Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Genesis 18:16-33

“Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25)

For all of those who have grown up believing that the God of the Old Testament is a God of harsh judgment, hellfire and brimstone, today’s passage should lay that to rest. We see in these verses a God of infinite grace. Frankly, I don’t know where people get that idea about God, because His grace flows freely throughout the Old Testament, but I know that, before I had read the Bible for myself, that is what I had always been taught. Not so!

We begin this passage where Abraham’s three visitors are getting up to leave:

When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 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, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” (vs.16-19)

Jon Courson points out here that God decides to give Abraham this revelation about His plan for Sodom because he knows that Abraham will communicate to his own family the things of God. He gives Abraham this information to pass it on! Isn’t this why He reveals things from His Word to us? It isn’t meant to just be stored in our own hearts, we are meant to teach it to our children and our grandchildren and all others He brings into our lives. If you want to gain more wisdom from God, SHARE what He’s already given you!

Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” (vs.20-21)

Apparently people had been complaining to God about the behaviors in Sodom and Gomorrah. When God says He will “go down and see,” it is not because He doesn’t know, but He is going to show the world that His judgements are just and fair. The angels then head for Sodom, while the LORD and Abraham continue their dialogue. Abraham, knowing his nephew Lot is in the path of destruction, pleads for grace from God on behalf of the city. He bargains with God about the numbers. In verse 24 he says, “What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[ the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?”

After the LORD assures Abraham that He would spare the city for 50, Abraham keeps going lower and lower, bargaining until, finally, he settles with God for ten. Surely, he is thinking there are at least 10 who are righteous, because Lot’s family numbers at least eight (Lot, his wife, his two virgin daughters, and two married daughters and their husbands are mentioned in the next chapter), and there must be at least TWO more somewhere within the two cities!

In verse 33 we read, “Abraham returned home.” He was confident that God would do the right thing, and the city would be spared. I’m thinking I might have just taken a little trip down to Sodom to at least check on my nephew at this point, but I believe that Abraham, our father of faith, was resting in the justice of God - that no matter what the outcome, God remained God. We, too, must rest in the assurance that on the final judgment day, we will be singing with the great multitude in heaven,    “Hallelujah! 
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments.” (Rev. 19:1-2)

We see in this passage several great things about Abraham: he walked with God, he interceded for others with God, he was one who would SHARE his faith with his family, and he trusted the sovereign Judge of the earth to do right. No wonder he’s the father of the faithful! May the same be said of each of us!!
Tomorrow we’ll see what was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah! It’s not pretty!!!


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