So, here is the famous story of Abraham bartering with God over what to do with the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps we have become so familiar with the story that we overlook some very obvious conclusions about the kind of person God is.
1) God cares about our opinion of Him.
This isn't to say that God will change His behavior based on whether we like it or not, but it means that God cares what we think about Him. In verses 17-19 of this chapter, God wonders (either out loud or to Himself) if He ought to consult Abraham about the Sodom and Gomorrah situation. In verse 19, He reasons, "for I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just..."
God wants Abraham to act in a righteous and just way, and so it’s important to Him that Abraham understands what He's about to do. If He ends up destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, He wants to know how His friend will interpret that event.
Do you think God has changed since then? Do you think He looks at us today and longs for us to be able to understand what He has done throughout the course of human history? Do you think that we, like Abraham, sometimes assume that God has not or will not act justly and righteously?
2) God values honesty.
Abraham was God’s good friend, and because of this, he spoke boldly with God. In verse 25, he basically says, "Are you going to lump the righteous in with the wicked? You would never do that! Don’t you always do the right thing?!"
I think God loves this kind of relational communication. He wasn't affronted by Abraham's questioning; He appreciated it. In the same way, He doesn't want us to approach Him on eggshells. He wants us to be real with Him, telling Him honestly what’s on our minds, not hiding our thoughts from Him.
3) God loves having friends.
God prioritizes His relationship with us above His sovereignty or authority. Let me explain what I mean by this: In the exchange God had with Abraham about Sodom and Gomorrah, God began by agreeing that He would not destroy the cities if there were 50 righteous people living there. As the conversation ensued, Abraham continued to barter with God over the cities, reducing the conditional number to 10 righteous people.
What’s startling about this is realizing that, from the start of the conversation, God knew exactly how many righteous people were in the cities! He knew there weren't 10 righteous people living there, let alone 50! But He didn’t cut Abraham off at the knees. He didn’t say, "Look, Abraham, I know there aren’t fifty righteous people in Sodom. That’s ridiculous. Let’s stop it with this wishful thinking. I’m God, and I know everything."
God was more interested in His relationship with Abraham than He was in demonstrating His superior knowledge of what was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah. He didn’t just send Abraham a memo on what was going on with the wicked cities. He engaged Abraham in conversation, giving him the opportunity to comment on and even influence what would happen next.
We can be just the kind of friend to God that Abraham was. God still cares what we think of Him, and He is still looking for honest, loyal people who will dialogue and engage with Him—especially when they are faced with something difficult to understand!
The question is: are we as willing as Abraham was to enter into the conversation?