"My lord," said Abraham, "if I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by.
1. The first thing that occurs, is the lamentable folly of those who cry up the dignity of human nature: for neither revelation nor reason discovers any nature to us, but such as is mortal and sinful; and there is no dignity either in sin or mortality.
I. THE DIVINE VISIT TO THE PATRIARCH.
1. A remarkable proof of the Divine condescension.
2. A striking adumbration of the incarnation of Christ.
3. An instructive emblem of God's gracious visits to his saints.
II. THE DIVINE FEAST WITH THE PATRIARCH.
1. The courteous invitation.
2. The sumptuous provision.
3. The ready attention.
III. THE DIVINE MESSAGE FOR THE PATRIARCH.
1. Its delivery to Abraham.
2. Its reception by Sarah.
3. Its authentication by Jehovah. - W.
But dust and ashes. I.
THE TRUE POSTURE FOR A SINNER, AT THE THRONE OF GRACE. He must lie low, and aim high. You see this in the behaviour of Abraham on the present occasion. Though honoured by a fresh token of the Lord's confidential friendship, he has —
1. Low thoughts of himself. He cannot forget who and what he is: "I am but dust and ashes!" The expression is singular. It alludes, I think, first to the meanness of his origin. What was Abraham — what are all men — but "dust"? But this expression of Abraham may allude, secondly, to the corruption of his nature. "Dust" is what God made it: but "ashes" have had a value, which is now departed from them. Thus man, however mean, was yet not offensive, till he "corrupted his way" before God.
2. High thoughts of God: high thoughts, first, of His equity; "The Judge of all the earth," he is persuaded, must and "will do right." Any other supposition, indeed, were an affront to the Lord. But, secondly, let Abraham teach you also to entertain equally high thoughts of His mercy. Be not backward to ask of God, what you are unable to claim.
II. THE GENEROUS CHARACTER OF TRUE GODLINESS. For whose welfare does Abraham make this urgent intercession? Two parties were included in it, neither of whom had very greatly deserved such kindness at his hands.
1. Lot his nephew, though not named, had (we may suppose) the foremost place in his good wishes. He was a pious person; and "wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?"
2. The people of Sodom, on the other hand, are expressly named. Abraham knew that they "were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly." Yet even for them he prays.
III. THE EFFICACY OF INTERCESSORY PRAYER is another lesson taught us by this narrative.
IV. A FAINT TYPE OF OUR GREAT INTERCESSOR, JESUS THE SON OF GOD.
1. Was Abraham's a generous interposition? That of Jesus is far more unmerited. He intercedes for enemies!
2. Did Abraham appear to have some weight, as "the friend of God"? Far more authoritative is the mediation of Jesus. He stands in His own name, and on His own merits; not as a servant, high in favour indeed at court — but as the King's Son.
3. Did Abraham persevere, with an earnestness which, in his own eyes, seemed almost to border upon presumption? The event showed, notwithstanding, that he left off too soon. This will never be said of our Divine Intercessor. "He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth" — till He have fully accomplished all His purposes of grace.
4. Once more: let Abraham intercede as he might, whether on this or on subsequent occasions, yet his good offices were sure to be terminated, sooner or later "not being suffered to continue, by reason of death." After death — as the rich man in torments found — he neither can nor will interpose. But Jesus "ever liveth to make intercession for us."
That which we have more especially to take notice of is, with what apprehensions or conceptions of God Abraham did speak to God, did deport himself towards God, did manage this great undertaking with God: concerning which, four things present themselves for our observation: —
1. That those apprehensions or conceptions [which] Abraham had of God, did highly exalt and magnify the greatness and excellency of God in his heart: "Behold, now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord"; One who hath excellency, and sovereignty, and majesty, and dominion, and power, and glory.
2. That they were such conceptions of God as did humble, vilify, and abase Abraham in himself in comparison of God: "I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes"; a sinful, weak, worthless, frail piece of vanity and mortality.
3. That they were such conceptions of God as did represent Him gracious, propitious, benevolent to the creature, notwithstanding the greatness and excellency of God, and the meanness and unworthiness of the creature: thus much seems to be comprehended in the note of admiration, "behold!" O what admirable condescension is this in the great God! O what wonderful mercy and grace is this, that such a poor vile creature should have liberty to speak to Him, to parley with Him!
4. That they were such apprehensions of God as did beget in Abraham a faith of acceptation with God in the performance of that duty, without which it had been dangerous presumption in him, "who was but dust and ashes, to take upon him to speak unto the Lord."DOCTRINE: THAT SUCH AS SPEAK TO GOD OR SPEAK OF GOD, SUCH AS DRAW NEAR TO GOD OR HAVE TO DO WITH GOD IN ANY PART OF DIVINE WORSHIP, MUST MANAGE ALL THEIR PERFORMANCES WITH RIGHT APPREHENSIONS AND DUE CONCEPTIONS OF GOD.
