"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Saturday, August 3, 2019

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter EIGHTEEN

Contributing commentaries by Sonny Islas and James Fire

Studies by Ray Steadman: When GOD Comes To Dinner GEN 18:1-15
Studies by Ray Steadman: How Prayer Works GEN 18:16-33

(We were not able to make a video recording of this teaching)

From GEN 18:1-15 Yahweh (God) shares Good News with Sarah “Sarah’s having a baby!” the son of Promise (Isaac).  
From verses 16-33 Yahweh shares Bad News with Abraham about His just judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.
This good news for Sarah and Abraham and this bad news for Sodom and Gomorrah is a beautiful picture of God’s attributes, both His amazing grace and His dreadful justice. God saves those who turn to Him by faith and yet God destroys those who reject His righteous rule. In one scene God is giving life (Isaac who points to Jesus) and in the next scene God is taking life (Sodom and Gomorrah). Here is a picture of both the narrow way and the broad way.

GENESIS 18:1-15
 1 ¶ Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, 3 and said, "My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. 4 "Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5 "And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant." They said, "Do as you have said." 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, "Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes." 7 And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. 8 So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.

 9 ¶ Then they said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" So he said, "Here, in the tent." 10 And He said, "I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son." (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" 13 And the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?' 14 "Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, "I did not laugh," for she was afraid. And He said, "No, but you did laugh!"

[vs. 1] “The LORD appeared to him”

This was then 5th time the LORD appeared to Abraham since He entered Canaan - (GEN 12:2, 13:14-17, 15:1-21, 17:1-22)
As we can see, the LORD (Jehovah, Yahweh God) appears in human form: Known as a Theophany or Christophany.

God appearing in human form was a foreshadow of the Word becoming flesh (JOHN 1:14) – Jesus (the GodmanEmmanuel – God with us” – MATT 1:23. The other two visitors, we later learn, were angels (GEN 19:1).

 [vs. 1by the trees of Mamre
Mamre (in Hebron) was a special spot to Abraham. Abraham built an altar there (GEN 13:18), and lived there for some time (GEN 14:13). Abraham purchased a plot of land in Mamre, and used it for Sarah’s burial (GEN 23:17-19). Abraham was buried there (GEN 25:9), and so was his son Isaac (GEN 49:30; 50:13). Home sweet home! The city of Hebron, for the first Hebrew by name (GEN 14:13).

 [vs. 1He was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day
At this time, people were for the most part very hospitable; Abraham sat at the front door to get some fresh air but even more so to keep an eye out for any strangers passing by in order to bless them with rest, fresh water and food.

In other words, Abraham was always looking for an opportunity to meet a need. He wasn’t locked away in his bedroom with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on it (but this is the cold heart of our culture today). 

Rather he was sitting at the front door waiting and ready to be a blessing.
Question: Are we, watching, waiting and willing to show some practical love to others? Are we willing to get out of our comfort zone and bless others? Are we upfront and visible for others to see and come to or are we locked away doing our own thing without regular, physical, meaningful, human contact?
Abraham was a face to face, heart to heart type of man.

I’ve heard a person say, “to be hospitable is to be a hospital.” While on earth, wasn’t Jesus a hospital for the hurting? ISA 61:1-3.

I pray that our fellowship would be a home, a hospital and a place of hope for the heartbroken. My grandmother-in-law was hospitable to the tired workers walking home from a mine nearby.

Footnote: Notice Abraham lived in a tent. Kenneth “the money monster” Copeland, once said that He’s filthy rich because he is a son of Abraham and that the blessing of Abraham is wealth.
For one, the blessing of Abraham is Jesus the Messiah and for two, Copeland lives in lavish multimillion-dollar homes while the very wealthy Abraham lived in a tent. Abraham could have lived in a palace-style home but chose not to.
I believe that at first glance Abraham didn’t fully know (but most likely had a hunch) that he was in the presence of and entertaining both Yahweh - The Creator of the universe and two angels.

