A Portrait of Divine Fellowship
And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
This is a glorious passage that paints a picture of a humble, generous, and loving man pouring out his faithful devotion to the Lord. This passage was crafted to describe the posture of Abrahams heart. This passage also demonstrates the humility of God and the reciprocated affection that YHVH had for His precious Abraham. Ultimately the author seeks to articulate the depth of intimacy and fellowship Abraham enjoyed with God.
Hospitality was a cultural practice in the Ancient Near East. One would often open their tent up to weary travelers and offer them food and board. Usually this act of generosity and kindness was an expression of peace between the host and the guest. An offering if you will, made in the hopes of peaceful relations. Here the concept of hospitality is used as an agent to depict the relationship between YHVH and Abraham.
Abraham runs to his guests, thus recognizing that these were no mere travelers, but indeed the Lord Himself. Abraham bows down, not merely a formality, but a heartfelt expression of humble worship. Abraham desires to wait on the Lord, to take Him into his tent, to serve Him, and to guard His presence with his very life. When one took in a stranger it was the hosts responsibility to protect the traveler from potential threat, and lay his life down for the stranger. This expresses Abraham’s devotion to the Lord. This demonstrates that Abraham sought to pour out his love for the Lord in a tangible expression of generosity, service, and care.
YHVH humbles Himself here, for the Lord is the true Host. The One who cares for us. But in love God allows Himself to be served and attended to by Abraham. God was honoring the desire of Abraham to serve Him. Thus God humbles Himself and allows His friend to wait on Him. Abraham spared no expense and went as far as to offer fresh bread, a tender calf, and a mixture of milk and yogurt. Abraham then stood by ready and waiting to meet their needs.
This passage depicts the submission of both God to Abraham and Abraham to God. This mutual accommodation is a vivid image of fellowship and intimacy. This tells us what it looks like to be friends of God. We too humbly bow before Him, and in honor of His kindness expressed towards us through the amazing gift of His son, we seek to serve Him by pouring out our own genuine devotion. In like manner, our Father humbles Himself and allows us to pour out our affection on Him in honor of the purity of our love for Him. We too have been invited to face to face fellowship and intimacy with God. We are called to His own table where we are told He will serve us (Lk 12:37).
Relationship with God is not a one sided affair. We do not labor in order to please a hard and unpredictable deity, rather we serve a God whose desire is to serve us. Thus, true intimacy with God is expressed in this mutual submission between us and Him. We pour out our affection and in return He does the same. This is love in action! Everything we do for the Lord is a response to the kindness and tenderness He has expressed to us in the giving of His Son. We have found favor in His eyes, and from that place of favor, we honor Him.