Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left–and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:11)
God appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.
“My lord,” Abraham said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.”
Abraham did not know that they were not ordinary guests. Abraham was a good man, and without knowing, he indeed greeted God’s angels. Then he served them well with full of hospitality. Having a good heart is a great blessing from God. Thus, we should pray to God for a good heart full of hospitality toward visitors and strangers.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
The angels of God did not refuse Abraham’s hospitality and accepted. “All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”
So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into a dough, and bake some bread.” Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. Abraham did not spare the best for the guests. Sarah, who knew Abraham’s heart, also brought the best. Abraham loved his wife, Sarah, as himself, and Sarah did everything for Abraham, which was the beautiful and precious relationship between husband and wife in God.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:22, 25)
When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees. Abraham, the household head, humbly served the angels without knowing, which greatly pleased God.
Then the angels brought the biggest blessings to Abraham and Sarah. The faithful couple badly wanted to have their own baby, but they could not have their baby throughout their marriage. Thus, they gave up.
“Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked.
“She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied.
Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”
Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?
Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (The LORD is the name of God, which is in Hebrew, יהוה [HYWH]).
Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
But the LORD said, “No, you did laugh.”
Surely, God was faithful. A year later, Sarah bore a baby and delivered a son, whose name is Isaac. “Isaac” means laughter. God brought joy to Sarah and Abraham when they were 90 and 100 years old, respectively.
After blessing Sarah’s future baby, the men got up from their meal and looked out toward Sodom. As they left, Abraham went with them to send them on their way. Again, Abraham was so courteous and did not want to send them away alone. He went with them for their safe journey until they reached the region’s edge, where he dwelt.
Then the LORD said,
“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? “ (Gensis 18:17b)
God decided to reveal His plan to Abraham because God knew Abraham’s heart for his nephew, Lot. Then God continues,
“For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.” (Genesis 18:17-19)
God was about to destroy Sodom because its wickedness even reached to heaven. After receiving Abraham’s hospitality, God decided to reveal His plan for Sodom. In truth, God revealed His plan not because God received his hospitality but because God had made His solemn covenant with Abraham. God singled out Abraham among all peoples and blessed Abraham and his descendants. God promised to make him a great and mighty nation, and all nations would be blessed through Abraham.
We are God’s children, not because we are good before God by doing good and being kind to others, but because God singled us out according to His infinite goodness. God gave His solemn covenant with us and adopted us as His own children. This is the reason why God reveals the hidden secret of the truth and blessings to us. Daily and moment and moment, in this truth, we can stand firm in all circumstances and walk with God following the footsteps of Jesus Christ, Our Savior. Precisely, the very same blessing given to Abraham is now flowing through in our hearts because we are His children and Abraham’s descendants in faith in Him.
So the LORD told Abraham,
“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.” (Genesis 18:20-21)
How do you think? Did God have to visit Sodom and Gomorrah to see how wicked they are because God didn’t know? No. God knew exactly how sinful their heart desires were. Then why did God say to Abraham as the above Bible verse? The reason was for Abraham and made him grow deeper into Him. God had constantly been molding Abraham and shaping him for years due to His solemn promise made with Abraham.
After settling down in the Promised Land, God sent a great famine. Abraham, then, went down to Egypt, but God called him back. During his stay in Egypt, Abraham lost his wife, Sarah. God returned Sarah to Abraham, but Pharaoh humiliated Abraham before all of his officials. Then God let him know the most formidable king and his army captured and took away his nephew Lot. Abraham bravely pursued the king and the king’s army and rescued Lot. God gave Abraham the impossible victory that only God could provide. As for returning, God let Abraham meet Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, who praised Abraham by bringing out bread and wine.
God continuously carved out Abraham. For this time, God touched the most painful part of his heart –not having his own child. Abraham could not endure any longer, and he proposed to God adopting Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in His household, as his heir. God rejected, and God reaffirmed His promise. God took Abraham out from his tent and visually showed God’s promise — the countlessly many sparkling stars on the clear night sky. Abraham was convinced.
However, Sarah, who was also in great distress, brought Hagar, her Egyptian servant, to Abraham. Hagar bore a son called Ishmael, which quickly became the source of the household’s brokenness and conflict among Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. God intervened and brought peace again in his home.
God, then, appeared to Abraham and confirmed God’s solemn promise. For this time, God permanently changed his name to Abraham from Abram, not to forget God’s promise forever. Following what God did to Abraham, we can feel God’s love and how carefully and patiently God was carving Abraham from Abram.
If so, was Abraham fully ready to be the father of many nations, as the name “Abraham” suggested? No. Not yet. Abraham, who was 99 years old, was way different from Abram at 75 years old when he left his native countries and close families. Even so, Abraham did not reach the maturity that God wanted. God, who was infinitely faithful, just started yet another training session for Abraham.
Among the visitors, two men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the LORD remained with Abraham. Why? God was waiting and wanted to see how Abraham responded.
Abraham approached him and said,
“Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:23b-25)
What a wonderful interceding prayer filled with hope and faith for the people in Sodom and Gomorrah! Did Abraham not know the wickedness of the cities? No. He knew. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, left him and settled in Sodom. Since then, Abraham’s heart was always with Sodom, where Lot lived because he still loved Lot like his own child. Whenever Abraham heard about the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, his heart sank. Every day, Abraham prayed for God’s protection for Lot and his family. Abraham knew very well about all things in Sodom and Gomorrah and what was happening in the cities.
