Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight is study #3 of Genesis, chapter 18 and we are going to read Genesis 18:2-5:
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: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
In our last study, we were discussing the “three men” and we saw it identified with God Himself, especially as we read in 1John 5:7 of the Father, the Word (the Son) and the Holy Ghost and that these three are One. That is the doctrine of the Trinity. God is One God, but reveals Himself as three Persons. We will not go further in to all the many proofs that the Bible gives concerning this fact, but we will show here that these “three men” identify with JEHOVAH.
As I mentioned before verse 1 said that JEHOVAH appeared unto him and verse 2 said, “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him.” So, it was said that JEHOVAH appeared to Him but we read of “three men” and this is not the only place we see this kind of thing in this chapter and I am going to go to some verses that show that JEHOVAH and these men are interchangeable. For example, it says in Genesis 18:9-10:
And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.
He (God) is speaking in verse 10, but in verse 9 it said that “they” spoke unto Abraham.
Then it says in Genesis 18:13-17:
And JEHOVAH said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for JEHOVAH? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And JEHOVAH said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
So, we read of JEHOVAH and then it refers to the men rising up and looking toward Sodom and then it turns right back to JEHOVAH. Again, it is because they are interchangeable.
It says in Genesis 18:20-21:
And JEHOVAH said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
This is JEHOVAH speaking in the first Person and saying He would go down to Sodom. Then it says in Genesis 18:22:
And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before JEHOVAH.
There is no other way of understanding this passage, except to realize that these “three men” represent Eternal God Himself, JEHOVAH God. He is revealing Himself as three Persons because God is a Triune God – three Persons, but One God.
Let us read Genesis 18:3-4:
And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:
Abraham is making an interesting Biblical point regarding the washing of feet: “Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet.” We know the New Testament speaks of washing the feet, so it is interesting that we see it here as He requests that favor be found in God’s sight. When we search the Bible for any examples of “foot washing,” we do not have to go very far because we find it in the next chapter. It says in Genesis 19:1:
And there came two angels to Sodom at even…
Again, this is Eternal God who came in the form of three men in chapter 18, but in chapter 19 He arrives in Sodom and we read of only two messengers. That is a curiosity. Why did not all three men go? We will discuss this later when we go, verse by verse, through chapter 19. So the two messengers (God) came to Sodom at even and then it says in Genesis 19:1:
… and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
Lot sat in the gate or door of Sodom, just as Abraham sat in the door of his tent. Lot bowed himself with his face toward the ground, just as Abraham did in Genesis 18:2:
…and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
We find that Lot conducted himself in a very similar way to Abraham because that would be the response of an elect child of God toward God. First, we are positioned in the “door” or the “gate,” and that would identify with the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, we bow unto God and the word “bow” is translated as “worship” several times.
Then it goes on to say in Genesis 18:3:
And he said, Behold now, my lords…
By the way, we should not think that Lot referring to God as “my lords” is anything out of order. Abraham referred to “my Lord,” and Lot is using the plural address, “my Lords.” Both are accurate. God is One God, so we can refer to Him as JEHOVAH or Lord (singular) and God showed Himself to Lot as two messengers and, therefore, the use of the word “Lords” is accurate. Then it goes on to say in Genesis 19:2-3:
… turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.
Abraham had also wanted to fetch them a morsel of bread and feed them. This is a typical reaction of God’s elect children when we understand the meaning of the “water” and the “washing of feet” and providing bread or food. Lot is behaving in a similar way to his uncle Abraham. Again, we are reading of “washing of feet,” so let us follow this idea in the Bible and see if we can get a better understanding of “washing of feet.”
You know, there are many churches that take the Bible literally and they see in the New Testament that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and then He said, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” I visited a church once where they literally washed one another’s feet. I guess that is a nice thing to do and you would leave with very clean feet, but it is not called for and it is not what Christ was teaching. He spoke in parables and without a parable He did not speak, so the basis of what Jesus did is laid out in the Old Testament. There are several instances of invitations to wash feet and foot washing.
