How do I know that the street corner prophet anticipating the soon destruction of everything I’ve known my entire life shouldn’t be taken seriously?
And yet I don’t.
I was made to love. You were made to love. Fearlessly.
Everything else will work itself out.
What was it like to be a Sodomite? What did this rabble of men want from strangers – mere passersby? Could it only be a matter of perversion? And if this is the way of Sodom, what is Lot doing there? It’s really hard to relate to this – is the caricature in my mind or actually in the Word?
Fear and desire are so closely related that they sometimes seem interwoven to me. Hate and objectification are unfriendly familiar but somehow curiously like desire and lust.
Hospitality is the stuff of community. Surrounding the stranger with a hope.
The juxtaposition of inhospitable and welcoming – using and loving – hating and saving makes stark the good from the evil. Though I haven’t done “that”, I have shown myself inhospitable, a user of people, a hater. So even Lot, whom I’ve always been more inclined to disdain than to revere, has something to teach me.
Perhaps I’ll share my table tonight with a stranger.
Lord give me freedom.
The angels mean to find out what these Sodomites are all about – if the report of them is true. Sleeping in the town square without protection should do the job.
I wonder how angels would fare in my town. There is blood even on my street corner. I have a sad suspicion it might not be better for angelic visitors today.
In protecting angels, Lot made his family candidates for salvation.
Vulnerability – it didn’t come without a cost.
Abraham bargains with God
It is strange how I can be with another person for hours enjoying fellowship but only at the time of close and departure do the things that really need to be said suddenly come out.
Destruction is once again coming to the earth. Evil will be purged. A city reprobate will be suddenly destroyed.
But why doesn’t Abraham just say, “Will You please save my nephew Lot from this coming destruction? That’s how I’d pray it.
Abraham is the father of faith.
I still don’t get it.
Abraham shows hospitality to three visitors.
The thing is, they stood there. They weren’t walking by. They stood nearby. Not approaching. Not departing. Not, for the moment, passing by. And when Abraham spotted them, he immediately ran to meet them.
In Abraham is utter hospitality.
In God is respectful yet unmediated proximity.
Where these two things meet is intimacy and creativity.
A promise, a child and laughter.
Ever the enigma, Abraham is willing to remove his own foreskin as a ninety nine year old man and preside over the removal of the foreskins of all the men in his household – based on the word of God which he heard commanding him to do it. No doubt. No circumventing. Just circumcision.
But when God affirms a promise that He has already made to Abraham in the past – laughter. Isaac, of course, is the Hebrew word for laughter.
Not laughter of joy, but of incredulity: “shall a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Or can Sarah give birth at ninety?” Already, he calls her Sarah, honoring God’s new name for her, but still laughs at God for affirming his promise.
Ishmael. Abraham has loved Ishmael. And God is already challenging this fixation.
This is hard to hear. This morning I know of another Ishmael. The cutting away is not far off. Will I be willing when it’s time to get to work?
Did I really chose to follow Jesus? Have I really been born again? They say there is a circumcision of the heart, an undeniable and irreversible manifestation of the change.
But as a sign and seal of a covenant relationship, this circumcision seems invisible. Abraham could see his circumcision. It was a constant reminder. It was always a part of his experience. He used it every day. He handled it every day. His sign and seal was undeniable.
Abraham inherited the land – and his faithful descendants with him. For them, the sign of covenant was more than a testimony. It was a claim to the benefits of the covenant – to the land.
So I think this circumcision of the heart is intended to be likewise. I can enter into the promise of a kingdom that never leaves me. I can dwell there. I can use it every day.
It’s a choice I make, or not.
Sarai knows the vision, the promise. She wants to agree. She orders her environment. All that she’s been given moved with the goal to achieve, to enter into the promise, as best she sees it possible. Hagar has little power. Then things change. She also recognizes, values, and orders that which she has been given.
No one is adequate to the circumstances. Everyone feels wronged in some way.
An angel comes.
Drama followed by what must happen anyway. Still this power is undeniable and must be exercised, must be discharged. Why? How?
Yesterday someone asked me why I bother with the scriptures. “Knowing these things”, it was said, “can make no difference in the way life is lived.”
In this moment I simultaneously feel as confused as Hagar and as vexed as Sarai – and then an angel shows up. Just for the moment.
Breathe out. Like Hagar, Sarai and Abram – I go on. No wiser, but no less determined. Still, I have to admit, something has changed.
A covenant was made by God with Abram. Then overwhelming darkness and an urge to work things out. Abram took Hagar to be a concubine.
We are, it seems, like water when we have a vision. There is no manner of effort we will not put forth in response to the primordial urge to be satisfied in the realization of our dreams.
Sometimes a damned up river will find flow in circuitous and counter-intuitive rivulets. An otherwise imperceptible lowness is made manifest under this pressure. Often, it’s not very becoming, even if it is inevitable.
If I had thought about things more carefully, I’d probably have built a sluice. Oh, but I wasn’t supposed to be talking about myself.
It is interesting Abram’s response to the king of Sodom, “Lest you should say, ‘I made Abram rich'” Abram did not want the reputation.
Even though he proved himself a man of valor and might -celebrated and blessed by Melchizedek, Abram was looking to the promise of God alone.
His wealth was already great. He doesn’t seem to care about power over men. He just wanted to enter into the promise of God. He feared that he had misunderstood, misinterpreted what he had heard back in Ur. There wasn’t any more that he could do.
Affirmation. It’s still coming. I believe. This is righteousness.