Genesis 18:1-15 Faith in the supernatural God brings unprecedented miracles

Genesis 18:1-15

Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. 4 Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 5 and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes.” 7 Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. 8 He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.
9 Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10 He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. 12 Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” 13 And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ 14 Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Background

The Lord’s return so soon after the last appearance in the previous chapter speaks of Abraham’s new role as prophet of the nations. The Lord, being concerned with Sarah’s lukewarm attitude towards the supernatural comes to minister to her in person. Today’s devotion teaches us of the indispensability of faith along the supernatural if believers are to experience God’s unprecedented miracles.

Observation

Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.

The appearance of the three men that comprises the Lord and two angels catches Abraham almost by surprise. Abraham’s immediate reaction and his over the top hospitality towards the men hints at his suspicion that the visitors are not earthly. His sprint to meet them while bowing himself to the ground is no typical greeting for earthly men. As it turns out, Abraham’s offering of refreshments is a royal banquet of bread cakes, curds, milk and tender calf. Abraham’s reception of the three men speaks of his reverence towards God and his eagerness to encounter Him.

I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son. 

The lack of a formal introduction strengthens the supposition that Abraham recognises the Lord the moment he sees Him. The Lord’s appearance so soon after their last encounter (Genesis 17) signals the change of Abraham’s role in God’s scheme of things. Abraham is promoted to become God’s active partner, prophet and father of the nations. The Lord comes primarily to inform Abraham of his plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. However, noting Sarah’s lethargy in warming up to the idea late childbearing, the Lord intervenes. After ascertaining Sarah’s whereabouts, the Lord declares aloud the imminent birth of Isaac within earshot of Sarah. Sarah instinctively laughs unbelievingly at God’s promise of the supernatural, the Hebrew literally reads “no longer experiencing the cycle of women.” The Lord exposes Sarah’s thoughts and assures her of His miraculous power: Is anything too difficult for the Lord? Sarah’s brief encounter with the Lord and upon hearing the prophetic word revitalises her faith in the supernatural God.

Truth

Believers must progress from self-discipline to dependence on God in order to experience His promises.

A man must condition himself over a period of time so that in aligning his desires to the heavenly kingdom and in disciplining himself, he may exercise faith towards the promises of God. God’s promises pertain to accomplishing one’s calling and receiving his due reward in heaven. In exercising self-discipline, man does his part in the best of his abilities. In exercising faith, he becomes still in dependence on God for the miraculous. God has so determined that in order for man to fulfil his calling and receive his due reward, he will encounter unprecedented challenges where human discipline alone will fail. Therefore, man must not only be disciplined but more importantly he must exercise faith in God. Great men accomplish their earthly mission not by human resolve alone but by faith for the supernatural: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, and the prophets, Jesus and the apostles, all receive their promises by faith. Therefore, believers must build their faith by waiting on God for His grace daily. In doing so, they may succeed on the day of testing. The promises of God can only be realised by those who depend on Him in stillness and quiet trust.

Abraham, while awaiting the arrival of the promised heir disciplines himself and exercises faith in God through the challenges of life. We know for a fact that it takes 23 years of spiritual preparation to bring forth Isaac through faith. And many more years before he is deemed ready to give Isaac as a sacrifice to God. The years of discipline has thus far produced in Abraham the following qualities:

  • Attributes of truth, faith and love that qualify Abraham as intercessor and prophet on behalf of the people. (see Genesis 17).
  • Faith to hold onto God’s promises despite physical impossibility – Abraham believes that he will bear a son despite his aged body. (see Genesis 17).
  • Believing in God’s promises and having the resolve to see it through – Abraham continues to live righteously while believing in the promise of descendants innumerable as the stars (see Genesis 15).
  • The conviction to uphold justice in defense of the innocent – Abraham comes to Lot’s aid and the western alliance without asking anything in return (see Genesis 14).
  • An attitude of reverence towards God through tithing (see Genesis 14).
  • Graciousness and peaceableness – Abraham allows Lot to take his first pick of choice land. (see Genesis 13).
  • Trusting God when He seems silent – Abraham seeks refuge in Egypt in the day of famine and subsequently returns to Canaan (see Genesis 12).
  • Placing God’s call above all human obligations – Abraham responds to God’s call by leaving his family (see Genesis 12).

Many despite having little interest for God, have become relatively prosperous. Unfortunately, many of them attribute their prosperity largely to their own ingenuity. Because they are so used to depending on themselves, they pay zero attention to God’s word and have little empathy for the poor. Such may be commended by the world for their astuteness but the kingdom of God has no place for the self-serving.

Therefore, believers must first begin with the right desire; to fulfil God’s kingdom vision of discipleship by emulating Christ’s righteous ways (see Matthew 6:33). Then he learns to discipline his mind and body according to the ways of Christ. As God reveals in greater clarity the promise of his calling, he learns to depend God for the impossible (see figure below).

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Jesus gives power and authority to his disciples to heal and to cast out demons, but only after they are ready to exercise faith in God’s supernatural provisions on a daily basis. He instructs them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece…” (Luke 9:3). One cannot exercise faith in mighty exploits unless he lives in the supernatural even in the basic necessities of life.

Application

Do you feel a sense of loss concerning God’s direction for your life? Perhaps, you can ask yourself the following question:

a.  Do you desire to walk in God’s perfect will even though it may seem mundane and unglamorous at the onset? Everybody wants to appear successful, to work great exploits and to be sought after, but nobody wants to suffer on the cross. Yet the believer’s desire is not to fulfil his own dream but to do God’s bidding whatever that may be. Jesus says,

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

b.  Are you accustomed to staying the course, to do the hard work and see to its fulfilment? People love to ride on another’s coattail, but loath working on the foundations of character and competence that are necessary for excellence. They want to see results quickly without the hard work of building the necessary structure and foundations.

c.  Concerning the supernatural, do you feel ill competent like a fish out of water? It is likely that you have been entrenched in your past paradigms and your senses have been predominantly steered towards the flesh. There is a difference between faith along the natural and faith along the supernatural (although holistic faith should encompass both). As evident by some who promptly reject prayers for supernatural healing preferring to pray for wisdom for the doctors. Fellowship with believers with holistic faith will encourage you on your journey of faith. They will help you revitalise your spiritual senses and gifts and enable you to operate in the supernatural.

Dear Lord, I desire to sanctify myself and build the foundations of faith, character and competence. Help me to discipline my mind, and my emotions so that I may be focused on the tasks at hand. Help me to gain insights into the supernatural workings of the angels so that I may be more effective in the ministry. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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