January 14.—Morning. [Or January 27.]
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
AND the Lord appeared unto Abraham in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
2 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,
3, 4, 5 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.
Abraham here became an example of hospitality, and thereby entertained angels unawares. He ran to meet the strangers, he saluted them respectfully, welcomed them heartily, and even made a favour to himself of their resting near his tent. Ungenerous spirits who never entertain either God’s servants or the poor, miss many a blessing. May we never be a churlish household.
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.
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.
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. (The noble old man waited with pleasure upon the strangers. He spoke of a morsel of bread, but he made a feast. He was all kindness, goodness, and humbleness of mind: at once a true nobleman and a believer in God. Such are the fruits of elevated piety. Would to God we saw them in all professors.)
9 ¶ And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.
Where she should be. She was a worthy wife of her worthy husband, and therefore cheerfully aided him in providing for the guests. She was at that moment busy with household duties. We are in the way of blessing when we are in the way of duty. Abraham must have wondered how the chief one of the three strangers knew the name of his wife.
10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age.
12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? (Here was unbelief, which can express itself as much in a laugh as in a cry.)
13 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son (What an encouraging question is that. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Our family troubles, cares, and needs are not beyond the power and wisdom of our heavenly Father. Let us not despair, but in faith cast our burden upon him.)
15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.
He who discerns all hearts could not be deceived. See how honest Holy Scripture is, for it records the faults even of the best of the saints; and yet how tender is the Spirit of God, for in the New Testament Sarah’s fault is not mentioned, for it had been forgiven and blotted out, but the fact that she called her husband “lord” is recorded to her honour. We serve a gracious God who, when our hearts are right, commends our good fruit, and leaves the untimely figs to drop out of notice. Let us be careful not to mar the joy of his promises and his grace by any unseemly expressions or actions. It would be a sad remembrance for us amid the recollections of divine love, to have to confess that we laughed at the promise.
The thing surpasses all my thought;
But faithful is my Lord;
Through unbelief I stagger not,
For God hath spoke the word.
Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries, “It shall be done!”
January 14.—Evening. [Or January 28.]
“Pray without ceasing.”
Genesis 18:16, 17; 22–33
AND the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
17 And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? (One of the three was the Lord himself, who for the time had taken upon him a human form. It may be that Jesus, who was one day to be born a man, thus anticipated his incarnation. Truly, “his goings forth were of old.” What condescension was this on Jehovah’s part that he would make Abraham his confidential friend! He is willing to do the same with us, for even now “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.”)
22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
Two angels went to Sodom, but the third, the Lord of angels, staid to commune with Abraham, his friend.
23 ¶ And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (When we are favoured with close access to God we should use it for intercession on the behalf of others. Note the arguments the patriarch used. We also should bring forth our strong reasons when we plead. The Lord is moved with pleas like those of Abraham. Undoubtedly he saves wicked nations for the sake of the saints who dwell among them, and, indeed, all the saved are forgiven not for their own sakes but for Jesus’ sake.)
26 And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.
In our boldest pleadings we must not forget what poor creatures we are, and how condescending it is on the Lord’s part to let us plead with him.
28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. (The Lord kept pace with his servant, being quite as willing to answer as he was to ask.)
29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.
30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.
32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.
There is a time to keep silent as well as a time to speak. Abraham had gone as far as the Spirit of the Lord guided him, and he did not attempt to go further.
33 And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
Had there been but the small remnant of ten, Sodom and Gomorrah would have escaped. See then how precious the saints are to a nation. They may be unknown or despised, but they are the salt which preserves the whole. May our family be a part of that good salt; parents, children, and servants, all being through divine grace numbered with the righteous. But we must first have salt in ourselves by possessing a living faith in the Lord Jesus; otherwise we cannot benefit others, for we are not even saved ourselves.
Our guilt might draw thy vengeance down
On every shore, on every town:
But view us, Lord, with pitying eye,
And lay thy lifted thunder by.
Forgive the follies of our times,
And purge our land from all its crimes:
Reform’d and deck’d with grace divine,
Let Britain yet arise and shine.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 27–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.