Genesis 18 is one of the most amazing chapters in the Bible, because it reveals that the Lord is not only the Almighty God Who rules over the kingdoms of men, but He is also a Father and a Friend to those who struggle with their faith. In this chapter God comes to speak face to face with Abraham, which is a powerful example of God’s love and care for him. Moses is also referred to as one whom God spoke to, “Face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). Later in Scripture as King Jehosaphat prayed to God, he declared, “Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever” (2 Chron. 20:7)? In the New Testament, James picked up this same concept when he referred to Abraham as the friend of God (James 2:23). But then Jesus made one of the most amazing statements of love and friendship when He called His disciples friends. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15). Therefore, the Scripture from the very beginning has revealed a loving and caring Father Who wants to help His struggling people. The incarnation being the ultimate example when God came in the flesh of a man and then paid the price for our sins on a cross. God came face to face with Abraham, but also came face to face with mankind in the person of Jesus. What a wonderful God we have!
Note how Scripture reveals these truths in these verses. “Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, and said, ‘My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.’ They said, ‘Do as you have said.’ So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.’ And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate” (Gen. 18:1-8).
Abraham’s very special dinner guests. Vs. 1-8
It is extremely important to determine from the very beginning of this study who these three men are who come to visit Abraham. This will require that you consider the context of both Genesis 18 and 19. The context of these two chapters reveals that these three men are the LORD and two angels. How can you be sure of this fact? In Genesis 18:1 it states, “The LORD appeared to him.” Therefore, one of these men is God Himself, Who came and appeared to Abraham in a human body. It is absolutely clear that God came in the appearance of a man, because it states in verse 2, “So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him.” Notice also that the personal name of the primary speaker to Abraham is Yahweh or Jehovah, which is revealed by the use of the word LORD in all capital letters. Only God Himself can make the promises made to Abraham. You can see this fact in verse 10, where God declared that He would return at the appropriate time and cause Sarah to have a son. Only God could say these words. In addition, after Sarah laughs at the promise that she will bear a son, notice who speaks again in verses 13-14. “And the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?” Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son” (Gen. 18:13-14). Therefore, there can be no doubt about who the primary speaker is in this exchange with Abraham, especially when the speaker refers to Himself as the LORD.
How can we be sure that these two other men were angels? In Genesis 18:22 it declared, “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.” This passage reveals that two of the men leave and begin to travel toward Sodom, and Abraham is still standing with the LORD. Then in Genesis 19:1 it is declared that these two men were angels when it says, “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.” Because of this account in the Old Testament, we are warned in the New Testament to make sure we entertain strangers, because sometimes we will entertain angels and not be aware of it (Heb. 13:2). Always remember that God or angels can appear in human form at any time they so choose.
Why does the LORD come to Abraham at this point in his life?
The first reason God came to Abraham at this point was to confirm the promise of a child, and to encourage Abraham and Sarah’s faith. This was an incredibly gracious act on the part of the LORD, because Abraham and Sarah had not completely trusted God for this promise. For God to come to them in this manner is another proof that He doesn’t wait for you to have perfect faith before He helps you. We looked in our previous study at how Jesus answered a father’s plea for his son’s healing, even after this father acknowledged his partial unbelief (Mark 9:24). Abraham and Sarah clearly had struggled with God’s promise and were still struggling at this time in their lives.
However, note that this was exactly when the Lord showed up to break bread with Abraham, and to personally confirm again the promise of a child through Sarah. Oh, how gracious is our God. Why do I say this? God confirmed His promise through this fellowship time with His struggling servant. God’s confirmation at this moment in their lives showed His awesome love and His great desire to help these two people. Jesus coming to this earth was also the visible proof that God wanted fellowship with the sons of men and to help us with our personal struggles. Think of it, God wants fellowship with you! In addition, God gives His abiding Holy Spirit to live with and in you, if you will only receive Him. Jesus promised in John 14:16-18, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever --the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. Again, Jesus said in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
These are powerful promises given by Jesus that reveal that He, through the Holy Spirit, wants to abide in you and me forever! As Christ comes to live in us and draw us into fellowship with Himself, this is how He encourages our faith. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is faith (Gal. 5:22-23). So, the next time you are struggling in your faith, come to Him in prayer, wait upon Him, and allow the Spirit to inspire faith in you. Open up your Bible and allow the Lord to fellowship with you, and reveal His promises to you. All you need to do is come to Him. Remember when Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). Come and drink to the full, and be filled until rivers of living water flow!
