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  • Writer's pictureAllison Wilcox


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 my 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 my 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 my 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 my 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.” ~ Genesis 18:20-32

One piece of advice I always have about this passage: don't get caught up in the numbers.

Or the proposed violence.

There's a lot of grace going on here, although you might read this and wonder where on earth the grace comes in, God was planning on wiping out two whole cities (and spoiler alert...ended up doing it). So how is that graceful?

The grace here begins with Abraham, who is concerned for people that he doesn't even know. He comes to God and seeks life even for those who are unworthy.

The grace comes from one who advocated for those who were in trouble.

He begs God not to destroy a whole city despite the overwhelming wickedness.

The sin of Sodom has become something of legend, although in the words of the great Inigo Montoya from "The Princess Bride," - the word doesn't mean what we think it means!

Sodom and Gomorrah had plenty of sins - not the least of which was greed, gluttony, and ignoring the suffering of the poor. But the sins themself are hardly the point for Abraham.

The point for Abraham was to seek God's grace where it wasn't deserved for the sake of a very few. To speak up for those who didn't have a voice.

To be an advocate even in a situation that was fraught with risk.

Who are we called to advocate for?

Holy and gracious God, move me to speak out for those who need my voice! Amen

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