Friday, September 10, 2010

Old Testament Grace: Genesis 18:3

This is my second contribution to Hillary McFarland’s Journey to Grace project, continuing the survey of “grace” (charis) in the (Greek) Old Testament. The Septuagint’s second instance of the form charin, translated as “favor” or “grace” in the NT, appears in Genesis 18:1-8 (ESV):

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. 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.

Abraham wanted to offer his hospitality to God appearing in the flesh, but he knew that he was unworthy. It was God’s grace that allowed him to serve Him. This story reminds me of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-50). Although she was a sinner, He accepted her offering of washing, kissing, and anointing His feet because He recognized her faith. However, Jesus warned during his Sermon on the Mount that it was necessary for people to settle disputes with others before approaching God with their gifts (Matthew 5:21-26). God is gracious enough to allow us to approach Him, but requires that we do so on His own terms.