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Abraham and Sodom (Genesis 18)

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CHAPTER 18 Jan. 9 
Three Angels Visit Abraham and Sarah
Yahweh appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2He lifted up his eyes and looked, and saw that three men stood opposite him. When he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth, 3and said, My lord, if now I have found favour in your sight, please don’t go away from your servant. 4Now let a little water be fetched, wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5I will get a morsel of bread so you can refresh your heart. After that you may go your way, for this is why you have come to your servant. They said, Very well, do as you have said. 6Abraham ran into the tent to Sarah, and said, Quickly prepare three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes. 7Abraham ran to the herd, and fetched a tender and good calf, and gave it to the servant. He hurried to dress it. 8He took butter, milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them. He stood by them under the tree, and they ate.  9They asked him, Where is Sarah, your wife? He said, See, in the tent. 10He said, I will certainly return to you when the season comes round. Behold, Sarah your wife will have a son. Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him. 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age. Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I have grown old will I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13Yahweh said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Will I really bear a child, seeing I am old?’ 14Is anything too hard for Yahweh? At the set time I will return to you, when the season comes round, and Sarah will have a son. 15Then Sarah denied, saying, I didn’t laugh, for she was afraid. He said, No, but you did laugh. 16The men rose up from there, and looked toward Sodom. Abraham went with them to see them on their way. 17Yahweh said, Will I hide from Abraham what I do, 18since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him? 19For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Yahweh may bring on Abraham that which He has spoken of him. 20Yahweh said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, 21I will go down now, and see whether their deeds are as bad as the reports which have come to me. If not, I will know. 
Abram Pleads with Yahweh to Save Sodom
22The men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before Yahweh. 23Abraham drew near, and said, Will You consume the righteous with the wicked? 24What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will You consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25Be it far from You to do things like that, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be like the wicked. May that be far from You. Shouldn’t the Judge of all the earth do right? 26Yahweh said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake. 27Abraham answered, See now, I have taken it on myself to speak to the Lord, who am but dust and ashes. 28What if there will lack five of the fifty righteous? Will You destroy all the city for lack of five? He said, I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there. 29He spoke to Him yet again, and said, What if there are forty found there? He said, I will not do it for the forty’s sake. 30He said, Oh don’t let the Lord be angry, and I will speak. What if there are thirty found there? He said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. 31He said, See now, I have taken it on myself to speak to the Lord. What if there are twenty found there? He said, I will not destroy it for the twenty’s sake. 32He said, Oh don’t let the Lord be angry, and I will speak just once more. What if ten are found there? He said, I will not destroy it for the ten’s sake. 33Yahweh went His way, as soon as He had finished communing with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.


18:2 Three men- three Angels, who bore the Name of Yahweh (as in Ex. 23:21).
18:12 Sarah murmured that it was impossible for her to have “pleasure” in childbearing. She uses the word ednah, related to the word Eden. Yet in the events of Gen. 19, she sees how the land around Sodom that was once “like the garden of Eden” (Gen. 13:10) is made barren and sowed with salt so that nothing could grow there (Gen. 19:25; Dt. 29:23). She was being taught that God can give and take away fertility on a huge scale. God uses circumstances and experiences to teach us what is possible for us in His strength.
Sarah is commended for calling Abraham her “Lord” (1 Pet. 3:6). But she said it “within herself” whilst laughing at the improbability of God fulfilling His promise; yet in doing so, when she came to think of Abraham, in her heart she called him “my lord”. So in the midst of her lack of faith in one respect, she also had a commendable attitude to Abraham.  God searched her thoughts, He saw her wrong attitudes there deep in her heart, and He saw what was commendable there too; and through Peter He drags this out and reveals it to us all as an inspiration. We should have a similar positive attitude to others, discerning what’s good in them even if it’s surrounded by weakness. 
18:23 God is open to dialogue; but a telling example of the limitation of God's potential by men is in Abraham's request that God would spare Sodom for the sake of 50 righteous there. He then lowers the number to 40, and then finally to ten, assuming that surely Lot's family were righteous and would comprise ten righteous. If Abraham had left off praying at, say, forty... then this would have been the limit God set. But Abraham set the limit at ten. But what would have happened if he had gone further and asked God to save Sodom for the sake of one righteous man, i.e. Lot? My sense is that the Father would have agreed. But the city wasn't saved for the sake of the one man Lot, because Abraham limited God's desire to save by the smallness of his vision.  His mercy will be upon us according as we hope in Him (Ps. 33:22).