The last scene of circumcision involved everyone: not only Ishmael, but all the males of Abraham’s household were circumcised (Genesis 17:23-27). The word kol, “all,” “every,” is repeated four times (Genesis 17:23, Genesis 17:27). It is against this inclusive background that God appears to Abraham to confirm the promise of a son “Isaac.”
Read Genesis 18:1-15 and Romans 9:9. What lessons of hospitality do we learn from Abraham’s reception of his visitors? How do you explain God’s response to Abraham’s hospitality?
It is not clear whether Abraham knew who these strangers were (Hebrews 13:2), even though he acted toward them as if God Himself were among them. He was sitting “in the tent door in the heat of the day” (Genesis 18:1, NKJV), and because visitors are rare in the desert, he was probably longing to meet with them. Abraham ran toward the men (Genesis 18:2), although he was 99 years old. He called one of these persons Adonai, “my LORD” (Genesis 18:3), a title often used for God (Genesis 20:4, Exodus 15:17). He rushed around them in the preparation of the meal (Genesis 18:6-7). He stood next to them, attentive to their needs and ready to serve them (Genesis 18:8).
Abraham’s behavior toward heavenly strangers will become an inspiring model of hospitality (Hebrews 13:2). In fact, Abraham’s attitude of reverence conveys a philosophy of hospitality. Showing respect and care toward strangers is not just a nice gesture of courtesy. The Bible emphasizes that it is a religious duty, as if directed at God Himself (compare with Matthew 25:35-40). Ironically, God is more identified with the hungry and needy foreigner than with the generous one who receives them.
On the other hand, the divine intrusion into the human sphere denotes His grace and love toward humanity. This appearance of God anticipates Christ, who left His heavenly home and became a human servant to reach humankind (Philippians 2:7-8). God’s appearance here is evidence for the certainty of His promise (Genesis 18:10, NKJV). He sees Sarah, who hides herself “behind him” (Genesis 18:10) and knows her most intimate thoughts (Genesis 18:12). He knows that she laughed, and the word “laugh” is His last word. Her skepticism becomes the place where He will fulfill His word.
|Dwell more on the idea that “God is more identified with the hungry and needy foreigner than with the generous one who receives them.” Why is this concept so important for us to remember?|