The second reason God came to Abraham at this point was to warn him of the wrath that was determined on Sodom and the cities of the plain. I will address this issue when we get to verse 16. This revelation to Abraham will again reveal God’s great grace toward men.
How did Abraham treat his dinner guests?
The way Abraham treated his guests should be a truly amazing example for each of us. He treated them with amazing love and respect. Look closely at the end of verse 2 when it declares that, “He ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground.” In verses 6-7, “So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.’ And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it.” What an example of humility and respect and a readiness to serve the Lord. This example should challenge each of us to ask ourselves, do we bow in surrender to God like this? Do we run to an opportunity to serve Him? Do we do it quickly, or when it’s only convenient for us? The Apostle Paul commands us in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Each of us needs to serve in this manner. I know it is very difficult to serve people, or do things heartily when you know some could care less, but when you are serving as unto the Lord, that is a totally different motivation. When you are serving the Lord, I guarantee you, you will put your heart into your service. You are going to do it with all of your heart. I believe this account is recorded here to be a total contrast to how the angels were treated in Genesis 19, when they entered the city of Sodom. As you read this next chapter, remember this truth and contrast in your mind these two stories. So, when you begin to grumble at serving others, ask God to turn your eyes to Him. Tell Him, “I’m doing this for you Lord.” When you do, everything will change in your heart.
Not a kosher meal.
Now, there is one last thing that should catch your attention in verse 8. Notice that Abraham took butter, milk, and the calf meat which he had prepared, and he set it before the Lord and the angels. Do you realize that this is not a kosher meal? Why? Because Abraham put dairy products and meat together. Notice that the Lord did not tell Abraham, “This is not a kosher meal; I’m not eating it!” No, the Lord ate it and said nothing. This should tell you that kosher laws today are far from what was intended even under the Old Covenant. This teaching of not putting dairy products with meat has been taken from Exodus 23:19, where it declares, “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Now you are probably thinking, How could anyone get the kosher law of not eating dairy products with meat from that verse? I think this is obviously a misunderstanding of this passage. Most commentators on this verse believe that this very strange command was actually a prohibition about not imitating a common pagan fertility ritual (Adam Clarke). The most important issue here is when people make an issue about what we are allowed to eat or not eat, you need to remind them of the teaching of Jesus. He said that it was, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:11). This is an important truth.
God confirms the promise to Sarah. Vs. 9-15
In this section of Scripture, we see another very gracious encounter between Abraham and Sarah, and the Lord. God reconfirmed His promise of a child to this couple, even though He encountered the unbelief of Sarah. God’s Word declared, “Then they said to him, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ So he said, ‘Here, in the tent.’ And He said, ‘I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ And the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?” ‘Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.’ But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ for she was afraid. And He said, ‘No, but you did laugh’” (Genesis 18:9-15).
Notice that God knew exactly what Sarah was thinking when she laughed within herself at the promise of God. This reveals again that this man is truly the LORD Himself, because He knows every thought that she was thinking and there is nothing hidden from Him. Yet somehow, we think that we can hide from the Father what is going on inside of us. This is literally a worthless pursuit on our part. David acknowledged this fact in the Psalm 139 when he wrote, “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether” (Psalm 139:1-4). God knows everything I think, every word that I speak, and He knows the reasons and motives that I have as well (2 Chron. 6:30). In other words, it is absolutely foolish to think I can hide anything from God. David knew this to be a fact in his relationship with God, but the question is, do you know this to be a reality? If you do, then you will bring everything to God honestly and openly, which will bring you to a new depth in your relationship with Him. Remember, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). Therefore, tell Him what is on your heart and ask Him to help you hear His voice.
