National Prayer and Fasting begins
The Lord Promises Abraham a Son
18 One hot summer afternoon Abraham was sitting by the entrance to his tent near the sacred trees of Mamre, when the Lord appeared to him. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He quickly ran to meet them, bowed with his face to the ground, 3 and said, “Please come to my home where I can serve you. 4 I’ll have some water brought, so you can wash your feet, then you can rest under the tree. 5 Let me get you some food to give you strength before you leave. I would be honored to serve you.”
“Thank you very much,” they answered. “We accept your offer.”
6 Abraham quickly went to his tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get a large sack of flour and make some bread.” 7 After saying this, he rushed off to his herd of cattle and picked out one of the best calves, which his servant quickly prepared. 8 He then served his guests some yogurt and milk together with the meat.
While they were eating, he stood near them under the trees, 9 and they asked, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
“She is right there in the tent,” Abraham answered.
10 One of the guests was the Lord, and he said, “I’ll come back about this time next year, and when I do, Sarah will already have a son.”
Sarah was behind Abraham, listening at the entrance to the tent. 11 Abraham and Sarah were very old, and Sarah was well past the age for having children. 12 So she laughed and said to herself, “Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, will I really know such happiness?”
13 The Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Does she doubt that she can have a child in her old age? 14 I am the Lord! There is nothing too difficult for me. I’ll come back next year at the time I promised, and Sarah will already have a son.”
15 Sarah was so frightened that she lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.”
“Yes, you did!” he answered.
Abraham Prays for Sodom
16 When the three men got ready to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked part of the way with them.
17 The Lord said to himself, “I should tell Abraham what I am going to do, 18 since his family will become a great and powerful nation that will be a blessing to all other nations on earth. 19 I have chosen him to teach his family to obey me forever and to do what is right and fair. Then I will give Abraham many descendants, just as I promised.”
20 The Lord said, “Abraham, I have heard that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are doing all kinds of evil things. 21Now I am going down to see for myself if those people really are that bad. If they aren’t, I want to know about it.”
22 The men turned and started toward Sodom. But the Lord stayed with Abraham, 23 who asked, “Lord, when you destroy the evil people, are you also going to destroy those who are good? 24 Wouldn’t you spare the city if there are only fifty good people in it? 25 You surely wouldn’t let them be killed when you destroy the evil ones. You are the judge of all the earth, and you do what is right.”
26 The Lord replied, “If I find fifty good people in Sodom, I will save the city to keep them from being killed.”
27 Abraham answered, “I am nothing more than the dust of the earth. Please forgive me, Lord, for daring to speak to you like this. 28 But suppose there are only forty-five good people in Sodom. Would you still wipe out the whole city?”
“If I find forty-five good people,” the Lord replied, “I won’t destroy the city.”
29 “Suppose there are just forty good people?” Abraham asked.
“Even for them,” the Lord replied, “I won’t destroy the city.”
30 Abraham said, “Please don’t be angry, Lord, if I ask you what you will do if there are only thirty good people in the city.”
“If I find thirty,” the Lord replied, “I still won’t destroy it.”
31 Then Abraham said, “I don’t have any right to ask you, Lord, but what would you do if you find only twenty?”
“Because of them, I won’t destroy the city,” was the Lord’s answer.
32 Finally, Abraham said, “Please don’t get angry, Lord, if I speak just once more. Suppose you find only ten good people there.”
“For the sake of ten good people,” the Lord told him, “I still won’t destroy the city.”
33 After speaking with Abraham, the Lord left, and Abraham went back home.