The Judge of the Whole Earth
With Questions and Proposed Answers
Background and Printed Text: Genesis 18
Genesis 18:16 And the men arose from there. And they peered upon the faces of Sodom (Scorch). And Avraham (Father-Of-A-Crowd) walked with them to send them.
17And Yehovah said, “Am I covering what I am doing from Avraham? 18And Avraham, becoming, shall become to a big and powerful race! And all the races of the land will be blessed via him! 19For I knew him in order that he will command his children and his house after him. And they will guard Yehovah’s way to do righteousness and justice in order that Yehovah has brought upon Avraham what He spoke concerning him.”
20And Yehovah said, “The scream of Sodom and of Amorah (Gomorrah, meaning Her-Sheaf-Binding)! For she multiplied! And their sin! For she is very heavy!─ 21I will descend, na. And I have seen. According to her scream coming unto me, have they finished? And if not, I will know.”
22And the men turned from there. And they walked Sodomward. And Avraham yet stood himself to the faces of Yehovah.
23And Avraham approached. And he said, “Wilt thou even scrape-off a righteous-one with a culpable-one? 24Perhaps there are fifty righteous-ones in the midst of the city. Wilt thou scrape-off, and wilt not forgive to the place for-the-sake-of fifty of the righteous-ones who are in her midst? 25Profanation to Thee from doing according to this speech—to kill a righteous-one with a culpable-one, and as a righteous-one will be as a culpable-one—profanation to Thee! The Judge of all the land will not do justice??” 26And Yehovah said, “If I will find in Sodom fifty righteous-ones in the midst of the city, and I will forgive to all the place for their sake.”
27And Avraham answered. And he said, “Behold, na, I resolved to speak unto my Lords. And I am dust and ash. 28Perhaps fifty of the righteous-ones will lack five. Wilt Thou slaughter via the five all the city?” And He said, “I will not slaughter if I will find there forty and five.” 29And he gathered again to speak unto Him. And he said, “Perhaps they will find forty there.” And He said, “I will not do for the sake-of the forty.” 30And he said, “Do not, na, heat to my Lords, and I have spoken. Perhaps they will find thirty there.” And He said, “I will not do if I will find thirty there.” 31And he said, “Behold, na, I resolved to speak unto my Lords. Perhaps they will find twenty there.” And He said, “I will not slaughter for-the-sake-of the twenty.” 32And he said, “Do not heat to my Lords, and I will speak but the stroke. Perhaps they will find ten there.” And He said I will not slaughter for-the-sake-of the ten.”
33And Yehovah went just-as He finished to speak unto Avraham. And Avraham sat to his place.
I. The Haunting Engagement (verse 16)
The visitors finished their meal and resting. They arose. They peered (looked at something very hard, as if it were very distant and very important) upon the faces of Sodom. The fields around Sodom were fertile; it was an agricultural community with a walled city for protection. Those men knew their assignment. Many would be dead in a very short time.
Avraham accompanied them to send them on their journey. He knew nothing about their mission.
1. Why didn’t the men tell the reasons for their journey? They did and said what they were told to do and to say. They didn’t volunteer information. Avraham didn’t need to hear from them what they intended to do.
2. Why did they look at the distant city and settlement of Sodom in that way? They were about to walk there, and they were about to do a very terrible (frightening) act. They peered because the city was quite far away, though it was still visible from where they were located.
II. The Facts about Avraham (verses 17-19)
Yehovah spoke, though there is no indication to whom He said this. He asked Himself a question: “Am I covering what I am doing from Avraham?”
Yehovah’s reasons for telling Avraham what He was about to do were these:
- Avraham will become a big and powerful race.
- All the races of the land will be blessed by means of him.
- Yehovah knew him.
- Avraham will command his children and his house after him, and they will guard Yehovah’s way to do righteousness and justice in order that Yehovah has brought upon Avraham what He spoke concerning him.
These things will set the right conditions for Yehovah to bring upon Avraham the Promises.
None of these things seems to have anything to do with Yehovah’s plan for Sodom. Yet every one of these things has everything to do with Yehovah informing this man.
1. Why did Yehovah say these things instead of just doing them? Yehovah is telling readers of the Bible what He was thinking at that time. If the Bible didn’t show these things to readers, readers wouldn’t be able to get to know the mind (thinking) of Yehovah.
2. What is a race? A race is a large group of individuals who all have a common set of parents (one mother and one father). Every race starts with two: a male and a female. They form a family. Children of that family tend to stay close to each other, and soon they have enough family members to be a tribe. The tribe grows; women marry the men of the tribe, and the tribe still tends to stay more or less together. When the tribe has become very large, it is now considered a race.
