Genesis 18 A Son Of Promise And A Plea For The Righteous.
Once again the LORD appeared to Abraham, by the terebinth trees of Mamre, in Hebron, where he had pitched his tent on his first foray into the promised land, and had built an altar there, “as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day” (v. 1 Cf. 13:18; 14:13). Abraham ran to meet three men who were traveling his way and he “bowed himself to the ground” (v. 2). It is not clear at this point who these men are, or why Abraham is behaving the way he is, by tending to their needs (vv. 3-8). Then one of the men asks Abraham where Sarah was and then speaks in the singular saying, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son” (v. 10a). Sarah laughed when she heard this (10b-12), and later denied it when she was questioned (vv. 13-15), but Abraham had laughed earlier when the promise was reiterated to them (Cf. 17:17).
What is significant in the above discourse is, whereas Abraham addressed the men as ‘Lord’, now one of the “men” says “Is anything too hard for the LORD” (v. 14a)? Now the focus shifts to the situation in Sodom and we read that “the LORD said” (v. 17a). So at least one of these “men” was the LORD! Could it be that Abraham’s intial response of bowing to the earth, and immediately attending to the “men” was because Abraham recognized this appearance of the LORD from an earlier encounter? This seems the logical answer to what we read here. The LORD seems to be talking and differentiating Himself from the other two men with Him when he says, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all nations of the earth shall be blessed in him” (vv. 17 b-18).
So the LORD says that the reason He gives for speaking to Abraham of what was to take place, was because of the covenant relationship that had just been ratified with Abraham. However, He adds the following: “For I have known him” (v. 19a). Clearly this is more than simply having knowledge of, and also seems to go even deeper than the mere externals of the covenant relationship. This seems to speak to a special electing love He had for Abraham, an election that would show itself in Abraham’s behaviour, for we read that the LORD has “known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what was spoken to him” (v. 19bc Cf. Dt. 4:9-10; 6:6-7). We then see a separation between the two men and the LORD (vv. 20-22).
Clearly the LORD , as God, would have knowledge of Sodom’s evil, but in a kind of anthropomorphic revelation to Abraham, He lets Abraham in on what is about to take place. This begins Abraham’s reasoning with the LORD on behalf of the righteous or godly seed who may be in Sodom, thinking again of his nephew Lot in particular (vv. 23ff.). The whole basis and boldness of Abraham’s plea was his theology. “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right” (v. 25)? Yet it was also tempered by his biblical anthropology-he understood his place as a creature before his creator-“I who am but dust and ashes” (v. 27). But this was more than him being a creature, it was also a statement of him as a deserving sinner (Gen. 3:19; Job 30:19; Lk. 10:13). Ultimately the LORD would not destroy Sodom if even ten righteous were found there (v. 32).