This chapter of Genesis reveals a contrast of futures. One minute, we have the Lord and two others sharing the good news that a son will arrive within a year for Abraham and Sarah. Then, they turn around and talk about the pending destruction of two cities—Sodom and Gomorrah.
- Redemption and blessing to the righteous.
- Judgment and destruction to the wicked.
Why would God combine a visit of good news with that of destruction?
We see here the clear dichotomy between good and evil—life and death. Abraham believed God and experienced blessing. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah had rejected God and would experience judgment and death.
God’s blessing comes in unexpected ways.
They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 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. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 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.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”Genesis 18:9-15 ESV Emphasis mine
This was not the first time they had heard the promise, but this was the first time the Lord put a time stamp on it. Now it seemed real. This time next year Sarah would have a son. Well, now he tells them! Why the Lord would wait until she was old and worn out to let her enjoy the blessing was beyond her ability to understand, and I think the Lord wants it that way with us, sometimes, don’t you? Sarah had already tried the “taking matters into her own hands” thing, and that didn’t work out for her. Now, when she knew it was physically impossible for her to bare a child, God says “Not for me, it’s not!”
IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?
I want you to write that down. Put it on your doorpost. Post it on your mirror. Hide it in your heart. These are the words of God for us. When we think something is impossible, that is when he’s ready to move. What’s our part? Faith—even in the impossible. That’s where he wants us to be in our walk with him. Are you trusting the impossible to the God of infinite possibilities?
Sarah wasn’t—she laughed, then denied it, but the Lord caught her in her lie. No, but you did laugh. Simple as that. And at that point, the visit took a turn. The blessing had been given, but there was more on the heart of the Lord. Would he tell his friend?
God is not capricious in his wrath.
Though he has every right to be, as Holy God, the Lord gives people chance after chance to turn from wickedness and confess sin. When I read this chapter, I had to ask: Does God visit places where evil is rampant one last time before judgment comes?
Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 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.”Genesis 18:20-21
Don’t you think the Lord knew the state of these people? I do, but I also think his visit here shows that he draws near even when we don’t deserve it; when we’re not looking for it. He’s making one last pass by these people before his fury flies. He’s also providing a way of escape for those, who otherwise, would be caught up in the destruction. That was the case for Lot, who barely got out—not because the angels were slow to move him, but because of his own hesitation.
When God visits, will he find faith?
The persistent questioning of Abraham over the extent of his mercy reminds me of another person who pestered the one in control. I wonder what Jesus was thinking when he told the parable of the widow who kept begging the unrighteous judge for mercy.
A chapter full of contrasts, reveals a God of blessing and judgment. Will he find faith in you?
Grace and Peace