“Approach God’s throne of grace with confidence…” (Heb. 4:16). Thank God that you can approach him this way today.
Read Genesis 18:16-33
 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way.  Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?  Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.  For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”  Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous  that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”  The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.  Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing-to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”  The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”  Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes,  what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”  Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”  Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”  Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”  Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”  When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat do you learn about the character of God here?
Bargaining was part of all ancient Middle Eastern business transactions, and here we find Abraham bargaining with God over the city of Sodom. There are a few points in the narrative worth considering before we turn to reflect on what this exchange tells us about the character of God. First, we have the mystery of how God chooses to manifest himself to Abraham. We are told that the three men are collectively “the Lord” (18:1,2); then, in 18:22, two of them went away and the third becomes “the Lord” (18:22). Second, God seems to need to verify reports he has heard of Sodom (21); but, is he not omnipotent? And third, was God actually revising his intentions based on Abraham’s intercession? It seems to me that there are often mysteries in the Bible that we will never be able to unravel. Personally, that is the way I like it. God is bigger than us and is reassuringly complex. What comes through clearly here, though, is that he is just and will see that evil is dealt with. He is merciful and always acts in love, extending grace to anyone who will accept it.
Abraham’s boldness is well-received. Is there anything you need to discuss with your just and merciful Creator?
Great God, I praise You for Your unfailing love and justness. May I never waver in trusting in You.
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