3. How will all the races of the land be blessed by means of Avraham? Avraham’s offspring will do actions, will make inventions, and will participate in social and political functions that will benefit other races and will give them what they need to prosper in greater ways than they would have without Avraham’s offspring. Also, Avraham’s faith and behaviour will become a model for all races of the land. Besides these things, the Salvation of Yehovah from sin and unto righteous living will come through Avraham.
4. What is important about Yehovah knowing Avraham? Doesn’t He know everyone? Yehovah knows everyone in one way: He created the personality of every person. Yet, Yehovah knows those who are His—those who fear Him and belong to Him; this description doesn’t cover most humans. The word know in the Bible shows great intimacy. Yehovah is not on an intimate level with very many (since most don’t fear Him). Yehovah knew Avraham.
5. What will Avraham command his house and his children? He will command his house and his children to live according to the Teachings of Yehovah, to fear Yehovah, to do righteously, to refuse to sin, to look for the fulfilling of the Covenant that Yehovah made with Avraham, to do justice, to love Grace, and selflessly to walk with Yehovah.
6. When will he do this? He has been doing this throughout the centuries. Those who are the children of Avraham aren’t necessarily the ones who have Avraham as an ancestor; those who have the faith and practice of Avraham are the children of Avraham:
Galatians 3:6 Abraham believed God. And it was thought to him for righteousness. 7Know ye therefore that they who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham!
Romans 9:6 They are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7neither are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham. But rather, “Thy seed shall be called in Isaac.” 8That is, They who are the children of the flesh—these are not the children of God, but rather, the children of the promise are counted for the seed!
Those who hearken to the faith and righteousness of Avraham are commanded by Avraham; they are the house and the children of Avraham.
7. What is Yehovah’s way? Yehovah’s way is to do righteousness and justice; it is to keep His Covenant; it is to love Grace; it is to save lives. Those who walk (that is, continuously live) in Yehovah’s way will do likewise. Those who guard Yehovah’s way will always be watching in order to do these things.
8. What is righteousness? It is the state of being and doing right—that is, doing what is right (moral) and appropriate (ethical) at all times. No one achieves righteousness by doing nothing (including by not sinning), but rather by doing something (including not sinning, and instead doing what is right) toward others.
A person who was formerly unrighteous can become among the righteous by justification—that is, by an act of another that takes an unrighteous person and pays for the unrighteousness debt of the person. Yet, it is now up to that person to live righteously and to demonstrate righteousness.
9. What is justice? It is rendering (that is figuring out and concluding) a right decision based upon facts (that is, based on the truth). That right decision can be to justify a person (to state that the person did right), to condemn a person (that is, to declare that the person did wrong), or to declare that the person wasn’t involved. No Biblical form of justice ever assumes that a person is “innocent until proven guilty;” that is a violation of justice. Instead, Biblical justice assumes nothing, and first hears the facts (truth) in every case.
Also, Biblical justice includes this: If a person testifies in any court session, if that person lies either to help get a guilty person from suffering the penalty for a crime, or to help convict an innocent person, once that testifier has been discovered to have been lying, whatever sentence that person was trying to help another avoid, or was trying to help get an innocent person convicted, the sentence of the other person will be carried out on him/her!
10. What will Yehovah bring upon Avraham? What did He say He would bring? Yehovah said a number of things that He will do concerning Avraham. For example, see Genesis 17 to see just part of Yehovah’s Covenant with Avraham!
11. What is required for Yehovah to bring that upon Avraham? Both Avraham’s house and Avraham’s children must guard Yehovah’s way to do righteousness and justice. This includes all the Israelis (since they are Avraham’s house through which the promises made to Avraham, and confirmed in Isaac and then in Jacob will be fulfilled). Until all Israel is in faith, Yehovah will not bring the blessings of the Covenant upon Avraham. Avraham must await this. This includes the resurrection from among the dead! Thus, all who have the faith of Avraham must have their very hope (expectation) in Israel’s restoration and faith!
III. The Scream (verses 20-21)
The Bible mentioned two cities: Sodom and Gomorrah. It will mention five cities in a later text: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim and Zoar.
Sodom and Gomorrah scream. The scream multiplies (gets louder). The sin of the inhabitants is very heavy (important; it weighs much).
Yehovah determines to descend in person. Have the inhabitants finished sinning, doing what she was screaming they were doing? Yehovah will find out.
