Monday, April 27, 2020 -
John 1:18 says, “No man has seen God at any time.” But you may ask, what about Abraham in Genesis 18? The first verse says, “Now the Lord appeared to him [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.”
This is a prologue to the rest of Genesis 18, for we see in the next verses that a total of three men appear, “And when he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said ‘My Lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by.’”
So, Abraham immediately realized this was no ordinary visit by strangers, but a divine visit! How did he know? Well, for one thing, verse two doesn’t say Abraham noticed them from a distance coming toward him. Rather, he lifted his eyes and they were just “standing opposite him.”
At first, one might think this was the entire trinity appearing in human form, but this is not the case. Besides, if no man has seen God, as John 1:18 says, that includes Abraham. Furthermore, Jesus tells us in John 8:56, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and it was glad.” Hence, the Lord Jesus was one who appeared before Abraham in Genesis 18, the one called Lord and addressed by Abraham as such, as well as by the human author, Moses. After all, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) John 1:1 and John 17:5 both state very clearly that Jesus was before the world was. Paul says by Jesus all things were created and that He holds all things together (Colossians 1:16-17).
So, how do we know the other two are angels? In verse 16, we see that Abraham was walking with them to send them off toward Sodom, but the Lord hangs back to discuss His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah with Abraham while the men turned away from them toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord (verse 22). It is not until Genesis 19:1 that we learn the identity of the two men, for there it clearly states that the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and approach Lot to warn them of the impending judgment.
And so, we find the exact identity of the three mysterious visitors by examining the text a little closer and into the next chapter.
Another little thing to think about is the Lord discussing with the angels whether or not to disclose His plans to Abraham to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Thanks to “W” for helping to decipher this!