20Then the Lord said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! 21I 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.” 22So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord.
23Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24Suppose 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? 25Far 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?” 26And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” 27Abraham answered, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the LORD said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29Again Abraham spoke to the LORD, “Suppose forty are found there.” The LORD answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30Then Abraham said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” The LORD answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31Abraham said, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” The LORD answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32Then Abraham said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.” The LORD answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Reflection: What do you think about the way in which Abraham speaks to God? Is it disrespectful? Is he bargaining with God? Or is he a person who has a deep relationship with God who shares God’s concern for both justice and mercy? James, writing years later, stated that Abraham “was called the friend of God” (James 2:23). Look at the picture above of two men sitting talking in Italy. Are they arguing? Are they disagreeing? Or perhaps they are old, close friends who talk passionately about big and little things together. Perhaps they share, in their friendship, similar concerns. God desires honest dialogue with us. God wants us to love what he loves, to be concerned with what he is concerned. He wants to be like old friends with us. Right before going to the cross, Jesus told his disciples “I do not call you servants any longer…but I have called you friends” (John 15:15). Think about how you talk to God. Would you be so bold as Abraham was in speaking to God? Do you consider yourself God’s friend? If you begin thinking of yourself in that way, how would it change the way you talk to God?
- Tuesday, July 19 – Acts 2
- Wednesday, July 20 – Acts 3
- Thursday, July 21 – Acts 4
- Friday, July 22 – Acts 5
- Saturday, July 23 – Acts 6
- Sunday, July 24 – Acts 7
- Monday, July 25 – Acts 8
Prayer Focus: Who is it that you know that needs God’s mercy? Imagine someone you know who is involved in a “bad” or a less than ideal situation. Go to your Father and friend in prayer and intercede for them. To intercede means to go between two parties. Jesus comes to us and experiences our need and takes that need to the Father. Abraham, through his relationships with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, experienced the needs (and likely knew of the sinfulness) of the doomed people and took those needs (a plea for mercy) to God. So think of your friend or family member, your neighbor or coworker, that person in danger or the one who is going in the wrong direction in life and carry their burden before God. Be a go-between today. Intercede for others. For you and God both love them dearly.
Meditation Focus: How do we understand God’s righteousness/justice and the seeming contradiction of God’s mercy? What do you think when you hear the words righteousness or justice in relation to God? Often times we want to ignore these realities of God’s character. What about mercy? It is much more comforting to think of God as merciful. The good news is that God’s mercy is always offered to us before God acts in his capacity as righteous judge. This passage is evidence of this truth. God entertains Abraham’s plea for mercy before executing justice upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We must believe that God is serious in his promise to Abraham to save the cities on behalf of even ten righteous people found within them. Even in God’s eventual judgment, God saves Lot and his family (at least those who follow God’s call to not look back!). How does God maintain both his commitment to righteousness and justice and his commitment to mercy? How have you seen both manifested in your own life? Why is God merciful? Why is God committed to righteous justice? What image is stirred in your mind when you think of God as judge? What image is brought to mind when you think of God as merciful? Father, send your Holy Spirit on us as we meditate so that we might experience and receive the fullness of your character.
Journaling Focus: Have you ever “bargained” with God in prayer? You know, praying, “God if you just do x then I’ll do y (or never do y again).” What happened as a result? How do you think God responds to/feels about such a prayer? How did you feel about praying in such a way? Write about such an experience. How do you pray differently now? What sort of language do you use as you pray? How do you approach God in prayer? Is speaking with God something that comes naturally to you or do you struggle with speaking to God? When you pray do you believe in God’s goodness and God’s willingness to talk to you and answer? Do you think Abraham learned something about God through this “bargaining” prayer? How can we learn about God through prayer?
Breath Prayer: Father, speak to us as both King and friend.