Genesis 18: Abraham Intercedes for Sodom

1 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. 2 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

-Abraham’s act obviously meant recognition. Even though this passage says “men”, they obviously did not look like ordinary men and since Abraham was already wealthy like a king, it probably was not because they appeared rich or important. Abraham recognized these men as being God’s men either through instinct (Holy Spirit) or because he realized he had seen one of them before. The fact that he says “O Lord” in the next verse means that he recognizes one of them as who he thinks is God Himself. As we talked about before, if it is only an angel, the angel would correct Abraham and not allow him to make the mistake of referring to an angel mistakenly as God. Since this being has the appearance of a man, it is quite likely that this individual is Jesus, God the Son. The other two men must have been angels accompanying Him and Abraham somehow understood that this One was of more importance than the other two and were only accompanying.

3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6 And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. 8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

-This confirms that these beings did come in the form of men that they would eat and did not appear as a spiritual being only resembling a man. They appeared to have normal bodies like you and I. We’ve talked about there being four different words in Hebrew for the English word “man”. The word used here is the plural of “enosh” which if you recall means man in the mortal, fleshly sense. We see Abraham give them the utmost respect as guests, even washing their feat. If Abraham thinks he is entertaining God, he must be in both excitement and panic. How does one entertain God if he comes by your house? This demonstrates both Abraham’s faith and his submission to God up to this point. Abraham has come far enough in his journey that he knows who is boss. He knows who he owes everything to. Even let them eat while he stood by, not even eating himself. A “seah” is a unit of measurement of roughly 7.33 liters or one third of an “ephah” which is 22 liters.

9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”

-”The way of women had ceased” obviously means that she was old enough to have reached the state of menopause. There was now no physical way she could possibly have a child now even if she could before. It would truly, by all definitions, take a miracle at this point. Her age would have probably been the equivalent of 60 years old today. One amazing small mention that is easy to miss if in verse 12 when she calls her husband “lord”. What a stunning display of respect. In 1 Peter 3:5-6 in referring to marriage, Peter writes, “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord…” By her conduct in scripture, Sarah is considered an excellent example of a good wife. I gave her credit last chapter as well but just in this one word, we see a perfect example for wives everywhere. As mentioned before, husbands must love and sacrifice for their wives and wives should respect and honor their husbands. In this, the most joy in marriage can be found. The fact that Sarah referred to her husband in this way even while laughing about something else, tells me that they must have had an excellent, loving marriage. This was a day where men did take multiple wives and Hagar was not given early on even though it was very cultural to have children through a servant if the husband and wife could not conceive. “have pleasure” in this last verse certainly refers to the joys of having a child.

13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

-Sarah was ashamed when she realized she had just laughed at something God had said. I can imagine the look on her face and her hand coming up to cover her mouth quickly, like a child who just said a bad word in front of his parents. How we are like children to God, even when we are old! And how He is a loving and understanding father! God did not scold her for this but merely encouraged her to have faith.

16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to 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 have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

-This is another bizarre inclusion in the bible if you do not understand the entire bible and the nature of Jesus, God the Son. God appears to be talking to Himself, no really! He asks Himself if he should hide the truth from Abraham. Is He thinking and considering? God does not need to think and consider. Thinking suggests indecisiveness and not knowing. God knows everything; therefore, He never has to think and consider. What is happening is God the Son, the one in the form of a man, is asking God the Father what to do. Jesus is perfectly submissive to God the Father, calling Him Lord. He does nothing apart from the will of the Father. Even though Jesus Himself is God, we know there are things that Jesus does not know that God the Father knows. We are told in by Jesus Himself in Matthew 24:36 regarding the end times says “…concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” So there are things that are kept from God the Son, including the end of the world. Jesus must have been asking earnestly what He should do from the Father because He does not know what to do in advance. He is there under orders awaiting the next order. So Jesus is sent to investigate Sodom and Gomorrah and only God the Father knows if He will destroy it. It is a chilling thought to think that Jesus could come to Earth and could even be on Earth right now doing the Father’s will. How would we possibly recognize Him if He appears like an ordinary man. We don’t have a clue what He looks like and He can probably look like anyone. Perhaps we should all be like Abraham was here and be perfectly hospital to anyone, any stranger that comes to visit. You never know if the person your are entering could be an angel, or even God Himself!

Abraham Intercedes for Sodom

22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death 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?”

-What a bold question! But an all to common one. So many people say the reason they have a hard time believing that a God exists is that bad things happen to good people. This comes from a misunderstanding of what good is. We think of good in the world as someone who is generally nice and does harm others. We think of good as a child, innocent. So when we see major disasters and horrible unspeakable things especially that which is done to children by sick and twisted minds, many people cannot believe a righteous God would allow such a thing. We fail to understand that we are all evil and all live in an evil, sinful world. We also don’t realize that death is not the worst thing to happen to a person. We don’t realize that God will use evil for good and use these horrible things to reveal Himself to people. These horrible acts do not disprove God but on the contrary, show what happens without Him and why we need Him. We have no ability to do anything by ourselves good apart from Him and natural disasters or bad people doing bad things is an excellent reminder that we are not safe. We are never safe. There is no such thing as safe. It is an illusion that we create. We are not in heaven right now and at any moment death can instantaneously come to us and our families. We are utterly helpless and at the mercy of God. We must constantly remind ourselves that God is not beholden to us and has no obligation to save us and anything He does is purely grace. We, even little children as hard as it is to imagine, deserve death for our sin. Anytime people die or a bad thing happens to a “good” person, it is less than what is deserved. But God does show mercy, God does intervene, God does answer prayer to those who call out to Him. But if a major disaster is happening and you are about to die and you call out to God for the first time in your life sincerely, do not expect to be saved. After all, who are you? God does not know you. When have you ever taken the time to know Him or thank Him for what He does for you? But to His adopted children. He often saves them or at least takes away some of the pain if it is their time. But if they die, all that means is that the path to being with God is accelerated. Death is not the worst thing that can happen, it can even be a blessing.

26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” 27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 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.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

-I find this passage humorous myself. Abraham isn’t asking what is truly on His mind. Abraham does not know if there are as many as ten righteous in that city. In fact, he may doubt that there is. He is asking God because he knows that his nephew Lot lives in Sodom and will be killed if God destroys the city. Abraham considers Lot righteous and we know that God counts faith as righteousness. If Lot has faith that God spoke to Abraham and is indeed real then perhaps God will spare him. Lot has always been like a son to Abraham and he even journeyed into modern day Syria with an army to rescue him. He does not want his kin to be killed. However, many interpret this passage as Abraham caring for human life in general. But Abraham does not ask God not to destroy the city for the sake of children who live there and are innocent. He is only asking about “righteous” people. He obviously has at least one righteous person in mind. If Abraham really did have concern for the children or “innocents” that don’t know better, then he at least knew that God would not make an exception because we are still only a few hundred years removed from the flood. Abraham may know what had happened to the Earth generations before and no that it is not above the Lord to destroy the world if everyone in it is wicked. This is why he asks if there are any people righteous, like Noah was, would he spare them? We don’t know if Lot living where he was would have been considered righteous but perhaps like Noah, because Lot was like a son to Abraham and Abraham was considered righteous, perhaps Lot was spared for Abraham’s sake just as Noah’s sons were.

Spanish Words:

encinar = oak forest, grove

alzar = to lift, raise

postrar = to prostrate, weaken

traer = to bring

recostar = to lie down

bocado = mouthful, bite

sustendar = to sustain

prisa = hurry

mantequilla = butter

reir = to laugh

juicio = trial

clamor = clamor, roar, outcry, toll

justo = fair, just

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