When I was 99 years old, God met with me. First He changed my name from Abram to Abraham, which means 'father of many' and then He changed Sara's name to Sarah, which means 'princess'. And we found that it wasn’t Ishmael who would be the promised son, but a child still to be born to Sarah, who was already very old!'
'A little while later, God appeared to me yet again, but this time it was different. Three men, well, I thought they were men at first, came near our tent. Because it was our custom to be friendly to strangers, I hurried over to invite them to come and have a meal with us. One of the men was God Himself, in the form of a man, the other two were angels also in the form of men. As they sat with me, God told me that now was the time for the promise to be fulfilled! Sarah was to have a son in one year’s time!'
'Sarah was listening in the tent and laughed because she thought, 'How can an old woman like me have a baby?' But God always keeps His promises.'
'As God left, I walked with Him towards those evil cites in the river valley where Lot lived. As we looked over them, He told me that He was going to destroy them because the people were so evil. But what about Lot! He was living in one of those evil cities. As the angels went on ahead, I took my courage into my own hands and spoke with God.' (P – GULP)
'Erm, if you find 50 good people living in that city, surely you wouldn't destroy the good people with the evil ones?'
GOD 'If I find 50 good people, I won't destroy the city,' said God.
ABRAHAM ' Now that I've found the courage to ask', I continued. 'What if you only find 45?'
GOD 'If I only find 45, I won't destroy the city.'
ABRAHAM 'And so our conversation continued, I asked about 40, then 30, 20 and finally 10. And each time God said that if He found that number of good people He wouldn't destroy the city. Then He left.'
'Meanwhile the two angels had arrived in the city where Lot and his family lived. And, as they arrived Lot happened to be sitting by the gate and encouraged them to stay at his home. At first they said no, but Lot insisted because he knew they wouldn't be safe in the city square at night.'
'And as night fell, all the men of the city came to Lot's house and hammered on the door. 'Bring out those strangers Lot - we want to hurt them. And if you don't, we're going to hurt you.'
'Lot went out and tried to reason with them but they attacked him, and the angels quickly pulled Lot back inside. Then they blinded the men to stop them from finding the door and breaking it down. - The angels spoke to Lot.'
ANGEL 'Are there any other members of your family in the city?'
LOT 'Well yes, there are my daughters' fiancées.' He said.
ANGEL 'Get them and your family out of the city now because we're going to destroy this city for all the evil the people have done. Be quick!'
ABRAHAM 'Lot rushed out to his daughters' fiancées.'
LOT 'Boys, we've got to leave now. There's no time to waste! God's going to destroy the city, and you too if you don't leave now.'
ABRAHAM 'But the boys thought he was joking and ignored him. The next morning the angels were even more insistent.'
ANGEL 'Hurry up, get your wife and two daughters out of the city or you too will be caught up in the destruction.'
ABRAHAM 'But still Lot hesitated. Maybe be couldn't cope with the thought of losing everything, but God was merciful to poor weak Lot. The angels grabbed him, his wife and his two daughters by their hands and dragged them out of the city.'
ANGEL 'Now run for your lives.’ They said to Lot and his family. ‘Don't stop and don't look back. Escape to the mountains or you will die.'
LOT 'The mountains! I can't go to the mountains,' moaned Lot, 'I’d die. Look, there's a small village just over there. Couldn't I just go there and be safe.'
ABRAHAM 'All his life Lot had ignored what God wanted, and even now, in fear of His life, still Lot wouldn't obey God. But even so, God was merciful to Lot and the Angels let him escape to the small village. (P) Lot and his daughters ran on ahead to the village, but his wife lagged behind, and when the fire and burning sulphur of judgement fell from heaven, wave upon wave, utterly destroying those evil cities, Lot's wife - looked back. Instantly God judged her for doing what He had told her not to do through the Angels and turned her into a pillar of salt.' (PAUSE)
'The next morning I went back to look over the river valley. The destruction was terrible. The smoke from the burning sulphur was rising in columns to the sky. But God had answered my prayer, Lot was safe, even though he hadn't learnt anything from that terrible tragedy.'
'As for Sarah and me? God kept His promise; at the ripe old age of 100 I became the proud father of a little son born to Sarah. It was a real miracle. (P) Sarah laughed when he was born. Saying 'who’d have thought such a thing would happen to an old woman like me?' (P) We named him Isaac, which means 'he laughs'.'
‘Although - the joy of having Isaac was overshadowed when he and Ishmael didn’t get on. Sarah saw Ishmael bullying young Isaac one day, and that was that! Sarah made me send Hagar and Ishmael away! – But God looked after them – and kept His promise to give Ishmael more descendants than he could ever count!’