The Visitation of Abraham (Gen 18:1-8)


In this passage, Abraham revealed the aspects of his character that led to God promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. These characteristics were his hospitality and his spiritual discernment.

Abraham was sitting at noon in front of the door of his tent (v. 1). He did this to extend his hospitality to anyone travelling past. This alone is extraordinary: the intensity of the heat of the Middle East at midday indicates the level of holiness that Abraham had achieved, being prepared to suffer on behalf of others in a way which was then unprecedented.

It is his spirit of hospitality that is manifest throughout this passage, a spirit St John Chrysostom describes as “intense”. He notes that Abraham, old as he was at that time, ran to welcome and to bow down before his guests (v. 2). Furthermore, when Abraham receives his visitors, he brings water for drinking and for the washing of feet, bread, cakes, meat and milk and butter (v. 4-8). This level of hospitality makes clear the love and humility of Abraham.

Abraham’s high level of spiritual discernment can be seen in his reaction to God when He appears before him in the form of three angels. He was immediately able to recognise God, a sign of the spiritual heights he had achieved even at that stage before the Binding of Isaac.

God appeared as three angels to Abraham, who addressed them as “Lord” (v. 3). He recognised that God is one, even though He appeared before him as three persons. The full revelation of God as Holy Trinity would have to wait centuries later until the coming of Christ to be manifest, showing even from such an early time Abraham’s remarkable faith and discernment.


Source: Lychnos October/November 2017