I feel like I want to write after one of my favorite chapters in the entire Old Testament. (Nehemiah 8 is my favorite, fyi). I don’t know how often I will get to write once school starts up, even if I will get to read regularly like I want. So I might as well share a few thoughts before school gets too deep in session.
Genesis 18 has always been a favorite of mine. There is something of this hopeful scenario we find ourselves in. I guess it is sort of like winning the lottery, you just don’t know when it will happen. However, if you are faithful, it most likely will occur, whether we recognize it or not. I guess in that sense, I guess the odds are much better than the lottery, it is just a matter of when. After all, the promise is given that those who are faithful shall receive of the Father. Most Christian religions put it as after this life, but my faith places it as a possibility even within this life. That good things come to those who are willing to receive.
Here we have Abraham out scratching a living out of the plains of Mamre. While in the heat of the day, the long existence we sometimes find life to be, three guests appear. It appears he recognizes them since he runs to them and bows before them. He calls him “My Lord” and then asks the men to stay for a while, to wash their feet, and to rest themselves. He prepares a meal for them from freshly prepared cakes and even a calf plucked for the occasion.
It is then in this conversation that we learn that these are messengers of the Lord. It is then that they begin to bestow blessings upon Abraham and Sarah. Sarah even laughs at the promises given. I can imagine a giddy, quizzical, perhaps even non-believing laugh. But she quickly dismisses the blessing whether she intended to or not. Then comes the ultimate rebuke, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?”
Sarah then denies that she laughed, probably in shame and fear, for such an insult, especially to the Lord. The blessings continue and the story goes on.
The part that I have always loved about the story is that in the middle of the day, on a very hot day, the blessings of heaven were bestowed. Other versions of the story, most notably of the Midrash tell of how Abraham was actually worried that some traveler might be stranded out in the heat of the day and sends his servants out to bring in any such travelers who might be perishing in the heat. His faithfulness was rewarded all the more.
How does this apply in my life? I am reminded of Hebrews 13:1-2, “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Abraham did entertain angels, but he was not unaware. It appears his faithfulness was such that he recognized the Lord immediately, probably from past interactions. It would have to be this type of personal interactions to follow the dictates to later offer up Isaac. It would take some pretty serious personal experience for me to heed such a directive, despite its complete variance with standing gospel law.
The beauty of the whole scenario is that all who are faithful can receive the same blessings as Abraham. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.” “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:21, 23.
Whether the Lord himself, or by his angels, it is the same. “For behold, [angels] are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.” Moroni 7:30. The callings of angels are further defined. But if in full divine investiture of authority, we would not know the difference whether it was the Father and Son, or angels sent to act in their behalf.
All I know is that Abraham, a mortal man, entertained angels, perhaps Jehovah himself. Either way, it is beautiful. If Abraham can do it, certainly I have that same hope. If Cain can speak with the Lord even in his worst sins; surely I, one attempting to follow him can speak and hear the voice of the Lord.
In other thoughts, more of questions since I have no clue. At what point was what we call ‘incest’ no longer part of the plan. I am not suggesting or proposing the idea, just curious when the Lord stopped it. The Mosaic Law speaks against it, but obviously it was permitted for the children of Adam to procreate. I know there are the believe that God created other individuals for the procreation of the race, even though the scriptures don’t mention it.
Lot’s daughters wanted to keep the commandment of producing seed (multiplying and replentishing the earth) but don’t seem to give much heed to any rules concerning incest. Marriage is an eternal law dating clear to Adam and Eve. But at what point was ‘incest’ not allowed. The daughters of Lot sleeping with him smacks in the face of Adultery/Fornication whatever it would have been called at that point. Abraham married his own half-sister.
I really don’t know the answer to these questions. I don’t believe what Lot’s daughters do is right, certainly not by the commandments the Lord laid out for us since. But what was the state of the the law then? Then again, these daughters grew up in Sodom, so can we subscribe the false, ungodly actions to their surroundings? Judah doesn’t fare much better in sleeping with family later. Who knows? The laws of marriage seemed much more loose to them, after all, how did we end up with concubines? Especially where the Lord seems to approve of them? So many questions!