Genesis 18:1 ‘The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.
2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3 He said, "If I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.
4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree.
5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way–now that you have come to your servant." "Very well," they answered, "do as you say."
6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread."
7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it.
8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
9 "Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him. "There, in the tent," he said.
10 Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.
11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.
12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?"
13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, `Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’
14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."
15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not laugh." But he said, "Yes, you did laugh."’
The appearances of Jehovah to his people during the Old Testament are called ‘theophanies.’ God draws very close and speaks to men, as though himself a man. They at first believe they are meeting another human being, a great warrior perhaps or a traveler. Sometime they think this is an angel and yet it is actually the living God who is visiting man. Then, as the conversation develops, there is often a dawning realization that this august and impressive person speaking to them is none other than the Lord himself. In the narrative before us there is no uncertainty at all for the readers of this narrative. The chapter begins quite starkly, “The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre” (v.1). He came because he loved Abraham, coming close to this much tried and increasingly obedient old man. Remember the Lord Jesus saying, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn. 14:23). Jesus says those words after washing the feet of his disciples. He later tells the church at Laodicea that when he is welcomed into our lives he eats with us and we eat with him, just like he had eaten with Cleopas after walking with him to Emmaus. How natural, then, for the Lord to meet with Abraham, the man whom he called his friend. So let us begin there.
- THE LORD APPEARS TO ABRAHAM.
God comes close to men and women. He comes to us here Sunday by Sunday when we gather in his name, personally and intimately. You go to an important occasion, say, the Trooping of the Colour, or to a grand concert with illustrious guests and the audience stands to greet these grand people, or to a Royal Command Performance, or maybe it’s to a Cup Final or Wimbledon with princes from Buckingham Palace present in the royal box. They are there at that occasion, and you are also there and you can see them, but they don’t talk to you. You don’t meet them, and they don’t go out of their way to make contact with you. How different when we gather together in Jesus’ name. The Lord never ignores one of us; not a single one. He comes to each of us and deals with us, teaching, correcting, reproving and instructing us in righteous living. We have met yet again with the mighty God, the Maker of the universe. He comes . . . he really does come to help little people like ourselves.
We see this moving picture here. It’s an intriguing scene; Abraham is a long way from the bustling Ur of the Chadeans, sitting near the great trees of Mamre. He is at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day . . . and the Lord, El Shaddai, appears to him! I am saying that the same Lord has come here to Aberystwyth today to have dealings with us. There is a song which is sung by Cliff Richard and also by Bette Midler. It is on
e of those vague religious sentimental songs that get into the Top Twenty. It says, “From a distance God is watching us.” It is designed to give a nice, reassuring feeling. It is not that God is in the preaching, warning and strengthening faith, offering himself to become our Saviour if we repent and believe. When we sin it is not that there he is speaking through our consciences, convicting us that we have done wrong, but the song says that God ‘watches from a distance’ away, like mother is nearby, sitting on her portable chair on the shore a hundred yards away, while we paddle in the water. No. God is not in the distance. God is here in the fellowship, in the praises of his people, in the voice of an appointed man, at the table, in the word.
It is as a human being the Lord appears to Abraham. He is one of three men and he is the leader; he is the one who is the spokesman, and so the one Abraham whom addresses. Abraham does not call them “my lords,” he calls one of them “my lord” (v.3). Then in verse thirteen he is formally identified as the Lord and in the opening verse of chapter nineteen the other two are identified as angels, maybe they were Michael and Gabriel, the archangels. The Lord who comes to Abraham is the Son of God, the eternally begotten Word of God, the one who was in the beginning and was with God, he is the one who came to Mamre to declare the Father’s will to Abraham and Sarah. It is a human body that he has temporarily taken in order for Abram to see him, hear him and love him. But it is a true body, one that devours the excellent food prepared for them. However it is not the body that he will yet be united to, first for the nine months of embryonic development in Mary’s womb, and then, after his birth, one in which he will live amongst men, the body which hungered and thirsted, was crucified and buried, then resurrected and ascended. This body of the Lord under the great trees of Mamre was not the body that Jesus now has today at the right hand of God, nevertheless it was real body. It was that of a mere man. The Lord was found in fashion as a man, and he came to Abraham
Abraham sees a mere man. He does not recognize this traveler as El Shaddai, not at first, but we are told up front what is happening so that the wonder of all this might not pass us by. “The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre” (v.1). Abraham is sitting by the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He has to sit; it is blisteringly hot; he is 99 years of age, and he has just been circumcised days earlier. He is sore; he is weak; he has lost blood and he has to rest outside at noon where the breeze is, shaded from the sun smiting the tent and the baked earth. It is the time for the afternoon siesta, not the time when work has to be done. They have been working since dawn and now, if they are to survive, they must sit and snooze in the shade under the great trees of Mamre, but then suddenly Abraham spots three figures drawing near whom he judges to be three men. Their appearance is surprising, in the original it says, “and, behold, three men.” Where had they come from at this time of the day? He hadn’t spotted them coming down the track across the wilderness. Had they come from behind the tent? What folly for them to be walking in the heat of the day. Let them rest like everyone at siesta time. It is as if these three appeared out of nowhere. It is a little eerie, somewhat unsettling, men creeping up on Abraham at this unexpected moment. It’s not actually supernatural to him, but it is troubling, unusual and it alerts him. He is getting old and men can suddenly arrive at his door without him seeing them in the distance. That had not happened before. They are standing above him (the original says), not ‘standing nearby.’ Abraham looks up; he tilts back his head to see; they are up the slope, on higher ground, standing above him, like the shepherds in the Bethlehem fields have to look up to see the messenger and then the other messengers. This is strange; Abraham doesn’t understand all this, and slumber is over that day.
