This is a father’s day message and the text is taken from GENESIS 18:16-21, which reads:
16 Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. 17 And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” 20 And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
After God had reaffirmed His promise of a son to Abraham, He was escorted by him and God disclosed that He was about to do something and He wondered if Abraham should know or not. It is not surprising for God to disclose His plans. In fact, when you walk right with God, He will reveal His secret to you. God made a remarkable statement in verse 18 of Genesis 18, that He was certain Abraham would indeed be father of many nations as has promised when he changed his name from Abram “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). God in His divine knowledge affirmed that Abraham would succeed in His calling. The full promise as in Genesis 12:1-3 stated “Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Upon this call, Abraham obeyed God and moved to Canaan: “Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan” (Genesis 12:5). Genesis 12 verses 2 and 3, was later fulfilled as Israel and the Church. Thus, even before Abraham had the child of promise, Isaac (Genesis 24), God by fore-knowledge, knew Abraham would succeed. To fore-know by God is called Omniscience (all-knowing). God does not learn from experience, He just knows as the Psalmist puts it “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).
Furthermore, God continued to affirm the success of Abraham in Genesis 18 verse 19, starting with the phrase: “For I have known him”, God knew before He chose Abraham that he will do what He called him to do.
The question is what is God saying? My understanding is that the success of Abraham depends on how successfully his children and household turned out to be. And God knew that Abraham would truly be great, brought about a great nation, Israel and through his lineages the Church will certainly be born.
Based on this, Abraham was part of God’s entourage to Sodom and Gomorrah and he interceded for them. The promise God spoke to Abraham is for Christians in the church too. Apostle Paul put it beautifully in his letter to the Galatians 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. 26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:14, 26-29).
Therefore, if the promise to Abraham is ours by adoption into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ, then the condition that Abraham fulfilled which is training his children and household in the ways of God will be applicable to Christians as well.
It’s very instructive to know that Abraham was called at 75 years of age and by the time we read Genesis 18, he was 99 years old, yet he had no children of promise. Because God is Eternal, He doesn’t work with our time frame. Therefore, we need to be patient and wait for His timing.
We must be mindful of the fact that in this world there are broken families, that is, families that for some reasons are raised by single parents. Behind, every broken family, there is a sad story. God knows all and the grace is given to turn the sad story into a great story. For our example, Abraham through Hagar, the maid of Sarah, his wife, has a son called Ismael. Ismael was already grown up when Isaac was born. With time, Hagar and Ismael had to break off from Abraham for Hagar to raise Ismael as a single parent. Genesis 21 verses 9 to 18 stated “9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. 10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.” 11 And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. 13 Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.”14 So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. 15 And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. 16 Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.17 And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”
Since Abraham household recorded a broken family, the Bible is encouraging such families to still look up to God because they are from Abraham lineage, the promise of Abraham is there’s as well. Such families are brought into the promises in Galatians 3:28 to 29 “28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Therefore, as fathers, let us imitate Abraham by 1) making God number one in our lives; 2) persevering and trusting, no matter the challenges because God is able to bring to pass what He has promised; 3)bringing up our children in godliness because our success in life depends on them.