In addition, when Sarah lied to God about laughing at His promise, He didn’t let her off the hook over her lie, but firmly asserted that she did laugh. This was to also to confirm to her that He knew her thoughts, so she might repent of her unbelief. But, God’s graciousness toward her was so evident in this exchange. He attempted to persuade her to believe by asking her a profound question, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” The word hard in this passage is also translated wonderful, or wonders referring to miracles (Ps. 107:8; Ps. 78:11). In other words, God was telling her to get her eyes off herself and her own inability to conceive a child. He was encouraging her to get her eyes fixed on Him and His ability. He was and is the God Who can do anything! If He promised, then He is also able to perform what He has said. My pastor, Chuck Smith, used to remind us frequently, that our faith was dependent, not on how big we were or how able we perceived ourselves to be, but on how big our God was. If we are praying to the God who created the heavens and the universe, the One who delivered an entire nation of several million people out of Egypt, and the One who reconciled the world to Himself, then He can take care of the little things that are a problem for me. This God can do anything, with anyone, anytime He chooses. He is the Almighty One!
Many times in Scripture, this same question has been asked by God or proclaimed by angels to help His people to get their eyes on the power of their Heavenly Father. God asked the question here to Sarah, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” When Jeremiah was in prison and questioning God’s plan for him, God asked, “Is there anything too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27). When Mary the mother of Jesus, questioned the angel concerning how she could become pregnant having never known a man, the angel responded, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Even Jesus responded in a similar way when the disciples questioned who could be saved, He said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). So, remember, you have a great and powerful God who can do all things, and can work in ways that are beyond what you can ask for, or even think is possible (Eph. 3:20). Take those things that you consider impossible to the One Who does the impossible!
God revealed the judgment to come. Vs. 16-21
The biblical account now continues as God, Abraham, and the two angels begin walking toward Sodom, and a very important conversation takes place between them. Scripture records, “Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. And the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.’ And the LORD said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know” (Gen. 18:16-21).
As this group begins to move toward the city of Sodom, Abraham walks with his guests a short distance on their journey. This was the custom in those days for any host who wanted to show his hospitality to those who might visit him. As they walked, the Lord asked a simple rhetorical question, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?” The answer was obviously no, God should not hide the judgment that was to come upon Sodom. Then God told us why He would reveal what He was about to do. He declared that because of Abraham’s position as a man who would bring forth a great and mighty nation, he needed to understand the reasoning for God’s justice. But Abraham also needed to see the mercy He was about to display upon Lot and his family. In addition, God also revealed another reason. He said, “In order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice.” These statements revealed that understanding how and why God judged others, would obviously be a deterrent factor for Abraham, and especially his children who would see the destruction of Sodom. Jesus even used this fact of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction several times as He preached, warning people to repent from their sins (Matt. 10:15; Matt. 11:23-24; Luke 17:29). Therefore, this information given to Abraham was instructional to him, his children, and for all of us.
Another reason God revealed what He was about to do in Sodom was because He wanted to bring blessing upon Abraham and his family as He had promised. Notice the word that at the end of verse 19 where He declared, “That the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” This also revealed that God’s blessing was conditional, only if he kept the way of the LORD to do righteousness and justice. In other words, God was saying, you need to command your children to do righteousness and justice, so that I can bless you and them as I intend. This means that fathers and mothers have a very important purpose in their parenting. If you want your home and your children to be blessed by God, you need to bring your children up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Paul declared this same truth specifically to fathers when he wrote to the Ephesian church. He said in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and the admonition of the Lord.” Dads this is your calling and responsibility, just as it was for Abraham. Even though this is a father’s primary responsibility, this doesn’t let you moms off the hook. Solomon included both husbands and wives with this calling when he wrote, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” (Prov. 1:7-8). If instructing your children is your responsibility, what is your plan for doing this incredibly important work? If you don’t set up a plan for the training and correction of your children, you will never do it, or it will be done inconsistently. I have found that the best time to teach children is at the breakfast or dinner table, since they all want to be there, because they are hungry, and they are in listening mode, because their mouths are full. You just need to forego your eating for a few minutes while you teach. I did this for years with my own children, and I can assure you that it works. In addition, if you drive your children to school each day, this is also a great time to teach them the Word of God.
