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Abraham and Jesus at Mamre     From Nothing but the Blood Audio
The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”  —Genesis 18

What happens right after a story pivots? Think of the end of The Usual Suspects or the moment when the truth is revealed by the little boy in The Sixth Sense—the boy who said, “I see dead people.”

When a story pivots, a character that you thought you knew before becomes more fully known.

The Gospel Story is no different, but . . .

let me catch you up, first. Genesis 16 gives us the story of Sarai and Hagar, mother of Ismael. Ismael is recognized as an ancestor to Muhammad, the founder of Islam. If you have trouble seeing truth in Scripture, read Genesis 16:10-12 and see if this doesn’t ring true today. Genesis 17 details a 99 year old Abram’s visit from the Lord. Here, Abram’s renamed Abraham and the covenant of circumcision is given. There’s certainly blood involved here (ouch), but I’m not going to address it here. I’d love to see your comments on it, below and maybe we’ll come back to readdress.

So you’ll never guess who shows up in Genesis 18.

Jesus. Yes, Jesus.

There’s some pretty cogent thought that leads us to this conclusion. We’ll never REALLY know this, but if you think of all the times when heavenly beings (God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or Angels) show up in Scripture (this story, Genesis 32:28-30, Exodus 13:21-22, Exodus 24:9-11, Judges 13:21-22, Isaiah 6:1-13, etc.) as a spectrum—on one end is very sure that it’s the triune God and on the other end is very sure that it’s an angel—then something interesting occurs. In Revelation, John recounts:

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.  But [the angel] said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.Revelation 22

But other times, in Scripture, like in the story we're examining, the heavenly being accepts the worship:

Now the Lord appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 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, and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 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.” -Genesis 18.

As the day drags on, Jesus eats with Abraham, tells Abraham that he’ll have a son in a year, and then, (I believe we can assume that) in the cool of the evening, they walk together.

Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do . . . ?You can’t say that! No. We’re out here walking together (maybe) in the cool of the evening. You HAVE to tell me.

Jesus is going to see the wickedness for Himself and bring judgment upon Sodom & Gomorrah. Abraham knows Jesus by now—not from the one meeting, but likely from every meeting. Plot twist—it’s been Jesus all along.

Why else would he have run over to these three and worshiped Him? Why else would Genesis 19:1 only mention two angels entering Sodom? Why else would Abraham have the guts to question Him as he does? It’s not a lock solid case [in fact, the previously mentioned Genesis 19:1 has Lot bowing down to the two "angels" without rebuke]—so if you’re disturbed by this, just put a pin in it and consider it unsettled—but there is evidence to suggest that these theophanies have been Jesus all along and that there’s just one Jesus (Hebrews 13:8).

Abraham has a legitimate question (Genesis 18:23-25):

"Will you punish the righteous with the wicked? Would you spare the place if there are fifty righteous there?" . . . “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account,” Jesus answered.

How about forty five? How about forty? How about thirty? What if there are twenty? Supposing there are ten? Each time Jesus answers, no. If there are but ten righteous in the city then He will spare it.

Now remember the path we’ve traveled. Written on Abraham’s heart, he knew that blood was the way back, but there’s a heart piece, so it’s important to try. Noah showed us that no one can achieve it, but just a few chapters back, God showed Abraham that He stands in the gap. That’s all well and good, but how can God stand in the gap for me? In the midst of my/Abraham’s sin, I’m receiving this information, but it doesn’t make sense.

It’s not clear whether Jesus had to go, got tired or Abraham lost his nerve questioning the Creator of the universe, but mankind is left for a few thousand years knowing that AT LEAST ten righteous, can save.

Fifteen hundred years later, God answers the question that Abraham wanted to know. Around the same time, reveals the answer through Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel saying:

And He saw that there was no man,
And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
And His righteousness upheld Him.
-Isaiah 59:16

Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
And look now and take note.
And seek in her open squares,
If you can find a man,
If there is one who does justice, who seeks truth,
Then I will pardon her.
-Jeremiah 5:1

I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
-Ezekiel 22:30

For some reason Abraham (or mankind) wasn’t ready for the answer yet, but the blood of one, the right One, could cover the inequity of us all.

Now, if only we knew how to find the right One. Well, that’s coming sooner than you’d expect.

I love you.                                                                                  

This is the eighth part in a multi-part post expanding on an exceptional talk Billy Graham gave at the University of Cambridge in 1955 with influences from Tim Keller's sermon series Christ: Our Treasury (The Book of Hebrews). To hear an overview of this material, consider listening to the original Nothing but the Blood audio, linked here (it'll stream from a mobile device), read all the posts to date by clicking #nothingbuttheblood, or hear the most recent version of the Nothing but the Blood talk by streaming it on the player, below. If you'd like to get these posts sent to you via email (and you're not already), click here to register and make sure to tell us that you're a Back Porch Friend.

The next in this series, Part 9. Preview for One is available by clicking here.

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