And the LORD appeared to him…
Abraham is sitting in the entrance to his tent when the LORD appears to him. We often read this into the LORD being a part of the three strangers – but they wouldn’t be strangers if Abraham knew one of them was the LORD. Instead it has been suggested that Abraham was in the midst of a meeting with God – a personal worship service if you will – when the three strangers caught his attention.
It is almost shocking that Abraham would ask God to wait while he tended to the strangers…but that is just what Abraham did! Abraham – freshly circumcised – runs out to greet the wanderers. He is insistent, persistent, maybe even somewhat demanding that they allow him to fix them a morsel to eat…then running to Sarah he creates a feast – fatted calf and three seahs of flour – enough for a small invasion.
An invasion. That is what the strangers are about to do: invade the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, dispatch of the residents for a lack of hospitality, a lack of care for the sojourner, the poor and the widow (Ez. 16.49). This lack of hospitality is something that would be unimaginable for Abraham – the one that put The One on hold while he demonstrated extraordinary hospitality and generosity to the sojourner in the land!
A punishment that would surely meet the approval of the hospitable Abraham – not quite! God with great trepidation approaches the man through whom all nations would be blessed to confide in him what is about to transpire. Heavens No! Abraham will not allow it – was it not enough that one man’s unrighteousness brought down all of creation – should the LORD not consider allowing the righteous to triumph instead? If fifty? If forty-five? Forty? Thirty? Twenty? Ten?
After all ten is the number determined for a synagogue – if one house of worship exists, will you not preserve all of the people? Two of the strangers move on to Sodom to find Lot sitting in the entrance to his city. There were not ten – but the LORD remembered Abraham and so He rescued Lot and his family – and the righteousness of one (Abraham) triumphed – bringing salvation to another.