Genesis Chapter 18


The Lord appears to Abraham. (Verse 1-8.)

Sarah’s unbelief reproved. (Verse 9-15.)

God reveals to Abraham the destruction of Sodom. (Verse 16-22.)

Abraham’s intercession for Sodom. (Verse 23-33.)

1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

2 And 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,

[Gen 18:22, Gen 19:1 Heb 13:2, 1st Pet 4:9]

Notice in verse one that the word LORD is in all capital letters and as you will see in verse three Abraham calls him Lord which shows a reverence but not a knowledge of just exactly who he was talking to.

3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

the Lord appears to Abraham in the form of a man; the other two “men” are the angels found in chapter 19 – note 18:16 & 22

4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

[Gen 24:32, Gen 43:24, Luke 7:38, John 13:5]

5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

[Gen 19:3]

7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Uh oh! Meat and milk in one meal, Doesn’t this go against the Law of Moses? Exodus 23:19 Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

Well first of all the law of Moses doesn’t come around for another 400 plus years yet but Abraham and Sarah did not boil (Seethe) the animal in its mother’s milk, they were however both a part of the meal along with butter, a dairy product as well.

The butter was used as either something to flavor the meat after it was cooked, or as a spread on the bread that was prepared by Sarah.

Also something that is often overlooked is who was eating with Abraham and Sarah at this meal? The LORD! It was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ who ate meat and dairy products offered to him by Abraham.

The context of the command is always given in connection to the offering of first fruits and it was forbidden because the heathen would do that very thing in their hopes of making themselves fertile.

As part of their (the heathens) offering they would eat, and part they would offer to the Pagan god and God didn’t want his nation to act like all the other nations with their fertility rites.

The Pagans also believed that this offering would give them fertile crops as well. Notice the context of what happens next, (It is about an unfertile Sarah), what a coincidence.

9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

[Gen 24:67, Titus 2:5]

10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

[Gen 21:2, Luke 1:13]

“according to the time of life” – female fertility

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

[Rom 4:19 Heb 11:11]

12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

[Gen 17:17, Gen 21:6 1st Peter 3:6]

Sarah refers to Abraham as “my lord”

Study Question

What did she usually refer to her husband as according to I Peter 3:6?

13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

[Jer 33:3, [Job 42:2, Jer 32:17, Matt 19:26, Luke 1:37, Rom 4:21, Heb 11:19, Rom 9:7]

“is anything to hard for the Lord?” – the real Christian has no doubt about God’s ability to do something; the question is, “Is he going to do it?”

15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

Why must we put up a false picture of ourselves before others? Sarah could have just apologized for her disbelief and that would have been the end of it, but she lies to the face of God as if he could not discern her thoughts, all to keep her false image before others.

16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

[Gen 12:2-3, Gen 17:6, Gen 46:3, Deut 26:5, 1st Kings 3:8, Gen 22:18]

19 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 he hath spoken of him.

[Gen 17:27]

God could trust Abraham as a person and as a parent to properly raise his children to do right before God – can God trust you?

20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

[Gen 13:13, Eze 16:49, 2nd Pet 2:6]

21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

[Gen 11:5, Psa 53:2]

Notice first of all that from the descendants of Ham who was cursed by God for going in unto his father (Noah) and seeing his nakedness, from them we have the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Ham’s sin did not depart from his lineage.

Also notice this Angel of the Lord that spoke with Abraham had knowledge that was supernatural and yet seemed limited. God sent his Son for Abraham’s benefit and as the Angel (Messenger) of the Lord.

22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

[Gen 18:2, Gen 19:1, Gen 19:27]

23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

[Num 16:22, 2nd Sam 24:17, Psa 11:5]

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

[Job 8:3, Job 8:20, Psa 58:11, Psa 94:2, Rom 3:6]

26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

[Jer 5:1, Eze 22:30]

Abraham is playing games; he would like to ask the Lord to have mercy on his nephew Lot and not destroy him, but instead gets involved in this back and forth bargaining type of dialogue with the Lord

27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.

[1st Thess 5:17]

30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.

