When we are in a relationship with God, it can become as intimate as we choose it to be. God is close and He will be as close to us as we are willing to let Him be. That closeness, that deep familiarity and mutual affection we call fellowship or friendship is not always easy. It is fueled by faith and strong faith is not attained by an easy life.
Abraham had that kind of intimacy with God. His faith likely began when his father Terah raised him to follow the Lord. I am struck by the fact that Terah was seventy years old when he became a father to Abraham (Genesis 11:26). He had waited a long time for his sons and he had three. I think it is clear from who both Abraham and Lot became, that Terah raised his sons to follow God. His faith had grown from the time he first obeyed God and traveled from his home in Ur to Canaan. It grew more as he obeyed the Lord time and again over the years and it grew as He believed God’s covenant, God’s word to him about his future. Abraham’s road was not easy, his faith was massive, and his relationship with God was as close as any relationship could be. They were friends. The Lord enjoyed spending time with His friend so one day, He came by for a visit. (Remember He did not yet dwell in His people). Verses 1-5 read,
And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth 3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”
The relationship is initiated by God but it is not forced. God showed up and let Abraham decide if he would spend some time with Him. There were three men, The Lord didn’t need Abraham’s company, He has Himself for community. He wasn’t lonely. He wanted Abraham’s company so He offered the chance for a little time together. Abraham took the chance and asked the Lord to stay and rest and take a little food. So, they, The Lord said, “Do as you have said.” Did God need a rest? Was He hungry? No. He chose to relate to Abraham on a level Abraham could understand.
What would your reaction be to having the Lord God come and agree to have a bite with you? I think that depends on where you are on your walk with Jesus. Would you cower in fear, would you be all formal and speak to Him in flowery words to keep distance between you? Would you fall at His feet, hug him, or give Him a high five? I doubt any of us can answer that question with complete objectivity. We tend to answer how we hope it would go down. One day, we will see Him face to face and since we will have been made into the perfect image of Christ, our response will be perfect love and worship. But for now, believers know Him just a bit, partially and even that is bigger than most of us can grasp (1 Corinthians 13:12). By the way, God has offered you the chance to fellowship. In Revelation 3:20-21 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 eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Abraham’s reaction showed his friendship with God as the LORD. He worshipped and invited Him to spend time with him. Then he rushed off to prepare the water and the morsel of bread. Verses 6-8 read,
And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. 8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
Abraham didn’t bring back a bowl of water and a morsel of bread. He had a feast prepared. He wasn’t doing this for the neighbor down the road, he was doing this for The LORD God Almighty. What difference does it make to you, when you are doing something for me and something for God? Do you do your best for God, do you give Him you best? Keep in mind that we are to do everything from washing a dish to serving a king as if we were doing it for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Remember that whatever we do for even the seemingly most seemingly insignificant of people, we are doing for the Lord. (Mathew 25:40).
A seah of flower was a little under seven and half liters of flour, more than enough for three little cakes of bread, but Abraham had Sarah use a seah each for the three. Then he went and had a calf killed and prepared with curds and milk. (Had this happened in the days of Levitical law, he would have prepared the Lord a non-kosher dish). How long do you imagine that takes? Does it take a few minutes or is it many hours? He was giving the Lord more than a morsel of bread, He was giving him a feast and as long as it took to prepare it, he got to spend that time with God. As long as it took God to enjoy it, he got to spend that time with Him too.
Don’t imagine that the only time you can spend with your Lord is while you are at church or in service or in a carved out quiet time. What about the time you are preparing for those times? What about the times when you are working, concentrating on a task, or relating to the people in your life? If you allow the Lord to be in those times as well as the others, you can enjoy all that time with Him as well.
Abraham was not the only person present. Sarah was there too. She knew the Lord was right outside her door. She had made Him cakes and she could hear the conversation. She chose to remain outside of that fellowship. She chose to stay by the tent door listening. The Lord knew she was there and He invited her into the conversation. He wanted her to enjoy the same closeness that Abraham was enjoying. Verses 9-12 read,
They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
Although the Lord spoke to Abraham, He addressed Sarah. His words were for her benefit and for her faith. She laughed, scoffed at the idea of having a child when she had not had her menses for such a long time. She wasn’t in menopause, she was long past it. She had desired a child for so long and had accepted the fact that she would not have one, even in the face of God’s promise to her and her husband. She had been through many of the same things her husband had been through, yet her faith was not as strong as his. What was the difference? Abraham chose to have a relationship right up close with God and spoke to and listened to Him directly. Sarah chose to listen from afar and let Abraham speak to and for God for her.
