James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;Genesis 18:1-33
We have almost forgotten Lot, but he is not having a happy time in the land of his choice. The Sodomites have learned nothing by experience and are increasing in iniquity and ripening for judgment. The facts in chapter 18 introduce the story of the climax in their case.
A SECOND THEOPHANY (Genesis 18:1-15)
The word “LORD” in (Genesis 18:1 is in capitals, another manifestation of the second Person of the Godhead as in the case of “the Angel of the LORD” in the last lesson. Compare also 13:18 and notice that Abraham is still at Hebron, about twenty miles south of Jerusalem, where he had settled perhaps twenty-five years prior to this time. We may judge this by the fact that when he had become separated from Lot the latter was unmarried, but now, as chapter 19 indicates, had a family including married daughters. Keep giving attention to the map in these historical studies, as it will be increasingly beneficial as we proceed.
In what form does Jehovah seem to have appeared to Abraham (Genesis 18:2)? How are the other two men identified (Genesis 19:1 RV)? Abraham’s action in running to meet and show hospitality to these travelers shows that he did not know their true nature, but yet there was something about them which he recognized as unusual. Notice, for example, his address in Genesis 18:3.
How does the speaker in (Genesis 18:10 identify himself with Jehovah? What do you think of Sarah’s laughter in (Genesis 18:13 as compared with that of Abraham in the last lesson? In the light of the context does it express confidence or doubt (Genesis 18:13-15)?
A GREAT PRAYER (Genesis 18:16-33)
Abraham’s prayer is the first prolonged supplication recorded in the Bible and suggests several thoughts upon the subject:
1. The duty and privilege of intercessory prayer, for Abraham was now asking for others, not himself; The source and inspiration of prayer, which in this case is the revealed purpose of God concerning Sodom. He who knows God’s purposes prays in harmony with them and thus finds abundant food for prayer; but to learn His purpose one must listen to His voice in His Word; The value of argument in prayer. See how Abraham pleads the holy and just dealings of God! But to be possessed of arguments one needs to be familiar with what God is and what He says another reason for searching His revealed Word; The right of importunity in prayer. God is not displeased to have us press our cause, but expects us to do so, and frequently answers according to our earnestness; and
2. The efficacy of prayer, for Abraham received his real desire, the deliverance of Lot, even though Sodom itself was not saved.
How is Jehovah discriminated from the two men at Genesis 18:16-17? What reason is given for His readiness to reveal His purpose to Abraham (Genesis 18:18)? Read (Genesis 18:19 in the Revised Version and observe that Abraham’s faithfulness to God, resulting in the fulfillment of God’s promise to him, was itself of grace. Jehovah says, “I have known him to that end,” which is the same as saying, “The purpose I have in calling and blessing Abraham is to keep him faithful that I may bring upon him that which I have promised.” Here is food for prayer surely, that God might know us as He knew Abraham; and perhaps one reason He revealed this dealing of His with Abraham is to stimulate us thus to plead.
How strangely (Genesis 18:21 sounds, bringing to mind Genesis 11:5, the note on which please again read. Perhaps in this case the words were spoken by Jehovah in Abraham’s hearing. They suggest His fairness in dealing with the wicked, for (speaking after the manner of men) He will not act on hearsay evidence, but learn the facts for Himself. He will send special messengers to report to Him, who alas! obtain all the evidence they need. Does Jehovah Himself visit Sodom? What, in a sense, prevented Him?