Summary: The Potency of Righteousness
Abraham, a man of Challenge, Faith and Promise
The Potency of Righteousness
Reading: Genesis 18:16-22
Last time we were looking at this chapter, we looked at the terrible tendency of human nature to accept the Status Quo, as somehow being the inevitable, unchangeable, the "this is the way it always has been, and this is the way it always will be." We have the leaning towards the mindset that our reference point in anything by which we access and judge any situation is our past experience, no matter what that is the definitive truth. So when ever God comes and challenges us in areas in which our experience is very strong, instead of rising in faith, instead of having our eyes opened to see what our God and King can and wants to do, our response is out of our subjective experience instead of the newness of God’s daily dealing with us. God’s purposes for us have an immediate implication, yet there are also things that only come with the development of His plans and purposes. Things which we can only receive and move in accordance with our growth in faith. This is expressed in some degree in the words of our Lord to Abraham when He said to him; " ...according to the time of life,..."
In verse 16, the angelic visitors rise to move on, we then have this passage when God poses the question, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing...." This might seem to be an odd question to pose, until one realises the potent effect of righteousness, the stark potency of its presence in any situation, to affect the way in which God will deal with any given situation. He we have Abraham, a man who we are clearly told is justified by faith, accounted as righteous by faith. A man who in spite of his up’s and down’s, nevertheless still held to God and what He had revealed to him. Abraham contended for what God had put within him, and for what God had promised him.
The net result was a man walking in the righteousness that God had accounted to him, it might have been ebbing and flowing spurts, but nevertheless he was growing in righteousness. God was looking for one to intercede on behalf of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, cities in which every conceivable vileness of human and demonic depravity was being practiced. Yet God out of His love and compassion, was screaming from the depths of His being, "I love these people, I want to bring them into the brilliance of my presence where they will find life, but how can I deny the demands of My righteousness." Then God looks and sees Abraham, a man whom God said of; "I have known him," The sense of the word "KNOWN" is not of some fleeting passing, "I’ve heard of that name, have I not met him some time?" But it holds the sense of a man who has been observed, and out of that observation come the growing care and recognition of the almighty. God was saying, "This man I know is a man of righteousness, I know because I have seen him, this man will instruct his decedents and his household in My ways. My ways are righteousness and justice, in that what I have found and observed in Abraham, in that there will be the completion of what I have spoken and promised to him."
In this passage there is a sense that God’s dealing with these cities, was going to be as a result of His own observation, and not just the sole witness of any part of His creation. I get the sense that these angels were (if it is possible) taking the Almighty to observe these two cities for Himself (vv 20-22.) On the way, there was this ’righteous spot,’ which possibly drew the attention of this procession of angelic witnesses and the perfect Judge, that point of righteousness in that dark and dismal land, was Abraham. At the end of this encounter, Abraham knowing his loving Lord, not only knowing the tenderness of God’s heart which was now grieving for the cities. Abraham now has revealed to him what the witnesses have said and unless there is something to mitigate and appease, the result would be the destruction of these cities. "..but Abraham still stood before the LORD."
There is no attempt to sweep under the carpet what was going on, there is no attempt call the fire and brimstone down. There was however the appeal concerning the presence of righteousness. Where ever righteousness is found God will hold His hand of judgment. In a city of thousands if not hundreds of thousands in which the totality of Human and Demonic depravity was openly practiced and promoted, the presence of ten righteousness people was sufficient to stay the hand of God against those cities such is the potency of righteousness. Might I suggest, that this is what Paul is getting at in 1 Corinthians 7:14, when he talks about the believer not divorcing the unbeliever, as the unbeliever is SANCTIFIED by the believer. The unbeliever is brought under the protection and blessings of the covenant in time. The presence of righteousness in any situation means that there is hope, and the Holy Spirit is able to move with greater ease.