Jun 18 – 2 Pentecost
Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7
A Son Promised to Abraham and Sarah
The Birth of Isaac

Background: The section of Genesis between chapters 12 and 25 is often referred to as The Abraham Cycle. In this section God calls Abram and Sarai (Abraham and Sarah) to go and populate the promise land. The Abraham Cycle has elements from multiple schools, lending to the duplication of stories within the cycle. The Abraham Cycle sets the groundwork for the population of the promise land and the covenant with Abraham and later with Moses.

Theme: This account is a second version of God’s promise regarding the birth of Isaac. This continues to establish the validity of Isaac’s call and the foundation of the nation of Israel. These passages sit in contrast to the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah between the end of chapter at and the beginning of chapter 21.

Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-17. Please read chapter 17 for context and chapters 19 and 20 for context behind God’s relationship with Abraham and Sarah.
* Briefly summarize what happens between Genesis 18:15 and Genesis 21:1. What happens to Abraham and Sarah between God’s promise at Mamre and the birth of Isaac?
* What do you make of the apparent discontinuity between verse 1 and verse 2 (The Lord appeared to Abraham… and He [Abraham] looked up and saw three men…)?
* Who do you think the 3 men who approach Abraham are? Do you think they are God and 2 angels as some scholars suppose?
* In verse 3, why do you think Abraham refers to one of the men as “my lord”? Do you think that Abraham knows or thinks these people are God’s representatives?
* Why is the description of the meal different from what is offered in the meal? Bread and rest are offered by Abraham but what is produced is cakes of choice flour, curds, and milk. Why is there a difference?
* Why do you think Abraham would stand before the 3 men while they eat?
* How is Sarah laughing at the promise of God/the visitors different than Abram laughing at God’s promise earlier?
* Why might Sarah mimic Abraham in verse 12 (Abram laughed at God in a previous encounter)?
* What do you think is the crux of the interaction between God and Abraham/Sarah?
* Why might Sarah deny laughing at God’s promise? Why would God still fulfill the promised made to Abraham in the face of Sarah’s doubt and denial?
* How does the story of Abraham and Sarah impact our ministry all these years later?
* How do you make sense of this passage to the population of the world, or at least of Suffolk, today?