Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Fri, 23/07/2010 – 14:36
Year C (2009-2010)
Bible Book: Genesis
Chapter: 18
Verse: 16 – 3.3

This well-known passage of the Old Testament is often used in sermons about prayer. Prayer is indeed an important element of this narrative. However, we may miss an important feature of the text when we only focus on Abraham’s prayer.

Verse 33 gives an indication that this passage is not only about Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah. “When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left” (NIRV). Although Abraham’s prayer forms the larger part of the preceding verses, the narrator tells us that the Lord left after ending his conversation with Abraham.

The second indication of God’s active role in these events is to be found in verse 22. While most Bible translations follow the wording indicating that it was Abraham who “remained standing in front of the Lord” (NIRV), there are translations following the older, Masoretic Text (an ancient Hebrew scribal tradition), that says: “but the LORD remained standing before Abraham” (footnote TNIV, cf also NLT, CEV, TEV, footnote NIV and footnote HCSB).

This makes good sense when we follow the storyline from verse 16 on. First the Lord considered whether to tell Abraham about his plans (v 17-19). Then the Lord revealed to Abraham the purpose for his visit to Sodom and Gomorrah (v 20-21). And then the other men departed on their way to Sodom and Gomorrah, “but the LORD remained standing before Abraham”.

What an amazing scene unfolds when we look at this bigger picture. God was on his way to Sodom and Gomorrah to investigate the cries of the people for justice, but He first visited Abraham to inform him of the purpose of His journey. Then He remained standing before Abraham to give Abraham the opportunity to respond. God invited Abraham to pray. God drew Abraham to his side to become a co-worker for mercy and justice.

Abraham responded in line with God’s invitation. His prayer to be merciful is not a surprise – it bears witness that after walking with God for many years Abraham had begun to perceive something of God’s deepest intention with the people He had created.

And “when the Lord had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way” (v 33 NLT). Even though the next chapter tells of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, this conversation was not in vain, for it had revealed that the God of justice is a merciful God.

To think about or discuss: In what way does God involve us as his co-workers in a world with HIV?

Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English