The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing-to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake." Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?" "If I find forty-five there," he said, "I will not destroy it." Once again he spoke to him, "What if only forty are found there?" He said, "For the sake of forty, I will not do it." Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?" He answered, "I will not do it if I find thirty there." Abraham said, "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?" He said, "For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it." Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?" He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it." When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home. (Genesis 18:22-33 NIV)
The conversation between God and Abraham is a beautiful display of God's patience, mercy and justice. He already knew what the angels would find in the city - overwhelming corruption and evil. But God was patient with them, giving them one last chance to repent, one last chance to turn away from their wicked lifestyle before He blew the city off the map. He was also patient and merciful with Abraham, giving him the opportunity to intercede for any possible righteous people that might remain in the city, and giving him the opportunity to better understand the Lord's mind. Abraham knew from experience that God is merciful toward sinners, so he was trying to see just how far God's mercy would extend toward the city of Sodom. But God is also a just God. He must punish unrepentant sinners. So when the people of Sodom refused... well, we all know the rest of that story.
Thank God for His patience and mercy today! If He was not patient and merciful, just think what would happen to our world! Can you imagine living in a world where there was no hope? No salvation for sins through Jesus Christ? Without Jesus, there would not be one person who would ever see heaven. Not one. Because not one person has ever lived a sinless life, other than Jesus. Not one.
If you're living a hopeless life, remember there is a way out. You can become one of the righteous through Jesus Christ. God is still patient and merciful, just as He was then. He's still waiting for you to turn to Him.
"The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
From Newsong Ministries
Used with permission.