The Judge of the Whole Earth
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?
2. Why did they look at the distant city and settlement of Sodom in that way?
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?
2. What is a race?
3. How will all the races of the land be blessed by means of Avraham?
4. What is important about Yehovah knowing Avraham? Doesn’t He know everyone?
5. What will Avraham command his house and his children?
6. When will he do this?
7. What is Yehovah’s way?
8. What is righteousness?
9. What is justice?
10. What will Yehovah bring upon Avraham? What did He say He would bring?
11. What is required for Yehovah to bring that upon Avraham?
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?
2. Why was Sodom screaming?
3. Can cities speak to Yehovah? Are they alive?
4. Did Sodom agree with what Sodom’s citizens were doing? Explain.
5. Was Gomorrah also screaming?
6. What multiplied?
7. What is the definition of sin in the Bible?
8. What sin is this? (Only one sin is mentioned.) (Hint: Somewhere in Ezekiel, a text speaks of this sin.)
9. Why did Yehovah need to descend to see? Can’t He see all things?
10. If they finished, what would they finish?
11. If you sin, does Yehovah know?
12. Does Yehovah know you?
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?
2. Was Avraham upset?
3. Did Avraham know who this is?
4. Why did the men turn from there?
5. Why did one stay? Did Avraham detain him?
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?
2. How can you tell whether a person is a righteous person or a culpable person?
3. What does forgive really mean (literally)?
4. How can one forgive a place?
5. What does righteous really mean (literally)?
6. Are fifty righteous persons normally in a city? Explain this well, and think about this before you answer.
7. Does Yehovah do anything that is secular/profane? Explain.
8. Does Yehovah always do justice?
9. What does judge really mean?
10. Should you judge? Think very carefully before you answer.
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?
12. Is it a sin to be angry with God?
13. Is bargaining with God 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.)
2. What does resolved mean?
3. Why did Avraham call himself “dust and ash”? Is he?
4. Why did Avraham stop with ten instead of lowering the number to five?
5. What would Yehovah do if He found (say) eight righteous persons? Would He slaughter the eight with the culpable ones (the culprits)?
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?
7. Avraham never mentioned Lot in this entire discussion. Why?
8. Would you be considered among the righteous were the city in which you live to be targeted for Yehovah’s destruction?
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?
2. Was Avraham pleased that Yehovah had just visited him?
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?
4. Did Avraham fear for his relatives?
5. Why didn’t Yehovah reassure Avraham that Lot would be safe?