The Privilege Of The Pardoned
Is there anyone that you would not pray for?
TITLE & TEXT
TITLE & TEXT
The Privilege of the Pardoned
The people of God are to use their position to plead for the people of God.
Wicked Nations Around Them
Oppressive Nations That Took Them
The Times We Live In
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.” 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.
The author brings us suddenly back into the account before us and with masterful transitions gets us ready for the next part of this story which is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The two men, who we know to be angels that were supping with the LORD at Abrahams home are now turning aside from Abraham to continue on their way to the original errand they were on before the meal was given them. We as readers might have almost forgotten they were there as they fade into the background of the conversation between God and Abraham regarding his laughing wife at the announcement of their promised child Isaac. But now here we are.
The two men now set off again and the text says that they "look down" toward Sodom. We do know that this is a literal looking down because the city resided in a valley as we see previously in...
And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
As well as in the next chapter we will see...
And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”
So we know that these men literally looked down toward Sodom but some scholars think that their is a figurative meaning here also foreshadowing the wrath of God upon it. That very well may be, but let us move forward with what we can know for sure. It says that Abraham,
"set them on their way"
Like any good host he was in essence walking them out, seeing them to the door if you will. We do that don't we? When we have guests over for a meal we don't just sit at the table as they get ready to leave, no, we often will come with them even sometimes as far as walking them out to their cars. Maybe that is just to make sure they are really leaving! In any case this is what Abraham does with these three but then as the two move on farther the LORD seems to terry for a moment to have a private discussion with Abraham as we see in V22.
So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.
So here we have Abraham and the LORD and the way the syntax is in the Hebrew we are given a kind of inward dialog of God with himself or perhaps the angels in the section of verses 17-19 as it says...
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.”
God knows all things and sees all things, we know that based on the whole of scripture but more specifically by the context of this section in Genesis where He just proved that to both Abraham and Sarah by publicly calling her out. So God decides He will not hide this next activity from Abraham but instead will tell him of what is about to happen to his neighbors.
What is the reason Abraham is given this inside scoop from the LORD?
Payback from the meal? Just in a good mood and feels like sharing? No, well maybe, but ultimately no.Look at the text, Abraham is a man of God, he is the man God has chosen, he is the man God will use to impact the nations. Through this man all the earth shall be blessed! The gospel of Christ was present even then as it says...
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
God is going to share with Abraham because Abraham has been chosen by God, see what it says in V19?
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.”
Because Abraham was chosen he gets the inside scoop. God is going to give Abraham an inside scoop into His character and holiness, of His righteousness and justice, of His mercy and grace, of His power and majesty and why is that? So that Abraham could...Notice with me.
"command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice"
Why must Abraham have this inside scoop and see and know these things?
So that he might teach it to the next generation. So that he might be able to point to this event and say BEWARE! Do not turn aside! Do not forsake the LORD! Pursue righteousness and do justice so that you do not end up as Sodom and Gomorrah.
Are you oh beloved; oh chosen ones of God, are you seeking to teach and train this coming generation or even those in your household to keep the way of the LORD? Are you aware that you, yes even you are called to make disciples? Are we actively seeking to be obedient to this call in our own lives? Do we even know where to begin?
Do you like coffee? Do you like food? Do you like sports? Do you like shopping? Do you like ice-cream? Do you like hunting, or fishing, or biking, or video games? Do you like anything in this whole wide world that you might be able to share with one other person? Will you make a conscious decision to seek out someone to share that thing with? Abraham just shared a meal with God and spent that time together talking about the things of God together. Let us meet with other Christians and non-christians alike and talk about keeping the way of the LORD, and righteousness, and justice. Let us seek to be and make disciples!
As we go back to the text why was Abraham, why are we to do this? Because destruction is coming! But was that it, do justice and pursue righteousness just so that you do not get punished by some angry and frighteningly powerful deity? Yes, but No, do justice and pursue righteousness because if he does, if they do, when you do... As it says here.
"the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has promised him"
The gospel of God is good news. News of salvation and regeneration not of destruction and dereliction. The obedience we give to God is not given out of fear but driven by our love. We LOVE God, don't we!? We have been told of the promise He gave to us haven't we? Don't you want this promise for yourself? Don't you want everyone to know about the fame and glory our God deserves not to mention the blessed promise we have in Christ Jesus? Promises of freedom, forgiveness, peace, joy, patience, love and gentleness. Promises of life eternal, inheritance immeasurable, and heaven unimaginable. Don't you burst at the seams to herald the glory of a God whose righteousness and justice still allows for the sinner to be forgiven and for the wretch to be redeemed!? Boy, I do.
