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Genesis 18–19. Abraham Becomes a Working Servant of God.

Key Notes: God appeared to Abraham in visible form. Abraham became an intercessor. Justice and judgment.

Abraham was now given a unique mission, to be the intercessor for Sodom. This would rescue Lot again, but more importantly, bring Abraham up to the next level with God. He would learn to be an intercessor.

Gen.18:1–4 Abraham was sitting at his tent-door at noon and three men appeared before him. He greeted them with middle-eastern courtesy and offered them rest, refreshment and food.

18:5 The response was terse: "Do as you have said." It is clear that Abraham was in the presence of majesty.

18:6–8 Sarah and Abraham hustled to make a dinner of beef, bread, fresh cheese and milk. (Note that they were adult milk-drinkers. Later it will not be kosher to eat meat and milk together.) Abraham stood by while his guests ate.

18:9–15 At the end of the meal, The LORD {one of the three men} promised Sarah a son. Sarah, sitting in her tent, laughed audibly at the very idea. God challenged her disbelief ("Is anything too hard for the LORD?") and countered her denial.

18:16 The three visitors then moved toward Sodom and Abraham went along to send them on their way.
‘:17–19 The LORD talked to the other two visitors, with Abraham listening.
"Shall I hide from Abraham. what I am about to do,
since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation
and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed ?" (That is My covenant relationship with him.)

"No, for I have chosen him {and he is my friend}.
 *...that he may charge his children and his household after him. {I want him to transmit My ways to the next generation.}
*...to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice {I will test him on these issues.}
*...so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has promised him. {He will point toward the Intercessor Who is to Come.}

18:20–22 Then God spoke to Abraham directly and told him that Sodom and Gomorrah were in jeopardy because of grievous sin.

Comment: Some students object to God saying that He must come down to see if the outcry against Sodom is the truth. But they also object if God is seen like Thor shooting thunder-bolts from the sky upon the earth and laughing at human distress. If God is completely transcendent, His title to be judge seems cold and heartless. How can He know our real situation? If on the other hand, he is completely imminent, He is not longer objective and free to judge fairly. He is both far away and very near.

18:23–33 Abraham was immediately concerned for Lot and his family in Sodom. He seized the opportunity to address God. He was passionate, persistent, almost vehement, confronting God on the justice of condemning the righteous with the wicked. He is fearless in his intimate relationship with God.

“Far be it from Thee…to slay the righteous with the wicked. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”That is a rhetorical question: the answer? Of course!

He bargained with God for fifty souls, then forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty and finally ten. Each time God acceded to his request. Then the Lord left, the angels went on their errand and Abraham returned home. There were not even ten righteous souls in Sodom.

19:1 Two angels found Lot at the city gate apparently serving as an elder.(II Pet.2:7 says "…by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds".) He begged them to stay at his house for the night.

19:4 Presently the men of Sodom ( "sodomites") came to his door demanding sex with the strangers. [Recent commentary to the contrary is not persuasive.]

19:6 Lot took his life in his hands by going out to them and begging them to leave. When they refused, he offered his daughters to them. (What? Lot!) When the angels realized that he was losing the struggle, they pulled him back into the house and blinded the Sodomites.

19:12. The angels ordered Lot to gather any relatives and get out of the city. His future sons-in-law ignored him. There were not even ten righteous souls in all Sodom to protect it from destruction. The angels literally dragged Lot, his wife and two daughters out of the city and told them to head for the hills without looking back. Lot begged to be left in the little city of Zoar. Before Lot's wife got there, the rain of fire and sulfur fell on the cities. She looked back and died instantly. Only three survived.

19:30 Lot did not stay in Zoar, perhaps because he feared that it also would be destroyed. He went to the hills and lived in a cave with his daughters, safer from the rain of fire.

When they concluded that they were left alone in the world (like the science fiction of the aftermath of world-wide atomic war), the girls decided to intoxicate their father and have children by him. They had become part of the culture of Sodom. (Did they bring wine from Sodom?) Ammon and Moab were generated-- future neighbors and enemies of Israel.

Discussion:

There are four simple lessons:

1. Don't pitch your tent toward Sodom. Don't get close to Sin City.
2. Be watchful. "As it was in the days of Lot--they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all--so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed." (Lk.17:28).
Christ's return in judgment will be a surprise.
3. Don't look back. Don't be nostalgic for the bad old days. "Remember Lot's wife." (Lk.17:32). "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God". (Lk.9:62).
4. God saves us in trial.
"If he rescued righteous Lot...then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial and keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment." (IIPet.2:7–9)

It seems clear that God set the stage for Abraham to be an intercessor. He stated the reasons for telling Abraham of the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, and encouraged Abraham by acceding to each of his six requests for the lives of those living there. The Lord sounds grave (the situation was grave) but He said that Abraham was His chosen one, destined to do righteousness and justice, and here he is pursuing righteousness and justice. God gave him the opportunity to exercise his spiritual muscles. Thus Abraham acted as a mediator and is a type of his Mentor, Christ, who was undoubtedly standing in front of him.

Job said "If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand on us both, someone to remove God's rod from me...." (Jb.9:33)
The mediator speaks to men on behalf of God and to God on behalf of men. "…My words in his mouth." (Deut.18:18)
The priest similarly speaks to God on behalf of men. "...the priest will make atonement for him for the sin he has committed and he shall be forgiven." (Lev.4:35)

Jesus is the one true mediator (ITim.2:5)—not the saints. He is the great prophet, speaking the words of God to us. Heb.1:2. He is also our high priest. Heb.9:11; 6:20; 5:1
He has committed the work of intercession for us to do. We are His ambassadors and reconcilers.
"I urge that supplications, prayer, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men...." (ITim.2:1)
"Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation." (IICor.5:18)
“We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (IICor.5:20)

Let us learn from Abraham to pray fervently to God and persist on behalf of the lost around us.