Have you ever had a kairos moment in your life? I’m sure you have, we all have. Kairos is a Greek word that means a critical moment in time, an opportune and decisive moment that has to be acted upon. When I look back at my life, I can point to certain moments, moments where I had to make a decision, and that decision changed my life or perhaps the life of another.
The Bible is full of kairos moments. Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus would be considered a kairos moment. But not all kairos moments start off being that dramatic, and often times they initially appear to be just an ordinary event. It’s only later, sometimes much later, that we look back and realize, that moment, that decision, changed the course of our lives. I ran across such a moment in my Scripture reading the other day. I was reading the book of Genesis, chapters 18 and 19 and I realized as I read this very well known story of Abraham and Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, that this story started off with a kairos moment. Let me explain. This story begins with Abraham taking what would appear to be a nap in the heat of the day:
And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. (Genesis 18:1-3)
Whether he was taking a nap or just dozing I don’t know, but I did notice that Abraham did not see the men approaching. He looked up and saw them. When you first read this story, it appears as though Abraham knew who was standing in front of him. And he did! My first question is how did he know? It says they were three men, or mortals, not angels. But, if you look at Hebrews 13:2 the writer tells us the following:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
The cross reference of this verse is interestingly enough, Genesis 18:3 and also 19:2. What that tells me is that Abraham discerned who was standing before him, but not with his natural eyes. Somehow, Abraham knew the Lord! We know this because he called Him Adonai, which is the proper name of God in Hebrew, spoken in place of Yahweh. Our English translates it simply as Lord, and so it is only in the Hebrew that we understand the significance of what Abraham said. So why do I call this a kairos moment?
Imagine if Abraham had not recognized Who stood before him? Imagine, if he had thought this was just a group of strangers and had ignored them.? Would I know if the Lord came to my front door and knocked, especially if He had two friends with Him? Would I open the door, invite Him in, make Him a meal and spend the day with Him? Would I have the discernment to realize what was happening in my life that day? I won’t pretend to know the answer but I certainly hope so. That day changed the course of history. It was during that luncheon that God told Sarah and Abraham that in about one year, they would have a son. (Genesis 18:10) That son of course would be Isaac, who became the father of Jacob, who was given the name Israel. That moment, when Abraham realized Who was standing in front of his door, became a kairos moment not only for Abraham and Sarah, but for the whole world.
Before I move on in the story I want to point out one more thing. I couldn’t help but notice Abraham’s reaction once he realized it was God standing in front of him. In verse 2 it tells us that Abraham ran to meet them. In verse 6, Abraham went quickly to Sarah and told her to quickly make 3 loaves of bread. And finally, in verse 7, we are told that he ran to the herd and took a young calf, and gave it to the young man who prepared it quickly. Abraham wasted no time in getting lunch together for his divine visitors. Let me point out what had not been obvious to me before, Abraham recognized his kairos moment and moved fast! His reaction to the situation however, is the complete opposite of Lot’s reaction just a few hours later, when the angels show up in town to assess the situation in Sodom. Lot is also hospitable and invites them home and feeds them. But, if you look at the scene, it becomes obvious that Lot does not recognize his visitors as divine, he is merely concerned for their safety because he knows Sodom is an evil town and these two “men” want to spend the night in the town square. (Genesis 19:2-3) In the English it says “he pressed them strongly”, but the Hebrew is not so kind. The word used here is quite negative, implying a stubborn, arrogant pressure or pecking at. If you read just a few verses on, this same Hebrew word is used to describe what the men of Sodom do to Lot, when he refuses to let them rape these two visitors. “They pressed hard against the man Lot and drew near to break the door down.” (Genesis 19:9) I guess Lot had learned some of the ways of the world around him.
This same word is translated as presumption in 1 Samuel 15:23, when Samuel says:
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Lot was pushing them and I would venture to suggest he was rude and presumptuous in his demands that they come home with him. I’m sure he was afraid for them, but it’s not clear to me why he acted the way he did. However, I do not believe he knew who these men were. Just in case it’s unclear to us, the Bible switches between calling them angels and calling them men. When they first enter Sodom, it calls them angels. After that they are called men, by both Lot and the men of Sodom, and only when it is time to flee Sodom early in the morning, before dawn, are they once again called angels. The point I am trying to make here is that Lot clearly did not recognize his kairos moment! It is only when the angels tell him that God has sent them to destroy the city and ask him if he has anyone else in the city that he wants to save, that it begins to dawn on Lot just who these visitors might be. But, even then, in total contrast to Abraham, he lingers. (Genesis 19:16)
May I also point out that if it had not been for the intercession of Abraham for his nephew Lot and his family, Lot would have perished. If it had not been for the angels taking them physically by the hands and almost dragging them out of the city and telling them to flee for their lives because they could not destroy the area until they were safe, Lot and his family would have died. And his wife did die, because she did not recognize her kairos moment. She did not take what they said seriously, and when they said “Do not look back” she disobeyed their word and looked back. (Genesis 19:17)
When I look at this story with fresh eyes, I have to remember Jesus’ words to all of us in Matthew 25:13:
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour”.
Over and over the scriptures admonish us to keep watch. Luke tells us in 12:35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning”.
We are living in perilous times. I believe that we are living in the end of days and that we are the final generation. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that these days will grow more and more perilous. Luke tells us in chapter 17:28-30:
“Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
We must stay awake and be aware. We must keep watch and intercede for our friends, neighbors and family for we do not know the day or the hour when our Lord will come. I have this sense of urgency these days and I want to encourage you to stay awake and keep watch. As much as we each have our own kairos moments in life, there is a kairos moment coming that we don’t want to miss. It is called the rapture and it is what Paul talks about in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
I am encouraging you with these words, stay awake my friends and keep watch.