Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight is study #1 of Genesis, chapter 18 and we are going to read Genesis 18:1-3:
And JEHOVAH appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
I will stop reading there. In our study of Genesis, we have entered a new chapter. In the previous chapter, Abraham, Ishmael and all the servants of Abraham’s house were circumcised and we spent some time looking at how this relates to the time of the end of the world. Historically, the circumcision of Abraham took place when he was 99 years old. We can pinpoint the year as 2068 B.C. and the next year Sarah would give birth to Isaac in 2067 B.C., but at this point in time Isaac had not yet been born and there was no indication that too much time had passed from chapter 17 to chapter 18, so we can be confident that this was still the year 2068 B.C. And that will be important because God will reveal to Abraham His intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the plain. Abraham will make intercession and in chapter 19 the Lord will proceed to destroy Sodom. Since God refers to that destruction in relationship to the end of the world, it is very significant for us to know that the year of Sodom’s destruction was 2068 B.C. The Biblical calendar of history is continuing to unfold, but before we get to the point where the focus turns to the cities of the plain we find that God made an appearance to Abraham. This appearance was unlike previous appearances because God revealed Himself in the form of “three men.” Notice it said in Genesis 18:1-2:
And JEHOVAH appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
JEHOVAH is the One that appeared to Abraham, but we read about “three men” and we will look more at verse 2 later and the spiritual meaning of God revealing Himself as “three men.” But in this study, we will be looking mostly at Genesis 18:1:
And JEHOVAH appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre…
Abraham is in the plains of Mamre because he had moved there. If we go back to Genesis 13, we see that Abram and his nephew Lot were divided and Lot went to dwell in Sodom and then we read in Genesis 13:18:
Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto JEHOVAH.
Abram moved to the plain of Mamre and the word “Mamre” is derived from another Hebrew word that is translated as “filthy” or “to lift up oneself.” I am not sure of the importance of this or how we can glean any spiritual understanding from it. We are also told that Mamre was in Hebron and this word means “company.” Again, it does not seem to tie in to any spiritual truth that I understand. It is something we can keep in mind and maybe at some future time it may make greater sense to us as the Lord opens our eyes.
So, Abram dwelt in the plain of Mamre and then it says at the end of Genesis 18:1:
… and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
The tent door and the phrase “heat of the day” are things we are curious about and we wonder if there is any spiritual application. The word “tent” is the from the same word translated as “tabernacle” in the Old Testament, relating to the tabernacle of the congregation. Later on, the Lord would instruct Moses and qualify certain individuals to perform the craftsmanship of the tabernacle under the oversight of Abraham during the wilderness sojourn. The word “tabernacle” means “tent” and it was the place where the arc of the covenant was kept and it signified the presence of God. God dwelt with Israel in the tent of the congregation and the dwelling of the Lord in Israel would continue even into the time of the period of the judges. The Lord would dwell in a tent in Shiloh.
It speaks of the “tent door” in Genesis 18:1, so we are interested in where those two words might occur together. It says in Leviticus 1:3:
If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before JEHOVAH.
Here, we see the word “door” and the word “tent” or tabernacle of the congregation.
It also says in Leviticus 4:4:
And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before JEHOVAH; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before JEHOVAH.
Also, it says in Leviticus 17:3-6:
What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto JEHOVAH before the tabernacle of JEHOVAH; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people: To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto JEHOVAH, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto JEHOVAH. And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of JEHOVAH at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto JEHOVAH.
In all these verses in Leviticus, God speaks of sacrifice being performed at the door of the tent or tabernacle of the congregation. We wonder why it was done at that location. Why is God making a point to let us know that sacrifice was to be done at the door of the tent? I think we will understand better if we turn to Exodus 40:12-15:
And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: And thou shalt anoint them,
as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
Here, Aaron and his sons would be a picture of Christ and His body of believers, especially since God said it would be an everlasting priesthood. This was not true of the physical sons of Aaron that were priests. Many of them died in their sins and their priesthood came to an end. It is only true of the “spiritual priests” or God’s elect; God designates everyone He saves as a “prophet, priest and king.”
Here, Aaron and his sons are brought to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation and they are washed there. Then God went on to speak about their ministry of performing the service of the priesthood, so we can see that this has everything to do with salvation. So, too, the sacrifices made at the door of the tabernacle that we read about earlier had to do with salvation. All the sacrifices point to the sacrifice of Christ, but Christ’s sacrifice was not performed for Himself, but it was done on behalf of the elect that were chosen by God before the foundation of the world. So, as Aaron and the priests are “washed” at the tent door, we can see the spiritual picture. At the door of the tabernacle, they have to be washed and then they can proceed into the tabernacle to perform their priestly duties.
