Sunday, November 7, 2010

Genesis 18:22-33 What If...?

The angels accompanying the Lord have left upon their mission of going down to Sodom, while Abraham remains standing before the Lord.  (Genesis 18:22)  Abraham realizes that judgment is about to come upon the sinful city.  It was common knowledge in those parts that "...the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord." (Genesis 13:13 NIV)

"Then Abraham approached him and said: 'Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  What if there are fifty righteous people in the city?  Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing -- to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike.  Far be it from you!  Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?' (Genesis 18:23-25 NIV)

Abraham is no doubt thinking about the welfare of his nephew, Lot and his family.  The last time Scripture mentions the two men getting together, Abraham was rescuing Lot and the people of Sodom from an invading coalition of kings.  Have the two men seen each other since?  Had Abraham urged Lot to leave the sinful city?  We don't know the answers to these questions.  However, one thing is certain.  Right now, Lot is in considerable danger again.  In fact, he is in greater danger now than the previous time, for the utter destruction of the city seems imminent.  This explains why Abraham seems so anxious to speak with the Lord.

"The Lord said, 'If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.' (Genesis 18:26 NIV)  Something in the Lord's expression must have made Abraham wonder:  Surely there were at least fifty righteous souls in Sodom, weren't there?  Abraham continues to inquire:  What if there are only 45, or 40 persons?  How about 30, or 20, or (gulp) only 10?  God replies patiently to all of Abraham's questions.  Finally,   "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it." (Genesis 18:32)  Abraham probably felt a little better.  Surely Lot and his household contained at least ten righteous persons, right?

"When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home." (Genesis 18:33 NIV)  No doubt Sarah would be excited about the prospect of their soon-coming son.  Abraham was excited, too.  At the back of his mind, though, he could not get Sodom out of his thoughts:  What if...?

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