“The Bargaining Tree”

Genesis 18

Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet,

and rest yourselves under the tree.

Generations are passing after Noah and his sons disembark from the Ark.   We read the story of the Tower of Babel and the beginning of multiple languages.  The genealogies trace Noah’s son Shem’s lineage to Abram who carriers the story forward. God talks with Abram and leads him from his father’s house with Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew.  The story grows around God’s covenant to bless Abram and all nations through him but there is a problem.  Abram has no children.  Sarai is barren.  Both are aging and past the age of child bearing.  For couples who struggle with barrenness, the pain is real.  In Kenya, where we served, it was a death sentence.  A second wife would be found.

         “The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to the tent in the heat of the day.”  Abram’s name has been changed to Abraham as God confirms it is Abram God intends to bless and make the father of nations.  Sarai is renamed Sarah as the chosen wife.  God is going to work the impossible.  The great trees of Mamre are where Abraham will eventually bury Sarah years later, the place of promise that is also near Bethlehem.  That is another story though.

         Three men come to visit Abraham at his tent and Abraham realizes they are special and prepares food.  They tell of their journey in response to Lot’s distress with the evil of Gomorrah.  Judgment will happen.  Noah’s story is still close history and Abraham realizes Lot’s life is in danger.  He starts bargaining with these men, these representatives of God. “If only you find 50 righteous men,..” down to ten righteous men.

         Elders sitting under a tree conducting business is a common picture in Kenya.  Perhaps they do not realize God is present.  I ponder how many times we bargain with God, perhaps not under a tree, but we bargain.  We carve our initials in a heart on trees to express our hopes.  We hang people from trees to express our despair with them.  Trees can be places of business within our souls.

         Perhaps impressive is that God enters the bargaining with Abraham and is willing to take Abraham’s thinking into his plans.  God listens to us when we come to him.  Maybe we do not sit under a tree but often we have that special spot where we meditate and talk to God about our futures and fears of what we think is approaching.  As you meditate today, remember that God is listening and God is active in the events of your life today – working for good to fulfill his promises to you.  You are not alone.

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