The sad look on Jehovah’s face worried Abraham. The Lord, and two of his angels disguised as men, had visited Abraham at his tent, not far from the city of Sodom. As Abraham walked his guests on toward Sodom, the Lord asked the angels, “Shall I tell him?”
Tell him what? Abraham wondered.
This sounded serious!
The Lord answered His own question. “Yes, I’ll tell him. Abraham is the one I’ve chosen to be the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather of my people. He will show them how to honor Me.” The Lord stopped and put His hand on Abraham’s shoulder while the angels continued down the road.
“Abraham, the people of Sodom have become so wicked that I have to destroy the whole town,” He said.
Abraham’s heart beat fast. He knew how sinful the people of Sodom were, but he also knew his nephew Lot lived in Sodom. “Not everyone there is wicked!” Abraham cried. “Will you really kill those who obey Your laws along with those who don’t? What if you can find 50 people in Sodom who aren’t wicked?”
The Lord nodded slowly. “If I can find 50, I’ll spare the whole city,” He promised.
Abraham took a deep breath. “I know I’m only a man, Lord, and it was kind of bold of me to ask what I just did. But You are God, and You always do what’s right. What if you can only find 45? Will you kill them just because there aren’t 50?”
“No,” the Lord answered. Abraham took another breath. “What about 40?” he asked.
“I won’t destroy Sodom if there are 40 righteous people,” God replied.
Abraham knew he was pushing it—but he couldn’t quit. Feeling even bolder, he decreased the numbers again and again. Finally he said, “Please don’t be angry, Lord. But if there are only 10, will you destroy them along with the wicked?”
“If I can find 10,” the Lord promised, “for their sake, I will spare the city.”
That day, God looked and looked, but He couldn’t find even 10 righteous people in Sodom. He knew He had to destroy the city, but Abraham’s boldness touched God’s heart. So that evening, God sent angels into Sodom to help Lot and his family escape.
The next morning, Abraham stood where he had talked with the Lord the day before. Peering down into the valley, he shook his head sadly. During the night, God had sent fire from heaven and burned the city to the ground, leaving nothing but ashes and smoke.
Although God couldn’t find even 10 people in Sodom who followed Him, He honored Abraham’s request. He spared Lot and everyone in his family who obeyed God. All because Abraham was bold enough to push the limit.
Joyce K. Ellis is an author, speaker, and writer. She created the book, One-Minute Bible Devotions for Kids.
Excerpted from “Pushing the Limit,” originally appearing in PrayKids!®:Boldness; Used by permission of NavPress, www.navpress.com. All rights reserved.
PrayKids!® is a bi-monthly publication with the mission "to encourage a passion for Christ through prayer" in elementary-age kids.