What does Genesis 18:33 mean?
ESV: And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
NIV: When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
NASB: As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the Lord departed, and Abraham returned to his place.
CSB: When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he departed, and Abraham returned to his place.
NLT: When the Lord had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way, and Abraham returned to his tent.
KJV: And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
Verse Commentary:
God has indicated that Sodom will be destroyed for its wickedness. Abraham objects, suggesting that it would be unfair for God to punish "righteous" people along with those who are wicked, and begins to ask God to spare the city for the sake of smaller and smaller numbers of "righteous" people. In this context, "righteous" simply means those who aren't involved in the grievous sins of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19; Ezekiel 16:49–50).

In a display of great patience, grace, and mercy, the Lord has stood and heard everything Abraham has said to Him, including a bold claim about whether or not God's plan is fair. In addition, the Lord has agreed to every request from Abraham, even though Abraham turned it into what sounded like a negotiation. Abraham's intent all along was likely to reach the point seen in the last verse: God's vow not to destroy the city if 10 righteous people could be found there. The point of this is not that God needs to have His mind changed. Rather, the purpose for this conversation is to prove, in no uncertain terms, that God's approach to these wicked cities is entirely just.

As the Lord walks away, likely toward Sodom, and Abraham returns home, their agreement stands that the Lord will not destroy Sodom if He finds 10 righteous people there. Abraham seems to believe, or at least hopes, that at least 10 of Sodom's thousands of residents are not participating in the great wickedness for which they have become infamous (Genesis 13:13). Abraham's ultimate hope, we assume, is to save the life of his nephew Lot and his family.

Sadly, the next chapter will reveal that Abraham has overestimated the number of righteous people in Sodom. He has also underestimated the extent of the Lord's blessing for him and, thus, for his extended family. God's patient discussion with Abraham allowed Abraham to set his own standard for "goodness," which Sodom still failed. By any measure, the city was deserving of God's wrath. Lot, however, will be saved from this wrath, despite his own foolishness.
Verse Context:
Genesis 18:22–33 describes Abraham's negotiation with the Lord for the city of Sodom, where his nephew Lot and his family live. Previously, God spoke from a poetic human perspective, saying that He would judge Sodom and Gomorrah if their sins were as awful as they seemed. Here, Abraham recoils at the idea that the Lord would annihilate righteous people along with the wicked, beginning a sort of negotiation with God. Of course, God does not need to negotiate with man, and already knows how depraved Sodom is. This conversation with Abraham has nothing to do with changing God's mind; it has everything to do with proving, beyond all doubt, that God's actions here are just. God says He will spare Sodom for the sake of just ten righteous people; later passages show the city fails that test.
Chapter Summary:
Abraham hurries to offer respect and hospitality to three men who appear near his tent. Over the course of the chapter, the men reveal themselves to be the Lord and two angels in human form. As He had told Abraham in the previous chapter, the Lord now reveals to Sarah that she will have a son within the year. Later, the Lord poetically says He will investigate the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abraham's nephew Lot lives. Abraham asks, and the Lord agrees, not to destroy Sodom if God finds 10 righteous people there.
Chapter Context:
God appeared to Abraham in the previous chapter revealing, in part, that Sarah would bear Abraham a son within a year's time. Now the Lord appears again, this time in human form and accompanied by two disguised angels. He reveals to Sarah the same promise. She laughs, and the Lord insists that even her age isn't too hard for Him to overcome. Next the Lord reveals to Abraham that He will investigate the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham receives the Lord's promise not to destroy Sodom (where Abraham's nephew lives) if He finds 10 righteous people in the city. Unfortunately, the city is beyond saving, and the next chapter details its utter destruction.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
Accessed 4/22/2024 2:10:49 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.