In the middle of the tents.

I talked yesterday about finding stage directions in scripture. The first recent story came from Luke. The second one comes from Genesis.

I was talking with a friend recently and he was reading about Lot and Abraham. We started talking about the moment in their story where three men appear to Abraham. I started to describe the situation as if we were wearing virtual reality goggles. I imagined standing next to a campfire  and looking around.

When we read the story, we read about three men walking up to Abraham’s tent where he was sitting in the heat of the day. I think we think about a campsite. Abraham and Sarah at the KOA, but without a shower building. But that’s a picture that comes from our experience with tents more than it comes from our experience with texts.

fireTo begin, the family at this point was ninety-nine-year-old Abraham and Sarah. And Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham was a shepherd. He had significant flocks. And his flocks needed shepherds. And more.

When we look at one story before this one, Abraham had taken 318 trained men born in his household to rescue his nephew Lot. If these men were married, if they were parents, if they had parents, Abraham’s tent could have been surrounded by dozens of tents, a thousand people around.

When Abraham gets a calf to be prepared, it’s not one of a handful animals. It’s one of a large herd. When he asks a servant to prepare it, it’s like picking the chef, not just the handyman.

The smells and sounds and sights of this traveling village are much different than a camping trip. And even with everything this man, this leader of an influential family-owned business has, he still doesn’t have the son of the promise.

And that’s what the men are here to talk about.


For your reading this weekend, here’s a useful summary article: “Who wrote the Gospels and how do we know for sure?