Obedience and Kindness

Genesis 17:15‑18:4  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Genesis 17:15-18:415And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 19And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 20And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. 21But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. 22And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. 23And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. 24And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. 27And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him. 1And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: (Genesis 17:15‑18:4)
God told Abraham and Sarah that He would give them a son to be the promised heir. This seemed like an impos­sibility in their old age, but “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:2626But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)). He asked God that Ishmael might live before Him, but this was not a prayer of faith. Sometimes we, too, ask God for things which are not for our good, and if we persist, He may let us have them to our own sorrow. So it was here, for Ishmael did live, and his descendants were the continual enemies of the people of God. When making requests in prayer, we should always say “if it be Thy will,” because God knows what is best for us.
In spite of Abraham’s failure, God was faithful. He fulfilled His promise in His own time and gave them a son.
At the end of our chapter we see beau­tiful obedience on the part of Abraham, for although we all fail in some things, God takes knowledge of what is done for Him. Abraham and all his house­hold were circumcised “the selfsame day” in which God spoke to him. Too often we are very slow in doing what the Lord has asked us to do. If there is something, dear young Christian, which you know the Lord wants you to do, ask Him for strength to do it now. Delay is always dangerous and a hin­drance to blessing.
Courtesy Shown to Strangers
The eighteenth chapter opens with a very beautiful scene. It was a very hot day, and Abraham was sitting in his tent door when three men came near.
He ran to meet them and bowed him­self. This was real courtesy, and God has put it in His Word to show us that it was pleasing to Him. We are told to “be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8), and we should always act kindly to others. It is never right to be rude and thought­less.
We are living in days when many often forget those little acts of kindness which God wants to see in His children. Never mind whether others are courteous to you; you can be courteous to them just to please the Lord Jesus who died for you. So many children say they are saved, but it often saddens our hearts to hear them answer­ing back and being bold to their parents, their teachers at school, and to others much older than themselves. When we have really accepted the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, we should be careful to show it out in our lives day by day. God wants reality, not just lip profes­sion.
These three men were strangers to Abraham. He did not recognize at first that one was the Lord, and the other two were angels. However he wel­comed them and showed them true hos­pitality. He invited them to rest under the trees and got water for them to wash their hot feet. People did not travel in fine cars in those days and had to walk long distances in the scorching sun. How they must have appreciated Abraham’s thoughtfulness and the welcome he gave them. God takes more notice of the little things we do for Him, than we are inclined to think. When someone comes to your home, do you try to welcome them, and do little acts of kindness for them? The Lord will fully reward you if you do such things “as unto the Lord,” even if they forget to thank you. “Let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:1010As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)).
Further Meditation
1. What did Abraham do when the three men came near?
2. We often think of hospitality as inviting our friends over to have a good time doing things we both enjoy. Can you contrast this with the kind of hospitality that Abraham showed?
3. The Institution of Marriage by P. Wilson has an excellent chapter entitled Bethany that gives some helpful instruction about hospitality.