Can God Use A Sinner Like You (or like me)? Genesis 49:8-12

Jesus Judah Sinners Welcome

From the archives:

Read Genesis 49:1-28

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come, and the obedience of the nations shall be his. Genesis 49:10

A Sinner and Strays

I know a single mother who’s made mistakes, big mistakes. She battled drug and alcohol addiction for decades. She’s had multiple men in and out of her life. She struggled mightily at times as a single mother.

But there is this one thing about her: Continue reading

Things I Heard In Church: Where The Dishonest Manager Placed His Bet

Paying Bills by Robbie Wagner-CCThings I Heard In Church: Where The Dishonest Manager Placed His Bet

Jesus tells the story of this manger who was about to be judged by his master, his boss, because he was wasting his master’s possessions.

The master calls him in and says, “What’s this I hear about you? Turn in your stuff. You can no longer be my manager.”

And the manager Continue reading

Genesis 18:16-33 For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it

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(Read Genesis 18:16-33)

In the first part of Genesis 18 the Lord and His two angelic messengers from heaven tended to the first part of their business, that of blessing Abraham and Sarah. Here in the second part of Genesis 18 we see that they’re on to the second part of their business. The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8) It’s true that He is full of grace and quick to bless. But He is also to be feared. God will never wink at sin. His holiness, His purity, and His perfection require that He deal with sin, like a doctor responds to an infection. Revelation 19:2 tells us that true and just are his judgments. 

So we pick up our story where the two angels and the Lord leave Abraham’s camp and head toward Sodom. And Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. (v. 16) Walk with the wise and become wise God tells us in Proverbs 13:20. At the fire department where I work each firefighter lives in the station house with his crew for twenty-four hours at a time. I can remember early in my career living with some, shall we say, not so wise personalities on occasion. Fortunately that was years ago and the group of firefighters we have now are of an amazingly high character, almost to the man. But my wife would always share with me that I’d begin to take on the qualities of whatever crew I was assigned with. Now that could be bad or that could be good depending on the crew. Even as a firefighter begins to take on the attributes of his crew mates, you will take on the attributes of who you hang with. So walk with the wise and become wise. Walk with the godly and become godly. Or as Jesus told the disciples, “…whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide….” (Matthew 10:11) Abraham’s decision to walk with the Lord and His angelic escorts will prove Proverbs 13:20 and Matthew 10:11 to be true as we’ll see.

Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 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.” (v.17-19)

The beginning of verse nineteen says that Abraham is chosen by Him. All nations of the earth will be blessed by Abraham because Messiah will come through Him. Abraham is chosen by God for Messiah to come through him, you and I are chosen by God because we have accepted Messiah from Him, Him with a capital ‘H.’ As a believer in Jesus Christ you and I are in the same position as Abraham — by His grace we are chosen by Him, not by our own merit. This is one of the reasons God chooses to share intimate revelation with Abraham and with you and I as well.

In the next part of verse nineteen we see another reason. God speaks of Abraham’s propensity to share God’s revelation with His family when He says, he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD. (v. 19) That’s how it is with you and with me. God doesn’t share revelation according to how well we take notes during Bible study, but rather God shares revelation according to how much we share God with our spouses, and our children. Abraham had a heart to share God’s word with His family, even with an eye toward posterity, toward his future generations. For that reason God shared His plans with Abraham.

God will share with you what He’s doing, where He’s going, and His inspiration after He sees you pouring out to your family what He is pouring into you.

Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 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.” (v. 20-21)

Verse 21 makes me wonder what kind of outcry God hears from our world today. Sodom and Gomorrah were perverse but isn’t our current culture also fraught with sin? Pornography, drugs, alcoholism, sex slavery, gang violence — we see it in the news every day. But many don’t recognize it for what it is. In Glasgow, Scotland, in the spring of 2010 a U.S. preacher was fined and thrown in jail overnight for calling homosexuality a sin. (Christian Post) I don’t know anything about the guy. Maybe he was obnoxious about it. It’s interesting that some of us have no problem showing God’s love to those who sin by practicing sex outside of marriage, but some of the same respond to homosexuals with hostility. We should show God’s love to all sinners and that includes, you, me, people involved in extramarital sex, and people with an alternative sexual orientation. As we’ll soon see, Abraham pleads with God to have mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah. That being said, it doesn’t make homosexuality any less of a sin. Our culture today celebrates homosexuality as well as other sinful practices. I just wonder what kind of outcry has reached God lately. Have mercy on us oh Lord.

