The intercession of Abraham for the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah

All praise unto the Lord Jesus who made us more than servants because he made his friends. Thanks be to God who reveals his wisdom to his beloved people so that they can act wisely in words, action and prayer. O Lord by your Holy Spirit help us to intercede for the worst of all sinners so perhaps they may repent and given glory to you. Amen.

Abraham and Sarah at Mamre - artwork by Felix Fossey ( 1826-1895)

Abraham and Sarah at Mamre – artwork by Felix Fossey ( 1826-1895)

There was a time when Abraham interceded for the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah. But first let’s understand why was Abraham even given that opportunity by the Lord. Let read Genesis 18:17-21 as mentioned below:

16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

The Lord had willed to punish Sodom for their sin. Why so? Because there was an outcry against not just Sodom but also it’s partner city Gomorrah. The nature of their sin was very grave, it was sexual perversion; homosexuality (Genesis 19:1-22 confirms that was indeed homosexuality). Again, there were people who were complaining against them unto God. Might be these cities could have abused people from outside their area but God knows best! So, the Lord decided to get all these allegations examined and if these were false, he’d tackle the complainers and if true then he’d act against the two cities mentioned earlier.

God had a choice to not tell Abraham about what he wanted to do. He is the Lord and he can do anything (Some people find it hard to accept this simple truth but have no issues if God gives them good health despite their hate towards the Lord. Pathetic!). However, God also knew that he had given Abraham a great heritage and if you read the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Luke 3.23-38 you’ll realize that Abraham was the human ancestor of Christ! This meant that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham. We know the Messiah is none other than Jesus himself. So, the Lord then gave Abraham the knowledge of divine judgement against Sodom and Gomorrah. Now, let’s read Genesis 18:22-33 as mentioned below:

22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

The above verses show us very clearly that the Lord had a listening ear for appeals of mercy in the times before the Gospel was ever preached. And yes, he heard out Abraham. Now, there was no manipulation nor overwhelming exchange of words, just a simple conversation. Abraham did not justify the lifestyle of Sodom and Gomorrah’s inhabitants. He knew God was not joking about these cities. So he appealed by the way of righteousness. And the Lord God did give heed to his words and even for the sake of 10 righteous was willing to spare the entire city!

Now the reader might wonder how on earth did Abraham expect even an ounce of righteousness to be present in these ‘Sin Cities’ . So here’s what’s the answer, read all of Genesis 14 (this chapter has another great meaning, if you read closely. Hint; look for the place where it mentions Melchizedek the king of Salem) and you’d realize that Lot who is the nephew of Abraham was a sojourner in Sodom. Among various cities captured by Chedorlaomer king of Elam and his allies, Sodom and its inhabitants were taken captive. Obviously Lot was taken captive. Then Abraham and his allies, with 318 warrior men of Abraham fought and defeated Chedorlaomer (difficult to pronounce, I admit! Maybe the phonetic method will help; ked·or·lä·o’·mer ) and reacquired Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people. Post battle, with even the Sodomites rescued, the king of Sodom wanted to negotiate with Abram (who God later renamed as Abraham). And this king honored his commitment to Abraham. Here are the specific verses:

21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.” (Genesis 14: 21-24)

Though Abraham was not interested in Sodomite wealth, all due to his loyalty to God, there were a few of his allies and his own fighting men who had eaten a few of the spoils of war. So for that he did bargain. And the king of Sodom, despite his wicked nature of allowing sexual perversion, still didn’t go back on his commitment. It’s possible that Abraham saw that as a small potential for change in the general nature of Sodom and Gomorrah but God knows best. If you look at this incident of the Elamite invasion of Sodom from another angle you’ll know that Abraham already rescued them once even though Sodomites were sinners. That was a physical rescue. He could have only chosen to rescue his nephew Lot and Lot’s possessions and people if he wanted to!

Now, as time passed by Abraham got a chance to spiritually rescue them. He interceded to the Lord God for them, perhaps the Lord would spare them. Notice, he didn’t even name Lot as one of the reasons for sparing these vile cities (read Genesis 18 again, if you want to) but was focused on the overall number of righteous of those regions.

Bringing this to the Christian experience or better still the Christian reality, it’s a very prudent thing to pray for the repentance of  sinners. If you have a specific sinner or a group of sinners in mind and feel that you ought to intercede for them, then feel free to to pray for them. You can even pray for paedophile’s to cease and desist from their crimes and let go of the children they are manipulating! Maybe the sinners you are praying for will turn away from their sin, believe in the Gospel and NOT go to hell but rather be with the Lord Jesus forever!

You can refer to the below verses:

  1. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.  The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. (Isaiah 59:14-16)
  2. If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. (1 John 5:16)
  3. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)
  4. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things (Hebrews 13:18)

 

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Posted on November 16, 2015, in Prayer tips, Reflections, Repentance, Salvation and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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