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God's grace revealed to Abraham

I once learned the story in genesis 18 from a Morning Revival few months ago. The message was focusing on intercessory prayer. When I was asked to share something at a meeting elsewhere, I just recalled this story, and pondered the story in that chapter. Therefore I want to share the lessons I learned from the story to you too.

The story was about the LORD visiting Abraham, confirming the birth of Isaac from Sarah, and the revelation of God's plan to destroy Sodom. From the story, I can clearly see the grace of God towards Abraham, the father of faith.

 

1. By grace, the LORD comes to Abraham.

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. 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, and said, “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 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.” So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.”And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. 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. (Genesis 18:1-8 NKJV)

From the story, we see that there were 3 men came to visit Abraham. Obviously, one of them was the LORD, as indicated in verses 13-14, and the other 2 were the angels, as indicated in Genesis 19:1. The LORD appeared as the Pre-incarnate Christ to Abraham.

If we consider Abraham's life, we will see that he does not deserve God's visit at all. In Genesis 12, he revealed his selfishness by lying that Sarah was his sister in order to safe his life in Egypt, without caring the heart of his own wife. He must be very proud of the trick that he had invented, because he used it again with Abimelech later on in Genesis 20. (Even worse, his own son, Isaac, might have heard the strategy from his parents, and used it too with another Abimelech in Genesis 26.) And instead of waiting patiently for God's answer regarding the offspring, he was so obedient to his wife Sarah by taking her maid Hagar as another wife. (Please note that I'm not going to suggest that a husband should be rebellious to his wife!) This resulted in chaotic situations afterwards. Regardless of his imperfection, God first revealed Himself to Abraham. And what was his reaction? He quickly ran to the men, welcomed them, and enjoyed fellowship with them. He stood there by them while they were eating.

Brothers and sisters, the bible says clearly that no one is righteous in God's eye. No one is worthy for His visit. Romans 5:6-11 explicitly says that we were weak and ungodly (v. 6). We were sinners (v. 8), and God's enemies (v. 10). We were absolutely unworthy. Yet by Grace, Christ, the Creator of the universe, became flesh to dwell among His people (John 1:14). Moreover, He who had never sinned became sin for us, and died for us at the cross, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Son of God became the Son of Man, so that the son of man can be the son of God!

I always say to new believers that Christianity is not a religion. It is not about following the lists of dos and don'ts. It is all about relationship. Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20 NKJV) What is your response to His calling? Would you gladly open the door to Him and welcome Him? Would you like to be there beside Him, enjoying the fellowship with Him?

 

2. By grace, the LORD gives a "new life" to Abraham.

[And the Lord said to Abraham] "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." (Genesis 18:14 NKJV)

Next, the LORD said to them that Sarah would surely have a son. When? At the time of "life."

Abraham was so old then. He was nearly 100 years old, and Sarah was post-menopausal too (Genesis 18:11). It was absolutely impossible for them to have a child. His impotent body was as good as dead and that Sarah’s womb, too, was dead (Romans 4:19). But "is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14 NKJV) Surely, the answer is "NO." The dead people like Abraham and Sarah could have life again. They did not receive this life by them self, but by God's grace. They received the new life by the birth of Isaac, who is the type of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters, we were all as good as dead, because our spirit was deadened by sin (Ephesians 2:1). We could not have relationship with God. We were alienated from God. Nevertheless, the time of "life" has come. The death of Christ delivers us from God's righteous judgment. But don't forget that His resurrection also brings us life. We don't have to wait until we die to have eternal life. We can experience this "life" now! Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, has become the life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45). And now Christ is in us, which is truly a mystery and also our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). We now can have the abundant life (John 10:10), and the source of this life is Christ, the fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:13). Our thirst can never be quenched and our heart can never be satisfied, unless we come and drink the living waters from the Source (John 4:14; 7:37). Let's come and enjoy drinking the living waters everyday!

What is your source of life today? Do you seek your satisfaction from anything other than Christ? When it comes to make a decision, what is the source of that decision? Is it from your own thought, from Google, from an advice of experts, or from the Source of living waters?

