Genesis 18:22-26, 32-33

So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord.


Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 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? 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?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”…


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.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.  Genesis 18:22-26, 32-33


Yesterday we heard God sharing the news with Abraham that God intended to investigate the great wickedness, the lack of justice and righteousness, God had heard about in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Today we hear Abraham’s response.


We already know that Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family have settled in Sodom.  We know Lot has a special place in Abraham’s heart.  Abraham took Lot under his wing after the death of his father and grandfather.  Abraham brought Lot on this journey toward a new land.  Abraham gave Lot first choice on where Lot would settle.  And Abraham sent his warriors to rescue Lot when Lot had been kidnapped during a raid by another tribal king.  So it is no surprise that Abraham would speak up in order to defend Lot.


What is surprising is how Abraham negotiates with God.  He appeals to God for fairness – 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? – and then he talks God down from 50 to 45 to 40 to 30 to 20 to 10.  If there are just 10 righteous persons to be found, then the cities will be spared.


My sense is that few among us haven’t prayed at least a few such negotiation prayers in our lives.  “God, if you just do this for me, then I’ll do this for you…”  Such prayers usually come out of situations of grief, fear, and potential loss.  In such times, our prayers feel like casting words into the wind, seldom the dialogue with God that is described here with Abraham.


And sometimes we find ourselves defending what we clearly know is indefensible.  We’re taught to see the good in everyone and everything.  We harbor deep hope in righting wrongs and second chances and the possibilities of future change.  So we align here with Abraham.  We join him in seeking God’s mercy.


Either way, we also wonder in such moments if we are wasting our time.  So it is here.  Abraham can appeal all that he wants but it seems that the outcome is inevitable.  It doesn’t look good for Sodom and Gomorrah…and Lot.


Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, you have taught us to pray that your will be done.  Your good and gracious will be done.  Not what we want, but what you want for us.  Not what we want in our limited capacity to see and to know what is good and right and best, but your will be done.  Oh that we might trust your good and gracious will.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Genesis 18:22-26, 32-33”

  1. Bob Calhoun Says:

    thank you for this devotion.
    Last night I was speaking with my two youngest sons that live at home 11,& 9. about prayer, how it should be a conversation with God.I cant remember what I said,but they were actively listening.
    which I pointed how on to listen intentionally,actively .
    I will use this verse with I find some others that examples prayer is not talking to God , but more on the line of talking with God.


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