June 14 | Genesis 18:1-14
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Our (Nearly) Unbelievably Generous God
by Dan Kidd
I love how surprising the Bible can be. I love how surprising the Lord can be. This is one of those stories brimming with the unexpected. And what's particularly intriguing is how matter-of-factly these unexpected events are treated.
Our passage begins with Lord appearing to Abraham in the heat of the day. As Abraham enjoys the shade of his tent, he takes notice of three men nearby and he approaches them. He identified one of them as someone worthy of honor--a man from whom Abraham sought favor; someone Abraham felt compelled to wash and feed. Even if historians are right that this kind of hospitality was commonplace in that time and place, I'm certain I could have come up with a few convincing reasons to put off all that work in the heat of the day. My meal delivery account will prove that.
But despite the heat, and seemingly unaware of the true identity of whom it was he's entertaining, served them curds, milk and calf as he stood by watching. Centuries later the author of Hebrews would use this moment to instruct Christians to be hospitable to strangers, "for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." In Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a Samaritan man who lavishes merciful care on beaten and robbed Israelite, and this has something to do with the question "how can I inherit eternal life?" In John's first epistle he writes that God is in us and his love is complete in us when we love each other. Hospitality is heavenly.
The narrator leaves a lot to mystery here. We don't know for certain if Abraham recognized the Lord among the three men, or if he had his suspicions but wasn't sure. It could be that the Lord revealed himself in his question, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" What a great question to an unbelievable proclamation: Sarah, barren into old age, would give birth to a son within the year! Sarah was so unnerved with such a preposterous notion that she openly laughed out loud and at their guest (who happened to be God). In fairness, it's shocking news. Our bodies communicate quite clearly to us about what is feasible and what isn't; when seasons begin and end. And, for Sarah, the chapter that might contain motherhood seemed rather closed. But it wasn't. Is there anything too hard for the Lord?
The Lord is surprising. What we think is beyond God's help, beyond God's plan, beyond God's generosity, isn't. In what ways have you been surprised by the Lord lately? In what ways do you want God to change what seems unchangeable?
Prayer Journal – As you reflect on today's passage, write out a prayer to the Lord. Begin with adoration, worshipping God for who God is. Then move to confession – a honest recount of your sins and your need for God's grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Thank God for his generosity and the many ways he has shown love and care for you, perhaps thanking him for the ways he has surprised you in this past season. Finish with supplication – with your prayer requests to the Lord, especially those ways you'd like God to change what seems unchangeable. Save this prayer somewhere you will return to it, so that you can keep track of all that the Lord has done.