Abraham looked up and saw three men.
Chapter 18 of Genesis is such that it requires at least two comments to do it justice and the first is hospitality.
The nomadic people of the Middle East are renowned for their hospitality and we see it here in Abraham with the blessings that come from it.
Abraham is resting at the heat if the day and he sees ‘three men standing nearby.’ It would appear that they had not approached him as they were nearby rather than having come to him at his tent but that notwithstanding Abraham goes out of his way to approach them and offer rest and refreshment on their journey.
He sees three men (Angels are usually taken for men in the Bible until their words or deeds prove them otherwise. IVP New Bible Commentary) so at this point there is nothing to suggest that Abraham even suspected that they were heavenly messengers nor that one turns out to be God human form.
This therefore is a beautiful example of the principle spelled out by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 13 v 2
Do not forget to entertain strangers for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
Was the writer thinking of Abraham when he wrote?
Clearly such hospitality was second nature to Abraham and on this particular occasion he received far more than ever he gave in spite of the work that must have gone into the preparation of the meal that was shared. Sarah to bake bread, the selection, preparation and cooking of the calf. The feast following the washing of the visitors feet – did Abraham do this himself as did the Lord Jesus for his disciples so many years later? Then he stood near them – to be available to serve them?
It is not clear when the identity of his visitors dawned on him but the writer is in no doubt that one of the three was the LORD v.10 ‘then the LORD said I will surely return to you about this time next year and Sarah you wife will have a son’
That for which he had waited so long was now just nine short month away. Sarah laughed in incredulity eliciting from the LORD the question that has meant so much to so many through the ages ‘is anything too hard for the LORD?’ Abraham’s response is not recorded but he was emboldened to pray as he did for Sodom – but that is for tomorrow.
There is no way that I wish to suggest that all this was the result of hospitality for it had been promised long before these events took place but I believe it is a challenge to use the gift of hospitality to its maximum when Covid allows, as a means of encouraging one another and advancing the gospel.