Saturday, April 30
Reader: “The Lord appeared again to Abraham”
Response: “near the oak grove.”
Scripture: Genesis 18:1-8
The Lord appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.
“My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.”
“All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”
So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.” Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees.
In early days before there was written Scripture, the Incarnation, or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God sometimes appeared in an angelic or human type form and talked with people. (Called “theophanies.” Later in time theophanies tended to occur when the person was asleep (Jacob), though God spoke to Moses “face to face.” Ex 33.11)
Though he is nearly 100 years old, apparently Abraham gets around quite well as he “ran” here and there in serving his guests, one of whom is generally understood to be the Lord himself along with two angels. In this most familiar passage note the contrast in Abraham’s hospitality to that of the wicked citizens of Sodom. Washing the feet of guests was common practice. Abraham may well have realized who his guests were as he had interacted with the Lord on previous occasions. (Chapters 12,15,17) His use of the word Lord, (the Hebrew text uses adonai, the word usually meaning God), would seem to indicate that Abraham had a good idea he was talking with God. Notice also when the three men appeared, Abraham prostrated himself before the Lord, as he is the one Abraham addressed. By the end of their time together, he certainly knew he was dealing with the Lord as he bargained for the sparing of Sodom.
Some twenty-five years earlier the Lord had made a covenant with Abram. Sharing a meal together was an important part of either making or confirming a covenant. During the previous year the Lord had come to Abram, confirmed the covenant he had made, changed Abram’s name to Abraham, the father of nations, and solidified the covenant with circumcision. It appears that the Lord had come in person to solidify his covenant with Abraham by sharing a meal, a standard part of covenant making. The fact that Abraham also served meat at this meal tells us it was well above the normal practice in serving guests. Fellowship with God around a meal is part of communing with God. Our eucharist serves in a similar way. (Luke 22:14-20; Acts 2:42) God invites his people to share the bread and cup, his body and his blood, with his own as a renewal and reminder of the New Covenant.
In Hebrews 13:2 we are reminded: “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.” My late brother-in-law, Bob Webber, used to comment frequently that “hospitality was the mark of the Holy Spirit.” Have you ever noticed how hospitable Jesus was and how often he encountered people around a meal? His is a pattern for us to emulate.
Music: “Come Share the Lord” Manilo Barry Davids & Lauren Solomons
Lord God, we live in a world where it seems people are becoming more and more isolated from one another. We’ve turned inward and become more and more self-focused. Many Christians have quit gathering with other believers for worship becoming more and more isolated even neglecting sharing in the Lord’s Supper. Father, quicken our hearts to reach out to all those around us. May community and hospitality grow through the work of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen. ―Daniel Sharp