B'resheet/Genesis 19:1 The two angels came to S'dom in the evening
Why did it take the two , angels - also translated messengers, from the familiar root , to rule, from when we also have , king; , queen; and , kingdom - so long to get from Hevron to S'dom? Even allowing time for their meal, they were with Avraham at mid-day, yet did not get to S'dom until evening; this is an easy walk at human speed, but since these messengers were angels, they could presumably travel instantly.Rashi asks the question and then answers it by saying, "They were angels of mercy, delaying in case Avraham would be able to mount a defence for the people of S'dom" (cf. B'resheet Rabbah 50:1). The commentator Mizrachi adds that as long as there was any possibility that the advocate could find some defence for his client, and the judge remained in the court to hear it, the hand of the prosecutor is stayed; but once the judge leaves and the advocate has done all that he can, then the prosecution proceeds to carry out the verdict of the court (cf. B'resheet Rabbah 49:14).
The voices of the prophets articulate clearly that there is a time to seek G-d. "Seek the L-rd while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous his thoughts; and let him return to the L-rd, and He will have compassion on him; and to our G-d, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7, NASB). "For thus says the L-rd to the house of Israel, 'Seek Me that you may live ... Seek the L-rd that you may live, lest He break forth like a fire, O house of Yosef, and it consume with none to quench'" (Amos 5:4,6, NASB). Within the space of each man's life, G-d calls out to him, time and again, seeking repentance; we say these words three times each day in theAmidah: that G-d is the G-d who desires repentance. Kefa the Shaliach picks this theme up when he writes, "The L-rd is not slow in keeping His promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, He is patient with you; for it is not His purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins" (2 Peter 2:9, CJB)).
Equally clear is that G-d's patience with each individual is finite. From the beginning of the Scriptures whenHaShem says, "My Spirit will not continue to judge man forever, since he is nothing but flesh. His days shall be 120 years" (B'resheet 6:3, Living Torah), to "It is appointed for man to die once and after this comes judgement" (Hebrews 9:27, NASB), the Scriptures are consistent in stressing that men should call on G-d as soon as they can, during their time of life, because once dead, they will have no more opportunity. This is why the words of the prophet are quoted so eloquently by Rav Sha'ul when he says, "We also urge you not to receive the grace of G-d in vain ... behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:1-2, NASB).
Further Study: Isaiah 49:8-13; Psalm 69:13-15
Application: Have you been holding out on G-d and not responding to His promptings? If so, how is your moment to recognise that He is speaking directly to you: He wants you to turn to Him, confess your sin and receive His forgiveness, that you may live and that relationship with Him should be restored. Do it now - don't delay another moment!
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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