Summary: A sermon on intercessory prayer based on Abraham’s pleas to save Sodom.
The “If” of Intercession Gen. 18:16-33
INTRO.: The little conjunction “if” appears 1784 times in the New International Version of the Bible. In the NT, 653 times. It’s a little word that has very big meaning in many passages. I saw a neat MetLife commercial offering insurance to help handle all the “if’s” that pop up in the middle of life. It got me thinking about some of the “if’s” that pop up in the Bible. Some of the occurrences are worthy of a sermon, and I want to preach a series if messages on some “if” passages.
We start with the “if” of intercession in the prayer of Abraham to God in behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Tell story of Gen. 18:16-33 emphasizing the “if’”).
Prayers like Abraham’s are called prayers of intercession because they are uttered to God in behalf of others. . Jesus “made intercession for the transgressors”. Isa. 53:12. We are told Jesus “always lives to intercede for us.”. Heb. 7:25 Christians are commanded by God to intercede for others in prayer. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,” I Tim. 2:1.
Let’s learn some lessons from the intercessory prayer of Abraham. Some “IF’s”:
I. If you know God’s will, intercede for those who don’t:
A. Abraham got a special revelation of God’s purpose. 17-19
1. Because he was a godly man.
2. Because he was in a covenant relationship with God.
3. Because God had great things planned for him.
B. We Christians also know God’s will:
1. We know Jesus will return in God’s time and there will be a judgement.
2. We know He is not willing for anyone to perish.
3. We know only those in Jesus will survive for eternity.
4. Knowing all this, we should pray for the salvation of others.
II. If you are on speaking terms with God, intercede for others.
A. Abraham was bold to approach God because he knew God well.
1. He had begun a long journey with God.
2. God had appeared to him numerous times and had preserved his life.
3. He had experienced God’s grace in being chosen over all others on earth to father a nation.
4. He knew of God’s just nature. V. 25
B. We also live in special relationship with God.
1. We are a chosen people. I Pet. 2:9
2. Heb. 4:15, 16. We are invited to come before Him confidently.
3. We are children of Abraham through faith and have free access to His throne of grace.
III. If you can understand God’s grace, pray for others:
A. The people of Sodom were terrible sinners, yet Abraham believed God could save them.
1. He relied on God’s grace for his own life.
2. He recognized his unworthiness to come before God. Gen. 18:27
3. There were no righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah, but some were better than others. Abraham is appealing to God’s grace to save them.
B. No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace:
1. None of us is righteous, but we are loved by God.
2. One Person is righteous and we can share His righteousness by accepting His sacrifice.
3. If humble enough to recognize our own unworthiness, we know God can save others.
IV. If you love the souls of men and women, pray persistently for their salvation.
A. Abraham obviously cared for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
1. There was his nephew Lot and Lot’s family.
2. There were, he hoped, other righteous people.
3. He went to God again and again seeking their deliverance
B. ILLUS.: in my very first ministry there were two women whose husbands were not Christians. One was tolerant, but the other was hostile and ridiculed his wife for her devotion. Both prayed persistently for their husbands’ salvation for many years. Both prevailed. Their husbands accepted Christ.
1. There are those you love who do not know Jesus.
2. It is important you pray for them without ceasing. I Thess 5:17.
V. If you can trust God, go to Him in prayer in behalf of others.
A. Abraham trusted God and left the fate of those he prayed for in God’s hands. Gen 18:33 “Abraham returned home.”
1. He didn’t hang around to see what would happen.
2. He didn’t run to rescue his nephew and his family.
B. In the end, trusting God is the best we can do:
1. James 5:14-16: we may apply the medicine (“oil”), but the prayer offered in faith is what heals.
2. After we have done all we can, we must trust Him.