Richard Agee

Genesis 18: God informs Abraham of a son by Sarah, destruction of Sodom

Richard AgeeThis chapter is about justice and judgment, just as the book of Revelation is about justice and judgment. God could have taught this lesson to Abraham privately, yet God wants us to know He knew Abraham well. The Lord knew Abraham would keep God’s ways and would also make sure that his family and household would also keep and follow God’s ways. God knew that those who follow Abraham would follow his example.


Genesis 18 starts with Abraham sitting out in the front of his tent at “the heat of the day.” This most likely would have been around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. 

All the sudden, Abraham notices some men appearing in front of him. These men didn’t walk up to him from a distance. The simply appeared in front of him. 

Abraham runs up to them and bowed down. Abraham only addresses one of the men as “Adonai” in the singular, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by….” He asks them to come to his tent, he offers to have their feet washed and gave them a place to rest from the heat of the day. He also ordered Sarah and one of his servants to prepare a meal for the men. 

First message: A son through Sarah

As the guests are sitting with Abraham, they gave him the first message, which was a message from the Lord reiterating His promise that Sarah would bear Abraham a son. Both of them were well-advanced in years. Sarah, listening from the other part of the tent, laughs to herself in disbelief (at least she thought she was laughing to herself). The Lord subtly rebukes Sarah’s disbelief and adamantly says in Gen. 18:14:

“Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 

Second message: No more sons for Sodom, Gomorrah

The main reason they met with Abraham was not to reassure Abraham and Sarah of upcoming birth of Isaac but to bring Abraham a much more somber message. The second message from the Lord (Gen. 18:16–21) was a warning to Abraham that He was going down to Sodom and Gomorrah to examine and judge the towns. The Lord asks the messengers with him an interesting question:

“The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,  since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.’”

This means that even after Abraham is dead, buried and gone that Abraham will have laid the groundwork to make sure that not only his biological children but also his entire household will follow the ways of the Lord

The Lord tells Abraham that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are crying out. The outcry the Lord is responding to is a cry of distress and lamentation. Abraham then pleads with the Lord to spare the town if the Lord could find a few righteous people there. He starts from 50 righteous people and goes down to 10 righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Some interpret this part of the account as Abraham “talking God down” (Gen. 18:22–33), meaning that God only showed mercy for Abraham’s sake or whether God already had in mind to spare the town for a such a small number of righteous citizens. But that’s not the case. Abraham knew God and God knew Abraham. Abraham was not telling God not to carry out judgement and justice but the opposite. Abraham knew that God was planning to bring righteous and judgement to Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities in the area. 

Why did Abraham start with the number 50? The number is an important number biblically, from the symbolism of Shavuot, even though Moses was not there yet, to judgment. The number 10, which is the number that Abraham ended his plea upon, also is an important number biblically as a number of judgment and justice. In the time of Moses, leaders were established among the people down to groups of 10 (Ex. 18:21, 25; Deut. 1:15). 

We think of the 10 plagues against Egypt (Ex. 9:13–11:10; 12:29–30). The 10 commandments were judgments, as most of them are worded as, “Thou shalt not…” (Ex. 20:1–17). The 10th day of the first month, a lamb is selected for the Passover (Ex. 12:1–28). The 10th day of the seventh month is a day of justice and judgment (Lev. 16:29–34; 23:26–32; 25:8–9). 

When Abraham’s servant went to Aram to find a wife for Isaac, he took 10 camels with him to Aram to pay the bride price. In biblical times, it was the duty of a man who wanted a wife to pay a price for her. Yeshua also paid a price for His bride, a very steep one: His own life. Yeshua’s life was given as a judgement and to satisfy righteousness. 

Ezekiel also mentions in Ezek. 40:1 that God gave him a vision on the 10th day of the first month, in the 25th year of the Babylonian captivity. God gave Ezekiel a vision of justice and judgment. It is not a pleasant chapter to read. 

When God makes a judgement, He does it quickly. It doesn’t take God 20 years or more to execute judgment.

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

Recent posts in Discussions

Recent posts in Torah

What do you think about this?