Genesis 17-19

Summary
In Genesis chapter 17, God renews the covenant with Abram, and changes his name to Abraham, in recognition of a greater blessing. Circumcision is instituted. Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah, and she is blessed. Isaac is promised, and the time of his birth fixed. Abraham and Ishmael are circumcised.

In Genesis chapter 18, The Lord appears to Abraham, who entertains angels. Sarah is reproved for laughing at the promise of a son. The destruction of Sodom is revealed to Abraham. Abraham makes intercession for the inhabitants.

In Genesis chapter 19,  Lot entertains two angels. The vicious Sodomites are smitten with blindness. Lot is warned, and in vain warns his sons-in-law. He is directed to flee with his family to the mountains, but obtains leave to go into Zoar. Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. Lot’s wife becomes a pillar of salt. Lot dwells in a cave. The incestuous origin of Moab and Ammon.

Prayers and Insight
When Abraham was 99 years old, God appeared to Abram and said, “I am El Shaddai (God Almighty)” (17:1). So learn two things in your walk with God. God will show Himself to you when you worship Him and do His will, just as He did to Abraham. Second, when God has a special task for you to do, He will show you something about Himself that you may not have known previously.

  • Lord, what do You want me to do today? Or what do You want me to do for the rest of my life? I wait for an answer in Your presence. I will worship as I wait, because I know You manifest Yourself to those who worship You. Amen.

God reaffirmed His covenant to Abraham (first revealed in 12:2, 3). Abraham was to have a son by Sarah, his wife. This son-Isaac-would be the one through whom God would bless the world. (The Jews would be the source of the Scriptures, the Messiah, and the people of God.) In obedience, Abraham was to be circumcised and all his male children and servants (17:10-14). This was to be a sign of separation from the unsaved world.

  • Lord, I will be baptized to show the difference between me and those who will not believe nor identify with Your death, burial, and resurrection. I will often drink the cup of communion and eat the broken bread to remind me of my allegiance to you. Amen.

Immediately after God told Abraham his life-defining purpose, Abraham did what so many of us do. He resisted God’s plan. God’s plan was Isaac. We mess up the moment, when we try to substitute our selfish desires in place of God’s perfect will for our life. Abraham prayed for Ishmael to have a prominent place in his life. Often we try to put our selfish ambitions right up next to God’s plan for our life.

  • Lord, sometimes I’m blinded and I pray for the wrong things that will divert me from serving You. Forgive my blindness and stupidity. Don’t hear my selfish prayer. Make me do Your perfect will, and make me do it willingly. Amen.

Abraham’s prayer represents one of the greatest examples in Scripture of intercession for people who are exposed to God’s judgment. It began when God invited Abraham to stand in the gap between lost people and His judgment. This reveals Abraham’s compassion for his nephew Lot (who had selfishly chosen better land, chapter 13), but it also reveals his compassion for all lost people.

  • Lord, give me an opportunity to pray for my friends and family who are out of Your will. Amen.

Abraham based his prayers on God’s character “I know that You, as Judge of the world, will do what is right” (18:25). Abraham did not base his prayers on his persistence, his faith, or his family relationship. What better prayer can we make than to base it on the character of God? “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).

  • Lord, I pray for my unsaved family and friends because You love them, Jesus died for them, and You are not willing that any should perish. Amen.

Abraham kept interceding because he had a deep burden for prayer. (His burden deepened because Lot was a relative, and Abraham’s interceding became intense because of God’s willingness to negotiate in prayer. However, Abraham stopped interceding before God stopped answering.

  • Lord, thank You for a “prayer burden” you’ve given me. Without a “burden” to express in intercession, I might give up before I get the answer I seek. Amen.

Abraham began to intercede because God gave him the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of lost people. Abraham asked God to withhold judgment if 50 righteous, then 45, 40, 30, 20, or 10 were found in Sodom. This prayer interchange shows as much about God’s heart as it does about Abraham’s persistence. When we struggle in prayer, we intercede against our tendency to give up, and against satan’s resistance, and against God’s nature to judge sin.

  • Lord, I pray for unsaved family and friends to be saved. I pray for the unsaved to come under the shelter of Your grace before judgment comes. Amen.

God planned to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot couldn’t believe God would do it. Instead of running for his life he hesitated (19:16), and the angels had to drag him away (19:16). Then Lot didn’t want to escape to the mountains. He wanted to go to another town. Have you ever resisted God in prayer? It’s an oxymoron to say, “Not so, Lord.” If He is your Lord, you can’t tell Him “No!” If you call Him Lord, then He must control every part of your life.

  • Lord, forgive me when I resist Your plan for my life. I yield again to You; Your will be done. I yield to You for this day, do Your will in my life today. Amen.

Why did the angels tell Lot, “Run for your lives, and don’t look back”? (19:17). Because looking back is the first step toward going back. Also if you look back, it means your heart is back there. Your look reflects who you really are and where you really want to be. So what happened? Lot’s wife looked back. She didn’t want to go back to Sodom; she was still there. Taking a drunk person out of the tavern doesn’t make him sober; he won’t be sober until you take the tavern out of him.

  • Lord, thank You for saving me and taking me away from sin; but do a sanctifying work in me. Take a desire for sin out of me. Amen.

Sources

  • Bible Summary – Adapted from The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge by R. A. Torrey
  • Insights and Prayers – Adapted from The Prayer Bible