Genesis 18:23-26 - Then Abraham drew 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 spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 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?" And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
Have you ever had a child be sassy with you? The Vietnamese have a proverb, "The rain falls up!" They say it whenever a child has the audacity to try to correct or bargain with his elders. It means, "You're stepping out of your place, getting too big for your britches."
In our text for today we see Abraham doing that very same thing with the Lord God. And God allows it—encourages it, even! Notice that it is God Himself who has started this whole conversation by deliberately telling Abraham he's about to destroy the cities of the plains: "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" (Genesis 18:17b).
God knows very well that Abraham has family living in Sodom—his nephew Lot, to be precise. So God tosses this bit of information out there, and Abraham takes the bait. Oh so respectfully, he argues God down—first with fifty righteous, then forty-five, then forty, then thirty, and so on—until God finally says, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it" (Genesis 18:32b).
Abraham must have been relieved. Surely, Lot's household alone would supply the ten righteous people! He did not know how deeply Sodom had corrupted his nephew's family. But although there were not ten righteous found in Sodom after all, still God honored the spirit of Abraham's request, and rescued his relatives alive from the city.
But I'd like to look more closely at Abraham's bargaining. It's bold, yes; it's even a bit cheeky, impudent, sassy, to speak this way to the Lord of all the earth. And yet it tells us something valuable about the relationship between God and Abraham. That relationship is based on love and trust—not just fear. That is why Abraham had the courage, the audacity, to speak this way to God.
My son can speak this way to his father because he knows his father loves him—because he trusts his father to take the conversation in the way intended instead of taking real offense. Put bluntly, he feels safe with his father. Abraham, too, felt safe with God. He trusted God to take his asking the right way—and to show mercy to him and his nephew.
What about us? We, too, are in a close relationship with God. We are His children by adoption through Jesus our Savior. And so, when we need to, we can come boldly into God's presence, asking for what we need—even when it feels cheeky or "too much." After all, He is the One who suffered, died, and rose again for us. He will treat us with mercy and love.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to trust You enough to ask for what I need, even when it seems too much. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Have you ever had to handle a bad situation and in so doing throw out some of the good with the bad?
2. What does it say about Abraham's persistent pleading with God about Sodom's sin? What does it say about God's forbearance?
3. Have you ever pleaded with God to spare someone ill fortune because of his or her bad choices?
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