HEBREWS 13:2 says, 
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels.’’ We see that with Abraham here; and also with Lot in GEN 19:2. Lot treated the angels just like his uncle Abraham did. He fed both God and angels – how cool is that?!

Here, Paul is saying, show kindness to everyone because you might just bump into an angel unaware: I don’t want angels to think I’m a jerk!  Notice verse 2 says, “he ran” - Abraham was eager and quick to serve! Verse 6 says, “Abraham hurried” and verse 7 says,  “Abraham ran.” Are we eager and quick to show love to God and others?

[vs. 9] Where is Sarah your wife?

In GEN 17:16,17 The LORD tells Abraham that Sarah will have a son and he cracks up (even named him according to their reaction – ‘Isaac’: meaning laughter).  Now the LORD brings this good news to Sarah and she cracks up (inside) too.
Could it be that Abraham told Sarah and she said ‘yeah right! I won’t believe it until God tells me Himself.’ It’s a possibility because she laughed in unbelief but then God helped her unbelief by delivering the good news in person, so that HEB 11:11 says of Sarah,
 “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.”

This shows us that 1. The LORD gave more detail to Abraham and Sarah about who exactly will bear this child (this son of promise) – this way in their impatience, they don’t try and pull another Hagar. 2. To build up Sarah’s faith. (At times, The LORD visits us too and speaks to us through His Word when we lack faith) 3. God at times doesn’t move until no one can get the credit but Him for what He does. 4. The works of God are laughable at times especially to the unbeliever.

For example, if God would have told me that He was going to make a pastor out of me at the age of 15 while I was holding a joint to my lips I would have laughed in His face.
On a more significant note, Jesus was a joke to many in His day. He was a punch line and comic strip to many. Scripture even prophesied that He would be the song of drunkards (PSALM 69:8-12)!

They would say things like,
“How can this nobody, this son of a carpenter be the Messiah? Ha! Yeah, right!” At the time of His crucifixion the Roman soldiers mocked Him, struck and poked fun at Him by placing a scarlet robe on His body and a crown of thorns on His head and a stick in his hand, then they mockingly bowed their knees and said “Hail, the King of the Jews.”
Their reasoning was, it’s impossible for this nobody to be a king, much less God.

So, Sarah laughs within, and the LORD read her heart but she denies her laughter, and the LORD calls her out on it. That must have been pretty embarrassing and sobering – like "Wow, He just read my mind! I better shut up!” 

Then the LORD says something none of us should ever, ever, ever, forget. 
[Vs. 14] “Is anything too hard for the LORD?

To which I add - The LORD who is self-exists and in need of nothing - The LORD who is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present; The LORD who created everything visible and invisible by the word of His mouth. Is anything too difficult for our GOD?
Multitudes of angelic beings with
mind blowing powers; The LORD who created the Heavens and the earth and hung it all on nothing! The LORD who created trillions of galaxies that make up trillions of gigantic stars and knows them all by name.

The LORD who created billions of people, trillions of animals and faithfully provides breathe and food for us all. The LORD who flooded the entire earth. The LORD who raised Lazarus from the grave after 4 days. The LORD who has healed innumerable souls.
The LORD who took upon Himself the form of sinful flesh (became human) to die in our place then raise Himself from the dead. . . 

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” What’s an old woman with an old womb that’s out of service to the LORD? Did the LORD have a hard time turning Adam’s rib into His wife?
Listen, what’s impossible for man is possible with God (MARK 10:27)! 

She laughed because it was humanly and naturally impossible for her to give birth. She knew the facts of life, but she quickly learned that God is not bound by her bareness and old age. And that God does what He says and wants, and no one can stop Him!

Never say that the LORD can’t do a new work in your heart or bring to life what is dead. Never say that the LORD can’t restore a broken marriage. Never say that the LORD could never save my best friend or your worst enemy. Never say that the LORD can’t spark a real revival in this part of town. “Is there anything too hard for the LORD?”

