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Thoughts on Yesterday's Old Testament reading

posted 18 Jul 2016, 05:37 by Dean Fostekew

Below is part of the commentary sermon I gave yesterday to the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield congregation:


Genesis 18:1-10a


You will no doubt be familiar with the ikon of the Trinity by Rublev. Three beings usually depicted as angels with wings sitting at a table about to share a meal. It is a famous depiction of the Trinity and there is a reproduction of it on your pew sheet. Rublev based his ikon on these sentences from today’s Genesis reading:


“The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.”  Genesis 18:1a,2a


This is one of the first suggestions in Scripture of the triune nature of God and it is interesting that Abraham, although he sees three beings addresses them in the singular at all times. At verse three he says; ‘My Lord’ and not ‘my Lords’. This would imply that although Abraham saw three beings he knew that it was in fact God, himself expressing himself in three ways. That these three are in fact one is also suggested in the way that they reply to Abraham in chorus and not as individuals. It is never said; ‘he replied’  but ‘they replied’. 


Until I re-read this passage for today’s commentary I had never taken into account the words used. I knew that it was supposed to be about the Trinity but I could never figure out quite why until I paid close attention to the text.  It never ceases to amaze me that there is always so much more to read and discover in Scripture.


This piece from Genesis speaks of God and Abraham’s favour in his eyes. Abraham is the only human being to have experienced God face to face in the way he does, by offering him hospitality. As a ‘thank you’ God promises him and Sarah a son. No matter how unlikely this may seem for both Sarah and Abraham were supposed to be very elderly. If we read the next couple of verses we would hear Sarah laughing at the suggestion and God questioning her dis-belief in his powers. God tells her that nothing is impossible for him.


What I think we can take away from this passage is that we should always be hospitable and welcoming to those we meet for as we meet them we may in fact be meeting God within them. Also we need to remember that nothing is impossible with God. No matter how unlikely it might seem!


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