1. What was Sodom screaming? Sodom was screaming because of the sin going on in her. She desired that Yehovah quickly do something about this.
2. Why was Sodom screaming? She desired for the sin and violence occurring in her to stop. Locations hate it when humans living in them become violent, and innocent blood and bodies are put into their soil without retribution.
3. Can cities speak to Yehovah? Are they alive? Yes, they can and do speak to Yehovah. They are alive in terms of the following:
- Cities can respond to events occurring inside of them
- Cities can prosper or harm humans living in them, depending on whether those humans are doing good or bad in them
- Cities can destroy all their inhabitants if the violence becomes bad enough and lasts long enough
- Cities can sin and are therefore moral creatures (see Ezekiel 14:13)
- Yehovah holds cities responsible for aiding violent humans by giving them food, water and shelter unless the cities turn from that aid
- Cities are viewed as separate from the humans who occupy them in quite a few texts
Thus, they are alive if the Bible is Truth.
4. Did Sodom agree with what Sodom’s citizens were doing? Explain. Sodom didn’t agree! The citizens were not calling out to Yehovah; they didn’t believe in Yehovah! The cities did believe in Yehovah. Certainly, the citizens would not have requested Yehovah to judge them! The scream of Sodom brought Yehovah’s action to annihilate everyone in the cities!
5. Was Gomorrah also screaming? The land under both Sodom and Gomorrah was the same; they were sister cities, and therefore they both were shouting, but as one land.
6. What multiplied? The scream multiplied! It became louder and louder as the land screamed to Yehovah.
7. What is the definition of sin in the Bible? Sin is:
- any transgression of Yehovah’s Teaching (1 John 3:4)
- knowing to do good and refusing to do it (James 4:17)
- doing any unrighteousness (1 John 5:17)
- doing anything that is contrary to Scriptural faith (Romans 14:23)
- a high look, a proud heart, the ‘light’ of a culpable person (Proverbs 21:4)
- any violation that causes death that Yehovah has warned either to not do or to do.
(One can sin against a ruler or a king; that may or may not be sin against God.)
8. What sin is this? (Only one sin is mentioned.) (Hint: Somewhere in Ezekiel, a text speaks of this sin.) The text in Ezekiel is the following:
Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity [true guilt of a sin] of thy sister Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters. And she didn’t strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50And they were haughty! And they did abomination to my faces! therefore I took them away as I saw!
9. Why did Yehovah need to descend to see? Can’t He see all things? He can and does see all things! Yet, He takes very personally the destruction that He must do. He went there to personally see in order to show readers that He personally interacts with those made in His image when it comes to life-and-death issues.
10. If they finished, what would they finish? If they finished in this text, it would be finalizing their great sin! Yehovah sees and knows a point where those who do sin can no longer return from doing it. They have finished their evil and violent works; giving them more time will do no good, and will only give them more opportunity to increase sinning.
11. If you sin, does Yehovah know? He knows; He takes all sin and sinning very personally. (After all, He paid a terrible price for every sin that anyone does.)
12. Does Yehovah know you? If Yehovah knows a person in the Bible, it is because that person is His property by purchase. Anyone who has been purchased by Yehovah has been willing to receive the love of the Truth, and has received that love. Thus, the person has also received the Truth, has believed the Truth, and has been born from above. This is true of very few folks—not because it is hard, but because most have no interest in receiving the love of the Truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 They didn’t receive the love of the Truth that they might be saved.
IV. The Facts about Avraham (verses 22)
The men arrived from an unknown location, and ate. They then turned from the camp of Avraham. They went on their journey toward Sodom.
Avraham did not leave the one who stayed behind; he stood there directly in front of him.
1. Why did Avraham stand in front of the remaining man? Avraham understood what was about to occur from the conversation; Avraham had a close relative and his family living in Sodom. He had questions.
2. Was Avraham upset? He was very upset. Knowing that a close and loved relative is in danger of being killed is upsetting.
3. Did Avraham know who this is? He did! He knew that he was conversing with God. (He is about to call Him the Judge of all the land.)
4. Why did the men turn from there? They were on their way to do their slaughter errand; they were headed toward Sodom.
5. Why did one stay? Did Avraham detain him? Avraham did detain Him; Avraham had questions for Him. He, Yehovah, stayed, because Yehovah desired for the conversation to take place in order to teach readers Yehovah’s justice regarding slaughtering entire cities.
