Genesis Chapter 18 Series, Part 5, Verses 5-8

Since “butter” led us to the “milk,” then what does the milk represent?
  • | Chris McCann
  • Audio: Length: 26:50
  • Passages covered: Genesis 18:5-8, Job 31:16, Job 31:17, Genesis 18:6,
    Numbers 11:7-8, Genesis 18:7, Leviticus 1:5, Leviticus 1:9, Genesis 18:8,
    Proverbs 30:33, Judges 4:17-19, Judges 5:24-25, Isaiah 55:1, 1Peter 2:2-3,
    Matthew 25:34-35, Matthew 25:37-40.

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Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight is study #5 of Genesis, chapter 18 and we are going to read Genesis 18:5-8:

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.

Keep in mind that this is an historical account of God appearing to Abraham in the form of “three men.” The three men came to Abraham as he was sitting in his tent door. He had fetched water to wash their feet and we saw that this represented the going forth of the Gospel. Now Abraham is concerned that they would have a meal, so he told Sarah to make cakes upon the hearth and he ran to the herd to get a calf that was tender and good and gave it to one of his servants to dress it. He also took butter, milk and the calf and set it before the three men and the men ate everything that was set before them.

We know the three men are God, so our question is why Abraham is setting forth this food before God and why God is partaking of it. That is the curious thing about this passage. God did not stop him and God did not say that there was no need for these things to be set before Him, but He allowed Abraham to do all this and we read that they did eat. Of course, these three men point to the Trinity, the triune nature of Almighty God. That is why He appeared to Abraham in the form of three men.

When this all started, Abraham fetched some water so they could wash their feet and we saw that this identified with the sending forth of the Gospel. Now he wanted to fetch a morsel of bread so they could eat and comfort their hearts and then they could pass on. The “morsel of bread” relates to all the things that were set before them, including the butter, milk and calf. The word “morsel” is found in Job, chapter 31. Since we will be looking at several of these words, I will only read one related verse for each one.

The word “morsel” appears in the Book of Job and Job is a type and figure of Lord Jesus Christ. It says in Job 31:16:

If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;

We recognize this language regarding the “poor” and the “widow,” which point to the elect. It goes on to say in Job 31:17:

Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;

The “fatherless,” as well as the “poor” and the “widow,” are often used to represent the people of God. Job did not do these things, so it indicates that Christ has not withheld the Gospel from the poor, the widows and the fatherless, typified by not withholding the “morsel.” It would have been like holding back the Gospel from the elect and that would never be the case. Going back to Genesis 18, the word “morsel” does identify with the Gospel and you can look up other verses that indicate this to be the case, too.

Then it says in Genesis 18:6:

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.

What do the “cakes” point to? This word “cakes” is also found in Numbers 11:7-8:

And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.

The manna is the bread from heaven that identifies with the Lord Jesus Christ and Christ is the Word made flesh. It identifies with the Word of God, the Bible. They made “cakes” of it and that is the same word. Just like a “morsel” of meat or bread point to the Gospel, so, too, do the cakes that Abraham instructed Sarah to make.

It goes on to say in Genesis 18:7:

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.

The word translated as “calf” is a compound word in the Hebrew and it literally means, “son of a bull.” This compound word is found in a few places. We will just look at Leviticus 1:5:

And he shall kill the bullock before JEHOVAH: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

The “bullock” is literally the “son of a bull.” Then it goes on to explain what will happen with the bullock that was killed. It is a burnt sacrifice, as it says in Leviticus 1:9:

… and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto JEHOVAH.

The “calf” or “son of a bull” in Genesis 18 is a sacrifice and all the sacrifices the Lord instructed the Israelites to make point to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we send forth the Gospel, what does the Gospel point to, ultimately? It points to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We could lookup many verses that use this word translated as “calf” and we would see it points to a sacrifice. So, when Abraham ran unto the herd and picked out a calf “tender and good,” it points to the good and sinless nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. Abraham giving the calf to the young man to dress it is a picture of Christ being slain and as the Gospel went forth it was through His sacrifice that the sins of the elect were covered.

Then it goes on to say in Genesis 18:8:

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.

We do not read about the “morsel of bread” being set before them, but just the calf, milk and butter. That is why I said earlier that the morsel of bread really identifies with these other things. Let us look up the words “butter” and “milk.”

When we look up the word “butter,” we find in Proverbs 30:33:

Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

Here, God is telling us where butter comes from. It comes from the churning of milk, so butter and milk are linked. We find this same connection in Judges, chapter 4 when Jael has an encounter with Sisera who had fled to her tent. It says in Judges 4:17-19:

Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

He desired water. She gave him milk. Then we read in Judges, chapter 5 that Deborah is singing a song of victory and recounting the wonderful action Jael took in killing Sisera. We read in Judges 5:24-25:

Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent. He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.

