Devotional & Reflection
Gen 18: Dawn Of Waiting
In the last 2 devotions on Genesis chapters 16 and 17, we saw that Abraham was called to wait on the Lord. He had waited for almost 25 years and still there was no sign that the Lord would fulfill his promise to Abraham. What is perhaps the most obvious fact about Abraham's plight was Sarah's barrenness for in verse 11, the text tells us that she was old and advanced in years, and that she was past her child bearing years. Under these circumstances, when all hope seems lost, God visited Abraham in person and promised to grant him a son - something which was humanly impossible.
Waiting is tough! The longer the wait, the more frustrating it becomes. However all waiting will have to end someday. As for Abraham, he thought that his wait was over when Ishmael was born. But that was far from the plan of God. Perhaps one of the reasons for putting Abraham to the test was to ensure that fulfillment of the covenant was not dependent on the capacity of human agency. That is why v.14 begs the question, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
So how would God describe his relationship with Abraham? Closeness seems to be the answer. This seems to be the point when God visited him in person. In fact whatever God is predisposed to carry out, He was willing to share it with Abraham, for God said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" (v18). Perhaps this was what kept Abraham going these long years. Although he might have wondered within his heart, he never quite abandoned his allegiance to God. When God confirmed the sign of the covenant in chapter 17, he quickly circumcised all male children within his family. So now, God confirmed his pledge to Abraham and will make him the father of many nations.
And what next after the waiting and the beginning of the "nations"?
Nations coming out from Abraham must have two ethos: righteousness and justice (v19). That is why the next episode unveils the dialogue between God and Abraham concerning the fate of Sodom.
God knows the end from the beginning. Why then the drama? A dialogue flies too and fro between God and Abraham; a sort of bargaining which depicts God as the stern Judge and Abraham as the compassionate advocate for the people of Sodom. If we treat this as some sort of an inconsistent interpretation of God's unchanging character is to miss the point! The drama is to underscore the point that righteousness ought to prevail within the kingdom that continues with Abraham's descendants. Hence the bargaining. Note that not for a moment, God was displeased with Abraham. God himself would not "kill the righteous with the wicked" (v25). But alas, the sin of Sodom was too great and that God was not able to find within the city ten righteous men.
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