GLEANINGS — June 29, A.D. 2014
So the Bible says, in exhorting us not to forget to entertain strangers, Hebrews 13:2. It is likely that when he wrote those words, the inspired writer of the epistle to the Hebrews had in mind the occasion when Abraham received three visitors, recorded in Genesis 18. Jesus said “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward (Mark 9:41). Surely, if a small act of kindness such as giving someone a cup of water will be rewarded, then the diligent, unsparing, and comprehensive hospitality which Abraham and Sarah showed in that passage was worthy of a great reward! The Lord Jesus and the writer to the Hebrews are encouraging us to show hospitality by assuring us that it will be rewarded. Make no mistake, the Bible is clear that there are greater or lesser rewards in Heaven (Matthew 16:27, 1 Corinthians 3:8ff).
It is noteworthy that the LORD’s promise about the birth of Isaac, through whom the Covenant family would continue, was given during this visit by heavenly guests to Abraham. Although God’s eternally settled purposes will be accomplished infallibly, who can say how they would have been accomplished, if Abraham and Sarah were not devoted to hospitality? Abraham knew himself what it was like to be a stranger away from home, Genesis 23:4. Witness his spirit of hospitality toward Lot, Genesis 12:4ff. Abraham lived a lifestyle of hospitality, and the promise of Isaac’s birth was given to him in that context. God’s Covenant would have continued had Abraham NOT been habitually hospitable. Yet it is also clear that Abraham received the blessing of the promise of Isaac’s birth while he was being so!
As is so often the case with that inexhaustible treasure house of wisdom which we call the holy Bible, Genesis 18 has more gems beside the godly example of Abraham’s and Sarah’s open home. Recently in another evening meditation, we considered that glorious and incomprehensible mystery about the being of God, the Trinity. Some have been quick to find a foreshadowing of the Trinity in the Genesis 18 account. Let’s consider the passage carefully with its context, and in light of other Scripture.
Something happens in the dialog between Abraham and his three visitors between verses 9 and 10 of Genesis 18. In verse 9, “THEY” ask Abraham “where is your wife?” In verse 10, only “HE”, that is, the LORD, continues to speak with Abraham. Later, in verse 22, we read that “…the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.” As we go to the first verse of chapter 19, we see that “two angels” have gone to the city of Sodom. Evidently, one of Abraham’s original three visitors was a theophany (God revealed in a visible form) and the other two were angelic beings, who also had become tangible to their human host. This writer holds that Abraham was visited by God and two angels, not God triune represented by three men.
This becomes quite intriguing when we turn to the Gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection. According to John 20:11ff, weeping Mary sees two angels, evidently in a human form, who speak to her at the grave. According to Luke 24:4ff, “two men in shining garments“, clearly angelic beings, speak to the women. Perhaps it is better to emphasize the Christ exalting similarity between the visit to Abraham by the LORD with His two angelic attendants, and the resurrection of the LORD incarnate attended on by two angels, than to suggest that Genesis 18 alludes to the Trinity. For our Lord Jesus IS the LORD, Jehovah, the Shepherd of Israel Who is enthroned above the mercy seat between the two cherubim! (“Cherub” is the singular form of cherubim, angelic beings. Cf. Exodus 25:18ff, Numbers 7:89, and Psalm 80:1.)