Genesis 18: Son of Promise

How did Abraham recognize the three men who appeared near the door of his tent?

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Genesis 18:1–3 In the heat of the day near the great trees of Mamre, the Lord appeared to Abraham while he was sitting at the door of his tent.
When Abraham looked up, three men were standing a short distance away. He ran to meet them and bowed to the ground, saying, “My Lord, if you would be so kind, stay with me for a while, for I am your servant.
King James
Genesis 18:1–3 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, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

Why did Abraham think he needed to invite the three men to stay?

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Genesis 1:2 When Abraham looked up, three men were standing a short distance away. He ran to meet them and bowed to the ground,
King James
Genesis 1:2 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,

For how long was Abraham wanting the men to stay?

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Genesis 18:4–5 “I’ll have water brought to wash your feet, and you can rest under the tree. I’ll get you something to eat so you may be strengthened for your journey, for I will be honored to serve you.”
“All right,” the men said. “We accept your offer.”
King James
Genesis 18:4–5 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.

How much food was prepared for the men? What happened to what was prepared but wasn’t eaten?

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Genesis 18:6–8 Abraham rushed to his tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry, get three large sacks of our best flour and bake bread.” From his heard of cattle, he brought the best calf to a young man to butcher for good, tender meat. With curds and milk and meat, he set the full meal before them and stood by while they ate under the tree.
King James
Genesis 18:6–8 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 fetcht 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.

Why did Abraham only “stand by,” not eating with the men? Why wasn’t Sarah with them?

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Genesis 18:8–9 With curds and milk and meat, he set the full meal before them and stood by while they ate under the tree.
The men said, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
King James
Genesis 18:8–9 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. And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

If God had already told Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah, not just Hagar, why did Sarah laugh when she heard the Lord’s promise?

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Genesis 17:19 “No,” God said, “your wife Sarah will give birth to a son. You are to name him Isaac, and I will renew my agreement with him and his child after him.
Genesis 18:10–13 The Lord said, “I promise, at the appropriate time, I will come, and you and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was standing at the tent entrance and heard what was said.
Abraham and Sarah were very old, long past the age when women could have children, so Sarah laughed, thinking, At our age, can I and my husband know the pleasure of having a child of our own? That’s funny.
The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, not believing she could bear a child when she is so old?”
King James
Genesis 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
Genesis 18:10–13 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

Why did Sarah think she could get away with saying she hadn’t laughed? How did the Lord know she had?

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Genesis 18:13–15 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, not believing she could bear a child when she is so old? Is anything too hard for God? At the right time, I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”
Fearful, Sarah said, “I didn’t laugh.”
But the Lord said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
King James
Genesis 18:13–15 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid.
And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

How far and how long do you think Abraham walked with the men toward Sodom? What might have been said among the four of them?

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Genesis 18:16 The men got up to leave, looking toward Sodom.
Abraham went with them, to send them on their way.
King James
Genesis 18:16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

How can the writer of Genesis know what the Lord thought?

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Genesis 18:17–19 The Lord thought, Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? His family will become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on Earth will be blessed through him. I know he will direct his children and their families to follow the Lord and do what is right. I will do all that I have promised to Abraham.
King James
Genesis 18:17–19 And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

What motivated the Lord to tell Abraham what he was about to do? Why might he not want to tell him?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 18:17–19 The Lord thought, Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? His family will become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on Earth will be blessed through him. I know he will direct his children and their families to follow the Lord and do what is right. I will do all that I have promised to Abraham.
King James
Genesis 18:17–19 And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

If the Lord already knew what was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah, why did he need to go see?

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Genesis 18:20–21 The Lord said to Abraham, “I have heard the outcries about Sodom and Gomorrah, that the people there are terribly sinful. I will go see if conditions are as bad as they say. Then I will know.”
King James
Genesis 18:20–21 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

If the Lord had not specifically said he was about to destroy Sodom, why did Abraham fear that would happen?

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Genesis 18:22–26 The men headed toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.
As Abraham came closer, he said, “Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked? What if fifty good people live there? Would you spare the city for that many people? Surely you wouldn’t destroy the righteous with the wicked. Shouldn’t the great Judge of Earth do right?”
“If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom,” the Lord said, “I will spare the city for their sake.”
King James
Genesis 18:22–26 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

What gave Abram the courage to negotiate further, seeking a commitment for a lower number?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 18:17–31The Lord thought, Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? His family will become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on Earth will be blessed through him. I know he will direct his children and their families to follow the Lord and do what is right. I will do all that I have promised to Abraham.
The Lord said to Abraham, “I have heard the outcries about Sodom and Gomorrah, that the people there are terribly sinful. I will go see if conditions are as bad as they say. Then I will know.”
The men headed toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.
As Abraham came closer, he said, “Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if fifty good people live there? Would you spare the city for that many people? 25 Surely you wouldn’t destroy the righteous with the wicked. Shouldn’t the great Judge of Earth do right?”
“If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom,” the Lord said, “I will spare the city for their sake.”
“Look,” Abraham said, “I’m worth no more than dust and ashes, but now that I’ve said this much, permit me to say more. 28 What if we are just five people short of the fifty. Would you destroy the city for the lack of so few?”
“If I find forty-five,” the Lord said, “I will not destroy the city.”
Abraham wasn’t satisfied. “What if there are only forty?”
The Lord said, “if there are forty, I won’t destroy Sodom.”
“Please don’t be angry, Lord, but I need to know. What if you find no more than thirty righteous?”
“For the sake of the thirty,” the Lord said, “the city will not be destroyed.”
“I have already said so much,” Abraham said, “dare I say more? Lord, what if there are twenty?”
“For twenty,” the Lord said, “I will not destroy it.”
King James
Genesis 18:17–31 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five?
And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there.
And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.
And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there.
And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there.
And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.

How did Abraham feel after the Lord said the city would not be destroyed if ten righteous were found there?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 18:32 “Oh, please, Lord,” Abraham said, “don’t be angry with me, but let me speak once more. What if you find only ten righteous people there?”
“For only ten,” the Lord said, “I will not destroy the city.”
King James
Genesis 18:32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

When he left Abraham, where did the Lord go?

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Genesis 18:33 With their conversation finished, the Lord left, and Abraham returned to his tent.
King James
Genesis 18:33 And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.