Saturday, March 15

Lessons from God's visit to Abraham

At Quest, we continued looking at the life of Abraham. Abraham, and his interactions with God, can tell us a lot about what God wanted the relationship between God and people to look like in the aftermath of sin entering the picture. This time we looked at the long story in Genesis 18 and 19 where God comes and visits Abraham, then Abraham pleads for Sodom (where his nephew Lot lived), and finally God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah but saves Lot. In this one story, we see a number of different aspects in the relationship between God and people.

  • Once again, we see that God is interested in an actual, personal relationship with people. In this case, God actually shows up at Abraham’s house. God has dinner with Abraham and has conversations with him. It is also worth noting that, in this case, it isn’t Abraham going to and pursing God. God is coming to where Abraham is to interact with him. So we see God pursuing the relationship with Abraham. So God isn’t just some aloof presence waiting for us to come to him. He wants to actually pursue a relationship with us.
  • As a side note, in Abraham’s treatment of the visitors, we see a perfect example of someone loving their neighbor in the sense that Jesus talked about in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37). Three people show up unannounced at Abraham’s house, and before he knows who they are, he essentially demands that they let him make them dinner. He brings them bread and steak. However, when they show up, the bread is still flour – 5 gallons of flour, actually. And the steaks are still walking around in the pasture. He doesn’t just share his dinner with them. He fixes an extravagant meal from scratch. Then when they are eating, Abraham doesn’t join them. Instead, he stands under a tree, waiting. In other words, in spite of his wealth and power, Abraham acts as the servant of these men who he has never seen before while they eat a banquet of the finest food he can serve them. That is about the best possible example of loving your neighbor.
  • God doesn’t just want interaction with Abraham. He actually wants to include Abraham in his planning session. God is essentially having a war counsel. He decides to have it on Abraham’s front lawn and invites Abraham to be a part of it. He actually begins that part of the discussion by saying that he can’t keep Abraham in the dark about what he is about to do. (Genesis 18:17-19). Because of his relationship with Abraham, he feels like he needs to let Abraham know what is going on. Think about that. God is interested enough in the people who follow him to want them to be in on what he plans on doing.
  • God cares about Abraham’s opinion. When God tells Abraham that he is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham realizes that Lot’s life is on the line. So Abraham asks God if he would spare Sodom if he could find 50 righteous people living there. (Genesis 18:23-26). He then continues to negotiate with God until they get down to 10 people. (Genesis 18:27-33). If God can find even 10 righteous people in Sodom, he will save the city. God cares about what Abraham wants, and he is even willing to change his plans because his friend Abraham asks him to. God really cares about the opinions and desires of the people who have a relationship with him.
  • When the angels show up in Sodom, Lot treats them much the same way as Abraham did. It is in a city context, rather than a country one, but Lot offers them a meal, a place to stay, and all the protection that he can offer. (Genesis 19:1-9). He is even willing to risk the well-being, and potentially the lives, of his children to protect these men who he has never met before. Like Abraham, Lot is demonstrating love for his neighbors in the sense that Jesus talked about. Compare this to the way that the rest of the people of Sodom wanted to treat the visitors. (Genesis 19:5). Their desire to rape the visitors is about as far from demonstrating love as possible.
  • God cares enough about Abraham to give him what he wanted, even though it wasn’t really what he asked for. When Abraham was bargaining for Sodom, what he was really trying to do was to rescue his nephew Lot. When God couldn’t find 10 righteous people, he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. But he rescued Lot, which is what Abraham really wanted. God really does care about what the people who have a relationship with him want. And when the things we want are right, he is willing to provide those wants, although it might not happen quite the way we thought it would.

Those are the highlights of our discussion about God’s visit to Abraham and Sodom and about what this story tells us concerning God’s desire for his relationship with people. Next week we will continue looking at some of the events in the life of Abraham to see what they can teach us.

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