At the end of verse 21 the Lord shares that he will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry. Obviously the Lord is all knowing and all seeing and doesn’t need to go down to confirm that the outcry matches the reality. This is similar to when Jesus prayed out loud that God the Father would raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus said, “I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here.” (John 11:42) God’s presence on earth with Abraham provided an opportunity for Abraham to receive God’s blessing, to learn of God’s plan, and to interact with God in prayer.

And on the topic of prayer: The most effective prayers don’t start with us but they start with God. When we base our prayers on His promise, or His warning, or His conviction that’s when we see things happen. When we read God’s word, praying in response to certain scriptures as the Holy Spirit leads us to, we’ll see more in the way of results than when we pray in a vacuum, much more. As Matthew Henry says, “God’s word then does us good when it furnishes us with matter for prayer and excites us to it.” Such was the case for Abraham in our story. The word that the Lord shared with Abraham concerning Sodom inspired Abraham to approach the Lord in prayer.

Then Abraham approached him… (v. 23) I once heard a personal trainer share that the key to working out regularly is to show up at the gym with your gear on. Once you’re in the gym with your gear on, you’re sure to do at least some exercise. That’s good advice for praying regularly as well. We see Abraham walk with the Lord in verse sixteen, stand before the Lord in verse twenty-two, and then approach the Lord in verse twenty-three. Abraham’s part was to find ways to be in the presence of the Lord. That’s your part as well. Find ways to be in the Lord’s presence. Fellowship with Him in church. Read His word. Pray. Take communion. Worship Him in song.

Abraham then begins his prayer, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? (v. 23-24) Here Abraham exercises a basic principal of communication, he recognizes a defining core quality of the person he’s communicating with and then appeals to that quality. Not surprisingly, in the Lord’s case, it’s mercy. Abraham appeals to the Lord’s mercy. Even if there are only fifty righteous, Abraham says, will you destroy the city? We see something of Abraham’s heart toward sinners here too, as he doesn’t pray that just the righteous are spared but he prays for the Lord to spare the whole city, righteous and the sinners alike. It’s a great reminder that while sin is to be hated, sinners are to be loved and prayed for.

The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” (v. 26) True to His nature, God agrees to spare the city if there’s fifty righteous.

Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes…” (v. 27) Here Abraham demonstrates how you and I should approach our Lord in prayer — with humility. We must remember that the Father created us from dirt. We must recognize, as Abraham did, that you, I, and even the greatest humans among us are but dust and ashes. Some of the name it and claim it crowd, I think in an effort press into God’s presence, seem to approach God as though he were a genie in a bottle waiting for their command. This ought not to be. If you want to be heard, remember that God shows favor to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34)

Abraham is persistent in his prayer as he continues:

…what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

Genesis 18:28-33

Abraham was wise to appeal to God’s merciful nature. During this conversational prayer God seems to be looking for the slightest excuse to show His mercy. Notice that God doesn’t stop His flow of mercy until Abraham stops asking for it.

This is the first intercessory prayer found in the scriptures. It’s a great reminder that the Lord would have you to in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4) Abraham is looking to his nephew Lot’s interest. In chapter fourteen Abraham rescued Lot by the sword. Here in chapter 18 we see Abraham attempting to rescue Lot by intercessory prayer. Abraham stops interceding at ten, perhaps thinking that Lot’s family numbered eight, and surely two other righteous will be found in the city.

But God didn’t stop at ten. In the next chapter we’ll see that God went all the way down to four.

We pray Lord that you’d bless us by inspiring us to share Your word with our families as Abraham did. Lord, Your word tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16) We pray that You’d bless us by making us effective in prayer. Help us to, like Abraham, be wise enough to walk with You, to stand in Your presence, and to approach You in prayer. Help us to, like Abraham, approach You in humility, recognizing that we’re but dust and ashes. Help us, like Abraham, to be interceding on behalf of others.

In Jesus name,

Amen

Genesis 18:16-33

When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 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.”

Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 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.”

The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

References:

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Ray Stedman

Jon Courson

Image via Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon – Creative Commons