Abram pleads for Sodom
Genesis • Sermon • Submitted
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Good morning everyone…I am so glad to see you all here this morning. Now is the time that our awesome kids get to go back to the most amazing teachers in Ogle County. I mean we have people that are focused in on sharing the Gospel with our kids in a way that makes sense to them, and we are beyond blessed to have this group of people to be a part of our church family, so when you see a teacher, please take a moment and thank them for what they are doing in the lives of the kids of LRBC. Then of course we have those of you joining us online right now. We want to thank you, whether you are joining us live or via one of our podcast options later in the week, it is so encouraging to know that God is using LRBC to be a blessing to you in your life…wherever you are.
Hey, I want to share something really exciting with everyone this morning, and then, hopefully invite you all to join me on a journey. Many of you know that there is a brand new school opening in Mount Morris called, Mount Morris Christian Academy. Mount Morris Christian Academy is opening in the fall of 2023…that means this very next school year. Now, some of you know this, but many of you do not…a few years ago I went into an Elder meeting and I shared with the Elders something that was really weighing on my heart. As I entered this meeting I told the Elders that there was nothing we could do right now, but that I wanted us to be praying about something specifically, and it is something I have been praying about personally for the last few years. What I shared with the Elders is that I was concerned with the educational opportunities in our communities. We have a government that has a desire to teach our young children things that are flagrantly against the clear teaching of Scripture. Now, we cannot expect the school to teach the truths of Scripture, but at least it didn’t used to be quite as anti-Scripture as it is today. I’ve done alot of research and while I am grateful for our school communities close by here who are trying to keep much of these evil ideologies out of our local school systems, but very soon there will not be an option but to allow these things. This is increasingly concerning for me as I have seen solid Christian parents have kids that are leaving the public school systems confused and many not clinging to the truths of Scripture, or even out right rejecting Scripture. This is concerning to me…so I have been praying about this.
Fast forward to when I had a conversation with the Elders. I shared with the Elders my concern for the families in this area. So, I asked the Elders to pray about this. I told them that I would like for our church to help provide an answer to this concern, not just be concerned about it. Of coarse I also acknowledged that I know absolutely nothing about how to be involved with a school, or how to run a school or anything like that. So, we would need to pray that God would bring the right person here with a passion for the next generations education. Fast forward to a few months ago when the decision was made for a a new school to be started in Mount Morris. Not only was this a new school, but this was a new Christian school. Fast forward a little time and the school planting organization made the decision that every school they planted needed to be attached to a local church because the church is who cares for the spiritual needs of the school community. I know this is a long story, so hang in there with me, because its just gonna get better here :). I have been in conversation with Grace Association who is the organization that is planting this brand new school. Now, I did not know the pastor or the church that is pushing this forward, I had never heard of them prior to this announcement a few months ago. Since then, I have had multiple conversations with Grace and they would like for us as a church to be the spiritual sponsor of this brand new work of education in this region. Here is why that is cool…I have been praying about this, and specifically I have been praying that God would send those to this place that would know how to manage all of the needs and vision of a school. Now, God has sent, not just a person, but an organization that is fairly hyper focused putting the right people in the right positions to be able to build a school for the kids and families in this region. We also see that this is more than just a school, but an opportunity for us to minister to families and to a community that has a need for Jesus…We are going to talk about this some more later, so be paying attention about the potential for how you can be a part of something amazing for this community! But…why do I tell you all of that this morning. Well…because it is amazing to see what can happen when you have a conversation with the Lord.
It’s amazing to see what God can do when you go to him boldly to share and plead for something that you deeply care about…This morning we are going to take a look at a conversation between Abraham and God and see how Abraham’s boldness led to God revealing something pretty amazing about his character. Actually what we will see today is a man who decides to talk to God, for the benefit of others.
Now, today we are going to skip a section of Scripture, but I am going to be making a video talking about the first part of this chapter during the week this week. You will be able to find that on social media, and it will be posted to my “guy and a bible” youtube channel where I put up weekly recaps of Sunday’s message. Today though, we are going to pass over the conversation that God has with Abraham and Sarah about her having a baby and her having the chance to really laugh at God, and we are going to move into the second portion of this interaction that Abraham has with God. Now there is something really interesting that we are going to see here. We will see what is called a “theophany”, which is a physical manifestation of of God. In other words, this is a time where God comes down in a physical form that allows Abraham to be able to see, hear, and touch God in a real way. We see this in
Genesis 18:1 (ESV)
And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.
