Genesis 18 Part 1: Is Anything Too Hard for God?

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Devotionals

Is anything too hard for the LORD to do? Maybe you’ve asked yourself that question before….maybe you haven’t. Maybe…you think the question is kind of pointless. Either way…that’s the question that comes up in the first part of Genesis 18 (verses 1-15).

It’s a sweltering (uncomfortably hot) day. Abe is chillin’ where he and his family have set up shop in a place called Mamre. Mamre is located a bit west of the Dead Sea…southwest of where Jerusalem would be eventually. Anyway….Abraham is hanging out, I assume trying to keep cool, when guess who shows up again? You guessed it…the LORD himself (verse 1). This has happened a few times now since we first met Abe back in chapter 12. In chapter 12 we’re just told that, “The LORD said to Abram….” (Genesis 12:1). Then in chapter 15 we’re told that, “the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision…” (Genesis 15:1). Then there’s chapter 17, where we simply read that, “…the LORD appeared to Abram…” (Genesis 17:1). Here in chapter 18, things appear to start off quite similarly, but then we have this curious statement in verse 2.

“He [Abraham] lifted up his eyes and looked and behold, three men were standing in front of him.”

So which one is it? Who is it that appears to Abraham? The LORD or these three men? OR…are they somehow connected? Abraham’s actions provide us with some clues. The text says , “When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth.”  (verse 2)  This is highly unusual. 1) First of all, old men don’t run. Remember Abe is 100 years old at this point. It would have been considered very undignified for a man of his age and social status to run for any reason. It would be like seeing your grandpa, who believes whole-heartedly that dancing is from the devil, doing the stanky leg at a family gathering. You’ve got a better chance of scrambling eggs on the pavement in winter, than seeing that happen.

Abe’s running let’s us know that he recognized these men to be very important. 2) He shows further respect and humility before these men by bowing himself to the ground. Then he shows incredible hospitality to them. He invites them for lunch. But he doesn’t say, hey why don’t ya’ll stay for lunch. He says, O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant”. (verse 3). Now, in some cases the word “Lord” is simply a sign of respect, or a formal greeting like “sir”, but here, the word is “Adonai” which specifically refers to God. Abe responds to these men the way that he does, because he recognizes that one of them is God in visible form!

God is Spirit…he’s invisible, and yet here he reveals himself, not just in a vision or with some voice from the sky, but in an actual physical representation. This is crazy! Is this too hard for God? Is it beyond him to reveal himself in a way that we can actually see? I can’t resist here: There are several recorded instances in the OT of the LORD appearing to people. We’ll see more of them as we keep trucking through Genesis and Exodus next. And a big part of what these appearances are meant to do it to set the stage and point the way to Jesus Christ. Jesus is God in visible form. John 1:18 says of Jesus,

“No one has ever seen God; the Only One who is God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Jesus is the One who is at the Father’s side. He’s the One who make the Father seen and known. Then there’s John 14:9, where Philip, a disciple of Jesus, asks Jesus to show him the Father…to reveal God to him, and in reply Jesus says, “…whoever has seen me has seen the Father”. To see Jesus is to see God. As Hebrews says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature….” Hebrews 1:3

Jesus is the fulfillment of what these appearances of God in the Old testament pointed to.

Back to 18. In Genesis 18, Abraham has a face to face encounter with the LORD. He extends great hospitality to these three men, knowing that one of them is God in visible form. He has a nice meal of freshly baked bread and fresh meat prepared for them and gives them an occasion to rest.

At some point during the meal, the men ask about Sarah. They want to know where she is. (verse 9) After Abe tells them, the LORD reminds him that Sarah is going to give birth to a son in a year’s time. The promise comes once again. And once again, doubt enters the picture. Sarah, who is listening to the conversation from her tent, laughs. She doesn’t believe that the LORD will make good on His promise. She figured both she and Abe were too old.

Then comes the question…posed by the LORD himself,

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?….” (verse14)

Put yourself in Sarah’s sandals….would you have believed God? Do you find it difficult to believe what God says in his word in your own life? Do you find it too hard to believe that God became a man and lived among us. Jesus Christ- perfect God- perfect Man. Is anything too hard for God?

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