GENESIS 18:16-33
16 ¶ Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. 17 And the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 "since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 "For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him." 20 And the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 "I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know." 22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.

 23 ¶ And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 "Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" 26 So the LORD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes." 27 Then Abraham answered and said, "Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28 "Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?" So He said, "If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it." 29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose there should be forty found there?" So He said, "I will not do it for the sake of forty." 30 Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?" So He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there." 31 And he said, "Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?" So He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty." 32 Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of ten." 33 So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

[vs 16] Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?

Here we hear the LORD is speaking, thinking and reasoning with Himself about Abraham.
Shall I hide…for I have known Him” Here we’re reminded that the LORD tells His beloved people what He plans to do and even for us here today, God has made major future events known to us through scripture! 

Jesus says to His disciples in JOHN 15:15 
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” And in ISA 41:8 God calls Abraham My friend.” 

We know the future because we are the friends of God! This is why the LORD has given to us His written Word and has opened our eyes and hearts and has not hidden the way of Salvation, the Great Tribulation, the Millennial Reign, the Great White Throne Judgement, eternal heaven or hell, the New Jerusalem/New Heavens and New Earth from us – because He loves us and considers us His friends!

For more about friends of GOD and how He relates to them, check out this article: FROM The MIND of FIREAnother Smoke Signal: SECRETS AMONG FRIENDS.

am doing” God was determined and set to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but He wasn’t rude to Abraham, He didn’t say “Too bad, so sad Abraham but My mind is made up – live with it!”
Instead the LORD kindly allowed Abraham to negotiate, pray and plead for Lot and these sinful cities. – (I wonder what would have happened if Abraham said “would you have mercy on the cities if there are only three righteous? And we’re not 100% sure that Lot’s daughters were righteous.).

[Vs. 20] And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,”

I recall a minister I once heard say that he believed that every perverted and unjust thing that we can think of was happening regularly, not slowing down in Sodom and Gomorrah.    Homosexuality, pedophilia, prostitution; even bestiality and Incest (which may explain why Lot’s daughters did what they did).

We see here that God seems to allow sin to continue until a certain point; then He comes to judge and there is no turning back!

[Vs. 23] And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

This reminds me of HEBREWS 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

“Will you also destroy the righteous with the wicked? ... Far it from You to do such a thing … Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

I’m sure Abraham is thinking of the world flood and Noah. We see this pattern in scripture with Israel in Egypt too (the exodus), and now Lot.
This is a passage that supports the Pre-Trib Rapture view (That the LORD will take us out before His wrath rains down.) In the end, the LORD will make an eternal distinction between the godly and the unjust (2 PET 2:9). 

Those who turned to God by faith in Jesus will spend eternity in Heaven and those that didn’t turn to God will spend an eternity in the Lake of Fire (JOHN 5:29; REV 3:5; 20:11-15).
At this point Abraham is thinking of his nephew Lot and his family. 2 PET 2:7-8 calls Lot righteous and says that his soul was vexed (deeply disturbed) by all he saw and heard. Are we broken over our godless culture?

Abraham works his plea down from 50 to 10 – this could point to two things 1. Abraham knowing very well of the great wickedness of these cities and 2. Lot’s unproductive witness – no soul winning.

As Abraham prays, it sounds like he’s only or at least mostly concerned for the righteous (like Jesus in His high Priestly prayer
JOHN 17 
I don’t pray for the world but for those you have given Me are Yours”

On the other hand we are to be pleading with God in prayer for the lost souls around us. 

1 TIMOTHY 2:1-4 
prayers made for all men
… [government leaders too] ...[God] who desires for ALL to be saved...”

By the way these passages are a constant reminder that the LORD will always do what’s right. Even when I don’t understand the injustices of our fallen world, I know that He is perfectly just, and He will make all wrong right someday, soon!

1 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. 2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.

6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. 8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 

11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. 13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. 15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. 

16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. 20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.

21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 

26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

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