God hears the cry of the oppressed. Vs. 20-21
Notice what God declared in verses 20-21, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me.” It is important to realize that God does hear the outcry of those who were being grievously harmed by the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah. So, when people try and tell you that sexual sins are victimless crimes, that is just not true. People are damaged greatly by sexual sins perpetrated against them, and some are destroyed and will never recover from these offenses done to them. If you could sit and listen to the cries of those that I have counseled over the last 50 years, you would never think that these sexual sins are victimless crimes. Those who have been raped, sexually abused as children, trafficked, forced into prostitution, abused homosexually, or manipulated by their sexual partner into behavior that is against nature, you would hear the outcry that God hears every day from those who have been used and abused in this manner. This outcry is why He judged Sodom and Gomorrah, and why he will judge the nations of the world one day.
But you may ask, “Why doesn’t God judge every city right now just as He judged Sodom? God tells us why He doesn’t judge immediately in 2 Peter 2:4-6. He declared, “For God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes; condemned them to destruction, making them an example.” The key to understanding God’s judgment is the phrase, “making them an example.” This is why God judged Sodom and Gomorrah then, and has not judged the rest of the world today. His judgment was to be an example, “To those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day-to-day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)--then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:6-9). God declared that Sodom and Gomorrah’s judgment was to be an example to anyone who would live in this same ungodly manner. But Lot’s deliverance was also to be an example and encouragement to those who would live their lives in a godly way. They would one day be delivered! May your faith and hope be placed in His mercy.
Abraham intercedes for the righteous in Sodom. Vs. 22-33
Scripture records again, “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. And Abraham came near and said, ‘Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ So the LORD said, ‘If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.’ Then Abraham answered and said, ‘Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?’ So He said, ‘If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.’ And he spoke to Him yet again and said, ‘Suppose there should be forty found there?’ So He said, ‘I will not do it for the sake of forty.’ Then he said, ‘Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?’ So He said, ‘I will not do it if I find thirty there.’ And he said, ‘Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?’ So He said, ‘I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.’ Then he said, ‘Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.’ So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place” (Gen. 18:22-33).
I have already addressed who these three individuals were that stood with Abraham, so I won’t go over this issue again. But these two angels turn and left the group, and walked down into the Jordan valley to the city of Sodom, and Abraham continued to stand before the LORD (Gen. 19:1). This is when this conversation took place that is recorded for us in these verses. Abraham essentially asked two questions of God. First, will God destroy the righteous with the wicked, and second, shall not the Judge of all the earth do right (Gen. 18:23; 25)? Let’s look at these two questions individually.
“Will You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?”
This is one of the most profound and important questions that Abraham could have ever asked the Lord. Why? There are several reasons why the answer to this question is so important. First, it is essential to understand so you can answer this question when you are asked. Second, this question gets to the heart of the justice and righteousness of God. Is God just and fair in how He deals with men? The answer is yes without any question. When Moses came to the end of his life he declared, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (Deut. 32:4). Moses declared this statement even after God refused to allow him into the promised land. Why did Moses believe this fact about the God who had led him for 40 years in the wilderness, and guided the entire nation out of Egypt? Because Moses saw the gracious hand of God that meted out justice and mercy in a completely fair way to people.
The third reason you need to understand the answer to this question is so you can point people to what God actually did. God showed by His actions that by delivering Lot and his family, while at the same time judging Sodom, proved that God would not judge the righteous with the wicked. God’s fairness was on full display by what He did in Sodom. God’s justice and mercy were equally on display when Jesus forgave one thief that hung next to Him, simply because he confessed Him as Lord and admitted his sin, but then said nothing to the other thief (Luke 23:39-43). These are the examples you should give to those who question God’s justice and fairness.