I’ve been where she was. I have laughed at the idea of God fulfilling my desires because science and logic say it can’t happen. How did God respond to His precious daughter’s derision? Verses 13-15 read,
The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
Once again the Lord spoke to Abraham but addressed Sarah and this time Sarah answered the Lord and let Him speak to her directly. This passage doesn’t say what Sarah’s response was. But we know that the Lord didn’t change His mind about the child. A year later Isaac was born. And God didn’t choose to remember Sarah for her doubt or her sins. He chose to remember her faith and her righteousness. Hebrews 11:11 is a testimonial memorial to Sarah.
By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised
Intimacy with God, friendship with Him also lets us in on His plans. How many of us go through life wondering what God’s will is for us? How many times have you asked your friend what her prayer is and she has said, “I just want to know what God’s will is.” When you are friends with Him, He lets’ you in on it. Verses 16-22 read,
Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
The Lord wanted to share His will with Abraham. He wanted Abraham to be included in His work. God doesn’t work in mysterious ways. He is open with us about His will and His plan and He lets us participate. His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), but His work, acts, and plans are not mysterious. Jesus said it this way in John 15:14-15,
You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
Letting us into His plans gives us to join in His work. Amos 3:7-8 reads,
“For the Lord God does nothing
without revealing his secret
to his servants the prophets.
8 The lion has roared;
who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken;
who can but prophesy?”
God’s Word tells us His will and if we are in an intimate relationship with Him we’ll act. (BTW, God’s will is for the whole world to be saved, for your sanctification, a relationship with you and His glory 1 Timothy 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Hosea 6:6, Isaiah 43:7).
Abraham responded to the news that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed for their wickedness by intervening to try and save them. The evil of these two cities was more than simple homosexuality as some would make us believe. It was ramped depravity, debauchery, and sexual immorality. It was hedonism to such a degree that the residents only care was their own pleasure. But Abraham had hope for them, because he had faith. He also knew his nephew Lot and was a righteous man living in Sodom with his family. Abraham stood his ground and spoke to the Lord as only a loving friend can. Verses 22-26 read,
So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Can you imagine? He stood in the way of the Lord without letting Him continue onto His plan until He knew more and could convince God to save the wicked cities for the sake of the righteous men within their gates. He knew that the Lord was on His way, the two men went on to the cities but Abraham also knew God is sovereign and powerful. He wouldn’t have any trouble communicating with them.
He then had the boldness to go further. Verses 27-33 in The Message read,
Abraham came back, “Do I, a mere mortal made from a handful of dirt, dare open my mouth again to my Master? What if the fifty fall short by five—would you destroy the city because of those missing five?”
He said, “I won’t destroy it if there are forty-five.”
29 Abraham spoke up again, “What if you only find forty?”
“Neither will I destroy it if for forty.”
30 He said, “Master, don’t be irritated with me, but what if only thirty are found?”
“No, I won’t do it if I find thirty.”
31 He pushed on, “I know I’m trying your patience, Master, but how about for twenty?”
“I won’t destroy it for twenty.”
32 He wouldn’t quit, “Don’t get angry, Master—this is the last time. What if you only come up with ten?”
“For the sake of only ten, I won’t destroy the city.”
33 When God finished talking with Abraham, he left. And Abraham went home.
God already knew exactly how many righteous men dwelled in those two cities, one man, Lot and tomorrow we’ll read about what happened.
How close are you to the Lord? Do you visit with Him, talk with Him, and give Him your best? Are you His friend who He can share His plans with? Are you still waiting at the tent door afraid that God will see your doubt? God knows your heart completely whether you choose to be aloof or not. Let Him make you into who you are meant to be, the sanctified righteous image of Jesus Christ. Go ahead join Him for supper, hang out with Him and walk with Him.