This weekend I attended church with my niece because her husband of nearly two years was teaching Sunday school. His message was on the people who changed God’s mind. His message began with Abraham. Abraham asked God to change His mind about destroying Sodom. He insisted he could find 50 righteous men and asks if God would save the city for these righteous men. God agreed and allowed Abraham to search. Abraham realized he could not find 50 and asks if God will accept 45 righteous. God accepted. This goes on and on until he finally asks God if He would settle for 10 righteous men. Again God agrees but Abraham cannot find them.
As I sat there reading this story, I wondered, was Abraham changing God’s mind or was God changing Abraham’s? Abraham either didn’t understand the depravity of the city or he was trying to be optimistic. Abraham didn’t live there long but the sinfulness of the people didn’t seem to persuade him. Maybe he didn’t realize how bad things were because he was a stranger in that land. But God knew. He knew the heart of every man that lived there. He knew the sin that over took every man in that city and He could look on it no longer. Sin had become a way of life for the people of Sodom and God knew without any righteous men, there was no longer hope for them. They would never turn from their wicked ways because their moral fiber had become frayed.
As I read over this passage and listened as Abraham plead with God, I realized something. God could have simply said, “My will be done,” and destroyed the city. He could have told Abraham he didn’t know what he was talking about and dismissed his request. But instead, God listened. He heard the heart of a man who didn’t want destruction but only restoration. He didn’t dismiss Abraham, instead He allowed Abraham to see what He saw; evil. He didn’t just tell Abraham, God showed him. He proved that He had no choice but to destroy the city.
I believe God was showing Abraham a little part of His heart. He was revealing His character. He was showing mercy. God didn’t have to take the time with Abraham to show him, but He did. He wanted to teach Abraham to look a little deeper. He wanted Abraham to use discernment and see what was really happening in that city. By taking time to teach instead of just speaking, God was investing in Abraham.
Most of the time I want answers right away. I want God to speak. I want God to act and “do His thing” so I can move on. However, in the times I have to wait, I find I learn more about God. I learn more about myself. I pray more sitting at His feet taking in all He has to say to me. God always has the ability to simply speak and have His will be done. He’s God. He doesn’t have to explain Himself to anyone. But I think sometimes He doesn’t because He enjoys spending time with us. I think He wants us to understand His heart rather than just submit. And sometimes that means holding off until the timing is perfect and our hearts are ready to receive.
“The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.”
(Genesis 18:22 NIV)