Striking A Bargain
One of the most interesting exchanges between God and a man is chronicled in the Bible when Abraham learned that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were doomed to destruction. He entered into a conversation, bargaining for the lives of the inhabitants of the cities. His attitude of compassion, care and concern is certainly one of the reasons that God made a covenant with Abraham in the first place. God also knew the character of Abraham and that he would keep the heart of the Lord in his justice and judgment. God knew that He could trust Abraham to be fair and compassionate in his judgment as He previously stated in Genesis 18:19, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment....”
Abraham began his negotiation at fifty individuals. Certainly, he must have thought, “Within the two cities, there must be fifty people that are righteous!” Abraham reminded God in Genesis 18:24-26 of His nature that is to save, not to destroy.
Genesis 18:24-26 (NKJV)
Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Abraham now had covenant authority in the earth realm. As a result, he was in a position to negotiate for the salvation of the inhabitants, and this is why the Lord told Abraham that He was going to Sodom and Gomorrah. God is in the business of saving and restoring man. Through his bargaining, Abraham had become the first intercessor of man, and he did so with his faith and the authority that God had invested in him.
Abraham continued his bargaining in Genesis 18:28-33, dropping the number of righteous to forty-five, and God said that if there were forty-five righteous, the cities would not be destroyed. Then, Abraham interceded for forty, then thirty, then twenty, and finally ten, and the Lord agreed to them all. Being content that there most certainly were ten that were righteous, he abandoned the bargaining. After all, his nephew Lot with his wife, two married daughters, two sons-in-law and two unmarried daughters, accounted for eight people in just Abraham’s family alone. Surely, there must have been at least two others that were as righteous as Lot and his family!
Genesis 18:28-33 (NKJV)
Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?” So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.”
And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?” So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.”
Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.”
Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”
So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
Abraham set the parameters of judgment in the situation and declared destruction himself! God had previously declared in Genesis 18:19 that Abraham would administer justice in his judgment. Remember, the Lord told Abraham that He was going to check out the situation, not to destroy the people. Abraham stopped Him, began the process of establishing the level at which judgment would be made and declared the punishment, which was destruction. Abraham decided to stop at ten righteous in the city because he was convinced that this would save his family and the cities. He did not know that two of Lot’s daughters and their husbands would seek after sin rather than God’s deliverance. Thus, this meant there were only four righteous in the entirety of the two cities!
Abraham, with the authority of the earth realm invested in him through his covenant with God, was the deciding factor of the point at which judgment would be determined and of how justice would be administered. Sin was already in place and had already demanded its penalty and sentence which is death. Abraham was surely aware of this, but in faith toward God, he interceded for both the sinners and the righteous. Abraham stopped at ten. Because of the covenant and his authority, Abraham’s words set the terms or parameters for judgment and justice that was demanded by the sins of the people and ultimately led to the destruction of the cities.
May God richly bless you in all that you do! - Dr Rich Masek
I invite you to read Chapter 14, The Cry Of Sin - Abraham's Bargain from
Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem - The Character and Nature of God to learn more.
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