Eternity Daily Bible Study

The Life Of Abraham


Verses: Genesis 18:1-8

Topic: Abraham and the Three Visitors

Date: 17th January 2006


Genesis 18:1-8 MKJV And Jehovah appeared to him in the plains of Mamre, and he sat at the tent door in the heat of the day.  (2)  And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and lo, three men stood by him. And when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed toward the ground.  (3)  And he said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, do not pass away, I pray, from Your servant.  (4)  Let a little water, I pray, be brought, and wash Your feet, and rest under the tree.  (5)  And I will bring a bite of bread, and will comfort your hearts. After that You shall pass on. For this is why You have come to Your servant. And they said, Do so, as you have said.  (6)  And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal; knead it, and make cakes.  (7)  And Abraham ran out to the herd and brought a calf, tender and good. And he gave it to a young man. And he hurried to dress it.  (8)  And he took butter and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree, and they ate.


Three visitors appear, one of whom is the Lord, they appear suddenly and one reading of the text is that they “stood above him” as if they had just come down out of the sky. Undetected by Abraham's servants or the animals they suddenly appear in front of him “and lo…three men” standing there, in the mid-distance (Abraham ran to meet them) in the heat of the day (when few travel in such hot climates). These are unusual visitors, mystical visitors - and Abraham being a person of deep spiritual intuition and faith senses this.


Sometimes the miraculous comes in ordinary disguise: Hebrews 13:1-2 MKJV Let brotherly love continue.  (2)  Do not be forgetful of hospitality, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.


God sends angels, prophets, apostles and wise men into our midst to test our reaction to them. They may come in a multitude of disguises. They may seem ordinary to most folk, but to those of spiritual intuition there gleams a sense of the divine presence. Hospitality is the right first reaction – to welcome in the stranger and to give them food and drink.


Abraham though a man of great age, wealth and dignity is extremely deferential to his visitors. He runs to meet them, bows down, uses respectful language, hastens to prepare the best food in the house, and then stands to one side while they eat it. This is true worship – as the great patriarch humbles himself before the three men who he senses are sent from God. This is respect, not just in word, but in action.  Abraham displays no ego here. The guests come first, second and third and are the total focus of attention. He is the completely solicitous host.


Who we really are comes to the surface in how we show hospitality to others. As a missionary hospitality is a big part of my life and nearly every week someone stays with us overnight (as many of our missionary friends travel through Los Angeles). I also get to receive wonderful hospitality when I travel. Yet there are times when I sense that people are less than sincere! There is fake hospitality and selfish hospitality and even manipulative hospitality and of course there is hospitality that is simply an excuse to display wealth and achievement!  Abraham does not fall into any of these traps and even understates things “Let a little water, I pray, be brought, and wash Your feet, and rest under the tree.  And I will bring a bite of bread, and will comfort your hearts. After that You shall pass on.”  (Instead he bakes bread and kills a young calf!)


Abraham “makes a fuss” over his guests, running here and there and giving orders and ensuring they receive the very best. This is not normal the “comfortable” hospitality of old friends – it is the sort of careful hospitality that is given to dignitaries. Who then were these three men? There are a two main possibilities:


1.   They were a symbol of the Trinity -  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

2.   One was the Lord, the other two were the two angels of judgment that visited Lot and brought him and his family out of the city.


This second possibility has the support of chapter 19 and fits the overall data much better. The Lord seems to be of a much higher rank than the other two, who head down to Sodom while the Lord talks to Abraham. I think it is forcing the passage to read the Trinity into it (though I of course support the doctrine of the Trinity from other more apposite passages e.g Matthew 28:18-20).


The three visitors accept Abraham's hospitality with a terse statement: Do so, as you have said. They clearly see themselves as able to command the great patriarch and are not in the least disturbed when Abraham stands to one side while they eat in front of him (verse 8).


“Do so, as you have said” is a spiritual clue. God looks to us to serve Him according to our own words, from our own mouth. We make plans, promises and resolutions – and we are to fulfill them. What we say indicates what we know of God's will. God does not judge us by His understanding of the Christian ministry, but by ours – and our ability to carry out what we say we will carry out for Him.


Matthew 12:36-37 MKJV But I say to you that every idle word, whatever men may speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment.  (37)  For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.


Abraham does not promise much with his words just “some water...a little bread...” but he delivers a feast! O that the servants of God would do this! So many ministries do the precise opposite - they promise a spiritual feast and deliver only crumbs! Let us understate our ministry in words - and overstate our ministry in actions and results!


Let us have a healthy fear of the Lord in what we say about what we or others “should do” in ministry. Let us keep our words and expectations modest and sober so that on the Day of Judgment we will not be embarrassed by all the proud things that we have said!





John Edmiston (



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