Abraham gets up and we are told he hurries towards them, half running, like the father of the prodigal son ran to the boy. Ninety-nine years of age, ninety-nine degree Fahrenheit, getting over quite major surgery and yet he goes as quickly as he can to them. There is nothing laid back about his welcome as he greets them. Abraham would have compassion on anyone who is traveling under the blazing sun without any shelter. He gets to them, pauses and then he bows low to the ground. He doesn’t realise how appropriate a gesture it is. There have been times when sadly and shamefully we were cool in the presence of someone we didn’t know, of whom we made a hasty judgment, whom we later discovered was a person of wisdom and gifts, on whom the blessing of God had rested, and we wish we had been far more respectful. We should have stood up when they entered the room; we should have been solicitous about their welfare and inquiring about their wellbeing, listening to them. Abraham addresses the obvious leader as “my lord’ and again that is a common form of address, but more appropriate than he understood here. Then Abraham will not allow them to ask for anything. They don’t open their mouths. He takes the initiative and he says to them, “If I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way – now that you have come to your servant” (vv. 3-5). He pleads with them to stop on their journey “don’t pass your servant by because that is what I am, your servant. Of course if that’s true then I might find favour in your sight by your agreeing to enter my humble home and take a little refreshment from me. . . if you are not too displeased with my dwelling . . .” It is all spoken with total sincerity and shows the middle eastern Biblical view of the sacred duty of hospitality. So Abraham suggests a mere trifle, some water to drink, a piece of bread, “ . . . let my servants wash your feet, come rest under this tree in the shade to strengthen and prepare you for the next stage of your journey in this hot and barren land . . .”
Abraham is a great example to us of giving hospitality to strangers. Twice in the past week I have watched a woman cutting sandwiches, and getting crisps and some refreshing drink and giving them to a refugee from Eastern Europe, on one occasion allowing him to sit in the front room and eat them there, on the next occasion wrapping them up that he might take them with him. The initiative was all hers even as she summoned me down to talk to the man about the living water and the bread of heaven that he could taste and never hunger again. He showed little interest and refused a men’s breakfast and the offer of friendship, and a Fellowship Lunch at the church.
We are told about Abraham indirectly in Hebrews chapter thirteen and verse two, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Abraham is entertaining more than a couple of angels; he is ministering to Jehovah himself. In that great day the Saviour tells us, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” (Matt. 25:35). Inasmuch as we do it to the least of Christ’s brothers we do it to him. Hospitality is a great Christian grace. Abraham considers that it’s no accident, but the providence of God that has brought them to his home. His words are not so much “now that you have come to your servant&rd
quo; (v.5) but better translated as, “because it’s for this very purpose that you have come to your servant”, that is, that Abraham might have the privilege of giving them hospitality and refreshment. That was the reason for their visit. It was all in the covenant, that their route came right by Abraham’s dwelling. At this stage the old man doesn’t suspect that the Lord of providence is standing before them, but he knows that God has brought them there and it is his privilege to help them.
