Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Abraham bargains with God

When I hear people say God never changes his mind, I think of this story. From today’s reading in the Lectionary, Abraham, Father of the Jews, the Christians and the Moslems, bargains with God not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah:

Genesis 18:16-33

16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked towards Sodom; and Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?* 19No, for I have chosen* him, that he may charge 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 about for Abraham what he has promised him.’ 20Then the Lord said, ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! 21I must go down and 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 towards Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord.* 23Then Abraham came near and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous 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?’ 26And the Lord said, ‘If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.’ 27Abraham answered, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28Suppose 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.’ 29Again he spoke to him, ‘Suppose forty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of forty I will not do it.’ 30Then he said, ‘Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.’ He answered, ‘I will not do it, if I find thirty there.’ 31He said, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.’ 32Then he said, ‘Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’ 33And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

January 31, 2010 - Posted by | Relationships, Spiritual

2 Comments »

  1. The last time I thought about that passage I considered God’s omnipotence. If he already knew Abraham wasn’t going to find even ten righteous did he really change his mind or did he just placate Abraham until he could learn for himself what God already knew?

    I never paid much attention to verse 17-19 until seeing it here but they seem to indicate that was part of God’s intention. He chose not to hide what he was about to do so that Abraham could see the gravity for himself.

    Comment by bitjockey | January 31, 2010 | Reply

  2. And – ultimately he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, but sent angels to warn Lot and his family to get out, remember? I love the way Abraham addresses the Lord, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.”

    Good Morning, BitJockey! 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 31, 2010 | Reply


Leave a Reply to intlxpatr Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: