In Genesis 18:1-15 we read of three men visiting Abraham and Sarah at the oaks of Mamre. One of the three men was the Lord Himself.
16And the men rose up from thence and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 17 And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
20And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
This final exchange between the LORD and Abraham revealed that God was on His way to bring judgment upon the great cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. He explained that there were grievous outcries before His Throne about the depths of their wickedness. He explained that He intended to go and search the hearts of the inhabitants to determine what their fate should then be.
Abraham knew that his nephew Lot had returned to Sodom and in spite of the fact that Lot hadn’t been such a good person to Abraham, it was clear Abraham still loved him and was worried about him. So Abraham gently and reverently engaged in a negotiation with God.
How Many Righteous?
22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. 23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? 25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? 26 And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: 28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.
30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. 31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. 32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.
God’s love and mercy are displayed in response to Abraham’s pleading for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. If there were only 10 just and decent men, God agreed He would spare both cities and all who lived therein. This ended the Lord’s conversation with Abraham:
33 And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
Lessons to Ponder
We are to understand that
- God’s desire is for mercy, not wrath.
- God loves all people and desires that none perish and that all repent (2 Pet 3:9)
- God’s judgments are always completely accurate and perfect.
- And God searches diligently for any signs of faith upon which He can pour out His unfathomable grace and mercy.
We are to have faith in God. But when there is no faith, and rather only unmovable, unchangeable disbelief in God’s love and grace, self-inflicted destruction happens. Note that at times, Abraham had doubts. And Sarah had just laughed at what God said He was about to do. Yet no wrath or destruction befell either. Why? Because God’s mercy is freely given to those whose heart is right.
…for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)
- Timeline of the Life of Abraham
- A Story of Relationship
- From Haran to Canaan
- Abraham and Lot
- The Battle of Siddim
- Abraham and Melchizedek
- Righteousness Through Faith
- Cutting the Covenant
- Hagar and Ishmael
- A New Name for A New Man
- Circumcision: the Sign of the Covenant Read also: Why Circumcision?
- Sarah — A New Name for a New Woman
- The Lord Appeared to Abraham at The Oaks of Mamre
- Abraham Pleaded for Mercy for Sodom and Gomorrah
- The Rescue of Lot Out of Sodom
- Lot and His Daughters
- The Birth of Isaac, the Son of the Promise
- The Akedah: God’s Testing of Abraham’s Faith and Obedience
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