Likewise, the elect of God are saved at the “door” of the kingdom of heaven or at the “door” of the spiritual house and after salvation, they can go about the business of performing their priestly spiritual duties. Remember what Jesus said in John 10:7-10:
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
This is the entrance into the kingdom of heaven. As Christ described earlier in the Gospel of John when He was speaking to Nathaniel, He said He was the ladder and the angels (messengers) of God ascend and descend upon that ladder. They go up to heaven (in salvation) to be seated with Christ Jesus in the heavenlies and then they descend as messengers of God to carry the Gospel to the world during the day of salvation. Likewise, Christ is the door and by Him they go in and out. It is the same purpose. They go “in” through salvation and then they go “out” with the Gospel.
That helps us to see why Abraham is sitting in the tent door. It is his tent and not the tent or tabernacle of the congregation, but Abraham is used as a figure of God Himself. Remember the parable in Luke 16 where Lazarus was “in the bosom of Abraham.” So, Abraham was a picture of God.
So, Abraham was at the tent door or the entrance point to the spiritual house of God and that entrance has always been the Bible. It was the “portal” that opened to allow an elect individual to come in and would minister entrance to them to the everlasting kingdom: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” There is that relationship between the Word and the Door. Christ is the Word made flesh and He is the door of the tabernacle.
Then it says that Abraham sat in the door of his tent in “the heat of the day.” When God makes a statement like this, it should cause our “ears to perk up.” We are curious about that. Why does God tell us the time of day? Is it really referring to the time of day? When is the heat of the day? Is it when the sun gets the hottest in the afternoon, or is it some other time? I think we will be able to see what is in view when we search out this phrase. For instance, let us go to 2Samuel 4:5:
And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who lay on a bed at noon.
Here, God is telling us exactly when they arrived. It was about “the heat of the day” and he lay on a bed at noon. Historically, that makes sense because when noon comes around the sun is often at its brightest, putting forth much heat, and it would be the time of “the heat of the day.” Of course, it would continue to be hot for some time into the afternoon.
We also find this phrase used in 1Kings 18 in the context of the amazing contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. We read in 1Kings 18:24-26:
And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of JEHOVAH: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
Let me make a correction. The phrase “the heat of the day” is not found here, but the word “noon” is found here, which God linked together with the phrase “the heat of the day” in 2Samuel 4. Then it goes on to say in 1Kings 18:27-29:
And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
The word “noon” also appears here and also the word “midday” is a translation of the same word translated as “noon” in verses 26 and 27. We find that the prophets of Baal were attempting to call down fire from heaven. They were attempting to bring the wrath of God down, as fire is often associated with the wrath of God. They had been attempting it since morning and then it tells us that noon was past and they continued to prophesy unto the evening sacrifice. Again, “the heat of the day” would be in view here because of its connection to “noon.”
But there is another place where we find the phrase “the heat of the day” in the New Testament, in Matthew, chapter 20 in the parable of the workers that were enlisted to labor on behalf of the householder. He put his workers to work at various time intervals during the day. It says in Matthew 20:1-5:
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
The day is a 12-hour day that began at 6 A.M., so the “sixth hour” would be noon and the “ninth hour” would be 3 P.M. So, the householder started the day early and hired others at noon and at 3 P.M. Then it says in Matthew 20:6:
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
Then he hired this last group at the eleventh hour. They were hired for “one hour” because the work day was 12 hours. The last group worked from the 11th hour to the 12th hour or from 5 P.M. to 6 P.M.
Then it says in Matthew 20:7-12:
And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
Here, we see the reference to “the heat of the day.” Because we have been granted insight of this parable that the 12 hours of the “day” has to do with the “day of salvation,” we know that the 11th to 12th hour is the “one hour” of the Great Tribulation period. Then the day of salvation ended and evening comes; the night comes when no man can work. It is Judgment Day. But the ones that worked from 6 A.M. or noon or 3 P.M. argued: “These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.” They were indicating that the last group hired at the 11th hour did not experience the burden of “the heat of the day,” so “the heat of the day” would not identify with the Great Tribulation, but it would identify with all the time prior to it.
This is curious. It is interesting to us, but we are running out of time in this study. Lord willing, we will discuss this further in our next Bible study in the wonderful Book of Genesis.