In Genesis 24 we find a servant of Abraham that was sent to find a wife for Isaac, so he went to the land of Haran and the house of Laban. It says in Genesis 24:31-33:
And he said, Come in, thou blessed of JEHOVAH; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels. And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men’s feet that were with him. And there was set meat before him to eat…
Again, it was customary to wash their feet. The roads of ancient days were very dusty and people wore sandals, so their feet would get very dirty. It was a polite thing to offer guests water to wash their feet. We read about this in the Book of Judges, which was hundreds of years after the days of Abraham and Lot. After Israel had been established as a nation hundreds of years later, we also read in Judges 19:18-21:
And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of JEHOVAH; and there is no man that receiveth me to house. Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing. And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street. So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.
First, they were received into the house. He washed their feet and gave them food and drink. This was very customary when entering a house. In the case of Abraham, he dwelt in a tent and he was in the door of his tent when the three men stood by him and, yet, it was Abraham’s house and water was given to wash the feet of the sojourners. Lot, too, brought them into his house and provided water to wash their feet. The servant that went on a journey to find a wife for Isaac was offered water to wash his feet by Laban. In this case in Judges, the Levite had been traveling and he was brought into the house and his feet were washed. So being received into the house would often be accompanied by the washing of feet.
Therefore, it is not surprising to read about an incident in the New Testament where Christ was invited into a Pharisee’s house. It says in Luke 7:36-39-50:
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
Here, we find that Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house, but He was given no water to wash His feet: “Thou gavest me no water for my feet.” From what we can gather, this was apparently a rude thing for a host that invited a guest into his house. The streets of Jerusalem would have been just as dusty and dirty as the streets in the days of Abraham and, yet, no water was provided for the Lord Jesus’ feet. But a woman was there – a sinner – and it says that she “stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” Jesus likened this to someone whose sins had been forgiven and she is expressing great love. At the same time, He likened the Pharisee that offered no water for the washing of feet to someone that has few sins forgiven and, actually, none of his sins were forgiven. The truth is that all people are terrible sinners and we all have multitudes of sins as we sin against God in thought, word and deed in day, after day, after day. Our sins have become mountains and, yet, for the self-righteous (like the Pharisee) that think they are right with God based on their own good works and they do not see their mountains of sins because they are blinded by their self-righteousness.
On the other hand, this woman could have been a harlot and, apparently, her sins were obvious to others and also to herself. She had no covering of her own self-righteousness, so she went to the Lord and the Lord forgave her sins. Her act of wiping His feet with tears was a demonstration of someone having a great multitude of sins that were forgiven through the blood of Christ and being saved by grace. She was showing her love in return for the Lord.
The washing of feet, therefore, was a picture of sharing the Gospel. As we had our sins forgiven in the day of salvation, we sought that others would have their sins forgiven and we brought the Gospel with the “water that washes the feet.” The water of the Gospel could wash away the filth of sin from an individual, spiritually.
There is something interesting in Luke 7 about the word translated as “wash,” which was found twice in this passage, in verse 38 and in verse 41. This word is found seven times in the New Testament. Twice it is translated as “wash” or “washed” and five times it is translated elsewhere as “rain,” like rain from heaven in Matthew 5:45:
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
This is the same word as our word that was translated as “wash.”
It is also found in James 5:17:
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
On other time it is used in referring to the “two witnesses,” in Revelation 11:6:
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
The King James translated this word as “rain” a few times, but God controlled that situation and He allowed them to translate some words in ways that would hide truth. God permitted this word that is normally translated as “rain” to be translated as “wash” and we can see why the King James translators translated it as “wash” even though it is translated everywhere else as “rain.” So, it would have said: “And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to rain his feet with tears.” It does not seem to make sense until we understand the spiritual implication as the sending forth of the Gospel. Remember, we spent some time looking at the “time to weep” and the “time to laugh.” We saw that “weeping” had to do with salvation. It says in Psalm 126:5-6:
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Very clearly, the spiritual picture is that the women’s tears is “rain” and it is raining on the feet of Christ, so she is sowing the Gospel seed with tears because she had found forgiveness and the mercy and love of God and, therefore, she was demonstrating her love by going forth with the rain of the Gospel. She was exalted into the heavenlies in salvation and she was a messenger of God that ascended on the ladder of Christ and then (immediately) descended to bring that Gospel to the people of the world in the day of salvation.