18:20 Then the LORD said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin!
18:21 I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”
18:22 So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD.
18:23 Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
18:24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it?
18:25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”
18:26 And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”
18:27 Abraham answered, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
18:28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
18:29 Again he spoke to him, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.”
18:30 Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.”
18:31 He said, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.”
18:32 Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
This conversation between Abraham and God shows God’s Grace being displayed in a major way. Firstly we see it in God using Abraham as a means to intercede for the city of Sodom and secondly we see it in God exercising His characteristic nature of showing Grace towards us.
- Grace is shown through God using Abraham: Abraham begins to speak on behalf of the city. The people of Sodom had entered into all kinds of sin and sin was rampant and had quickly and completely taken over the citizens of this city. So as a result, God sought to punish them for having completely turned away from Him and the commands to live a righteous life. However, Abraham appealed to the fact that there could possibly be a few or less that are living righteous lives and therefore don’t deserve to be punished. The whole point of this is to not show that God is persuaded by Abraham, but that God is gracious and quick to listen to those who have lived a life that is honoring and pleasing to Him. Abraham was used as a means to display the fact that God is truly gracious. Furthermore it shows that He does indeed listen to our requests and cries if they align with His will of living lives that are pursuing holiness and righteousness.
- Grace is shown through God exercising His Gracious Characteristic Nature: God lovingly listens to Abraham’s appeals of saving the city if indeed there are those who are found living righteous lives. Notice how the numbers get smaller as the dialogue continues. To God, even sparing that one soul is worth not punishing the rest of the city. God’s Grace knows no limits or bounds. He longs to choose Grace over punishment and seeks to bless us rather then to endure His judgement. God’s love trumps sin, always. We’ve seen and experienced that through the work of the cross. It took just one-Jesus Christ to come and take on our sin for the sake of sparing us all from eternal punishment.
This passage teaches that sin cannot win and therefore must be destroyed. Christ’s work on the cross has already accomplished that and continues to seek out those who are willing to turn away from their sin and run towards a loving God that is quick to forgive and extend a hand of Grace.
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
Lyrics by: John Newton
Abraham’s plea with the Lord to preserve Sodom and Gomorrah is natural. No one want’s to see the innocent die. Yet, trying to press the Lord to reconsider is not an easy task. Yet, God is patient with Abraham’s requests even though God already knows the outcome. Let’s think about that for a second. God already knew that there were no righteous people in those cities, yet he allowed Abraham to question His judgement.
God’s patience is not just for the patriarchs of our faith. God is patient with all of His children. He allows us to make all kinds of mistakes and is always faithful to redeem us. He saves and uses the most imperfect people to spread the gospel. His children have continually betrayed Him yet He stands by His covenant. God’s patience is endless. However, everything has a limit. Eventually our behavior will have consequences. For Sodom and Gomorrah, there sins eventually had to be put to an end.
[Featured image: Martin, John, 1789-1854; The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah]