Genesis 18:27
And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken on me to speak to the LORD, which am but dust and ashes:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 18:27. Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes — He speaks as one amazed at his own boldness, and the liberty God graciously allowed him, considering God’s greatness, who is the Lord, and his own meanness, but dust and ashes. Whenever we draw near to God, it becomes us reverently to acknowledge the vast distance that there is between us and him. He is the Lord of glory, we are worms of the earth.18:23-33 Here is the first solemn prayer upon record in the Bible; and it is a prayer for the sparing of Sodom. Abraham prayed earnestly that Sodom might be spared, if but a few righteous persons should be found in it. Come and learn from Abraham what compassion we should feel for sinners, and how earnestly we should pray for them. We see here that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Abraham, indeed, failed in his request for the whole place, but Lot was miraculously delivered. Be encouraged then to expect, by earnest prayer, the blessing of God upon your families, your friends, your neighbourhood. To this end you must not only pray, but you must live like Abraham. He knew the Judge of all the earth would do right. He does not plead that the wicked may be spared for their own sake, or because it would be severe to destroy them, but for the sake of the righteous who might be found among them. And righteousness only can be made a plea before God. How then did Christ make intercession for transgressors? Not by blaming the Divine law, nor by alleging aught in extenuation or excuse of human guilt; but by pleading HIS OWN obedience unto death.Abraham intercedes for Sodom. His spiritual character is unfolded and exalted more and more. He employs the language of a free-born son with his heavenly Father. He puts forward the plea of justice to the righteous in behalf of the city. He ventures to repeat his intervention six times, every time diminishing the number of the righteous whom he supposes to be in it. The patience of the Lord is no less remarkable than the perseverance of Abraham. In every case he grants his petition. "Dust and ashes." This may refer to the custom of burning the dead, as then coexistent with that of burying them. Abraham intimates by a homely figure the comparative insignificance of the petitioner. He is dust at first, and ashes at last.

This completes the full and free conversation of God with Abraham. He accepts his hospitable entertainment, renews his promise of a son by Sarah, communicates to him his counsel, and grants all his requests. It is evident that Abraham has now fully entered upon all the privileges of the sons of God. He has become the friend of God James 2:23.

- The Destruction of Sodom and Amorah

9. גשׁ־<הלאה gesh-hāl'âh, "approach to a distant point," stand back.

11. סנורים sanevērı̂ym, "blindness," affecting the mental more than the ocular vision.

37. מואב mô'āb, Moab; מאב mē'āb, "from a father." בן־עמי ben-‛amı̂y, Ben-'ammi, "son of my people." עמון ‛amôn, 'Ammon, "of the people."

This chapter is the continuation and conclusion of the former. It records a part of God's strange work - strange, because it consists in punishment, and because it is foreign to the covenant of grace. Yet it is closely connected with Abraham's history, inasmuch as it is a signal chastisement of wickedness in his neighborhood, a memorial of the righteous judgment of God to all his posterity, and at the same time a remarkable answer to the spirit, if not to the letter, of his intercessory prayer. His kinsman Lot, the only righteous man in Sodom, with his wife and two daughters, is delivered from destruction in accordance with his earnest appeal on behalf of the righteous.

Ge 18:23-33. Abraham's Intercession.

23. Abraham drew near, and said, &c.—The scene described is full of interest and instruction—showing in an unmistakable manner the efficacy of prayer and intercession. (See also Pr 15:8; Jas 5:16). Abraham reasoned justly as to the rectitude of the divine procedure (Ro 3:5, 6), and many guilty cities and nations have been spared on account of God's people (Mt 5:13; 24:22).

In regard of the composition of my body, which was taken out of the dust, and shall return into it again. See Genesis 3:19 Job 4:19 Ecclesiastes 12:7 1 Corinthians 15:47,48. And Abraham answered and said,.... In a very humble and modest manner, encouraged by the answer given him:

behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord; suggesting that it was bold and daring in him, and was what he was unfit for and unworthy of; or, "I have begun to speak" (e); and since he had, he intimates, it would be a favour, and what he was undeserving of, might he be permitted to proceed; or, "I am desirous to speak" (f); it is a pleasure to me, as well as an honour done me, to be permitted to speak unto the Lord, though I deserve it not:

which am but dust and ashes; whose original was out of the dust, and to which he would return, and was now a frail, feeble, mortal creature, mean and despicable, unworthy to speak to God; the disproportion between the speaker and the person spoken to was infinite; wherefore the most profound humility and self-abasement are necessary in a creature's approach to the divine Being.

(e) "coepi, loquar", V. L. "loqui", Pagninus, Montanus; so Targum Jon. (f) "Gestio, volo, eupio", Vatablus; "cuperem alloqui", Junius & Tremellius; so Jarchi and Aben Ezra, and Ben Gersom.

And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am {n} but dust and ashes:

(n) By this we learn, that the nearer we approach to God, the more our miserable estate appears, and the more we are humbled.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. dust and ashes] Two alliterative words in the Heb. (âphar va-êpher) which defy reproduction in English: cf. Genesis 1:2, Genesis 4:14. For the dust of man’s frame, cf. Genesis 2:7, Genesis 3:19. See a similar use of the phrase in Job 30:19; Job 42:6.Verse 27. - And Abraham answered and said (being emboldened by the success of his first petition), Behold now, I have taken upon me, literally, I have begun, though here perhaps used in a more emphatic sense: I have undertaken or ventured (vide Gesenius, p. 326) - to speak unto the Lord - Adonai (Genesis 15:2) - which am but dust and ashes. "Dust in his origin and ashes in his end" (Delitzsch; vide Genesis 3:19). God was about to go down, and convince Himself whether they had done entirely according to the cry which had reached Him, or not. כלה עשׂה, lit., to make completeness, here referring to the extremity of iniquity, generally to the extremity of punishment (Nahum 1:8-9; Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10): כּלה is a noun, as Isaiah 10:23 shows, not an adverb, as in Exodus 11:1. After this explanation, the men (according to Genesis 19:1, the two angels) turned from thence to go to Sodom (Genesis 18:22); but Abraham continued standing before Jehovah, who had been talking with him, and approached Him with earnestness and boldness of faith to intercede for Sodom. He was urged to this, not by any special interest in Lot, for in that case he would have prayed for his deliverance; nor by the circumstance that, as he had just before felt himself called upon to become the protector, avenger, and deliverer of the land from its foes, so he now thought himself called upon to act as mediator, and to appeal from Jehovah's judicial wrath to Jehovah's covenant grace (Kurtz), for he had not delivered the land from the foe, but merely rescued his nephew Lot and all the booty that remained after the enemy had withdrawn; nor did he appeal to the covenant grace of Jehovah, but to His justice alone; and on the principle that the Judge of all the earth could not possibly destroy the righteous with the wicked, he founded his entreaty that God would forgive the city if there were but fifty righteous in it, or even if there were only ten. He was led to intercede in this way, not by "communis erga quinque populos misericordia" (Calvin), but by the love which springs from the consciousness that one's own preservation and rescue are due to compassionate grace alone; love, too, which cannot conceive of the guilt of others as too great for salvation to be possible. This sympathetic love, springing from the faith which was counted for righteousness, impelled him to the intercession which Luther thus describes: "sexies petiit, et cum tanto ardore ac affectu sic urgente, ut prae nimia angustia, qua cupit consultum miseris civitatibus, videatur quasi stulte loqui." There may be apparent folly in the words, "Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" but they were only "violenta oratio et impetuosa, quasi cogens Deum ad ignoscendum." For Abraham added, "peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou also destroy and not forgive (נשׁא, to take away and bear the guilt, i.e., forgive) the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?" and described the slaying of the righteous with the wicked as irreconcilable with the justice of God. He knew that he was speaking to the Judge of all the earth, and that before Him he was "but dust and ashes" - "dust in his origin, and ashes in the end;" and yet he made bold to appeal still further, and even as low as ten righteous, to pray that for their sake He would spare the city. - הפּעם אך (Genesis 18:32) signifies "only this (one) time more," as in Exodus 10:17. This "seemingly commercial kind of entreaty is," as Delitzsch observes, "the essence of true prayer. It is the holy ἀναίδεια, of which our Lord speaks in Luke 11:8, the shamelessness of faith, which bridges over the infinite distance of the creature from the Creator, appeals with importunity to the heart of God, and ceases not till its point is gained. This would indeed be neither permissible nor possible, had not God, by virtue of the mysterious interlacing of necessity and freedom in His nature and operations, granted a power to the prayer of faith, to which He consents to yield; had He not, by virtue of His absoluteness, which is anything but blind necessity, placed Himself in such a relation to men, that He not merely works upon them by means of His grace, but allows them to work upon Him by means of their faith; had He not interwoven the life of the free creature into His own absolute life, and accorded to a created personality the right to assert itself in faith, in distinction from His own." With the promise, that even for the sake of ten righteous He would not destroy the city, Jehovah "went His way," that is to say, vanished; and Abraham returned to his place, viz., to the grove of Mamre. The judgment which fell upon the wicked cities immediately afterwards, proves that there were not ten "righteous persons" in Sodom; by which we understand, not merely ten sinless or holy men, but ten who through the fear of God and conscientiousness had kept themselves free from the prevailing sin and iniquity of these cities.
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