1. The first proposition is this: That we cannot have any true, right apprehensions or conceptions of God, except we have a true knowledge of Him. Such as have not known God, have slighted Him: "Who is the Lord," saith Pharaoh, "that I should obey His voice? I know not the Lord" (Exodus 5:2). Such as know not God, nor desire to know Him, are so far from drawing near to God, that they drive Him as far from them as they can; they say unto the Almighty, "Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways" (Job 21:14).
2. The second proposition is: That we cannot know anything savingly of God, further than He is pleased to manifest and make known Himself to us. No man can make known God but God Himself. Moses, who had seen as much of God's glory as any man, when he desired a further manifestation of God's glory, in a higher measure or degree than formerly he had seen, he goes to God Himself for it: "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory" (Exodus 33:18).
3. The third proposition is: That the clearest manifestations of God to us, and such as can beget in us right apprehensions and due conceptions of Him, are made out to us in and by Jesus Christ. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). Therefore no man ever did or can apprehend anything of God truly, that is, upon a saving account, but in and by Jesus Christ. The Divine Essence or Godhead "no man hath seen, nor can see" in itself (1 Timothy 6:16). In the works of creation, God is a God above us; in His works of providence, a God without us; in the law, a God against us; in Himself, a God invisible to us. Only in Christ He is Emmanuel, "God manifested in our flesh," God in us, "God with us," God for us.
4. Hence follows the fourth proposition: That the manifestations of God to us in Christ are those which alone can beget those due apprehensions and right conceptions of God, with which we must draw near to Him, and perform all our worship to Him. As Abraham is held forth to us a pattern of faith; so he may be to us a pattern of worship, inasmuch as all true worship to God is performed by faith, by faith in Christ.(1) Those apprehensions Abraham had of God did beget, as we have shown, high thoughts of God. With such apprehensions of God we must perform all our worship. See what high thoughts of God His people have always had in worshipping Him: Nehemiah 9:5, 6; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16.(2) Abraham had such conceptions of God as humbled, emptied, and abased him in himself in comparison of God. And with such apprehensions of God must we perform all our worship to Him. We are exhorted to "come and worship, and bow down, and kneel" (Psalm 95:6). In all worship we are to testify, as our absolute subjection to God, so our humblest submission to Him. Observe what self-abasing thoughts the apprehension of God's goodness wrought in David when he went to worship before the Lord (2 Samuel 7:18-20).(3) Abraham had such conceptions of God as did represent Him gracious, propitious, benevolous to the creature, a bountiful rewarder of him that serveth Him, notwithstanding the greatness of God, or the unworthiness of the creature. Such apprehensions we must have of God in all our approaches to Him, in all our performances of duty and worship.(4) Abraham had such apprehensions of God as did beget a comfortable persuasion of faith for his acceptation with God in that his drawing near to Him. Now, such apprehensions of God as beget a faith of acceptation with God in our approaches to Him, can spring only from the manifestations of God to us in Christ. The use I shall make of this point is, to inform Christians how much it concerneth us to acquaint ourselves more intimately with God as He hath manifested Himself in Christ Jesus; in whom alone we can have right apprehensions and due conceptions of God; without which we cannot perform aright any kind of worship to God.
1. Without due apprehensions and conceptions of God, we cannot perform any part of that natural worship we owe to God. We cannot love Him, fear Him, trust in Him, pray unto Him, praise Him, &c.
2. Without the right apprehensions and due conceptions of God in Jesus Christ, we cannot perform aright any part of His instituted worship.(1) For all the ordinances of God's instituted worship (as the sacrifices and sacraments under the law, so the sacraments and other ordinances under the gospel) seem to have immediate relation to, and near dependence on, Christ. "God manifested in the flesh."(2) The Divine Essence or Godhead in Jesus Christ seems to be the proper object of all worship. This Divine Essence is wholly in Christ: "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).(3) The flesh or humanity of Christ is the medium or mean by which we have access to God in all our worship. — This is expressed: "Having boldness to enter into the holiest," where the Divine glory appeared between the cherubims on the mercy-seat, "by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh" (Hebrews 10:19, 20).
2. Secondly, the fearful effects of sin are displayed to us by this subject in a very particular manner. Why does the body, so wonderfully formed by the Divine wisdom, return again to its original dust, but because that which has taken root in it cannot otherwise be extracted? Why are we under condemnation, and liable to be reduced to ashes, but because sin has kindled the flames of the Divine wrath? How odious then must sin be in itself, and how contrary to the nature of God, if it compels His justice to destroy the work of His hands! Lastly, they who have ears to hear, will learn from this subject, not to set their affections upon a world, which is under sentence of condemnation, and whose end is to be burned.