Then God speaks out loud to Abraham in V20-21 as the text says...
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.”
The wickedness and the sin of these sister cities was so outrageous before the LORD that they deserved special attention from God. God had seen and heard enough and was now going to act. His action would be both righteous and just. His actions are always righteous and just, let us remember that. These cities, like many people in our country today scoff at God. They scoff at truth, at morality, at justice, at righteousness. But just as Abraham in his day, we too have been warned have we not? We like Abraham have the inside scoop as to what the end will bring for this world. We know as Abraham did that God cannot be hidden from, that He sees and hears the hearts of all men. Abraham understands, as we should, that when God reigns down His wrath it is no less just.
Does this not remind you of God's interactions with Adam in the expulsion, Noah before the flood and with His interactions with those at Babylon before the scattering. Beloved we live in a world where all of mankind has been twisted and misshaped by sin. When any people are left alone their hearts will always bend away from God. Adam, Noah's generation, his offspring at Babylon, Sodom and Gomorrah, The roman empire, and now our very own nation. All mankind everywhere continues to turn their hearts away from God and will continue to do so without intervention.
As Romans says in 3:10 and following...
"None are righteous, no one seeks God, no one does good, not even one"
Therefore we as the text says in 2 Cor 5.17 must either be a new creation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
or as the text says in Rev 19.15 we must be destroyed.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
No my friends God will not be mocked. Those who scoff and turn away from Him, those who harden their hearts to His word have chosen to live as these cities before them and they will receive the same fate. Just as the text says God will know of the gravity of our sins. He knows all things. There is nowhere we can hide ourselves from Him. When we think we are getting away with sin just because our consequences are not immediate we are deceiving ourselves. Beloved the danger of destruction for those who do not repent is very real! I beg you that if you are listening to this today that you consider the text, consider the truth, turn to the LORD and repent before it is to late!
If you have been born anew, if you have trusted Christ for salvation, if you have repented from your sin and asked God for forgiveness and are seeking to follow after Him then the rest of todays message is especially for you. Abraham is one of the chosen of God seeking to follow after Him. We know that he has faith in the LORD and that his faith was accounted to him as righteousness before God. We know also according to todays text that Abraham because of his standing with God is given some inside information about what God is going to do to the wicked who oppose Him. Now we must ask...
What was Abrahams response to this information?
To see Abrahams response we need to look to the second section of this chapter.
Three points we as Christians should notice and imitate from Abraham's interactions with God.
The first point we can take from V22-23 where it says...
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?
Abraham was a man chosen by God out of the grace and mercy of God's design. Not because of any intrinsic holiness on the part of Abraham. He was a pagan man called out of a pagan household. None the less God chose him. Because God chose Him, Abraham had faith in God. As scripture says...
"We love Him because he first loved us"
Therefore let us not forget Abrahams nor our own position before God. If we are His it is only because He chose us. Yet because of this choosing we as Abraham are in a unique position where we are able to humbly and reverently stand before God Almighty and draw near to Him as we intercede for others. That my beloved is why I want you to take note of HIS POSITION.
"He, stood before the LORD; and drew near to Him"
We too must stand before the LORD seeking to draw near to His mercy seat and plead for the souls of men.
Next is HIS PLEA in verses 24-32 Abraham appeals to Gods character and pleads for the salvation of the righteous. According to Gods justice as well as His mercy. Abraham starts out with a mere fifty people.
Let us put this in perspective. In the year 2013 the population for the city of Allegan was around 5,000 people which is relatively small but lets say that Sodom was half that, so roughly around 2,500 people. Would it be difficult to find 50 Christians in a city that size? One might think not but let this speak to you about the wickedness of those two cities then. Abrahams plea is that God would spare the city of Sodom if only 50 righteous people could be found there. Then 45, then 40, then 30, 20, down to 10.
Abraham uses his position with God to intercede on behalf of others. I want you to see this! Abraham does not pray that justice would not be done because then God would be unjust. It is unjust for those that are guilty to go free right? But it is also unjust for those who are innocent to receive punishment correct? Abrahams plea is for God to be merciful on those that deserve mercy and to deal justly with those who deserve wrath. This is praying within the will of God. Look at verse 25!
