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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.”
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?” 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. – Genesis 18:16-33
I recently learned of a podcast that deals with IPO’s and their trajectory from start up to success…or not. They mentioned Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, as well as a few I don’t recall. I don’t recall them because they are not going to limit the conversation to successful launches, but they will feature also those that didn’t do so well. In other words, those that failed to launch. For a moment or two, I thought it would be great to have known when Apple first launched and I had invested $1000 there. But then I wondered…did it ever tank – even temporarily? Would I have held on? What would being independently wealthy do to me? To my soul? Would I really like to know the future?
God muses over whether to tell Abraham what he intends to do in regard to Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s not even about Abraham’s future. It’s about the future of the people living there. It would also be about his nephew Lot and Lot’s family. And in the end, he determined to let Abraham know of his plans. He was on his way to determine for himself how evil was the city, and to destroy it for the evil that was there.
I wonder: did God really not already know? Did he really need a reconnaissance mission to determine what he would do? Did he not realize that the evil there was so vile and rampant?
God is giving Abraham a view of his plans in order to allow Abraham to do this incredible thing. He would allow Abraham to intercede for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. And so he does. Abraham asks, in effect, Will you destroy the good with the wicked? And then the intercession begins.
God is willing to allow people to intercede in behalf of others. Are you such a one? Is there someone for whom you need to intercede? Can you call upon God to do good for the sake of the One Righteous One, his Son, Jesus Christ? Do you know someone who needs Jesus?
God may let us know of things so that we may be warned. It could be that his intent and even his revelation of that intent (consider the book of Revelation for example), is so that we may be warned. It might also be so that we are prepared. In other words, as we read the prophecies of Scripture (think again of Revelation), those ought to prepare us for the challenges we may face, and remind us of God’s justice, holiness, and most of all his love.
I may need that reminder now and again. And I suspect you might too.