Since “butter” led us to the “milk,” then what does the milk represent?

He asked for water and she gave him milk and it says in Proverbs: “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter,” and God has tied the two together. So, when we read that Abraham set forth butter and milk and the calf he had dressed before his guests, we can understand that the butter and milk are closely joined together. Since “butter” led us to the “milk,” then what does the milk represent?

Of course, we know that since this is the Word of God, the Bible, and we know that Christ spoke in parables and this is exactly how God wants us to learn from the Bible to understand the teaching of the Word of God. We take each word and we see where it leads us. We search until we find the Gospel dimension or the spiritual dimension of the word that is in view and the Bible itself provides the spiritual definition for each word. In the world, when we learn a language, like English, we have to learn the alphabet. Then we have to learn words and the meanings of the words. There are dictionaries and it gives us the meaning of these words and teachers instruct the students about word meanings. When we have learned what a word means and we read a story, book or magazine, we have the ability to put together the words and their meanings to gain understanding.

This is the problem for multitudes of people that come to the Bible, but they have not learned the Biblical language. They have not taken the time to do so. They have not “gone back to kindergarten” to learn the Biblical words. We do that by comparing Scripture with Scripture and we search out a word to find the spiritual definition and then we are able to apply that definition when we read the Bible. When we understand the spiritual definitions that only the Spirit of God can provide through that delicate and careful process, then we are able to read the Bible on that other level, the spiritual level. That is what we are doing here as we look up these words like “butter,” “calf,” “morsel” and “cakes.”

When we look up the word “milk,” we find it says in Isaiah 55:1:

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Here, it first mentions “water” and then it mentions “milk.” Sisera asked Jael for water and she gave him milk. They both paint to the same thing, the Word of God. You may wonder why she gave the Word of God to Him and then killed him. The answer to that is that the Word of God is a two-edged sword. It brought salvation in the day of salvation, but it also can bring judgment and in the case of Sisera, it judged him. The Word of God was judging Sisera and he died at the hands of Jael.

So, we find that “milk” has to do with the Word of God, the Bible. I want to read something about milk in the New Testament because it is fairly straight-forward. This is how we learn the meaning of Biblical words. Sometimes, words in the English language can have two or three different meanings, depending on the context, so we have to be careful because context is also key. It says in 1Peter 2:2-3:

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

It directly says “milk of the word” here. So, basically, it involved everything Abraham was running around to fetch. He instructed Sarah to make cakes, the Word of God. He instructed his servant to dress a calf, the Word of God. He set forth milk and butter, the Word of God.

Historically, I am sure this food was very good. It was freshly made and delicious. However, more than that, the Word of God is the supreme food. It is spiritual food and it is absolutely the best thing you could give to a guest. And these three men are guests. They are strangers. Of course, Abraham knew it was Almighty God in the form of three men, but they were still guests. They made an appearance to Abraham in a fashion he had not seen before, so he is just meeting them and he is anxious to set forth a goodly meal. It is what every child of God should have set forth for every “stranger” we met. Remember that verse in the Book of Hebrews that spoke of entertaining “angel” or “messengers” unawares. We were very hospitable when we shared the Word of God and hoped that some would become saved. When we share the Word of God in the Day of Judgment, we hope that we are feeding some of the sheep. In either case, it is our desire to set forth the Word of God.

After Abraham set the food before them, it says in Genesis 18:8:

…and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Now this is the last part of the “mystery.” Whenever we read of “mystery” in the Bible, it simply means it is a parable, the hidden truth of the Word of God. The mystery here is why God is eating and what is in view? The answer is found in Matthew 25 in a parable that identifies with the end of the world and Judgment Day. The sheep are on the right hand and the goats are on the left hand. Then it says in Matthew 25:34-35:

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

All three of these things applied to our historical parable. Abraham fed them a calf. He gave them milk to drink. They were strangers and he took them in. Lot did the same thing in Genesis, chapter 19.

But, here in Matthew 25 Jesus said that He was personally hungry, in need of meat and a stranger. He is speaking to the sheep that are on His right hand and He tells them that they fed Him. They were curious why Jesus said this, so they asked him in Matthew 25:37-40:

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

That is the picture. Here, the Lord Jesus is saying, “If you have brought the Gospel to any of the elect, my brethren, at any point in history, it is like you brought it to me, personally.” So, in the case of Abraham, the reverse was true. When God in the form of three men made an appearance before Abraham, Abraham fed them. He gave them milk to drink and he was hospitable to the “strangers.” It is as if Abraham is bringing the Gospel to God’s elect. The bringing of the Gospel in the day of salvation found the lost sheep of the house of Israel and they were spiritually fed.

This is the spiritual picture in this historical parable in this passage in Genesis 18. We are going to continue our study in Genesis 18, starting with verse 9, in our next Bible study.