Eternity Daily Bible Study

The Life Of Abraham


Number:565

Verses: Genesis 18:22-33

Topic: Abraham Intercedes For The Righteous

Date: 25th January 2006

 

Genesis 18:22-33 MKJV And the men turned their faces away from there, and went toward Sodom. But Abraham still stood before Jehovah.  (23)  And Abraham drew near and said, Will You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?  (24)  Perhaps there are fifty righteous within the city. Will You also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are in it?  (25)  Far be it from You to act in this manner, to kill the righteous with the wicked. And far be it from You, that the righteous should be as the wicked. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?  (26)  And Jehovah said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.  (27)  And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak to Jehovah, who am but dust and ashes.  (28)  Perhaps there will be five lacking from the fifty righteous. Will You destroy all the city for lack of five? And He said, If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.  (29)  And he spoke to Him yet again, and said, Perhaps there shall be forty found there. And He said, I will not do it for forty's sake.  (30)  And he said, Oh let not Jehovah be angry, and I will speak. Perhaps there shall be thirty found there. And He said, I will not do it if I find thirty there.  (31)  And he said, Lo now, I have taken upon me to speak to Jehovah. Perhaps there shall be twenty found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.  (32)  And he said, Oh do not let Jehovah be angry, and I will speak only once more. Perhaps ten shall be found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.  (33)  And Jehovah went His way as soon as He had left off talking with Abraham. And Abraham returned to his place.

 

Abraham has a problem with God destroying Sodom (where his nephew Lot dwelt) which he phrases as: Will You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 

 

For Abraham, and for the whole of the Scriptures, there are two fundamental categories of people – the righteous and the wicked, and God treats these two fundamental categories in totally different ways, rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked.

 

The “world” however has two very different categories – the rich and the poor. The “world” is amoral and immoral. It erases the distinction between good and evil so that the wicked prosper and the righteous are persecuted. The “market forces” of the world reward the rich and powerful independently of any moral virtue or vice they possess. These same forces crush the weak and poor (again independently of any virtue or vice they possess).

 

2 Timothy 3:10-12 MKJV But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, patience, (11) persecutions, afflictions, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra. What persecutions I endured! But the Lord delivered me out of all.  (12)  Yea, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

 

So there is a fundamental question that echoes throughout the Bible and especially in Psalms - “when will God's justice prevail and God make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked”.

 

The answer to this is a in a Day of Judgment, a day of the Lord, when God visits and calls His Creation (a person, city, or nation) to account and which reflects the Great Day of the Lord when Jesus will return with His holy angels to mete out heavenly justice. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah s often used as a type of this.

 

Like many of us Abraham is nervous about these “days of judgment” and especially the one that was about to come to Sodom. Was Lot going to be caught up in it? Would God judge the wicked city as a whole – or would He spare the righteous in it? So Abraham appeals to God and God answers that He would not destroy Sodom if there were any righteous people in it. (The “bidding” eventually went down in “tens” so when ten was reached it could not go any lower, the next “bid' being zero. Also by then the trend was obvious)

 

Abraham's intercession was effective and Lot was spared by angelic intervention:
Genesis 19:29 MKJV  And when God destroyed the cities of the plain, it happened that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

 

Back to the problem of justice: Genesis 18:25 MKJV Far be it from You to act in this manner, to kill the righteous with the wicked. And far be it from You, that the righteous should be as the wicked. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

 

The question “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” implies that God sets a time of judgment and then carries it out carefully and justly so that a true and proper distinction is made between the righteous and the wicked. It is not just wholesale demolition, there is a fairness and a righteousness to it. This theme is also taken up by the apostle Peter who shows how Noah and Lot were spared in times of overwhelming judgment:

 

2 Peter 2:4-9 MKJV For if God did not spare sinning angels, but thrust them down into Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness, being reserved to judgment.  (5)  And He did not spare the old world, but saved Noah the eighth one, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.  (6)  And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, He condemned them with an overthrow, setting an example to men intending to live ungodly.  (7)  And He delivered righteous Lot, oppressed with the lustful behavior of the lawless.  (8)  For that righteous one living among them, in seeing and hearing, his righteous soul was tormented from day to day with their unlawful deeds.  (9)  The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust for a day of judgment, to be punished,

 

The word temptation here is peirasmos which also means testing / affliction / hard times.  God knows how to deliver us, just as He delivered Noah and Lot. This is sometimes quoted as proof of the Rapture and I have come to believe that Christians are spared from the final cataclysmic bowl judgments - but will be around when the Anti-Christ first arises and for at least the first stages of “Mark of the Beast” (this is a mid-tribulation rapture position). Whatever your end-time theology I think that it should include some form of deliverance for the saints and a distinction being made between the righteous and the wicked. If Abraham's dialogue with God can give us a clue there will be no righteous folk left on planet Earth when Jesus finally returns in flaming fire to punish the ungodly and the very elements themselves “pass away with a roar”.

 

Right up to the last God will make His appeal so that “all may come to repentance”:

2 Peter 3:9-13 HCSB The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.  (10)  But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.  (11)  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness (12) as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be on fire and be dissolved, and the elements will melt with the heat.  (13)  But based on His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.

 

Blessings,

 

John Edmiston (johned@aibi.ph)

 

 

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