The three men readily agree and so the wheels start turning. It is hot, but hospitality is a duty. He hurries to his 90 year-old wife Sarah and cajoles her into action; “‘Quick,’ he said, ‘get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread.’ Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them.” (vv.6-8). His wife herself cooks for them, not Hagar, not a servant. The amount of food prepared is prodigal – three seahs would be twenty pounds of flour. You know the standard two pound flour bags that we buy in the supermarket, then you imagine ten of those bags. It is a mountain of flour. An entire calf is slaughtered – Abraham running to the herd and selecting the best – all for three strangers. Curds and milk are another component of this meal – curds would be something like yoghurt. This is how dairy products are preserved in a hot climate. It was announced as just a morsel, a little piece of bread and some water, but it becomes a banquet needing real sacrifice and hard work, and Abraham stands by the board like a waiter ready to serve their needs (v.8). They are total strangers to Abraham and yet they are recipients of great honour. He doesn’t just remark that this visit is a providence of God (anyone can say things like that – and I myself do), Abraham’s whole attitude and actions confirm that that was his conviction, and of course, unknown to him, it was wonderfully appropriate for such guests as were under his roof that day. Imagine my announcing that the incarnate God would be coming to Fellowship Lunch downstairs on Sunday, and how we would try to have the best of everything because we were offering it to the Lord himself. What an unique day this was for Abraham. Our Lord Jesus told the Jews that Abraham had rejoiced at the thought of meeting him, let alone of having him as a guest and eating at his table.
God had appeared to Abraham as a smoking furnace and a burning torch. He had appeared to him as the angel of the Lord, but never before as a man. It spoke of a glorious coming day when he would come and take bodily form for ever. Abraham was never told of Jehovah incarnate, but you and I know only too well, at times with some over-familiarity, of that one strange work that exceeds every other work of God, as Joseph Hart says.
God, without ceasing to be God, condescends to be united to the body and mind of a man forever. Here under the great trees of Mamre he removed all thoughts of terror from a close encounter with Jehovah in coming to Abraham so familiarly. God did not need to say to him, “Fear not.” Abraham was then given another extraordinary sign of the incarnate God. Firstly, he and Sarah would have a child in great old age, a miraculous conception that only God could achieve. Then, secondly, God himself comes near to him in the form of a man. While Abraham is still getting over his circumcision then God comes to him in love and sups with him. Abraham has seen God as a firepot, and heard a solemn voice from heaven. Abraham has known a fear of great darkness coming upon him when God draws near, but in that way God was little different from the impression that the gods of the heathen made on their devotees. Yes, God is awesome, majestic, terrifying and sovereign. We all agree. He had been speaking at length to Abraham in the previous chapter, and then suddenly he ceases speaking and he “went up from him” (Gen. 17:22). He came unannounced, and then he went. Not here. Here God became intimate. He lets servants wash his feet. He sits in the shade of a great tree and talks to Abraham who is unafraid of him or of his two companions. His eating Abraham’s food with evident pleasure removed all barriers. Here is access and affection. He is eating with Abraham; yes, of course Abraham is standing, watching, attentive, anxious to serve these three and get them all he can, but the Lord is eating with Abraham.
This is the only example in the Old Testament of the Lord eating with his servants. What condescension to accept the hospitality of this sinner saved by grace, to eat a common meal prepared for him in a sinner’s house, eaten under a tree with easy satisfaction. Do you see our God here, how he reaches out to us, how close he will come to us, that we might know him and be in a close relationship with him? This is not the ‘ground of being’ eating here, not the idols men make who cannot eat or smell and see. No, this is the God who in the beginning prepared all kinds of wonderful vegetation and foods for Adam and Eve to eat, who came and walked with our first parents before the fall. Eating with Abraham here is the future Man from heaven. He cannot wait for the time when he will live for thirty years among us, when he will cook fish and bread and serve his disciples. John will lean back at the meal and again rest his head upon him, all terror gone, enjoying the sweetness of his presence. This Jesus will speak of a great day when many will come from the four corners of the world and will eat with Abraham in the kingdom of heaven and Christ will be the head of the feast. We will eat with Jesus, as the beloved bride eats in the presence of the bridegroom. This scene in Genesis 18 is a theophany of the Lord Jesus Christ who came in the fulness of time to renew all creation and make it all a land of milk and honey.
So here is the servant and friend of God, Abraham does not take forbidden fruit and lust for more like the men of Sodom. Rather he is one who gives generously. That is what the grace of God has taught him. He has received such a welcome from God, such hospitality, and that has changed his whole attitude to his possessions. God has prospered him and that has made him rich, and so he seizes every opportunity in life to share his goodness with others. Abraham used the things of the world to care for those God brings to him. Abraham does not worry that there will come a day when God might fail to provide for him, and so he is not a rather mean man hanging on to his possessions. No. God has freely given to Abraham, and so he freely gives to others.
