Then the men set out from there, and they looked toward Sodom; and Abraham went with them to set them on their way. The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? No, 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.” Then the Lord said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I 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.”
So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose 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? Far 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?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” Abraham answered, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose 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.” Again he spoke to him, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Then 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.” He 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.” Then 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.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
Psalm 103:1-4, 8-11
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
When we read about what happened at Sodom and how Abraham bargained with God to spare its destruction, there is much we can observe. Wanting to spare the town, Abraham reminded God of his justice. He reminded God that his character does not punish the righteous along with the wicked. Because of that, he asked God to spare the town starting with 50, then 45, 40, 30, 20, and finally, 10. Perhaps Abraham knew that there was a better chance of finding only ten righteous persons. His kinsman, Lot, had moved his family there.
God did punish Sodom but in his justice, it was not until he evacuated the righteous people.
There were plenty of wicked people when Jesus walked the earth to live a detached life of single-mindedness for the Kingdom of God. As he tells us in the Gospel, “the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” He was purposed to go into the world to preach and bring good news of salvation. He described the wicked as ‘the dead’. They were dead in their sins and in need of the new life he came to offer.
The story reminds us that we live in a world with people who offend against God who are wicked. It’s not something we really say and it’s not something we like to think about. But we know that there are people who do terrible things. There are thieves, murderers, sex traffickers, crime families, and abusers of all kinds. God could punish them at any time. But because there are those who are righteous in the world, God spares them and gives them grace. The job of the righteous is to be the voice of Jesus in the world, walking as he did, to bring salvation to the lost.
The other message of the Sodom reading is that there comes a time when God makes his accounting and punishes the incorrigible wicked. It is the truest tragedy that Jesus came to suffer and die for all of us, yet some do not accept the grace of forgiveness to become righteous. The opportunity is for everyone. Today, let us pray for the lost, the transgressors, the ignorant and the wicked, that they will hear the good news of Christ and receive the gift of salvation before it is too late.