This stimulated a discussion between the great patriarch and Almighty God. "And Abraham came near and said, 'Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?'" (Gen. 18:23-25).
The LORD responded as Abraham had hoped. He would spare Sodom if there were fifty righteous people residing therein.
Abraham then continued, in a very humble manner, to question God. Would God destroy Sodom if there were only forty-five righteous souls? What about forty? Thirty? Twenty? Ten? God declared that He would not destroy it for the sake of ten, but, as is implied in the next chapter, there evidently weren't even this many righteous ones therein. Abraham felt that he had gone quite far enough in his inquiries to the Lord and stopped himself at ten. One cannot help but wonder if the Lord would have gone lower for His friend (II Chr. 20:7).
The point I want to stress from this narrative pertains to the additional comments Abraham interspersed among his questions for God. As the patriarch prepared to ask his second question, he prefaced it by stating - "Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord" (Gen. 18:27). Prior to his fourth question, he said - "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak" (Gen. 18:30). He made similar comments before his fifth and sixth inquiries.
It cannot be denied that Abraham understood his proper place before the Almighty. It was an awesome privilege to talk to God, let alone ask questions of this nature. Interestingly, he knew that he was nothing more that "dust and ashes", even as a righteous man. Yet, he knows the righteous are worth more than the elements of which they are physically--why else would he ask the questions that he did regarding sparing Sodom for the sake of the righteous?
Friends, it still is an awesome privilege to talk to God! Although we are not able to talk with God in quite the same way Abraham did on this occasion, it is nevertheless an honor of the greatest magnitude to be able to petition God in prayer and offer our gratitude and praise to Him. But, do we understand the blessed honor that it is? Do we acknowledge the fact before the Lord that we too are but "dust and ashes"--essentially nothing in comparison to His greatness and splendor?
Dear listeners, God has blessed His children with the right to approach His throne in prayer. Are you doing such? Are you doing such humbly?