- THE LORD REPEATS THE PROMISE
That God should say something wonderful to Abraham over and over again is a striking feature of his life. The Lord makes the same promise to him repeatedly. He is going to have a child with Sarah, he definitely is, he most certainly is, and all the nations of the world are going to be blessed by him; they are indeed; cosmic glory will come from Abraham’s son. It’s is going to happen. It really is. “I will even come from heaven and take the form of a man to tell you that this is going to happen.” So here in this incident before us, the Lord takes frail flesh, comes into a fallen world with two angels, and tells him and his wife this sa
me truth all over again! It must be important.
Now the lesson I gain from that is not that I should repeat a little abbreviation of the gospel in every sermon without fail morning and evening year after year, because that would weary all of us. No, the lesson I’m getting is of the extraordinary patience of God in bringing me his promises constantly, and not being wearied by my being slow of heart to believe all that is written in the Scriptures. If God judged Abraham and Sarah to be in need of often hearing his promises, so do Geoff and Iola and all his people, 4,000 years later. We need to be assured of the total trustworthiness of all that God says he will do for us.
Now see what happens here. The meal being well advanced, the chief of the three men turns to Abraham as he stands serving them, and on behalf of all three says, “Where is your wife Sarah?” (v.9). They knew . . . they knew about him . . . they even knew the new name of his wife . . . Sarah with an ‘h’ not Sarai with an ‘i.’ She had only had that name days. We know that because in the previous chapter in verse 21 Abraham is told that Sarah will bear a child by this time next year (v.21) and in our text in verse ten the same phrase is used; “about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” So it is only a matter of days between God speaking to Abraham in chapter 17 and his circumcision, and the coming of the Lord with his angels here. It is so soon that it seems that Abraham has not yet sat down and explained to Sarah that God has promised she is going to have a child. She had been disappointed about this for so long Abraham had not yet got into the right frame to tell her that God had told him that she’d be a mother in a year. You can understand Abraham’s sensitivity on this.
So now these three men take their masks off, as it were, and show Abraham who they are. They have come from heaven as messengers of God to speak to Abraham about Sarah because she does not yet believe that soon she will give birth to a son. It is crucial that she knows, and the Lord himself has come to ensure that she does know. Has the Lord begun to cause you to examine where you are in relationship to God? Has he begun to clear the ground of the rubble of the past years in preparation for building true trust? The same Lord who spoke to Abraham is here speaking to you, not to mock you but as one who searches for his own lost sheep. The one who condescended to Sarah’s weakness has condescended to yours. She was 90. She was way past the age of child-bearing. She had had a life of disappointment, a childless marriage. When God first came and spoke to her and awakened some faith in her life it was 25 years earlier, but no children had come from that, none of the morning sickness of pregnancy only that sickness mentioned in Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” She has erected a 25 year high barrier of unanswered prayer; she will not clutch at straws now. She is resigned to remaining barren. She would rather accept that than be buoyed up with false hope to come crashing down to earth once again.
But there is more at stake than how most wisely and pastorally to break the miraculous news to Sarah – which Abraham has failed to do. There is the question of trusting the word of God, believing the promises of God. How powerful is God? Is he the God of the miraculous? Can he do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think? Can he made the axe-head float, can he make the sun stand still, can Jesus walk on water, can he raise the dead, can he make a 90 year old woman conceive a son? Can God? That is the issue facing Sarah, the livingness and the power of a personal God. So he comes himself to break the news and to strengthen her faith. That is how saving faith and regeneration has to come to every believer.
See how he does it, so tenderly and subtly and indirectly. She is not sitting at the table joining in the conversation. She is preparing the meal, the various courses, the curds, the bread, the milk and the meat, behind a curtain, in the tent and also listening to everything going on. She is overhearing the word which we know is really being addressed to her. Doesn’t that happen all the time? I speak to you Christians about the graces you must show, or about praying, or about stewardship. God is speaking to you believers from his word through me, but there are people who are not Christians yet and they are overhearing and listening to what is said and weighing it all up. Sometimes we speak directly to them, but often overhearing a dialogue between Christians is more effective. Remember John Bunyan sitting often in the company of some Christian women in Bedford and listening to them talking to one another about salvation.
So the Lord is speaking to Abraham and saying to him, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son” (v.10) saying it knowing that Sarah is listening intently: “Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” (vv. 11&12). “Shall I be full of moisture” is her literal question, the exact opposite of being withered and dried up, unable to produce anything. Sarah is full of doubt; we know that because instead of focusing on the word of God she focuses on the powerlessness of her flesh and the age of her husband.
