Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Drawing by Gitte Daphne Lætgaard Tinning
And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? / That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
— Genesis 18:22-23/25
Abraham's conversation with God about the plight of Sodom is such a tender moment, and one that brings balance to the relationship. Up until now God has commanded and promised, and Abraham followed. Here, Abraham challenges God's integrity, calls Him out for His inconsistency. We are reminded that our covenant with God is a two-way affair. We are not meek subjects, but free-willed beings, people with integrity. Abraham drew near. Abraham here is acting as God's conscience, his Jiminy Cricket. It may be a unique moment in the scripture, where man corrects God.
The conversation goes on almost like a marketplace bargaining conversation, with God finally agreeing to save Sodom if ten righteous souls may be found in the whole city. (We must assume those ten were not found, as Sodom is destroyed the very next day, but the later fact doesn't alter the present intent.)
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? asks Abraham. The question gets God to pause, to reflect, to reconsider. We all need such moments, and we all need such friends—those who will call us out, have us question our actions, our intent. It is easy to get caught up in our own righteousness, to plough ahead single-mindedly, focusing on our goal and disregarding the greater system. It takes a courageous person to ask us to slow down, to think. But even prior to that we need courage of our own, and trust, to let another in on our plans.
Earlier we read And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;1 and decides to tell Abraham of his plan. The bargaining exchange follows this revelation. Again, it is the tenderness of the conversation that touches me so, perhaps reminding me of the covenants I've made with those I love, those I trust, and how so often I need their voices to act as my conscience, to talk me down from lofty ideas, or raise me from meagre ones, to guide me along my true path, from which it is all too easy to stray.
1 Genesis 18:17