They Ate

“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” (Gen. 18:8).

- Genesis 18:6–8

After convincing his visitors to stay, Abraham quickly prepares a feast. Sarah is ordered to grab three “seahs” (v. 6), that is, six gallons, of “fine flour” and make what would be a large quantity of bread. The patriarch selects a choice calf from his herd and has it prepared and served along with curds and milk, food likely akin to the yogurt that nomadic bedouins in the region still eat to this day (vv. 7–8).

As we have noted, Abraham was initially unaware that he was entertaining the Lord Himself. His preparations, however, are wiser than he realizes. The “fine flour” Sarah makes into cakes is used elsewhere only for cereal offerings and the tabernacle bread (Lev. 24:5–9). Elsewhere in Leviticus, God commands His people to offer only spotless animals as sacrifices (for example, 3:6), and our passage today emphasizes the high quality of the calf Abraham offered (Gen. 18:7). Abraham’s meal is surely suitable for his covenant Lord.

A survey of eating in Scripture helps us comprehend the import of this event. Meals were weighty affairs in biblical times, and to eat with someone meant you were in fellowship with that person. Covenants such as the one between Isaac and Abimelech were often sealed with a feast (26:26–31). Worshipers could partake of a portion of the peace offering under the old covenant, signifying they lived in harmony with God (Lev. 7:11–18). When Yahweh confirmed the Mosaic covenant, the elders of Israel ate and drank in His presence (Ex. 24:1–11). Jesus’ meals with sinners like Zaccheus were scandalous because the Lord conveyed forgiveness of transgressors when He supped with them (Luke 19:1–10). Thus, in eating with Abraham, God demonstrated His intimate fellowship with the patriarch.

In like manner, the Lord’s Supper is no small matter in the new covenant. When we partake of the bread and wine in faith, we feed on our Savior (John 6:52–59), not by cannibalizing His flesh but in sitting with Him and each other in real fellowship. Holy communion is not a bare memorial, it bolsters our faith and reveals that we are just in God’s sight through Jesus’ sacrifice. When we proclaim Christ in the sacrament, we commune with Him unlike we do anywhere else.

Coram Deo

Only those in fellowship with God are invited to eat a meal with Him, and so sitting at Christ’s table in heaven when we eat the bread and wine is a profound privilege indeed. When we receive the sacrament, we should be reminded of the high cost of our redemption and our need of a holy substitute to be faithful where Adam was faithless. When we commune with Christ in the Supper, we should be conscious that Jesus offers His entire self to fortify our trust in Him.

Passages for Further Study

Judg. 6:11–24
1 Sam. 21:1–6
Song 2:4
1 Cor. 11:17–34

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.