Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight is study #4 of Genesis, chapter 18 and we are going to read Genesis 18:4-8:
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. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.
I will stop reading there. We have been going along, verse by verse, in the Book of Genesis and we have come to the point in the life of Abraham when God is appearing to him in the form of three men. We discussed this before and it is very obvious from the account that JEHOVAH and the “three men” are one and the same.
We are trying to learn as much as we can from the Bible because nothing in the Bible is just “incidental” or unimportant. Everything in the Word of God, the Bible, has significance and has great importance.
We saw in our last study that Abraham said, “Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree,” and this statement has a deeper, spiritual meaning. We went to Luke, chapter 7, as well as some places in the Old Testament, where the washing of feet was in view, especially with the sinner woman in Luke 7 who washed the Lord’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. We saw that the Greek word translated as “tears” was normally translated as “rain.” And it did not seem to make sense that she would “rain” his feet until we look at the deeper, spiritual meaning that we saw in Psalm 126. I will read this passage again 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.
The woman’s tears are as if she is bringing the precious water of the Gospel and that is exactly what the washing of feet points to, the bringing of the Word of God. Christ gave us an example of this in John 13:2-4:
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
Remember that the “supper” can identify with the Lord’s Supper, which identifies with the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, this statement that He “riseth from supper” points to the resurrection of Christ after His atoning death or after the demonstration of that death in 33 A.D. What happened right after that? The Gospel went out into the world as the Lord poured out the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
Here, we have Christ rising from supper and it goes on to say in John 13:5-10:
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
Again, after rising from supper, the first thing Jesus did was to begin to wash the disciples’ feet as a picture of the Gospel going forth into the world. That is what is portrayed by the washing of feet and that is why the sinner woman was “raining” Jesus’ feet with tears. When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost in Acts, chapter 2, what “rain” began at that time? It was the “early rain” that would fall throughout the church age for 1,955 years. The Lord Jesus was illustrating the Gospel going forth through His humble act of washing the disciples’ feet. And it is a humble thing to take water and wash someone’s feet and dry them. It is a very humble act that is a good illustration of the humility involved in bringing the Word of God to the unsaved people of the world: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Notice that Peter protested at first and said, “Thou shalt never wash my feet,” but Christ responded, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” To “wash” identifies with salvation and if Peter did not have his feet washed, he would have no part with the Lord Jesus. We find this word “part” used twice in the Book of Revelation and it will help us to understand why Christ said, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” It says in Revelation 20:6:
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Blessed and holy is the individual that had part in the first resurrection. What is the “first resurrection”? It is the resurrection of our Spirit because God has a two-part resurrection program, does He not? First, He sent forth the Gospel and we became saved in the inner man – we became born again. He resurrected our souls, which had been previously dead and He gave us a new heart and a new spirit. The implication is that there is a second resurrection (the resurrection of our bodies) and we know the Bible tells us about that, too.
The second time this word “part” is used is in Revelation, chapter 22 where God is giving a very stern warning in Revelation 22:18-19:
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
That is what Jesus was saying to Peter in John, chapter 13 when He made the statement, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Through these two verses in Revelation, we can clearly see that there would be no part in the Book of Life, no part in the holy city and no part in eternal life.
Again, the act of the washing of the feet is in itself just a symbol. There are churches that think they must literally do this. They think that at some point in the service or after the service, they have to get water and towels and show great humility by literally washing one another’s feet. Of course, they have it all wrong. You can literally wash someone’s feet, but not fulfill what Jesus was demonstrating in the washing of feet. It has to do with the spiritual water of the Word. Remember that in the Book of Ephesians it speaks of the “bride of Christ,” and the Lord moved the Apostle Paul to write this in regard to the eternal church, the elect, in Ephesians 5:26:
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
If the Lord had stopped there, many people would go get a bucket of water, but He did not stop there. And this is what God often does. He may speak of washing with water in dozens of places in the Bible, but in one or two instances He will provide a definition of what He means by that “washing.” Here, He does complete that spiritual application as He says in Ephesians 5:26: “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” because the Bible also says in Romans 10:17:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Yes, God speaks of literal water, but He expects the reader to have eyes to see or ears to hear, so the parables He spoke can penetrate the minds of those He is really speaking to, the elect. He expects them to understand because He will open their understanding to see that it is really not about the “washing of feet.” What good does that do? What kind of spiritual good does that do or what kind of grace does it impart? None – you could have your feet washed and you could put your sandals back on and go back out on the dusty road and, very quickly, your feet would be dirty again.
But when you are “washed” by the water of the Word, it is a different matter. As sinners, we have “naked feet,” which is the same as a naked body in the Bible, which spiritually points to our sins being naked before God, as we read in Hebrews 4:13: “…but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” We are made “naked” before the Lord Jesus Christ as He is the one who must wash the disciples’ feet. It is a picture of our sins being washed away. It is also ministering a part in the kingdom of God in the new heaven and new forth.
When Christ warned Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me,” Peter responded, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head,” but the illustration of spiritual nakedness is only dealing with the feet. God elsewhere speaks of complete nakedness, like the case was with Adam and Eve; after they sinned, they realized they were naked. But that is another historical parable.
Again, it says, “Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.” When Jesus added, “but not all,” it has reference to Judas and it also has reference to the wheat and the tares that dwelt together within the churches and the congregations. There were the elect who had their feet washed by Christ, as it were, in salvation, but there were also the non-elect that dwelt side by side with the elect, so Christ said, “but not all,” because the wheat and tares had to grow together until the harvest.
Then it says in John 13:11-17:
For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Do you see how Christ is working in the idea of being sent? In His example of washing one another’s feet, it is a picture of being sent forth with the Gospel.
Today some people say, “Jesus Himself must teach me. Jesus Himself must wash my feet. Jesus Himself must serve me.” That is what they are really saying. What pride and arrogance it is to insist that the LORD of Lords and KING of kings personally has to serve me before I will receive the bread. It is like someone that was present when Christ multiplied the loaves, waving the disciples away as they brought them the baskets of bread: “Oh, I do not want you to serve me. I want the Lord Himself to serve me. I do not want any go-between.” But, you see, God’s program must be followed. He started it all and then He sent His people to perform the duties. When the messengers of His kingdom come, some would say, “Chase them away! I want the King to come to serve me before I will partake.” You can see the extreme arrogance of that attitude and that is what some are doing today when they say, “No more teachers – just the Bible! God personally will speak to me.” Yes, God does speak to us as we compare Scripture with Scripture, but God opens the eyes of certain individuals here and there and then He causes that individual to share the truth of what they have learned with others and then the Holy Ghost teacheth.
In our next study, we are going to look at the rest of the passage where Abraham is eagerly trying to please the three men. He fetches bread and prepares a calf and sets forth milk and butter, and so forth. We will find that it goes along with the washing of feet or bringing forth the Word of God. In this case, it is being brought to God Himself and that brings up an interesting question. Why would Abraham provide water to wash God’s feet and provide all this food (the Gospel) to God Himself? In our next Bible study, we will try to answer that question.