Then Abraham approached him [the LORD] and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23, NIV 1984).
Then he [Abraham] said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He [the LORD} answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” (Ge 18:32, NIV 1984).
The two men [angels] said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” (Genesis 19:12–13, NIV 1984).
With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. (Genesis 19:15–16, NIV 1984).
“Look, here is a town [Zoar] near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me [Lot] flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” He said to him, “Very well, I [the angel] will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (Genesis 19:19–22, NIV 1984).
My Musings – The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is mostly remembered for the fierce judgment of God because “their sin [was] so grievous.” I don’t intend to debate the nature of their wickedness, but rather the underlying message of God’s mercy and grace that is often overlooked. Perhaps because that message is not quite as “sensational” and makes for a less interesting tale. In reality, it is both quite sensational (causing great public excitement) and interesting (arousing curiosity or catching the attention).
It starts with Abraham “negotiating” with the LORD. “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23, NIV 1984). Beginning with “fifty righteous,” Abraham “wears” the LORD down to agree not to destroy the cities “for the sake of ten.” The story is not about Abraham’s astute bargaining skills, but rather lavishness of God’s grace and mercy. God always has His remnant, and the lengths He will go “for the sake of the [elect]” is staggering.
In the end, there were only four. God did destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, a righteous judgment. Yet He did not “sweep away the [four] righteous with the wicked.” An undeserving expression of His abundant grace. For did they really measure up to His standard of righteousness?
His grace did not end there. When they hesitated, in the face of imminent destruction no less, “the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.” Even sparing another city (Zoar) marked for destruction (“I will not overthrow the town you speak of“).
God’s grace and mercy was extended despite the captivation of Lot to the wickedness that surrounded him. For example:
• He got close to the wickedness (“pitched his tents near Sodom” — Genesis 13:12).
• He moved into the midst of wickedness (“Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city” — Genesis 19:1).
• He hesitated leaving the circle of wickedness (“When [Lot] hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city” — Genesis 19:16).
• He desired to stay near the wickedness (“here is a town [Zoar] near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it” — Genesis 19:19).
My Advice – Let’s not cheapen God’s grace and mercy by getting close to, moving in to, hanging on to or staying near to worldliness. God is long-suffering, but His “Spirit will not contend with man forever.” (Genesis 6:3, NIV 1984).