BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 11, Day 5: Genesis 18:1-15

Summary of Genesis 18:1-15:

The Lord appeared to Abraham among three visitors one day while Abraham was resting in the heat of the day.  When Abraham saw these men, he hurried to greet them and bowed low, knowing one was God for he says, “my lord” while addressing them. Abraham entreats them to stay, and he washes their feet and brings food and drink for their comfort. They agree to stay.

Abraham bustles about, hurrying the preparations of bread, meat, and milk (it is God). The men ask Abraham where is Sarah. God Himself tells Abraham (again) that Sarah will have a child this time next year.

Sarah who was eavesdropping laughs, believing she is worn out. God, of course, hears Sarah and asks Abraham directly, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Then God says He will return this time next year and Sarah will have a son.

Then Sarah denies she laughed out of fear.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 11, Day 5: Genesis 18:1-15

14a) They may not have invited the men to stay, nor feed them a meal. He selected the best calf to slaughter and brought curds and milk and baked bread. They both did the work themselves instead of servants, and we sense urgency in Abraham’s doings, indicating he knew his guests were special.

b) Personal Question. My answer: Attitude and joy, mainly. I either begrudge every moment and have a miserable time, or I have a good time and feel joy.

15) The first thing they ask is where is Sarah, so their visit was to confirm to Sarah that she would have a son. God says that when He returns, Sarah will have a son.

16) Because God heard Sarah laugh and knew she had.

17) Sarah had to believe God. We must believe God. God blesses (Luke 1:45) and rewards those who have faith (Hebrews 11:6; 11) Without faith you can’t please God.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 11, Day 5: Genesis 18:1-15

I love how God includes Sarah and makes sure she understands and has faith in this culture where women did not matter. This shows God loves all equally.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 11, Day 5: Genesis 18:1-15

It is possible that Sarah never conceived earlier because she never had faith in God’s promise.

Bible scholars believe this was only 3 months since the last time God appeared because Sarah is not pregnant yet.

Here we literally see the Triune God, appearing as 3 men. So cool!

map of mamre bible

We’ve seen Mamre a lot so far in the Bible

Abraham knew it was God. At what point, we are unsure. Did God appear the same? No one knows. He could have changed his appearance at will.

Note God called Sarah by her new name. (Genesis 17:15-16).

God says His promise over and over again because dumb humans need to hear it over and over again, albeit this appearance was for Sarah, not Abraham.  Genesis 17:17-22

Romans 10:17:  “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”

Both knew they’d have a son only be God’s miraculous hand, which may have been why they had to wait so long because God wanted to make it clear it was a miracle.

Doubt Versus Faith

As time passes and things don’t happen in our lives as we believe they should, we doubt as we see here with Sarah and Abraham. During their childbearing years, they believed. Now, it’s hard for them to do so.

Great commentary on the tree and this passage HERE

Some scholars think Abraham and Sarah were not having sex for whatever reason so God needed to reinforce His will personally, which is why He appears here.  In other words, they did not believe God (they were doubting His word) and were doing nothing to fulfill God’s will for their lives.

God heard Sarah’s laugh. We should remember God hears everything. God does not punish them for their unbelief. God is faithful to His promises despite our doubt (2 Timothy 2:13). He never abandons us like we do Him.

Hard is the same Hebrew word for wonderful in Isaiah 9:6 referring to Christ.

God talks to Abraham about Sarah’s doubt since he is the head of the household. He is responsible for her faith, or, in this case, her unbelief.

What Does Righteousness Mean?

Our BSF lecture focused on righteousness and our third principle stated, “God’s way of salvation is the only way to turn from sin and turn to righteousness.”

Well, I was stumped.  I had always thought of righteousness as being right.  But this obviously isn’t the case in this sense so I decided to find out what I was missing.

Webster’s says righteousness is “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin; morally right or justifiable; or arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality”

The synonym listed is moral.

So in my upbringing I had missed the “God” in the sense of the word.

In the statement above, God’s salvation allows us to be righteous (or free from guilt).  Jesus erased our sins. And being righteous means to act in accordance with God’s law–to continually strive to be like Jesus.

God is righteous because He is free from sin.  Isaiah 46:12-13: God says “…you who are far from righteousness, I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed.”

I made the mistake of going to Sam’s Club again (I really need to stay away from that place.  I think I would be a fiend if I went to the Bible BookStore as regularly) and I bought Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C. Tenney.  I had seen it before but decided to wait–until I looked up righteousness and it had the definition I had been seeking!  So, I bought it!

This Dictionary says righteousness is “any conformity to a standard, whether that standard has to do with inner character of a person or the objective standard of accepted law….Lord God always acts in righteousness because He always has a right relationship with people.”

This also explains righteousness in terms of Jesus.  Fascinating stuff and I’d highly recommend it.  I can’t wait to dive more into it.

In essence, being righteous is being like Jesus or being like God.

What’s Wrong with Self-Help Books?

Our BSF lecture last week insinuated there was something wrong with self-help books.  I immediately bristled.

As some of you know, I’m working on myself, trying to grow and fix some of “me”, smooth out the rough edges and I have chosen to do this through God’s word, prayer, and books.  Most of these books are self-help books.

The argument was made, “People look to themselves rather than God when they read these books.”  I think this is a valid argument if you do indeed rely on self-help books only instead of God.

But self-help books combined with God is a powerful tool.  I read books and I get ah-ha moments.

God speaks through people.  People write books (like myself).  And I believe God helps me write and He uses me to convey His message.  So why wouldn’t He help others?  Why wouldn’t God give us the gift of books through others to know Him better?  It sounds a lot like what the Bible is, doesn’t it?  Others words inspired by God and a chronicle of Jesus’s life–words written down so we can know Him.

Most of the books I read have God as a critical component in it.  It’s psychological advice accompanied by a strong message of faith and prayer.  It’s powerful.  It gives you ideas you normally wouldn’t see (I haven’t studied psychology) so you can become more like Jesus.

I believe God knows just what to put in my hands at just the right time.  Besides His word, books that teach life lessons that you can apply are powerful.  They challenge me to think, to analyze, to delve into my past, to see things through others’ eyes, to see me through others’ eyes.  They tell me things people would never tell me.

I agree self-reliance can lead to a powerful fall.  But I see nothing wrong with the desire to improve yourself and looking at other places in addition to the Bible and prayer.

Your thoughts?