God Prefers to Show Mercy

"The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD" (Genesis 18:22). In his book Yahweh Is God Alone, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw says that that the early scribes actually changed the text of this verse. It should read as the footnote in the NIV states:  "but the LORD remained standing before Abraham."

 

In their thinking, a king never stood in the presence of his subject. So the scribes wrote it as if Abraham was standing before God.


God had just finished telling Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. But now God stops and stands before Abraham almost as if He is saying, "My friend, I told you what I'm going to do. Aren't you going to say anything?"  It is as if the eternal God is standing before Abraham pleading with him to object to His punishing Sodom and Gomorrah.


Evidently the scribes changed it because they felt that the picture it presented of God was very irreverent.  In that ancient world no king ever stood in the presence of his subject. The king sat. The one making the petition stood or knelt. This would have seemed not only irreverent and disrespectful, but almost blasphemous. The Sovereign Lord of all, could never be represented as standing and petitioning one of His creatures. So they changed it.


Abraham took his cue from God and  began to intercede for Sodom.  He does not save Sodom, but his intercession did save Lot and his two daughters, and, temporarily, his wife.


God invites us to take others as our concern and to intercede for them. Why? Because God prefers to show mercy rather than to discipline. It's as though He is standing before us pleading for us to intercede so He can avoid punishing.

 

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy" (Micah 7:18).