So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. l 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? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Genesis 18:22-26
We don’t know if Abraham was frantically bargaining with the Lord because he cared so much for Sodom or because he knew his nephew, Lot, had gone there with his family. By whittling down the number of righteous needed to save the city down to 10, Abraham may have felt that this would make Sodom safe from destruction. The Lord already knew how many there were, so Abraham’s entreaties did not change God. Abraham had overestimated the number of righteous. I am sure we do the same thing. Not even all of Lot’s family would make it out alive.
And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
Without debate or explanation, God institutes this covenant with Abram and his decendants. It is given as a sign, or witness, that you are one who upholds God’s covenant. In the New testament, however, it is not required. What you are on the inside is more important than what you look like on the outside. Romans 2:29.
Historically, it seems that circumcision existed in many cultures around the world as either a rite of passage into manhood, or as a blood sacrifice.
When our son was born, we were not religious at all, and I have a vague memory of deciding, with my wife, to have him circumcised with a shrug, like, “why not?” It meant nothing to us at the time, so it was culture that gave us a nudge.
I have noticed there is a movement against this now. Some say it’s wrong for a parent to choose this for their child, or that it’s barbaric. I believe it’s a kindness. After all, if your son has a religious conviction about this later, he will thank you for it. And if he never does have such a conviction, he won’t care.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. Genesis 16:1-6
Impatience with God leads to all kinds of mischief. First, Sarai blames her wanting on God. Then she gets Abram to use her servant, Hagar, as a surrogate. When Hagar conceives, she attempts to supplant Sarai as the alpha female. Sarai blames this on Abram, who tells her to do whatever she wants to Hagar, and the child is forgotten. It was nobody’s finest hour.
Waiting on God’s promise is one of the hardest things we must do. It is natural for us to start conniving some way to hurty the process along, but the end of that are consequences that last generations.
Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:13-16
God knows the end from the beginning. He will be giving the land to Abram’s decendants after they have served another nation for 400 years, AND when the Amorites are so bad they deserve to be removed from that land. So, Abram’s trust in God does not only extend to the day he finally has a son. It goes on to his son’s decendants.
How many of us are concerned only for our own lifetimes? Our own comfort? God wants us to be blessed into the future as well as all eternity. Whether your children are of the flesh or the spirit, God has a promise to you for them. But the promise belongs to those who believe. And those who believe hold fast to the promise, even when it seems impossible.
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
This is often cited as the proof that tithing existed before the law was given by Moses. What is different is that there was no law compelling Abram to give. He could have just “tipped” the man of God with a few coins, out of politeness. But he decided to value the man of God, and God himself by extension, by treating him as a partner.
Contrast this to the way Essau treated the blessing of the first born, trading it for a bowl of soup. Thousands of years later, Jesus commended the widow who gave all she had, though it was little, rather than those who were rich and gave more out of their abundance, but not sacrificially. The widow esteemed the blessing of God above her own life, but the rich gave to impress others.
Our giving is an act of worship to God. Is he our partner, or do we treat him as our waiter.