Verse 32. "Peradventure ten shall be found there" - Knowing that in the family of his nephew the true religion was professed and practiced, he could not suppose there could be less than ten righteous persons in the city, he did not think it necessary to urge his supplication farther; he therefore left off his entreaties, and the Lord departed from him. It is highly worthy of observation, that while he continued to pray the presence of God was continued; and when Abraham ended, "the glory of the Lord was lifted up," as the Targum expresses it.
THIS chapter, though containing only the preliminaries to the awful catastrophe detailed in the next, affords us several lessons of useful and important information.
1. The hospitality and humanity of Abraham are worthy, not only of our most serious regard, but also of our imitation. He sat in the door of his tent in the heat of the day, not only to enjoy the current of refreshing air, but that if he saw any weary and exhausted travelers he might invite them to rest and refresh themselves. Hospitality is ever becoming in one human being towards another; for every destitute man is a brother in distress, and demands our most prompt and affectionate assistance, according to that heavenly precept, "What ye would that men should do unto you, do even so unto them." From this conduct of Abraham a Divine precept is formed: "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. xiii. 2.
2. Whatever is given on the ground of humanity and mercy is given unto God, and is sure to meet with his approbation and a suitable reward. While Abraham entertained his guests God discovers himself, and reveals to him the counsels of his will, and renews the promise of a numerous posterity.Sarah, though naturally speaking past child-bearing, shall have a son: natural obstacles cannot hinder the purpose of God; nature is his instrument; and as it works not only by general laws, but also by any particular will of God, so it may accomplish that will in any way he may choose to direct. It is always difficult to credit God's promises when they relate to supernatural things, and still more so when they have for their object events that are contrary to the course of nature; but as nothing is too hard for God, so "all things are possible to him that believeth." It is that faith alone which is of the operation of God's Spirit, that is capable of crediting supernatural things; he who does not pray to be enabled to believe, or, if he do, uses not the power when received, can never believe to the saving of the soul.
3. Abraham trusts much in God, and God reposes much confidence in Abraham. He knows that God is faithful, and will fulfill his promises; and God knows that Abraham is faithful, and will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment; ver. 19. No man lives unto himself; and God gives us neither spiritual nor temporal blessings for ourselves alone; our bread we are to divide with the hungry, and to help the stranger in distress.He who understands the way of God should carefully instruct his household in that way; and he who is the father of a family should pray to God to teach him, that he may teach his household. His ignorance of God and salvation can be no excuse for his neglecting his family: it is his indispensable duty to teach them; and God will teach him, if he earnestly seek it, that he may be able to discharge this duty to his family. Reader, if thy children or servants perish through thy neglect, God will judge thee for it in the great day.
4. The sin of Sodom and the cities of the plain was great and grievous; the measure of their iniquity was full, and God determined to destroy them.Judgment is God's strange work, but though rarely done it must be done sometimes, lest men should suppose that right and wrong, vice and virtue, are alike in the eye of God. And these judgments must be dispensed in such a way as to show they are not the results of natural causes, but come immediately from the incensed justice of the Most High.
5. Every man who loves God loves his neighbour also; and he who loves his neighbour will do all in his power to promote the well-being both of his soul and his body. Abraham cannot prevent the men of Sodom from sinning against God; but he can make prayer and intercession for their souls, and plead, if not in arrest, yet in mitigation, of judgment. He therefore intercedes for the transgressors, and God is well pleased with his intercessions. These are the offspring of God's own love in the heart of his servant.
6. How true is that word, The energetic faithful prayer of a righteous man availeth much! Abraham draws near to God by affection and faith, and in the most devout and humble manner makes prayer and supplication; and every petition is answered on the spot. Nor does God cease to promise to show mercy till Abraham ceases to intercede! What encouragement does this hold out to them that fear God, to make prayer and intercession for their sinful neighbours and ungodly relatives! Faith in the Lord Jesus endues prayer with a species of omnipotence; whatsoever a man asks of the Father in his name, he will do it. Prayer has been termed the gate of heaven, but without faith that gate cannot be opened. He who prays as he should, and believes as he ought, shall have the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel of peace.
The two angels mentioned in the preceding chapter, come in the evening to Sodom, 1. Lot, who was sitting at the gate, invites them to enter his house, take some refreshment, and tarry all night; which they at first refuse, 2; but on being pressingly solicited, they at last comply, 3. The abominable conduct of the men of Sodom, 4, 5. Lot's deep concern for the honour and safely of his guests, which leads him to make a most exceptionable proposal to those wicked men, 6-8. The violent proceedings of the Sodomites, 9. Lot rescued from their barbarity by the angels, who smite them with blindness, 10, 11. The angels exhort Lot and his family to flee from that wicked place, as God was about to destroy it, 12, 13. Lot's fruitless exhortation to his sons-in-law, 14. The angels hasten Lot and his family to depart, 15, 16. Their exhortation, 17. Lot's request, 18-20.He is permitted to escape to Zoar, 21-23. Fire and brimstone are rained down from heaven upon all the cities of the plain, by which they are entirely destroyed, 24, 25. Lot's wife, looking behind, becomes a pillar of salt, 26. Abraham, early in the morning, discovers the desolation of those iniquitous cities, 27-29. Lot, fearing to continue in Zoar, went with his two daughters to the mountain, and dwelt in a cave, 30. The strange conduct of his daughters, and his unhappy deception, 31-36. Moab and Ammon born, from whom sprang the Moabites and Ammonites, 37, 38.