Do you see the word LORD? Whenever you are reading your Bible, whatever translation you are using, when you see those four letters all capitalized, that means the Hebrew word in Yahweh, which is the name that God gave himself when we met Moses at the burning bush. So these four letters capitalized, tells us that this is God, and not simply an angel or some other messenger…This is God in a physical form, which is amazing to think about, isn’t it…But that is not the whole context of todays passage, this only sets the context of our passage for today. You see, today we are going to look at a conversation that Abraham had with God about Sodom. Let’s go ahead and take a look at this passage because I would love to introduce you to a side of Abraham that is really important. I want you to meet,
Abraham the Prayer Warrior
Abraham the Prayer Warrior
Yeah, we have already seen that Abraham can be a physical warrior, but today we are going to take a look at Abraham the prayer warrior, because I think its pretty cool. Let’s go ahead and read up and get prepared for what we are going to talk about here today.
Genesis 18:16–21 (ESV)
Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
OK, so what do we have going on here? This is actually really interesting and honestly I was a little perplexed by this passage. See, you have Abraham who got up and kind of “eaves dropped” on the Lords conversation with with these other men. But really you can’t eaves drop on God, can you? That means that whatever was said by God was for Abraham to hear…maybe as a test, maybe as a point was being made. Honestly, I think we see a point being made here. I think when we look at this passage we are able to see how
The Lord Reflects on Righteousness...
The Lord Reflects on Righteousness...
This is kind of big because as we see in this passage we have a contrast going on here. First of all we see how Abraham will lead his family in righteousness. Right here the Lord says that Abraham has been chosen because he may command his children. Now that word may is not a question…it is a statement of fact… Abraham has been chosen because he will lead his family in righteousness, but not just righteousness…he will also lead them and teach them in the way of justice. Thats kind of important here because Abraham is about to appeal to the Lord character of justice.
Now, as we compare the Lords reflection of Abraham with Sodom and you see that Sodom is filled with unrighteousness and injustice. Yeah, thats right…we will see more about the injustice of Sodom next week, but for now we see that the Lord says there is an outcry from Sodom…In other words, the victims of the lawlessness are crying out to God and asking for justice. Actually, let me be clear for a moment, the Hebrew for for outcry here could be better described as a cry of victims who suffer injustice. This isnt just yelling. Later in Scripture the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Amos all compare the social injustices that will be committed in Israel/Judah to the infamous cities Sodom-Gomorrah. We see that even in the New Testament how even Jesus acknowledges the evil that caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
So here we see this contrast of who Abraham is and what Abraham will produce within his family, and who Sodom is and what Sodom produces within her gates. Now, Abraham is not a stupid man…he knows about the justice of God…he has seen it first hand. He knows that God will not allow these evils to go unanswered, that would not be in the character of God…but Abraham also knows that his nephew lives in Sodom and Abraham has hope that there are righteous people in this city. So,
Abraham Prays for the Righteous of Sodom...
Abraham Prays for the Righteous of Sodom...
I guess we should start off here by defining what prayer is, right....Prayer is talking to God....Yeah, that simple. Now you remember earlier I said that Abraham was a prayer warrior right? Let’s talk about that for a few minutes here. What is a prayer warrior? Do you know anyone that is truly a prayer warrior? I mean that person that you can tell anything to and you can trust that they will not stop praying until you beg them to stop praying :) We have some mighty prayer warriors right here in this church family. It is a gift of faith that some have and while others do pray…it’s not quite the same thing. Im talking about the people with a list that continues to grow and you know that every time they open their Bible they are praying for every single person on that list by name and by situation. This is something that we should all do, but if we are honest we don’t all do this, do we. That’s ok…Im not gonna call you out for that, Im just pointing out that here we have a man who is about to stand before God and not move and not stop praying, or talking to God. Let’s take a look at this conversation that Abraham has with God and see what we can learn from his encounter.
