Chapter 18

  1. Abraham’s Three Visitors

    • One day, during the hot part of the day, the Lord appeared to Abraham as he was sitting in the door of his tent.

      • “Apparently, this happened a short time later. In Genesis 17:21, God said Sarah would give birth one year later, and at this time, she is not yet pregnant. So this couldn’t be more than three months after the events in Genesis 17.” (Guzik)

    • Abraham looked up and saw three men standing close to him. He ran to them and bowed saying, “Please if you will, stay and let me bring water to wash your feet and some bread to eat while you rest under the tree.”

    • The men agreed, so Abraham ran to Sarah and told her to quickly make some bread. He ran and picked one of his best calves and had it prepared. Then Abraham served the butter, milk, and the calf to the men and they ate under the tree.

      • “Again, to us this may seem to be overdoing it, but ancient culture had an extremely strong sense of hospitality to visitors. And it is also likely Abraham knew it was the Lord visiting him.” (Guzik)

2. Sarah Laughs

    • The men asked Abraham where Sarah was and he responded that she was in the tent.

    • The Lord said, “I’ll come back in a year and Sarah will have a son!”

    • Sarah was listening from inside the tent and when she heard this she laughed to herself because she knew she was well beyond child bearing age.

    • Then the Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and ask if she could really have a baby at her age?” Is anything impossible for me? When I return this time next year she will have a son.”

    • Sarah was afraid, so she denied that she had laughed. But God said, “Yes, you laughed.”

3. Abraham’s Plea for Sodom

    • After they ate, the men stood up and looked out toward Sodom. Abraham was walking with them to see them off and the Lord said, “Should I hide my plan for Sodom from Abraham? After all, I have chosen him so that he will direct his descendants to obey My ways and to do what is right. This is how I will fulfill what I’ve promised him.”

      • “This point is vital; God’s purpose in this is not “gossip” with Abraham about what He will do, nor is it to satisfy Abraham’s curiosity. God wanted to do something in Abraham’s life through what He will reveal to him.” (Guzik)

    • Then the Lord told Abraham that the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah had become so great and their sin was so incredibly serious, that He was going to go down to see if the wickedness that was taking place justified the cries that were coming to Him.

      • “It is possible to misunderstand these verses in two ways: (1) that God is distant from His creation; and (2) that God is not all-knowing. God already knows the spiritual state of Sodom (Psalm 139:1-12), which has “come up” to Him in His transcendence (i.e. existence over and beyond the created universe). However, because God is so fully immanent (personally involved with His creation) this passage speaks of His “coming down” to “see” the sinfulness of Sodom for Himself.” (HCSB Commentary)

    • Two of the men went toward Sodom while Abraham and the Lord stopped together.

    • Abraham asks, “Will you really sweep away the righteous people with the wicked? What if there are 50 righteous people in the city? How could you possibly treat the righteous and the wicked the same? Won’t the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”

    • The Lord told Abraham, “If I find 50 righteous people, I will spare the city for them.”

    • Abraham then continued, “Since I’ve already been bold, even though I’m not worthy, what if there are only 45 righteous people? Will you still destroy the city?”

    • The Lord responds that he will spare Sodom for 45 righteous people.

    • Abraham continues, “What if there are only 40 righteous people there?”

    • The Lord answers that he will spare Sodom for the sake of only 40.

    • Abraham then says, “Please don’t be angry with me, but what if there are only 30?”

    • The Lord answers that He will spare Sodom for 30.

    • Abraham continues, “What if there are only 20?”

    • The Lord replied that He will spare it for 20.

    • Abraham again asked, “ Please don’t be angry, I’ll ask one more time; what if there are only 10 righteous people found there.”

    • The Lord answered that He would spare Sodom for the sake of only 10 righteous people.

    • When they had finished talking, the Lord left and Abraham went back to his tent.

      • This exchange between Abraham and the Lord has always intrigued me and confused me at the same time. Does this negotiation imply that we can really cause God to “change His mind”? Obviously God already knew there weren’t even 10 righteous people in all of Sodom. Why didn’t He just cut to the chase and tell Abraham this? David Guzik explains in his quote below that not only are these verses a lesson to us in how we should pray, but the situation was also an exercise in intercession on Abraham’s part. God was grooming Abraham to be a great leader so He was developing in him a loving heart for all people made in God’s image.

      • “Abraham continued his intercession with a ‘bold humility.’ He was not proud or arrogant before the Lord, but he still continued to ask. Abraham’s humility was demonstrated in that nowhere in his prayer did he ask ‘Why?’ or did he demand that God explain Himself and His actions…Abraham was a skilled negotiator and he prevailed upon God to lower the number of righteous required to spare the city. First by units of five, then by units of ten, until the number settled at ten. It is impossible to miss the persistence of Abraham in intercession. Why didn’t he give it up at 40 or 50 and say simply ‘it’s in the Lord’s hands’ or ‘the Lord will do what the Lord will do’? Because an intercessor must feel, at the moment of prayer, that the eternal destiny of men depends on his prayer. This is the kind of heart God wanted to draw out of Abraham – a heart that cared so much for people made in the image of God that he worked hard to intercede on behalf of a city that deserved judgment. This was the heart a great leader of a great and mighty nation needed to have. Remember, there is a sense in which all this negotiation was fruitless. There were not ten righteous people in the city, only four. The cities were destroyed. Yet God specifically revealed the fate of these cities to Abraham to draw out of him an intercessor’s heart of love, so even before the time of Jesus Abraham could be conformed into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29) who is Himself an intercessor (Hebrews 7:25).” (Guzik)