About 500,000 people lived in Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham quickly did a mental calculation. One out of 10,000 should be righteous. Then Abraham decided to plead with God using God’s righteousness — God could not destroy both the righteous and the wicked together. Abraham prayed for God’s mercy using God’s goodness based on his own confidence of finding 50 righteous people. Abraham also saw two angels already left for Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham felt the urgency. Thus, he quickly made such a plea to God. He could not delay rescuing his nephew, Lot, his family, and those close to Lot’s family.
And God replied,
“If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.” (Genesis 18:26b)
Abraham was comforted. He felt that his prayer surely saved Lot and his family. However, to be safe, he wanted to have a margin, such as 10%. Then Abraham spoke again.
“Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” (Genesis 18:27b-28a)
Abraham, then, anxiously waited for God’s response. And God said,
“I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.” (Genesis 18:28b)
God did not hesitate and lovingly answered Abraham. Abraham got what he wanted. God saw through Abraham’s heart, and Abraham’s prayer pleased God.
Then God waited again. God knew what Abraham would do next. However, Abraham needed to take his courage to do the next, which God exactly wanted from Abraham.
God was the most gracious Father of all, and Abraham acted as God expected. What a beautiful relationship between God and Abraham, as the most loving Father of all and the most faithful and trusting son, Abraham!
Then Abraham more pressed God by pleading with another even more bold prayer.
“Suppose there are only forty?” (Genesis 18:29b)
Of course, God knew there were no forty righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. God answered,
“I will not destroy it for the sake of the forty.” (Genesis 18:29b)
Then God waited again. Abraham paused for a while. God again wanted to see Abraham’s next move.
“Please don’t be angry, my Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Let me speak—suppose only thirty righteous people are found?” (Genesis 18:30a)
Abraham begged, and God graciously and lovingly listened to Abraham’s plea. Abraham pleased God with his bold but loving request for Sodom and Gomorrah. God replied in His pleasure,
“I will not destroy it if I find thirty.” (Genesis 18:30b)
Abraham still could not sure about Lot and his family’s safety because he heard too many bad things happening in Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham experienced throughout his life how gracious God was. Whenever he failed, God was there. Whenever he was in distress, God was there. Whenever he cried out, God was there. Why not for this time, Abraham said to himself. Abraham decided to ask once more.
“Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue—suppose there are only twenty?” (Genesis 18:31b)
Twenty is less than ½ of the initial number: 50. 20 was a really low number. Abraham initially thought that it would be very hard for even the gracious God to accept this low number. With taking courage, he prayed because he loved Lot and family. God saw through Abraham’s hear and his thought process step by step. Did God refuse his plea? No, God, full of mercy and grace, answered.
“Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.” (Genesis 18:31c)
God shocked Abraham. Abraham thought that God would never accept such a low number, but God did. Abraham felt like a child in a toy store. Whatever he asked, God provided. Abraham was so happy because he verified again and again God heard his bold prayer for his nephew, Lot, and Lot’s family.
Strangely enough, God was still with him. Abraham thought that he got all that he wanted from God for Lot and Lot’s family. Then he felt that God would leave him after giving such a ridiculous bargain. However, God was still there for Abraham. God wanted to see yet another Abraham’s bold prayer for Lot and Lot’s family.
From the interactions between God and Abraham, we can learn one important spiritual lesson. We should boldly approach God and intercede for others as Jesus Christ loved us on the cross, which only makes our God more pleased rather than making Him angry because God loves to see for us to pray for His mercy for others. In reality, God always wants to hear our heartfelt and bold prayer for others from the bottom of our hearts.
What are the two greatest commandments? Love God, and Love others. Then what would be the most precious prayer of all to God’s ear? Our interceding prayers for others with all our hearts and minds boldly before God.
God still waited for the last push from Abraham for Lot and Lot’s family. Even the Bible uses the word “finally.”
Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” (Genesis 18: 32a)
Abraham was finally dear to ask God. He believed that God, who was so gracious and merciful to him, would not be angry even though he made the truly ridiculous prayer to God for Lot and Lot’s family. Abraham felt that it would be the final negotiation with God. Abraham did diligence as much as he could do. Lot had his wife, two daughters, two fiances for their two daughters, and their fiance families. Then the total quickly became more than ten. Then the number, 10 was more than enough. However, it was only one-fifth of the initial number, 50. Yes, God saw through Abraham’s heart and this mental calculation for others, which even more pleased God. Finally, Abraham felt that his last request was a sure thing.
And God replied,
“Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.” (Genesis 18:32b)
God had achieved what God wanted from Abraham, which shaped Abraham to be the true father of many nations. God already had a good plan for saving Lot and his family at that time.
When God had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way, and Abraham returned to his tent. It was one of the great moments that Abraham was one step closer to God and becoming the true Abraham whom God truly wanted.
How do you think? Did Abraham become the one whom God wanted? No. Not yet. However, it was true that Abraham just made another great step toward God to be the true Abraham. Of course, God was pleased with Abraham. Abraham proved himself before God. Abraham tenaciously prayed for Lot and Lot’s family to the point that he thought that he would make God angry because he made to God a ridiculously bold prayer for others, i.e., Lot and his family.
Then what should we do? Shouldn’t we pray for others boldly and tenaciously to God as Abraham did, which only makes our God truly pleased because God is our most gracious Father, full of mercy and love?
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (Philippians 3:12)