There is doubt and doubt, isn’t there? In other words, there are the paraded doubts of the unrepentant and arrogant sceptic. For him this world is the only reality there is; it came by chance from nothing and when he dies he will return to nothing. There is no God and no purpose in life. That is not old Sarah. She knows better than that. Her doubts are not fuelled by cynicism and unbelief. She believes in God, but she struggles with some statements that God has said. I have often said that doubts never damned anyone but presumption has damned many. Yet let me add that there is no virtue in always doubting. The word bids us believe; it never bids us to doubt. A man said to Jesus, “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief.” God has come to help Sarah’s unbelief. He says in her hearing that she will have a son, and he says it directly to Abraham and so is rebuking his silence in seeking to share this immense promise with his wife. Why hasn’t Abraham broken the news to Sarah, and preached the gospel to her?
Sarah hears, standing behind Abraham, and then it dawns on her who this one is whom her husband is serving the other side of the curtain. The Lord himself is with them, eating the food she has prepared, in her own home, and he is saying, “Sarah your wife will have a son,” and she laughs in amazement at the whole scenario. She doesn’t laugh out loud. She laughs to herself, but the Lord knew because the next thing she hears him say to Abraham is this, “Why did Sarah laugh?” (v.13). This certainly was the living God. She was in the kitchen by herself and yet God had seen her smiling. More than that, he read the doubt that crossed her mind, “Why did Sarah . . . say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ ” (v.13). She had looked at her 90 year-old body and she thought, “No. That is too hard for the Lord.” When she was 65 and heard the promise first of all she could just about believe it, but not 25 years later. She dared not hope in something so totally supernatural. Sarah was afraid . . . you can understand it
. Sometimes good news is simply too good to be true. Sarah is still thinking like a natural person, someone without God, disconnected from God. Because it seemed impossible for her and Abraham to produce a son who would be an ancestor of the Seed then she was thinking that it couldn’t be done at all. God knew that those were her thoughts because he says aloud again to Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord. I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son” (v.14). The words are literally, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” We often say to people, “If you can just believe Genesis 1:1, the first verse in the Bible, you can believe all that follows.” If you can believe in the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were” (Roms. 4:17) then nothing else should ever stop you trusting in him. The angel Gabriel – maybe that same silent angel accompanying his Lord here to Abraham’s home – told Mary 2000 years later that she was going to give birth to the Messiah the Seed of Abraham, saying, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
So God himself comes and repeats the promise of parenthood again to Abraham. Think of it! The Lord tells Abraham what he is going to do, but “Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But he said, ‘Yes, you did laugh’” (v.15). Can any hide himself in a secret place that the Lord cannot see him? God discerns the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. “Yes you did laugh . . .” Sarah needed to repent and turn from her sin, not cover her sin with deceit.
What was the name of the son to be born the following year? Isaac. What does the name Isaac mean? It means, “He will laugh.” So all this talk about laughter was also a way of familiarizing them with the promise of a particular son whose name would be “he will laugh.” Sarah said, “no laughter.” God said definitively, “Yes, laughter.” Just within a year there would be this remarkable event, Abraham and Sarah clutching one another and between them this baby boy, and the parents are laughing. Is it too wonderful for God that he should take your hardened relatives and friends and that Christ be born in them? Believe in the possibility of that. May he change your doubts to the laughter of joy. Shall God fail to form his Son in those long prayed for? He did a wonderful thing; he formed Isaac in the womb of a woman who was very old, but more disqualified than that, she was crushed by disappointment and doubts, unable to forget the long years of barrenness. Shall you not rejoice to see the face of your Saviour and in that moment forget the evil and terrible things of your life? Do not laugh! God shall ease away all your pain. The Son is coming and you shall rejoice at his appearance. “It is not the natural children who are Abraham’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” (Roms 9:6-9).
This chapter shows us a gracious and patient Lord who keeps sending his messengers to us to preach the gospel so that we shall believe. Once was not enough. It took more than once or twice for them to get their understanding straight. You remember that Sarah was practically the only woman in the whole world who believed in the Lord at that time, and certainly there was no one outside her household. By contrast we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, men and women younger and older than ourselves, of great integrity and sweetness of life who all are saying, “It is true. God loved the world. God gave his Son. Whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” The Lord will keep telling you this. He will say to you, “You of little faith, why do you doubt?” This chapter is saying that when God comes to us with amazing promises of what he will do in us and for us then he will also encourage us to believe by more words and actions, giving us adequate strength to do what he says. He comes not to break the bruised reed but to strengthen it; not to quench the smoldering flax but fan it into flame.
28th June 2009 GEOFF THOMAS