Why did Abraham try to
SAVE Sodom and Gomorrah?
Submit YOUR questions, through our easy to use form, Why did Abraham, the father of the faithful and a righteous man, BARGIN with God to, if possible, SAVE the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction?
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Did he entertain ANGELS?
Hebrews 13 tells us:
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." (Hebrews 13:2, NKJV throughout unless stated)
Apostle Paul no doubt had in mind the examples of Abraham and Lot recorded in Genesis the 18th and 19th chapters. Genesis 18 begins with Abraham showing hospitality to some strangers who are passing through his area (18:1-8). These strangers are God's special messengers. They bring the joyous news that Sarah will soon give birth to a son (Genesis 18:9-15) as was promised.
The strangers also have come to inform the father of the faithful about something he needed to hear:
"And the Lord said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him . . .'" (Genesis 18:17-19).
God, because Abraham was His friend, tells him what he plans to do:
"And the Lord said, 'Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.'" (Genesis 18:20-21).
Bargaining for life
Abraham decides to plead with God to possibly forestall any punishment. Although he is no doubt familiar with some of the grievious sins committed by the cities, his nephew Lot lives in Sodom. What God intends Abraham to learn from what he proposes to do is the proper administration of justice. Notice Abraham's fascinating discussion with God in verses 23 to 32 of Genesis 18 that seeks to bargin for mercy.
"And Abraham came near and said, 'WOULD YOU ALSO DESTROY THE RIGHTEOUS WITH THE WICKED? 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?'
"So the Lord said, 'If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.'
"Then Abraham answered and said, 'Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 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." (Genesis 18:23-32)
The opening statement in Abraham's bargaining for the two cities is rather fascinating "Would you also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" Abraham is not concerned with the question of whether anyone in Sodom and Gomorrah is sinless but whether the innocent will receive the same judgment as the guilty. It is also interesting to note that God not only allows, but is likely pleased, with Abraham's vigorous and persuasive advocacy of the cities. He promises Abraham that if he finds just ten righteous people in the city then both towns will not be destroyed.
Lot Fleeing with his Daughters from Sodom
Sodom is in foreground, Gomorrah in background.
On path (top left) is Lot's wife turned into a brown pillar of salt.
What did angels do to protect LOT?
Genesis 19 opens with two angels arriving in Sodom to gather evidence. The presence of more than one witness is consistent with the principle later codified in Deuteronomy 19:
"One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. " (Deuteronomy 19:15)
Once in the city, the angels, Lot and family immediately have issues to handle.
"Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, 'Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.' And they said, 'No, but we will spend the night in the open square.' But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
"Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally (have sex with them).'
"So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, 'Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.' And they said, 'Stand back!' Then they said, 'This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.' So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.
"But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door." (Genesis 19:1-11)
First we observe the behavior of Lot, who meets the angels at the gates of the city (19:1). Like his uncle Abraham, Lot is a gracious host. He invites the travelers into his home for a meal and a good night's sleep (verses 2-3). However, what starts out as a quiet evening is interrupted by a riot in the streets of Sodom. An angry mob surrounds Lot's house and demands that he release his guests to them (verses 4-5). Verse 4 emphasizes that this mob includes the entire population of the city, everyone except for those who are inside the house.
Lot then steps outside and attempts to reason with the crowd at his door. He begs them to change their minds and abandon their plan to violently assault and abuse the strangers (verses 6-7). But the Sodomites derisively dismiss Lot's pleas. Who is he, a relative newcomer to their city, to stand in judgment of them? They mock Lot for calling their behavior "wicked" and threaten to treat him even more wickedly (verse 9).
The whole population of the area stands in defiance of God; there are not even ten innocent men to be found. The angels immobilize the mob with blindness and pull Lot back inside the house (verses 10-11). The people of Sodom and Gomorrah assert that no one has the right to judge them, but like everyone else, they are subject to the judgment of their Creator.
The few who were innocent in Sodom were given an opportunity to flee the area and escape to the nearby village of Zoar. It was only then that the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah was carried out.
"The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
"But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt." (Genesis 19:23-26)
What are the lessons learned?
What are the lessons we learn from the destruction of these two wicked cities? The first lesson is that just decisions are based on direct testimony from multiple witnesses. Every effort should be made to determine the truth and avoid the possibility that the innocent are falsely convicted.
The people of Sodom believed that "might makes right" and asserted that no one could dictate morality to them. But right and wrong are not determined by the force of a mob or public opinion. Instead, they come to us from the God of Abraham, the Creator of the universe. The sentence of Sodom and Gomorrah teaches us the no one is above the law of God. As the Promised Land would later cast out the Canaanites for their great sins (Leviticus 18:28), the cities of the plain had so polluted themselves and everything around them that the entire area had to be cleansed with fire. Lastly, we also learn that God does not delight in punishing the wicked. When helpless victims cry out for justice, God hears and comes to their defense.