V. ‘Scraping Off’ and Profanation (verses 23-26)
Avraham reasoned with his Guest about justice. He called Him “the Judge of all the land” in verse 25. Therefore, Avraham now knew the identity of his Guest.
He asked, “Wilt thou even scrape-off a righteous-one with a culpable-one?” Avraham desired to know what He would do if there were fifty righteous persons in the midst of the city.
Avraham discussed only two possibilities: scraping off, and forgiving the place.
He then spoke very strongly: “Profanation to Thee from doing according to this speech—to kill a righteous-one with a culpable-one, and as a righteous-one will be as a culpable-one—profanation to Thee!” I know of no other place in the Bible where one speaks so strongly to this God!
The word profanation is a form of the word profane, meaning secular. Anything that is secular isn’t spiritual—it doesn’t relate to things of God, but only to physical life on earth. For example, reading a good novel is secular. There is nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, there are secular activities that are wrong. Being cruel or mean to someone is also secular; it is therefore profane. Using language that is considered profanity (another form of the word profane) is also a secular activity.
Avraham recognized that Yehovah would be behaving secularly, profanely, if He killed a culpable (guilty) person with a righteous person, even if Yehovah became very angry with what was occurring in a city. The Judge of all the land must do justice, and that wouldn’t be justice.
Yehovah responded using Avraham’s number: “If I will find in Sodom fifty righteous-ones in the midst of the city, and I will forgive to all the place for their sake.” That didn’t satisfy Avraham, however, as the next sections will show.
1. What does scrape off mean? Is this a good description? It is to remove by violence. In this case, it refers to rapidly removing all citizens from several cities as if they are scum on a dish. This is a very good description, since Yehovah will be sanitizing the locations by removing human scum!
2. How can you tell whether a person is a righteous person or a culpable person? A righteous person does righteousness; a culpable person (one who is guilty) will do acts that are wrong, and often will try to cover up his/her guilt if that guilt would make him/her look guilty.
3. What does forgive really mean (literally)? It literally means to carry—that is, to agree with the one who did wrong to carry the offense so that there is no longer a debt between them regarding that one issue. True forgiveness is an agreement.
4. How can one forgive a place? In this case, it is to agree to carry the place—that is, to continue to sustain it so that humans can live there. If Yehovah refuses to carry the place, He will destroy life from it.
5. What does righteous really mean (literally)? Righteous has to do with something being plumb, straight (like in a plumb line used in construction, a string with a weight on the end). The standard of righteousness comes from a supposed god or the One True God, for all righteousness goes back to some god (be it false or real).
Yehovah holds the standard of Biblical righteousness. The word justified is the same word. One who is justified is viewed as righteous. To justify is either to bring a guilty person (or group) into the state of being righteous, or it is to declare an innocent person (or group) as innocent, straight (before the god/God who holds the standard).
6. Are fifty righteous persons normally in a city? Explain this well, and think about this before you answer. This is very rare! While it may seem that cities with a larger population might have fifty righteous folks in them, that number is still very high!
There is a great difference between religious folks and righteous folks. Most who are religious are not righteous; those who are righteous are rarely religious.
Being religious has to do with advertising: making oneself look as if he/she has a continuous interest in God/god. Being righteous has to do with what one does and whom one serves. Religious folks draw attention to themselves; righteous folks serve others made in the image of God in order to give them opportunity to live.
Most cities of the world have few righteous folks in them; some have none.
7. Does Yehovah do anything that is secular/profane? Explain. Whatever is secular has nothing to do with ownership. The word profane means the same thing: unowned; for public use. Thus, public restrooms are profane restrooms; they are secular restrooms. They are for anyone to use. (While the city in which they are located owns them, they can be used freely by the public as long as they are not harmed.)
Yehovah doesn’t do secular/profane things; He always deals with persons, creatures, land, planets, stars, angels, etc. as His creation. Yet, those who rebel against Him are declaring that He doesn’t own them, and He often doesn’t interfere with them for a while until it is time to judge them. Humans who live as if Yehovah isn’t their creator and owner will either live secular lives (lives that show no ownership) or religious lives (lives that claim to be owned by some god, but not the true and Living God). Yehovah isn’t that way; He isn’t religious, and could not be. Thus, He never does what is secular or profane; He would have to deny Himself as the owner of all things in order to do that.
8. Does Yehovah always do justice? Yehovah always eventually does justice. If He immediately did justice, humans wouldn’t live long enough to even consider faith in Him. Thus, He waits. When He does act, however, He does justice.
9. What does judge really mean? Biblically, to judge is to render (that is, to give and carry out) a right decision based on all true facts.