32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

[Judges 6:39]

Why did Abraham stop at ten?  Apparently Abraham thought that Lot would have at least won his own family to the Lord and that there would have been at least ten righteous people in Sodom.  Lot however was like most Christians, and apparently did little in the line of leading his family or other men and women to Christ.

33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

Once again we see the number ten as a number relating to testing. If ten righteous could be found the city would be spared but they could not find ten.

Sodom was not so much destroyed for her sin as she was for her lack of saints. Lot apparently was not the positive witness of God to the Sodomites that he could have been.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 1-8 – Abraham was waiting to entertain any weary traveller, for inns were not to be met with as among us. While Abraham was thus sitting, he saw three men coming. These were three heavenly beings in human bodies. Some think they were all created angels; others, that one of them was the Son of God, the Angel of the covenant. Washing the feet is customary in those hot climates, where only sandals are worn. We should not be forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares, Hebrews 13:2. nay, the Lord of angels himself; as we always do, when for his sake we entertain the least of his brethren. Cheerful and obliging manners in showing kindness, are great ornaments to piety. Though our condescending Lord vouchsafes not personal visits to us, yet still by his Spirit he stands at the door and knocks; when we are inclined to open, he deigns to enter; and by his gracious consolations he provides a rich feast, of which we partake with him, Revelation 3:20.

Verse 9-15 – Where is Sarah thy wife? was asked. Note the answer, In the tent. Just at hand, in her proper place, occupied in her household concerns. There is nothing got by gadding. Those are most likely to receive comfort from God and his promises, who are in their proper place, and in the way of their duty, Luke 2:8. We are slow of heart to believe, and need line upon line to the same purport. The blessings others have from common providence, believers have from the Divine promise, which makes them very sweet, and very sure. The spiritual seed of Abraham owe their life, and joy, and hope, and all, to the promise. Sarah thinks this too good news to be true; she laughed, and therefore cannot as yet find in her heart to believe it. Sarah laughed. We might not have thought there was a difference between Sarah’s laughter and Abraham’s, ch. 17:17. but He who searches the heart, saw that the one sprung from unbelief, and the other from faith. She denied that she had laughed. One sin commonly brings in another, and it is not likely we shall strictly keep to truth, when we question the Divine truth. But whom the Lord loves he will rebuke, convict, silence, and bring to repentance, and if they sin before him.

Verse 16-22 – The two who are supposed to have been created angels went toward Sodom. The one who is called Jehovah throughout the chapter, continued with Abraham, and would not hide from him the thing he intended to do. Though God long forbears with sinners, from which they fancy that the Lord does not see, and does not regard; yet when the day of his wrath comes, he will look toward them. The Lord will give Abraham an opportunity to intercede with him, and shows him the reason of his conduct. Consider, as a very bright part of Abraham’s character and example, that he not only prayed with his family, but he was very careful to teach and rule them well. Those who expect family blessings must make conscience of family duty. Abraham did not fill their heads with matters of doubtful dispute; but he taught them to be serious and devout in the worship of God, and to be honest in their dealings with all men. Of how few may such a character be given in our days! How little care is taken by masters of families to ground those under them in the principles of religion! Do we watch from sabbath to sabbath whether they go forward or backward?

Verse 23-33 – Here is the first solemn prayer upon record in the Bible; and it is a prayer for the sparing of Sodom. Abraham prayed earnestly that Sodom might be spared, if but a few righteous persons should be found in it. Come and learn from Abraham what compassion we should feel for sinners, and how earnestly we should pray for them. We see here that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Abraham, indeed, failed in his request for the whole place, but Lot was miraculously delivered. Be encouraged then to expect, by earnest prayer, the blessing of God upon your families, your friends, your neighbourhood. To this end you must not only pray, but you must live like Abraham. He knew the Judge of all the earth would do right. He does not plead that the wicked may be spared for their own sake, or because it would be severe to destroy them, but for the sake of the righteous who might be found among them. And righteousness only can be made a plea before God. How then did Christ make intercession for transgressors? Not by blaming the Divine law, nor by alleging aught in extenuation or excuse of human guilt; but by pleading HIS OWN obedience unto death.