Part 8 - Genesis 18:16-33 - PRAYING FOR THE TALIBAN...AND YOU?
I am all too ready to say that the TALIBAN deserve God's judgment without really thinking twice. I tend to think of them in the same way that I think about SODOM AND GOMORRAH. But did Sodom and Gomorrah really deserve to be judged? Does the Taliban? If I knew that a large city governed by the Taliban was about to be bombed to the ground, am I really willing to INTERCEDE on behalf of those who may be genuinely seeking God in the hope that perhaps some could come to know Christ and be saved?
When I look at this passage I notice that the people of Sodom have already seen God at work. For instance they have been DELIVERED MIRACULOUSLY from Chedorlaomer by Abraham back in Genesis 14.
The king of Sodom is there when "Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High ... blessed Abram with this blessing: ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.'" He hears about who God is, even if he didn't know before. But that's not enough.
Romans 1:18-20 lays it on the line. It says that "God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because He has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature. So they have NO EXCUSE FOR NOT KNOWING GOD."
In Genesis 18:23 Abraham says to God, "Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked?" He presumes that God will sweep away the wicked, but will He also sweep away those who believe? Abraham recognises that God is just. WHEN YOU KNOW GOD, YOU KNOW HIS WAYS.
I am impressed with Abraham. He could have just asked for God to spare Lot, his nephew, but he bargains with God for anyone who may have an ounce of belief in Sodom to be spared. WHEN YOU KNOW GOD, YOU LOVE PEOPLE!
I notice something else about Abraham. He doesn't say, "How could a LOVING God send people to hell?" He says the opposite. In effect he says "How could a JUST God send people to hell?" He appeals, not to God's love, but to HIS JUSTICE. WHEN YOU KNOW GOD, YOU KNOW THAT HE IS ABSOLUTELY FAIR concerning His decisions and His judgments are always just. It's me who has the SKEWED VIEW of love and justice, not God.
Instead of asking how a LOVING GOD could send people to hell, perhaps I need to be asking how a JUST GOD could decide to SAVE anyone! I have sinned too and fall short of the mark (Romans 3:23).
Or an even better question would be how can I be so arrogant and sinful as to think that I am good enough to go to heaven?
Abraham persists in interceding for Sodom and it's cities. This in fact is the FIRST INTERCESSORY PRAYER in the Bible. His prayer is HUMBLE and not PRESUMPTUOUS. He doesn't demand in Jesus Name that Lot and his family be spared. He comes to God on the basis of HIS CHARACTER not on the basis of his own selfish desires and brings his prayer down in numbers until he says "Lord, please don't be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten (righteous people) are found there?"
Abraham gets down to 10 people before he stops interceding for them. And the Lord replies, "Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten."
DID SODOM DESERVE JUDGMENT? Does the Taliban? Yes! But I am glad that it is God's decision concerning when ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Justice and Love collide at the Cross. His love was expressed to me by making it possible to receive His forgiveness. His justice was there as He paid the penalty for sin on my behalf.
As I write this, I'm praying that you will believe in Christ and His work on the Cross for you and be saved.
God bless you Church as you intercede for those who do not know Christ as their Lord and Saviour today.