By Derek Westmoreland
Senior Pastor, Hopewell Baptist Church, Savannah
Focal Passage: Genesis 18:20-25; 19:12-16
Wickedness brings attention. Sodom and Gomorrah were known for their rampant sexual sin that flowed from a complete rebellion against the ways of the Lord (Genesis 13:13). The sins were public and the guilty were unrepentant. The iniquities of those in Sodom provoked the Lord to respond in verse 21. God responds as we should. He immediately acted upon what He had heard. He went down to see for Himself. We should not act without confirmation that what we have been told is indeed true.
Intercession pleads for grace. In verse 23, Abraham interceded on behalf of Sodom. Why did Abraham intercede? (1) He desired that God spare the righteous and (2) Abraham did not want the lost people in Sodom to perish forever. We are to hate sin but we are also to pity sinners. Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah because he knew more about their future than they did. To be an effective intercessor you must be personally obedient to His Word and you must be close enough to Him to know Him to a greater degree than others do. Abraham knew the Lord in a way that others did not and therefore he knew the future of the cities.
We next see what Abraham interceded for in verses 24-25. Clearly, Abraham believed that God dealt differently with the righteous than the unrighteous. The problem would be whether or not there were 50 righteous people within Sodom. Abraham’s prayer was based not on mercy but on justice. Verse 25 concludes with, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” Even though Lot does not display righteousness in this text, he is known in Scripture to be a believer (II Peter 3:6-9). Abraham was interceding on behalf of Lot and others like him. The number Abraham interceded for eventually dwindled from 50 to 10. Unfortunately, there were not even 10 righteous people in Sodom. If there had been 10, they would have spared the entire city of destruction. Never underestimate the impact of a few righteous people!
God brings judgment/God’s messengers extend grace. In Genesis 19:12-13, two men who were angels revealed that they were sent to destroy the place due to the sins of the people. They were, however, there to spare Lot and his family which presents grace in the midst of justice. In 19:14, Lot reveals the destruction to come; yet his sons-in-law respond by laughing at him. Due to his worldliness, Lot had no spiritual influence either in the city or in his own home. Even Lot’s wife was so attached to the city that she looked back and turned to salt (19:26).
Lot was a believer but he could not be trusted to obey. It is a terrible thing to be a believer who is not actively responding to the Lord by faith. In response to Lot’s hesitation, the men (angels) grabbed him, his wife, and his two daughters and brought them out of the city. Previously God rescued Lot and Lot returned to sinful Sodom (Genesis 14:12, 16). Unfortunately, Lot did not learn from God’s grace and heed God’s warning. Now God takes Lot and forcibly drags him out of the city! God could have destroyed the city of Sodom with no word to Lot but God was merciful and He had his men grab Lot and his family. Aren’t you grateful when the Lord intervenes to spare you the judgment you deserve? Aren’t you grateful when God steps in when you hesitate to obey Him? Wickedness ruled in Sodom and God responded with both judgment and mercy!