Today, we are continuing our series on the life of Abraham from the book of Genesis called Abraham – Hearing God’s Call. As we’ve gone through the story, we see God appearing to and talking to Abraham multiple times.
James 2:23 (ESV) and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.
Abraham was a man who believed God for the impossible, he was a man of faith. But in this verse, we see the Scripture also calling Abraham a friend of God. A friend is someone that you know deeply and you have affection for. What do friends do? They spend time together and they talk to one another. When the Bible calls Abraham a friend of God, not only does it mean that Abraham loved to talk to God, but God loved to talk to Abraham. Friendship is a mutual two-way relationship.
Today, our message is entitled “Talking to God” from Genesis 18. From the example of Abraham and God’s friendship, we’re going to learn how we can grow in our relationship with God as a friend. Friends engage in two-way communication and share life together. Jesus said in …
John 15:14-15 (ESV) You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
Let’s unpack these verses to better understand what it means to be a friend of God. First of all, Jesus says “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” We learn right away that being a friend of God does not mean you are on equal terms with God. Jesus is first of all our Lord, we must do what He commands. When we are obedient we qualify to be His friends. You cannot be a friend of God if you are disobedient.
Next, Jesus explains the difference between a servant and a friend. A servant simply does what He is told, He isn’t taken in the confidence of His master. A friend on the other hand, does what God commands and Jesus explains to him what God is doing. We’re going to see an example of that in the life of Abraham today. So, as a friend of God, your communication or prayer to God should always be two-way communication, just as a friend talks to another friend. God wants to reveal to you what He is doing. Why? So that you can pray effectively and follow His directions.
Our prayers, in order to be answered, need to be prayed according to God’s will. As we talk to God as our friend, He will reveal what His will is in many situations. As we pray for God’s will to be done in the situations of our life and church, God will answer those prayers. For we know that God only answers prayers prayed according to His will and prayed in faith. As we learn to hear from God as our friend, our faith and confidence in prayer will grow.
So, let’s learn more about friendship with God from the life of Abraham in Genesis 18. In the first verses of Genesis 18, three men visit Abraham and Sarah in their tent. As the story goes on, we learn that two of the men were angels and the third was the Lord. The Lord wanted to talk to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham invited the men to stay and share a meal with them. Why did the Lord come to visit Abraham and Sarah?
Genesis 18:9-10a (ESV) They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.”
Now, we get the most detailed information about God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah about their son. Within a year, the promised son would come and be born to Sarah. God had come to encourage Abraham and Sarah that the fulfillment of the promise, seemingly delayed for years, was finally coming within a year. As we have learned multiple times in our story, we …
Genesis 18:10b-12 (ESV) And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
At this time, Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 89 years old. Sarah had long been in menopause and knew that she was too old to become pregnant. So, she laughed to herself about the impossibility of the promise being fulfilled with the birth of a son. She didn’t think that the Lord would hear her laughter. But of course, God knows everything, even when you laugh to yourself in disbelief. However …
Genesis 18:13-14 (ESV) The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”
The Lord knew that Sarah had laughed and spoke to Abraham about it. He asked Abraham a question “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” What is the obvious answer to that question? The answer is that No, nothing is too hard for the Lord, who created heaven and earth. The Lord repeated the prophetic word, that within a year, the Lord would return. At that time Sarah would have a son, a son named Isaac, whose name means “he laughs.” Nothing is too hard for God.
We have seen both Abraham and Sarah struggling with doubts about the impossibility of God’s promise coming to pass. Yet, the encouraging part of the story is that God didn’t give up on them or His promise. He keep on encouraging them to believe. And we read in the New Testament that the promise was ultimately fulfilled because of the faith of both Abraham and Sarah. Despite their doubt, their faith grew until strong enough to receive the promise.
So, whatever promise you are waiting for God to fulfill in your life, don’t beat yourself up for having some doubts. Keep on talking to God, keep on listening to His encouragement to you. Ask Him to strengthen your faith and He will. Remember, nothing is too hard for God. As your friend …
Genesis 18:16-17 (ESV) Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
The topic of the story now shifts from the promise to the city of Sodom where Abraham’s nephew Lot lived with his family. God desires to share His plans for Sodom with Abraham because they are friends. God shares His secrets with those who walk close to Him. God shares His secrets not just to satisfy our curiosity, but so that we can cooperate with God’s plans in prayer and action. God shares His secrets to that we can …
Genesis 18:19 (ESV) For I have chosen him, 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 to Abraham what he has promised him.”
