Sparing Sodom, Part 2 (Genesis 18:22-33)

To summarize this section Abraham is going to repeatedly ask God to spare Sodom.  He begins by asking God to spare the city if he finds just 50 righteous – to which God agrees.  Then over and over Abraham lowers the number until he gets to 10, “God if you find just 10 righteous will you please spare Sodom?”  God agrees.  Several points

Sodom’s Reputation.  

We have been getting signals about Sodom’s reputation for the last several chapters.  In 13:13 it said, “….” And then in 14:23 Abraham was clearly disgusted with and wanted nothing to do with the king of Sodom.  And here in chapter 18 God says He has heard about Sodom and Gomorrah.

Who has God been hearing from?  WHo has been making this “outcry” against Sodom TO God?  Several possibilities come to mind.  For one, Lot and any other of the righteous who have lived in Sodom.  Is it not the same today – that the righteous pray when they are distressed by what they see going on around them?  I think it is the prayers of the righteous that are one voice in this “outcry.” 

Another possibility is the blood of the righteous.  Sodom was a wicked city, infamous for its sexual depravity.  Along with such perversion is violence.  If you want proof just consider the disgusting violence the men of the city wanted to commit against the 2 male-looking angels when they came to town.  What do I mean by this?  I mean that when the wicked shed the blood of the righteous that blood cries out to God.  What did God say to Cain in chapter 4?  “Listen!  Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!” 

We could also consider that the souls themselves of any murdered make their petition before God in heaven.  Remember in Revelation 6 that the souls of the martyred saints cried out daily to God to bring justice to their murderers. 

I would add that reports from angels who are dispatched would also be part of the outcry.  You can imagine righteous angels indignant over the evil going on and pressing the LORD to bring judgment.  Regardless, there was a great outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah. 

Abraham prays for justice.  

He prays God would act consistent with justice.  But here is the dilemma:  either God goes and judges Sodom and destroys the righteous along with the wicked, or, he abstains from destroying the city and the wicked get to live along with the righteous.  It is not just to kill the righteous along with the wicked Abraham insisted.  So he would rather, and God was willing, that for the sake of sparing the righteous, the wicked would be spared from God’s judgment too.  In a sense, it would be worse that the righteous are unjustly punished like the wicked than that the wicked get to live like the righteous.

Abraham was not praying that God would have mercy on the wicked

 But that mercy was not for the sake of the wicked.  It was for the sake of the righteous.  Did you see what Abraham said to God?  “Far be it from you, the judge of all the earth, to treat the righteous the same as thew wicked.”  He was not praying that God would refrain from judging the wicked because Abraham had pity on them.  He was asking God to spare them only because of the righteous in their midst.  He was asking because he was concerned about the lives of the righteous – not the wicked. 

Application:  Notice again that the wicked are blessed by the presence of the righteous.  God’s blessings on the righteous overflow to those around the righteous.  Had there been 10 righteous in the city the wicked would have been spared.  Not because they deserved to be spared, but, on account of the righteous in their midst they would have been spared.

Abraham’s persistence.  

Abraham begins with 50 and “works” God all the way down to 10.  Abraham is the widow Jesus spoke of in Luke 18 who kept coming back to the judge over and over.  Boldness begets boldness.  Look how bold Abraham is.  He starts out a little bold, then gets a little more bold, and then a little more.  Abraham is essentially seeing where the line of God’s mercy is.  The more you get to know God the more bold with God you will become.  “Approach the throne of grace with boldness!” Heb 4 insists. 

Application:  Ask big.  Ask repeatedly.  Believe in the mercy of God.

God’s character is the basis of prayer.  

The basis of Abraham’s petitioning of God is God’s character.  The reason Abraham was persistent with God is God’s character.  This is why knowing God is so important.  On what basis are you asking God anything when you pray?  If you don’t know what God is like then how can you pray to Him?  Our prayers in the beginning of the service are focused on praising God.

APPLICATION:  Abraham is asking God to do things that are consistent with who God is.  Is that how we ask of God?  Do we know God well enough to ask of Him things we are confident are consistent with His character?

Notice how God is not annoyed with Abraham at all.  Notice how patiently He listens and agrees to Abraham’s requests.  You don’t get any indication that God is merely “tolerating” Abraham here.  You get the picture that God stopped at Abraham’s for the express purpose of having this exchange. 

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