Summary: This is part 33 in an ongoing sermon series in the Book of Genesis. In this sermon we see how Abraham intercedes for his nephew Lot.
Intercession (Genesis part 33)
Text: Genesis 18:16-33
By: Ken McKinley
In the UK they have these things called boot sales. Now that’s probably not what you’re thinking. You see; in the UK, they call the trunk of a car the “boot” and what they do is… on certain days a community will gather up all the things they want to get rid of, put them into the trunk (or the boot) of their cars and meet in an open area. They’ll open up the trunks of their cars and begin selling the items out of them. Now in and of itself, it’s a pretty interesting affair, but it gets really interesting if you go with someone who really knows how to bargain and haggle with people. Now when we were in the UK 5 years ago, my uncle went with us, and that’s exactly the kind of person he is. There have been several times when he’s found something at a garage sale for a couple of bucks and then turned around and sold it for a couple of hundred. And the reason for that is because he understands bargaining. He understands that if two people really want something, then all sorts of arrangements can be met. In-other-words; if you have something that is valuable to another person, and that person has something that’s valuable to you, then eventually you can reach an agreement that is suitable to both of you.
But it’s a different story when you don’t have anything to offer, or when you’re not in a position to bargain, but that’s exactly the situation described for us in our text this morning. Abraham and his heavenly visitors have just finished eating and they get up to walk off the delicious meal and they find themselves looking towards Sodom. And in verse 17 God says, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I’m doing…” Now the language used here is what we call anthropomorphic, which means that it was written with us in mind. It was written for the purpose of helping us relate to the divine thoughts and actions of God. Basically it’s letting us know what God is planning and doing. And there’s a couple of reasons that God does this. First of all, Abraham has a special relationship with God. Remember; he’s called a “friend of God” by James in the NT. But I want you to notice what God says in verse 18 (Read). God says that He’s going to let Abraham in on what He is planning since “Abraham will become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the world will be blessed in him.” In-other-words the Lord is saying that He’s going to let Abraham know this, so that Abraham has a right understanding of what’s about to happen, because of the influence Abraham will have upon the generations that follow. Now think about that for a minute. If you or I as a parent have a wrong view of God, then most likely we’ll teach that wrong view to our children, and they will teach it to their children and it will go on and on down the line. We know that’s what’s being said here because of what God says in verse 19 (Read). He says, “For I have known him…” Why? “in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” So God is saying here that He wants Abraham to understand what’s about to happen.
You see; what’s about to happen in Sodom and Gomorrah is going to be an eternal object lesson about the righteousness and justice of God. And if God doesn’t make it clear to Abraham (and to us) then he (and we) wouldn’t understand exactly why judgment comes upon those wicked cities.
So God sends the two angels on ahead after explaining to Abraham that He is going to examine the cities and judge them. Now I hope everyone understands that God doesn’t have to send angels to check things out here on earth. He is all knowing, and omnipresent. He already knows what’s going on. Again; this is anthropomorphic language. It’s written this way so that we can understand it better.
So in essence; what God is doing here is letting Abraham and us know that His judgments are righteous. God doesn’t just blast entire cities with fits of uncontrolled rage. Instead; God’s judgments are always a measured, controlled, justifiable response of a Holy, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, and they are always in response to real evil and ungodliness.
And so God sends the angels on ahead, but He waits. Now let me just tell you; God doesn’t just “hang out” for any reason. There is always a reason and purpose for everything He does. So we’ve got to keep in mind that this is a teaching moment. It’s like I said… an object lesson. And it begins in verse 23 (Read). Now Abraham is concerned because his nephew Lot is in Sodom, and even though they’ve gone their separate ways, Abraham still loves his nephew and is concerned about him. And so he starts to ask, “God will you destroy the city if there are 50 righteous people there?” And I believe that this is what God was waiting for. You see; God not only wants Abraham to know what’s about to happen to Sodom, but He wants Abraham to see how merciful He really is, and that “IF” the cities are destroyed, that God was just in doing so.