17 And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing,
18 “since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19 “For I have 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 He has spoken to him.”
I really like this conversation between Abraham and the Lord God. It is an interesting meeting between God the Father and the man chosen to be the father of many nations. Without fanfare or warning, the Lord and two angels come to visit Abraham, and the Lord tells Abraham and Sarah about the child that will bless their lives. Then the angels, preparing to leave, stand and look toward Sodom. At that moment, God seems to consider whether or not He should tell Abraham about the judgment He has decided for Sodom.
This is a rare moment when we get to look into the mind of God, when His thoughts are revealed to us clearly. This is a glimpse into the Lord’s thought processes. Plainly, since this moment is recorded in the Word of God, we should consider this passage more thoroughly, look at it in a broader context.
Certainly, when we look at this little aside, we might think that the Lord is only thinking about what to tell Abraham about His will for Sodom. On the surface, it seems to be just about that moment, and the remaining conversation–wherein Abraham tries to save Sodom by bargaining with God–seems pretty straightforward. Right here, in today’s verses, it is as if God is saying, “Is any man worthy to know my will for Sodom?” As the Lord concludes, if there is anyone at all worthy to know God’s will, it WOULD be Abraham, the man called out to be a blessing to all the earth.
One thing to note is that the Lord does not say anything specifically about His judgment on Sodom. He simply asks “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing…?” God knows how Abraham will react to the news about the destruction of Sodom: the old patriarch will want to save his nephew Lot and his family. Abraham cares for Lot, and he had even led a small army to save Lot once before. (Genesis 14) Once given the news of Sodom’s impending doom, surely Abraham would want to intercede.
But the Lord doesn’t mention Sodom in this question, which leads me to believe that His meditation is about the larger picture of salvation. Here the Lord has called Abraham out from his country, promised Abraham blessings uncounted, and given Abraham His protection and grace. In fact, He has just promised Abraham a son with his wife Sarah, a direct act fulfilling the promise made to Abraham years before.
3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”
5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
So what is it that God is doing that He might hide from Abraham? Is the Lord going to keep secret the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? It wouldn’t be secret for long!
Looking at the later exchange between God and Abraham, we see that Abraham prompts God to reveal something important: the Lord’s judgment is not final, He can be persuaded to save a remnant. Also, the Lord our God is willing to listen to the prayer of the righteous. Abraham believed in the Lord’s promises, believed in the Lord’s promised destruction of Sodom, and believed that the Lord Himself was righteous in that judgment. Nonetheless, Abraham confronted the Lord concerning the salvation of the righteous.
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.
23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?”
In other words, “Aren’t the righteous worth saving?” It is as if Abraham is asking the Lord to come up with a special way to save the righteous. Of course, even at this point, the Lord knows that His Son will one day be revealed as the Messiah, that those who believe in Him shall be counted as righteous and worthy of salvation. (John 3:16-17) Sodom is not really the issue. The issue is whether or not the Lord will wipe away those whose righteousness is counted from Abraham’s seed. (Genesis 22:18)
Shall the Lord then hide from Abraham His plan for salvation? Shall He tell Abraham that there IS a way for the righteous to be saved from among the unrighteous, that the faithful SHALL be caught up before the earth melts away in a fervent heat? Shall God reveal to Abraham the future? Should He tell Abraham the specifics of the captivity of his heirs in Egypt and Babylon? Shall He tell the old shepherd about the crucifixion of God’s Son? Shall God lay out the whole plan–a plan that takes a brief stop at Mount Moriah where Abraham will be asked to sacrifice the son he had just been promised? The question before the Lord is whether or not to give to this man the true revelation of Jesus Christ.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude–innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
Or should the Lord leave well enough alone and let Abraham’s faith lead him onward? Should God hide from Abraham the larger picture so that Abraham can remain focused on the immediate picture? The temptation we have even today is to try to know the total mind of God, to try to delve into those thoughts that are higher than our thoughts. Many seek to know the time and the day and the place of judgment and the beginning of the end times. But God knew thousands of years ago that men would get distracted by the broader image of His promises, that we would fall prey to the temptation to want to know the full will of God, and so He held back. At this moment when God was faced with the choice of whether or not to reveal to Abraham the total picture of salvation, He chose to tell Abraham only what he needed to know–and even that was enough to reveal Abraham’s righteousness as he argued for the salvation of many for the sake of a few. Who among us would so ask God to save the lives of the wicked in order to save the righteous?
If the Lord had told Abraham about the salvation of the faithful through Jesus Christ, would Abraham have argued for the lives of the wicked of Sodom in order to save the righteous? It’s possible that if Abraham had known about the salvation of the Lord, he would have said simply, “I know You will save those worthy of saving, so go ahead, Lord, and wipe out that den of iniquity.” Knowing that God WANTS to save a remnant, Abraham might have given up on the wicked altogether. And so God tested Abraham, allowing him to rely upon his faith rather than upon a broader revelation of the mind of God.
6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.
7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
Abraham later went to the mountain with his son, some wood, and a knife for the sacrifice, knowing IN FAITH that the Lord would provide. And so the Lord DID provide–not just on Mount Moriah, but also later on Calvary’s hill, where the Lamb of God was slain for us all.
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
At this moment in time, just before the destruction of the cities of the plain, rather than revealing His total plan to us, God made a decision to allow our faith to form our lives. And when we act on our faith, we show that He was justified in hiding some things from us. We are not MEANT to know all things nor understand all the mysteries whereby God operates in people’s lives. We are meant to rely upon His salvation, to rely upon His Spirit to guide us, to rely upon His Son to be the Lamb sacrificed to save the ungodly who repent and believe. God considered whether or not to show Abraham all that He planned for those descendants as numerous as stars, and He decided instead to allow Abraham to see only what was right in front of him and take the rest on faith. And in faith, Abraham knew that God wanted to save the righteous, and so he argued for salvation.
We cannot know the total mind of God, nor ever understand the complete picture of His calling on our lives. His thoughts are revealed in snatches and glimpses as we move onward in faith. In my own life, as I have grown in spiritual maturity, more has been revealed and more of His gifts to me have become evident. Had I not stepped out in faith, I might never have known these things, might never have been so blessed. Because Abraham knew God and God knew Abraham, they trusted each other. God knew that Abraham was content to know his God, that the old shepherd never questioned WHY he was called. And so ought we to be so trusting in the Lord.
Take some time this day to consider what the Lord has revealed to you. It may be tempting to try to pry more information from Him, to seek visions and prophecy that are not ours to have. The Lord will reveal what He thinks we need to know, and He will reveal those things only to those who know Him. Therefore, rather than seeking to know the will of God, let us seek to know more of God Himself. Let us read and study His Word, commune with Him through prayer and fasting, seek His wisdom in meditation and ministry, and generally make an effort to draw nearer to God. Through Jesus Christ, God has revealed to us some of what He is doing, and in time, as we know Him more and as He knows us, we will see His will unfolding in our lives. Like Abraham, our faith will give us the hope and the strength to move onward without any more knowledge than this:
16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Holy Lord God, I trust in You. I trust that You will give me the knowledge and wisdom I need to live my life in faith. I trust that You will bless my family. I trust that Your Son will indeed one day return to judge the quick and the dead. I trust, Father God, that Your faith in me is not misplaced, that my own faith and love for You will be sufficient to bring me closer to You. I trust that You will not hide Your will from me, but You will reveal it as You deem necessary and as I grow in greater faith. I trust, precious Lord, in Your salvation. Amen.