own wilderness season I convinced myself that God wasn’t going to fulfill my dreams. I was being told by people around me that I was asking too much from life and that I needed to accept my circumstances. I’ll admit that their advice wasn’t all bad, we are called to blood where we are planted and sometimes our expectations are out of God’s will. Every time I prayed for contentments to settle into life I would hear the same whispers. You are here for a reason, but it is not forever. Ten years felt like forever and in the time of waiting I convinced myself that everything I felt God was calling me to do, the things that stirred my heart were not to be.
When Ordell presented a new life to me it didn’t make sense on paper. It didn’t feel right because I couldn’t see how things would unfold. I didn’t laugh like Sarah, I got angry and the more I processed our circumstances it felt like this path would bring more misery than joy. God stirred my heart and pressed into me. “Trust Me” was all I could hear and as peace washed over me the next twelve months would reveal over and over God was moving. Prayers were answered that were ten years old and some even older. Each scenario would bring the prayer back to my memory and I would watch God move and smile.
Sarah was in the presence of the Lord and didn’t believe He would fulfil his promise. She had heard the words a few times over by this point, and the timeline didn’t make sense. I’m guilty of the same response. Now I know when I do respond that way I’m entering a wilderness and I need to turn.