“And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.” Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; Gen. 19:2-4
Why is this? These same angels just accepted hospitality from Abraham. In fact, the hospitality offered – a place to stay, washing their feet, all offered with a bow to the ground – is identical to what Abraham offered them, and they heartily accepted. As I mentioned in my previous posting, God said he was going to go down to Sodom personally to see if the great outcry from them is indeed true. (Gen 18:21) Just as God did at the Tower of Babel, the Almighty is descending to earth to personally observe if the wickedness warrants action (Gen. 11:7), even though God is omniscient.
I believe the angels were going to hold out, refusing Lot’s hospitality and planning to stay in the city’s square to see how they would be treated by the people of the city, to test them. To give the people of Sodom a chance to redeem themselves. Ultimately the angels accept Lot’s offer of hospitality.
As God had told Abraham in Genesis 18, He would spare the five cities of the plain from judgment if just 10 righteous were found*. (Gen. 18:32) Since the angels knew Lot was righteous, they were giving a chance to others to show they were righteous. If there were seven more righteous souls, all five cities would be saved. But in a quite unfortunate turn of events, instead a town mob shows up at Lot’s door and threatens to rape the angels. Interestingly, we are told the mob is virtually composed of a statistical sample of the people – verse 4 tells us the men were “both young and old, all the people from every quarter…”.
* Possibly less than 10 – we don’t know for sure. We can gather it is more than three, as Lot and his two daughters were not enough to spare the cities. If the case of Noah applies, eight were spared, though in Noah’s case we were dealing with all the men of the earth, not just the men of a few cities.