This is the reason that God decides to share His future plans regarding Sodom with Abraham. God had chosen Abraham to teach his children to keep the Lord’s way, so that the promise would be fulfilled throughout the generations. In order to instruct his children in God’s ways, Abraham needed to hear from God and understand God’s ways. He also needed to …
Genesis 18:20-21 (ESV) Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
The Bible teaches that when evil people steal, kill and destroy, their victims cry out to heaven against them. When Abel was murdered by his brother Cain, the Bible says that the blood of Abel cried out to God. So the great evil and sin in Sodom had led to a great outcry to heaven for judgment to come. God tells Abraham that He will further investigate to see about this outcry. Of course, God already knew the answer. But the investigation by the two angels will tell us the story of the great wickedness in Sodom as a lesson for us today.
God still shares His secrets with believers today. God doesn’t answer every question we may have. Yet, He does share supernatural knowledge with those who are His friends, who are walking closely with Him. When God shares secrets with His children, it always is for a purpose, so that you can better carry out God’s will in your life. The New Testament lists a number of spiritual gifts in which God reveals supernatural knowledge to believers who are seeking Him.
Examples of the use of these spiritual gifts is seen in the four Gospels and in the book of Acts. First is the word of knowledge, in which God shares secret knowledge which you would not have otherwise known. This is closely related to the gift of prophesy, in which God shares His Word with a person to tell others. The secret that God shared with Abraham could be called a prophetic word of knowledge of what was going to happen to Sodom. Another spiritual gift is a word of wisdom, where God gives supernatural direction on how to handle a particular situation. A fourth revelatory spiritual gift is the discerning of spirits, where God reveals the spirit working in a situation or person. The Bible commands believers to earnestly desire and seek after spiritual gifts for their lives. Spiritual gifts can operate in the church and in everyday life. In Abraham’s case, God shared a prophetic word of knowledge so that Abraham could …
Genesis 18:22-24 (ESV) So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?
Although it doesn’t seem obvious to me from what the Lord shared with Abraham, it was clear to Abraham that God was going to destroy Sodom for its great evil. Undoubtedly Abraham knew a lot about the evil of Sodom. So, as the two angels left to journey to Sodom, Abraham remained speaking to the Lord. What was Abraham’s concern? It was that his nephew Lot and family were living in Sodom. When God’s judgment fell on Sodom, it would bring destruction to Lot and his family. Even though Abraham undoubtedly knew that Lot should not have been living in Sodom, he still was interceding with the Lord on Lot’s behalf. So, Abraham begins by asking God not to destroy Sodom if there were 50 righteous within the city. As you intercede …
Genesis 18:26 (ESV) And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
The Lord’s answer to Abraham indicates a very important principle. God will spare a city or nation if he finds enough righteous believers living there. Believers in a city or nation help protect it from God’s judgement. Sodom was obviously a city of probably thousands of people, yet Abraham was uncertain that there would be even 50 righteous in the city.
Genesis 18:32 (ESV) Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
If you read the entire passage, you see that Abraham repeated his request for God to spare Sodom if 45 righteous people were found, then 40, 30, 20 and here finally ten. And God replied, for the sake of ten, he would not destroy the city. In a couple of Sundays, we’ll discover how many righteous were found in Sodom. But today, we see the Lord sharing His secret of coming judgment with Abraham. And Abraham interceding for God to spare the city on account of the righteous, including his nephew Lot.
2 Peter 2 tells us that Lot was righteous and was tormented by the depravity of Sodom. Abraham interceded and talked with God, one might even say bargained with God for the saving of Lot and his family. Even though Lot had made a poor or even sinful choice as to where to live. Our lesson is that God will share with us concerning who we are to intercede for. To intercede is to pray for another person for God to bless, heal or save them.
Notice that Abraham talked to God and God answered him. It was a two-way conversation. That’s what God intends prayer to be. If you have trouble hearing God speak to you, ask him to help you. He speaks most clearly to those who are walking close to Him, seeking to do His will. Be persistent in your prayer and believe that if you don’t give up, the answer will come in God’s timing.
God wants to talk to you. He wants to talk to you about the promises He has for your life. God wants to share His secrets with you, so that you can intercede for others. This morning, how will you respond to God’s Word? Perhaps you need to make a renewed commitment to spending daily time talking with God. Maybe you’ve gotten discouraged with God’s promises for you and you need to make a decision to believe in God’s promises once again. Maybe you’ve been trying to carry out God’s plan for your life without God’s spiritual gifts. God wants you to desire and seek after His gifts so that you can discover His secrets. Or maybe your prayers have been all about yourself lately and God wants you to learn to intercede for others. At the bottom of your study guide notes, there are a couple of blank lines. Just jot down what God is speaking to your heart this morning from His Word.