10. Should you judge? Think very carefully before you answer. Every person with sense must judge! Anyone who doesn’t judge is either a fool, is incapable of judging because of a mental condition that lacks what is necessary to judge, or very gullible (that is, a sucker).
11. Was Avraham’s challenge of Yehovah’s justice (verses 23-25) right? Did Avraham have the right to do this, or did he sin by doing this? Avraham’s challenge was right, and he did have the right to do this. He did not sin by challenging Yehovah’s justice. That is the only good way to get to know His justice! Yehovah put this text in the Bible to show this very thing!
12. Is it a sin to be angry with God? It absolutely is not a sin as long as the person who is angry with God does what is right before Him, and makes peace with Him. (Those who stay bitter against God will reject their own Salvation.)
13. Is bargaining with God wrong? It absolutely is not wrong.
VI. The Minimum Number (verses 27-32)
Avraham resolved to speak to his Lords (plural). He had to ask more questions. Yet, he knew that he consisted of dust and ash!
What if only five less than fifty were present? Would Yehovah slaughter all the city because five were absent? Yehovah assured him that He will not do that.
Avraham continued with the countdown until he came to ten. Avraham went no lower.
1. Why is the word Lords plural? (It is used in that form throughout the Bible.) This title is plural to show the willingness to serve (slave for) the lords in all areas possible. Since a lord is a sir (or ma’am), and since this indicates higher rank, one who calls another lord is admitting that the person has higher rank, and must be served. If the person calls another my lords, that person is admitting that the higher rank is in all areas, and that the person must be served in all areas possible. (That never includes sinning against Yehovah who is the Highest Sirs.)
2. What does resolved mean? That means finally determined to do something after getting enough boldness to do it.
3. Why did Avraham call himself “dust and ash”? Is he? Every human is physically made of soil—that is, of the dust of the land. Since ash is the weakest substance known to man (a piece of ash can be torn with the greatest ease), ash shows weakness and the possibility of being blown away with the slightest breeze. All humans are as ashes before Yehovah; the breath of Yehovah can blow humans entirely off the earth.
4. Why did Avraham stop with ten instead of lowering the number to five? Avraham knew that ten was low enough; insisting on five righteous folks being in a city in order to save the entire city wasn’t reasonable to him. He knew that nine or less could be removed from a very evil and vile city, and that the city’s population then deserved to be destroyed while the nine or less were being rescued.
5. What would Yehovah do if He found (say) eight righteous persons? Would He slaughter the eight with the culpable ones (the culprits)? No; he would send to remove and rescue them, and then slaughter the rest.
6. Avraham seemed to be concerned that Yehovah might anger with him for his continuing to speak (verse 30). Was there a danger of this? There wasn’t danger, but Avraham didn’t desire to show disrespect toward the One before whom Avraham himself will later be judged. Avraham was being very bold; Yehovah desired this. This kind of boldness is for justice and not for evil.
7. Avraham never mentioned Lot in this entire discussion. Why? The issue wasn’t Lot himself, but rather Yehovah’s justice. Had Avraham mentioned Lot, the reader might have gotten the impression that Yehovah’s justice can be twisted by personal relationships. Yehovah’s justice is never perverted; it is always straight.
8. Would you be considered among the righteous were the city in which you live to be targeted for Yehovah’s destruction? (Each student must answer this question for himself/herself.)
VII. Finished (verse 33)
Yehovah left when he finished speaking. Avraham sat ‘to’ his place. This wasn’t the type of ‘goodbye’ a reader might expect.
1. Why did Avraham just sit there? There was nothing he could do. Yehovah will do what is right; nothing Avraham could have done would have been superior to what Yehovah will do.
2. Was Avraham pleased that Yehovah had just visited him? The text doesn’t indicate this; Avraham now knew of the great danger to Lot and his family. The visit to Avraham was about life and death; such a conversation isn’t ‘pleasing.’
3. Would you be pleased if you had relatives in a city that you knew would be targeted by Yehovah to destroy it, and Yehovah had just visited you to let you know? (The answer, of course, depends on whether the person loves these relatives.)
4. Did Avraham fear for his relatives? The text doesn’t state that he did, but he knew the characters of his relatives. Lot was righteous, but that said nothing about Lot’s wife or about Lot’s daughters (and sons-in-law).
5. Why didn’t Yehovah reassure Avraham that Lot would be safe? Lot will be harmed by the events about to occur—not Lot himself, but Lot will suffer a great loss.