Summary: Abraham intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Life of Abraham, Part 10: The Great Intercession
In the last lesson, Abraham had met three men or what he perceived as men show up at his tent of pilgrimage in the hottest part of the day. Abraham showed great hospitality to them and even killed the fatted calf for them, This act of extravagant hospitality of treating what he probably thought were ordinary men on a journey is a reflection of the great act of hospitality that is shown to us in Jesus Christ who had given us the royal treatment at great cost to Himself. In fact, he had come to earth as a pilgrim. John even says that the Word tabernacled among humanity. He too lived among us in the tent of human flesh. Like these men, he ate with us and drank with us. John talks about beholding Jesus and writes about it in the Gospel of John as well as 1 John.
We learned of the first purpose of the visit to Abraham. The LORD reaffirmed the promise that He had just made with Abraham and did so in the earshot of Sarah. Perhaps Abraham had not even told her about the incident. They both needed to hear together of the staggering promise that God Almighty was going to do for them in giving them a son,
Exposition of the Text
In this lesson, we learn of a second reason the LORD had come for. In verse sixteen, we hear that the LORD said presumably to the other two “men” with Him some indication that not everything was well. He seemed to wonder whether to tell Abraham of the other purpose of His coming. We find it hard to understand why God would have to deliberate at all, no less speak of this deliberation. But the LORD here was clothed in human flesh of a man. This is a preview of Jesus Christ coming in the flesh. He was in every way human. He grew in knowledge and grace and truth as is desirable for all human beings. Yet Jesus was also fully God the Son. We must accept full divinity and full humanity without trying to understand how this could be. Both statements are equally true.
I see this appearance as being an Old Testament appearance of Christ in human form. After all, He had eaten Abraham’s food, so He wasn’t just an appearance as an angel or a vision. John does say that Abraham saw Jesus’ day and was glad. Does this mean that He saw Jesus? This would be staggering in its implications. Most are unwilling to go this far in their thinking. This is not to say that Abraham knew fully of all the details of Christ’s incarnation just because he may have seen Jesus. A child can see his or her parents and know who they are. But this is not to say that they know everything about their parents. They know their identity and some facts about them, but they will come to learn more as they go along. In the same way, if Abraham met Jesus here, he was only seeing in part. More would be revealed later to Abraham, his descendants, and the world in a fuller sense. But the identity is there.
In the New Testament, we have a fuller picture of Jesus, one that Abraham and the prophets of the Old Testament saw in much lesser part and like us still long to know more about Jesus. Jesus is equated in the New Testament to the person of Yahweh in the Old Testament in clear and unmistakable fashion. So when it says that Yahweh asks whether He should tell Abraham, is this Jesus?
The LORD continues to deliberate by reminding himself of the promises He had already made to Abraham and His expectations of Abraham and His seed. To the original readers that Moses recorded these words for who were at the verge of fulfilling the promise to enter into the Promised Land, it would serve as a challenge for them to remember who they are and live up to the expectation that the LORD had for them.
The LORD stops His deliberation with Himself and to the other two men that were with Him and tells Abraham outright of the other reason He had come. Again, what He says, He says from a human point of view. He had heard the outcry form the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and was greatly disturbed. He had to go down and see for Himself. It is almost as though God who must truly know what is going on so wants it to be different. He would rather be wrong than to have to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. This tells us a little of the heart of God. Again, it is impossible for us humans and our limited understanding to comprehend this. God who is all-seeing, all-knowing, all perfect, all powerful, and unchangeable cannot be understood alongside the presentation of God in human terms here. The mystery of the Incarnation is in all the Bible, not just the New Testament. We must apprehend both pictures of God as true on faith. God must be both to us if He is to have any meaningful and redemptive relation with His creatures.