Brothers and sisters, which way you will go does not matter. But what the source of that decision is matters much! May that source always be the fountain of living waters!

 

3. By grace, the LORD reveals His plan to Abraham.

Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. And the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing" (Genesis 18:16-17 NKJV)

Then, Abraham, the friend of God (James 2:23), went with the Lord to send them on the way. And the Lord revealed him His plan that He would destroy Sodom, because the people there were exceedingly wicked. What was Abraham's reaction when he heard the plan? He interceded for Sodom.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord tells us that "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." (John 15:15 NKJV) We are His friends. By God's grace, He has revealed His plans to us already in the bible. We need to link all the passages from the bible in order to understand His ultimate plan in the bible. There are a few points I would like to mention here.

3.1 The Lord is coming back again soon.

He is coming back again soon. That day will be like Sodom. Jesus reveals that the day of His second coming, particularly at the judgment by fire, will be like the day of Sodom's destruction. He is coming to take His people with Him. On the contrary, we know that the ending of the ungodly will not be very happy, because they will be justly judged.

Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:28-30 NKJV)

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? (2 Peter 3:10-12 NKJV)

What should our reaction be, when we know that Christ is coming back again soon? Like Abraham, may we intercede for the people who have not been saved yet, that they may be saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus. Who would you like to pray for today?

Moreover, from the story, we can see that God revealed His plan to Abraham, so that he would intercede for Sodom. God needs someone to pray, so that He can move. Perhaps, God may reveal something to you today. It may be about someone who is apostating from the way. It may be about a bad situation occurring somewhere. It may be about a brother who is facing temptation or difficulty. What would your reaction be? Would you like to intercede for them?

3.2 God's ultimate plan is to make Christ preeminent.

Have you ever wondered what the ultimate plan of God is? This is so important, so that you can be sure that what you are doing is in the flow of God's move.

Ephesians 1:10 says clearly. The intention of God's ultimate plan is "that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him." (Ephesians 1:10 NKJV) God wants to make Christ preeminent over all things. And this will consummate at the new heaven and new earth, in which all things will be headed up in Christ.

To make Christ preeminent in our life, God needs to destroy Sodom, and Christ needs to be increased. Yes, we need to depend upon Him in all the small decisions we make each day. But do not waste much time with what does not eternally matter. What colour of shoes to wear, which clothes to buy, or where to eat do not matter much for eternity. Do not spend too much time to seek God's guidance for that. But we need to ask God, how could we co-ordinate and co-operate with Him to destroy Sodom and to make Christ preeminent in our life? Let's say from our heart like John the Baptist, "He must increase, and I must decrease." (John 3:30 NKJV) God wants us to be saturated with Christ who is living in us (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:15), and we will be conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus, as we are predestined to be (Romans 8:29).

To make Christ preeminent over all creation, God needs the church to fully express Him on this earth. God needs us all to move together, so that He can move. What should we do to fully co-ordinate and co-operate with Him to move on this earth? God will not move without his Church moving.

What can we do to show the full co-ordination and co-operation with His move? Everyone can do it, I promise. The most important thing, which is pre-requisite to God's move, is praying. God needs the overcomers, the men of prayer, to turn the age. Would you like to pray with me, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done" (Matthew 6:10 NKJV)? Are you ready to pray the last prayer in the bible, "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20 NKJV)?

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Revelation 22:21)

 

Further readings

  • Footnotes of Genesis chapter 18 from

    • The Holy Bible Recovery Version

    • ESV Study Bible

    • KJV Scofield Study System

  • BSF study note for Genesis 18-19, Abraham’s prayer and Sodom’s destruction

  • The Central Line of the Divine Revelation, Witness Lee, message three "The Divine Economy".

  • Basic Elements of the Christian Life volume 1, Witness Lee & Watchman Nee, chapter 1 "The Mystery of Human Life".

 

Thirayost Nimmanon (Tony)

 

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