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.It's not clear whether The Lord is there personally in some sort of physical manifestation, or is only represented by the three men. The way I read it, the three men are the only apparition. In any event, why? God has been talking to Abraham directly up until now, and all of a sudden he needs these messengers. And why three? I suppose that feeding and watering them has symbolic meaning, but if they are actually supernatural beings they shouldn't need to eat. And how does Abe know that they aren't just three guys named Moe? It's all very strange.
3 He said, “If I have found favor 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[b] of the finest 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.
Note that rabbis will later decide that the meal Abraham serves is not kosher, because it mixes meat and dairy. BTW, the footnote in the NIV says that 3 seahs of flour is 36 pounds. These guys must have been hungry.
9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.So okay. If God wanted Abraham and Sarah to have a son, why did he wait until now and make them go through the rigamarole with Hagar first? Sarah, who is 90 years old and has gone through menopause, naturally laughs at the proposition that she will become pregnant. And now all of a sudden God is no longer speaking through the three messengers, but speaks to Abraham directly. In what form is he present? The three men are evidently not omniscient since they have to ask where Sarah is. But it turns out God was there all along and God knows that she laughed. The whole scene is a muddled mess.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10 Then one of them 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 very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord 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.”
I'll leave at that for now. Things are about to get very, very weird.