Summary: God takes us into his confidence that we may warn others about sin, but that we may also intercede for them,
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that air travel is more about competition than cooperation. For example your goal when boarding the plane is to make sure you snag a spot for your carryon in the overhead bin. Let the other guy have to gate-check his bag because there’s no more room in the cabin. Then when you get off the plane it’s a race to be first in line at immigration because you’ve got places to go and people to see. Let the other passengers fend for themselves.
Unfortunately that attitude can carry over into our everyday lives. As long as we’re getting along, that’s all that matters. Let others fend for themselves. But as we watch Abraham on his journey of faith this morning, we’ll see how he shows concern for his fellow travelers, and he does that in the best way possible: he prays for them. That’s also how God wants us to show concern for our fellow passengers on the journey of faith.
Last Sunday we heard how the LORD came down with two of his angels disguised as travelers and dropped in on Abraham and Sarah. God stopped by to strengthen Sarah’s faith in the promise that she would have a son in her old age. Once the visit was finished God and his two angels got up and started making their way to the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. You see this was the other purpose for which God had come down to earth. God said to Abraham, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know” (Genesis 18:20, 21).
Of course God didn’t actually need to go down to these cities to check out what was going on. He knows all things and was well aware of what the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were up to. But by telling Abraham that he had come to “investigate,” God reminds us that he does not act without first having gathered all the information. Therefore his acts of judgment are never rash or without reason; they are always warranted.
So what was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah that was so bad? Well, we’ll save that discussion for next week’s sermon. What I want you take note of is why God bothered to share his plans with Abraham. As they were strolling away from Abraham’s tents God murmured to himself: “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” (Genesis 18:17-19).
God wanted Abraham to know about his plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their impenitent sin because Abraham was a leader. And as such, God wanted Abraham to witness just how seriously he deals with sin so he could warn others. Sure, it may seem that God doesn’t care how we live because he doesn’t zap us with lightning every time we do something wrong. However God sees all that we do and he seethes at our sins. Those who continue in sin without a care can expect to face God’s judgment someday, as did the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah.
When God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in such a way that smoke billowed up from those cities as if from a furnace, I’m sure others in the area took notice. If they would have come to Abraham for an explanation, he would have been able to give them one along with the warning to turn from their sins lest God judge them in the same way. God took Abraham into his confidence that he might share with others what he had learned and in this way show concern for his fellow travelers on the journey of faith.
Do you realize that God has also taken you and me into his confidence? In the Bible he has told us what is going to happen to this world: it will be destroyed by fire, and that could happen at any moment. He has also told us that the only way to survive the destruction is through faith in Jesus. But God has also made it clear that our personal judgment day might be even closer at hand. For when we die we will have to stand before God and receive our verdict: heaven or hell. Since you are in the know, God urges you to show concern for your fellow travelers by giving them this information.