After finishing their meal and the short exchange of words with Sarah, the visitors rose to continue their journey. They looked down toward Sodom, for that was where they were going next. So far we have learned several things about Sodom:
- Sodom was within the borders of Canaan. Genesis 10:19 (NIV) says, "...and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha."
- When Abraham and his nephew Lot had parted company, "Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom." (Genesis 13:12 NIV)
- "Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord." (Genesis 13:13 NIV)
"Then the Lord said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him." (Genesis 18:17-19 NIV)
Abraham is God's friend -- His covenant partner -- so naturally God confides to Abraham His plan. In the long term, God repeats the fact that Abraham will become a great nation, and reminds him that these covenant promises will be fulfilled as Abraham continues to "keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just". In addition, this is a subtle reminder that God is the One in charge of these plans: "I have chosen him" and "The Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him".
Next, the Lord turns to the business at hand: "...The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know." (Genesis 18:20-21 NIV) This brings two things to mind:
- Although sometimes people may believe that God has not heard their prayers and cries, He is well aware of every one of them.
- God does not judge hastily, but checks out the situation carefully before punishing evildoers. When God says in the above verses that He is going down to see if what He has heard is really true, this does not mean for one second that He is not omniscient (all-knowing) about such matters. Rather, it is to emphasize that the One known as the "Judge of all the earth" (Genesis 18:25) is a careful and thorough judge, who will not just respond to rumors. Like He required of his covenant partner, Abraham (v.19), He Himself will also do what is right and just.