()The grandest edifices, the tallest towers, the loftiest spires, rest upon deep foundations. The very safety of eminent gifts and pre-eminent graces lies in their association with deep humility. they were dangerous without it. Great men do need to be good men. Look at this mighty ship, a leviathan on the deep. With her towering masts, and carrying a cloud of canvas, how she steadies herself on the waves, and walks erect upon the rolling waters, like a thing of inherent, self-regulating life! When the corn is waving, and trees are bending, and foaming billows roll before the blast and break in thunders on the beach, why is she not flung on her beam ends, sent down foundering into the deep? Why, because unseen, beneath the surface, a vast well-ballasted hull gives her balance, and taking hold of the water, keeps her steady under a press of sail, and on the bosom of a swelling sea. Even so, to preserve the saint upright, erect, and safe from falling, God gives him balance and ballast, bestowing on the man to whom He has given lofty endowments, the grace of a proportionate humility.Artabanus, one of the military officers of the Athenians, was applied to by a certain great man, who told him that he desired an audience of the king. He was answered that before it was granted, he must prostrate himself before him, for it was a custom of the country for the king to admit no one to his presence who would not worship him. That which was an arrogant assumption in an earthly king, is a proper condition of an approach to the King of kings. Humility is the foundation of an intercourse with Him. We must bow before His throne. No sinner who is too proud to yield obedience to this law need expect any favours from His hands.
PeopleAbraham, Mamre, Sarah
PlacesCanaan, Gomorrah, Sodom, Sodom and Gomorrah
TopicsFavor, Favour, Grace, Pass, Please, Servant, Sight
Outline1. The Lord appears to Abraham, who entertains angels.
9. Sarah is reproved for laughing at the promise of a son.
16. The destruction of Sodom is revealed to Abraham.
23. Abraham makes intercession for its inhabitants.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 18:3
7160 servants of the Lord
5077 Abraham, character
5765 attitudes, to people
5076 Abraham, life of
1511 Trinity, relationships in
8447 hospitality, examples
1210 God, human descriptions
5387 leisure, pastimes
LibraryJanuary 5. "I Know Him that He Will do the Law" (Gen. xviii. 19).
"I know him that he will do the law" (Gen. xviii. 19). God wants people that He can depend upon. He could say of Abraham, "I know him, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham all that He hath spoken." God can be depended upon; He wants us to be just as decided, as reliable, as stable. This is just what faith means. God is looking for men on whom He can put the weight of all His love, and power, and faithful promises. When God finds such a soul there is nothing He will not do for him. God's engines are …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
'Because of his Importunity'
'And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him! For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Meditations for Household Piety.
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Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
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St. Augustine—On Lying
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Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica
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To Natalis, Bishop  . Gregory to Natalis, Bishop of Salona. As though forgetting the tenour of former letters, I had determined to say nothing to your Blessedness but what should savour of sweetness: but, now that in your epistle you have recurred in the way of argumentation to preceding letters, I am once more compelled to say perhaps some things that I had rather not have said. For in defence of feasts your Fraternity mentions the feast of Abraham, in which by the testimony of Holy Scripture …
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great
THE SABBATH. THIS day is called the Lord's day, the day in which he rose from the dead. The Lord's day: every day, say some, is the Lord's day. Indeed this, for discourse' sake, may he granted; but strictly, no day can so properly be called the Lord's day, as this first day of the week; for that no day of the week, or of the year, has those hadges of the Lord's glory upon it, nor such divine grace put upon it, as his first day of the week. There is nothing, as I know of, that bears this title but …
John Bunyan—The Riches of Bunyan
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William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord
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Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit
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In order accurately to understand the position of woman in Israel, it is only necessary carefully to peruse the New Testament. The picture of social life there presented gives a full view of the place which she held in private and in public life. Here we do not find that separation, so common among Orientals at all times, but a woman mingles freely with others both at home and abroad. So far from suffering under social inferiority, she takes influential and often leading part in all movements, specially …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
The Debt of Irenæus to Justin Martyr
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Irenæus—The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching
Difficulties and Objections
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Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God
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Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
Fifteenth Day for Schools and Colleges
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Andrew Murray—The Ministry of Intercession
Prayer Taught and Encouraged.
(Probably Judæa.) ^C Luke XI. 1-13. ^c 1 And it came to pass, as he was praying in a certain place, that when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples. [Jesus had already taught his disciples how to pray in the Sermon on the Mount. This disciple probably thought that the prayer already taught was too brief to be sufficient, especially as Jesus often prayed so long. It was customary for the rabbis to give their disciples forms …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
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Thomas Charles Edwards—The Expositor's Bible: The Epistle to the Hebrews
Degrees of Sin
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Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
In the Present Crusade against the Bible and the Faith of Christian Men...
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John William Burgon—Inspiration and Interpretation
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G. H. Gerberding—The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church
The Justice of God
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Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
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Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
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Arno Gaebelein—The Lord of Glory
Wisdom and Revelation.
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness …
W. H. Griffith Thomas—The Prayers of St. Paul
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