Genesis 18:22–33 (ESV)
So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
Woah! I don’t know about you, but that is a bold move that Abraham just did, isn’t it? Wow…now we are actually going to see a couple of pretty important things about what Abraham did here so that it might encourage each of us to learn a little about prayer today. First of all what we see is that Abraham still stood before the Lord, or to say it another way...Abraham stayed with the Lord. Listen, that is important....and if we are honest that is also hard sometimes to do isn’t it. I mean, sometimes the Lord is taking us to a place we don’t want to go…physically, emotionally, spiritually there are some places that we may just not feel that we are ready to go, but here we have Abraham staying with the Lord in the midst of this conversation. Now there is something else that Abraham does here…I’ll be honest…this is something that I find a little hard to do I think. Here is what Abraham does, Abraham steps up to the Lord. Now....this can mean something different for different people, so let me be very clear with this statement. Abraham steps up and stands in the gap between God and Sodom. Abraham doesn’t back down from God, and doesn’t give up. Wow…talk about some faith, huh. Listen, Abraham is not “naming it and claiming it”, but as long as God has left open the door, and Abraham knows God’s character, he is going to keep asking for what is just and righteous. Did you catch that. If God would have said, No! Thats enough Abraham, I guarantee Abraham would have said thank you for hearing me…but that didn’t happen. God didn’t say no, so Abraham didn’t stop asking did he. Abraham boldly went to God and continued to ask God for mercy for this city. Abraham wasn’t scared to step up to God and ask for something that was completely within the character of God, because Abraham knew who he was to God. Remember, God was just talking about who Abraham was and about justice by reminding Abraham that he is a just God.
Listen, let me bring this home right now…We have been presented the opportunity as a church to have a major impact in our community, and beyond…not just for a moment, but for generations. Listen, when I first came to this church I asked this question…If LRBC were to close her doors and disappear, would anyone in the community care, or even notice. Every single person that I spoke with and asked that question said, no no-one would care if we were no longer here. That was a hard thing for us to face though wasn’t it…Now fast forward to the spring of 2023 and we are actively involved in Leaf River, we are launching a farmers ministry AND now we are looking at being actively involved in the creation of a brand new school in this community…How amazing is that! Do we know how to do any of this stuff…Well, I don’t know about you, I mean I know you guys are all pretty smart, but Im gonna say, No..we don’t know the first thing about what all we are doing. For instance, let’s talk about the things that we are looking at being involved in right now…There is no such thing as a ministry to farmers in the U.S. Yeah, I just said that because we have searched and I have reached out to so many other churches trying to figure out what we need to do and no one is doing this…That shows a big need, but also shows a really big question mark, right? Then look at the school…does anyone in here know how to administer a school and start a brand new school from scratch…Im gonna say, nope..so we have no idea what we are doing, but we are doing something very specific…We are staying with the Lord, wherever he takes us, even when he takes us to the unknown…and we are boldly praying for those we are ministering to. Now…that applies to us as a church, right…but, what about you? What are you doing in your prayer time....do you even have a prayer time, or do you only cry out when you are hurting, or need something?
Listen, as a church we have seen a need, and we are seeking to step up to the Lord and say, use us. So let me ask you each a question this morning. Are you willing to be used by the Lord? Remember last week I had you ask yourself, Can I trust God’s promises? Well this week I want you to ask yourself another question…Assuming that you can in fact trust God’s promises, ask yourself…Am I willing to be used by the Lord? That’s a big question isn’t it…I mean, if I am being used by the Lord that means I am no longer in charge of what is going to happen…that means that I have to give up my own perceptions of how things should be…that means that it might not be the way I think it should be, but Im willing for God to use me. God is using Abraham in a big way, isn’t he? I mean God is using Abraham to bring about nations…Listen, God is using Abraham to bring about Jesus…God is using Abraham, and it’s not always going the way Abraham wants it to go is it? I mean, if it was going to go the way Abraham wants it to go, then he would have had a baby at 25, not 100…right? But Abraham is willing to be used by God in amazing ways…Are you?
This morning we are going to pray to close, but before I close I am going to invite everyone over to the school building in Mount Morris right after Sunday School, we will be there by 12:15…Im going to invite you all over to the building with me to spend 10 minutes praying for that building and for the school that is coming into that space. There are papers in your bulletin that have prayer points for the new school, so bring that with you. If you need one, Raina can hook you up before you leave. Take that with you and join me in stepping up in front of God and asking him to do a big work through us..in this place. Amen?...