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?”
The answer of course is a resounding YES! Gods righteous judgement never infringes upon His mercy and His mercy never interferes with His justice. Both are held in perfect balance and both are displayed most vividly in the crucifixion of Christ. The cross of Christ is the only means by which Gods mercy and justice can both be satisfied, for either an individual receives mercy from God through the sacrifice given on the cross or the individual receives justice that they are owed because they chose to reject that sacrifice which was given.
Beloved are we fervently, earnestly, continuously praying pleading prayers of intercession for the salvation of those who God can bring to salvation? Are we using our position given to us through Christ's crucifixion in the manner that Christ himself had done while here among us? Are we pleading with God to work in the hearts of those that are His to bring them to salvation? Are we doing this even for people who are coming from places and groups that we do not care for? Are we doing this for people even when it appears to us that they have no hope?
This brings us lastly to HIS PLACE in verse 33 which says...
And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
Abraham had done all he could think to do with the time he was given. Abraham utilized his position and pleaded with the LORD and in the end returned to his place. Abraham had no marching orders to go and tell these cities of the coming destruction. However had they been given there is no doubt that he would have gone. Given the conversation he had with God he must have known the eminent danger those Sodomites were in. No, Abrahams place was home with his wife. But...
Where is your place beloved?
If you have been elected. If you are a chosen and redeemed child of God then you should know your place. God in His mercy has revealed to us what is to come. Jesus in His final words to us before going to His place at the right hand of God told us what to do. He said...
"Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you"
Unlike Abraham it is not our place to sit silently observing from a hilltop. No, it is our place to be going, be telling, be teaching, be baptising, be watching, be waiting, be warning, be discipling, and be prayerfully interceding. Because like Abraham we have the inside scoop, we know that destruction is coming and we know that Gods mercy and justice are reconciled in the cross. What we don't know is, is there 50, 40, 30, 20 or even just 10.
Don't we desire to be more like Christ in all aspects of our lives?
Don't we desire to be ever interceding for others as Christ does for us?
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Abraham was told of the coming destruction of a people that had no direct affiliation with him. A people as we will see that were vile and wicked and that deserved the punishment that God was going to give to them. Yet knowing Gods character, knowing His mercy and justice, His righteousness and grace Abraham prayed on behalf of the righteous that God might spare the city so that those who might come to salvation would come.
Are we, like Abraham seeking to fervently intercede for those that may turn and repent and be saved?
We must be fervently interceding for the people of God.
Can we know who will and wont be saved?
Is there any group of people or any individual person who is outside of God's power to save?
Are we asking for the LORD to bring us the lost so that we might witness to them?
Morning & Evening - Charles Spurgeon
As an encouragement cheerfully to offer intercessory prayer, remember that such prayer is the sweetest God ever hears, for the prayer of Christ is of this character. In all the incense which our Great High Priest now puts into the golden censer, there is not a single grain for himself. His intercession must be the most acceptable of all supplications—and the more like our prayer is to Christ’s, the sweeter it will be; thus while petitions for ourselves will be accepted, our pleadings for others, having in them more of the fruits of the Spirit, more love, more faith, more brotherly kindness, will be, through the precious merits of Jesus, the sweetest oblation that we can offer to God, the very fat of our sacrifice. Remember, again, that intercessory prayer is exceedingly prevalent. What wonders it has wrought! The Word of God teems with its marvelous deeds.
Believer, you have a mighty engine in your hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and you shall surely be a benefactor to your brethren. When you have the King’s ear, speak to him for the suffering members of his body. When you are favored to draw very near to his throne, and the King says to you, “Ask, and I will give you what you will,” let your petitions be, not for yourself alone, but for the many who need his aid. If you have grace at all, and are not an intercessor, that grace must be small as a grain of mustard seed. You have just enough grace to float your soul clear from the quicksand, but you have no deep floods of grace, or else you would carry in your joyous plea a weighty cargo of the wants of others, and you would bring back from your Lord, for them, rich blessings which but for you they might not have obtained:
“Oh, let my hands forget their skill; My tongue be silent, cold, and still; This bounding heart forget to beat; If I forget the mercy-seat!”