I also believe the record of Lot and Sodom answers the question whether God will destroy the righteous with the wicked during the Tribulation Period, which is recorded in the book of Revelation. Many times, people ask me, “Will the church go through the great Tribulation, or, will we be raptured out of it?” The answer to this question is absolutely clear, based on God’s actions with Lot and the city of Sodom. Lot’s deliverance out of Sodom before the wrath of God fell is the best example that we have which reveals to us what God will do in the future. You must remember that the Tribulation Period as described in Scripture is the wrath of God upon this world. How do we know this to be true? Scripture is clear, that when the Tribulation is happening it declares that, “The kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Rev. 6:15-17). It also declares in Revelation 15:7, “Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.” So, there should be no question that the Tribulation Period is the wrath of God. In addition, in the New Testament Paul stated in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 that believers should, “Wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Even Jesus after telling His disciples about what would happen during the Tribulation Period encouraged them to, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). Now, if Jesus told us to pray that we might escape all the things that He just said were coming on the world, then that is exactly what I’m going to do! I am praying to escape the things that will come on this world. If God delivered Lot, then I can have great assurance that He will also deliver me in that day. Do you have this assurance?
“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
This question is one that strikes at the heart of God’s character. Is judgment the right thing to do? People love to talk about the mercy and love of God to forgive men their trespasses, but when it comes to judgment, they think somehow God is unfair when He judges people, cities, and nations. But this is a twisted and lopsided perception of the character of God. As Paul taught, we need to, “Consider the goodness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22). Having a truly balanced view of God’s character and actions is essential for any man or woman of faith. God loves showing mercy and kindness to people who are repentant, but when people persist in doing evil, He would not be just if He allowed this evil to go on without consequences. This is why judgment is right and just. When I discuss this issue with people, I usually ask them a simple question that makes the point that it is good and right for justice to be meted out. I ask them, “If one of your family members was raped or murdered, and the judge gave the perpetrator a slap on the wrist and let them walk free, wouldn’t you cry out that this was not right or just? Sure you would. Why? Because when evil is done to someone we love and care about, we want justice to be done so the perpetrator will be stopped from ever doing this evil to anyone else in the future. But when it comes to eternal judgment people somehow lose their sense of what is just and right. They can’t see that eternal justice is needed. Don’t make this mistake. This is why God must make a separation between the righteous and the wicked. Jesus said that He would do this to remove all things that could offend His people in the future (Matt. 13:41). Therefore, think clearly about this issue. Would you want people in heaven who all their lifetime hated God and didn’t want anything to do with Him? Should God force these people who hated Him to live with Him for eternity? This obviously would not be love.
Will the Judge of all the earth do what is right? Yes, He will, while at the same time He will take no pleasure in the judgment of these same people. God cried out through the Prophet Ezekiel and said, “As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from their evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?” (Eze. 33:11). God doesn’t want to judge anyone, but He will bring judgment if people will not turn from their evil and sinful ways. But He pleaded with the people, “Turn, turn from their evil ways; for why should you die?” These statements reveal the heart and character of our God!
Abraham’s intercession for the righteous in Sodom should be another powerful example to each of us. Note how he pleaded for them with boldness, perseverance, and concern by fighting for their souls through intercession. The way Abraham is almost trying to bargain with God upsets some as they read these words, but I believe he intercedes with genuine humility and reverence. Remember, it was for justice that he pleaded with God. Justice for deliverance of the righteous in Sodom, if possibly there might be 50, or 45, 40, 30, 20, or even 10 righteous people there. He was not trying to talk God into doing something that was against His will. No, Abraham was asking for the righteous not to be judged along with the wicked. But, in the end, we realize there were not even 10 righteous in this city. It was a city that was wholly given over to wickedness which brought certain judgment upon it.
The example of Abraham’s intercession should cause each of us to cry out to God for those who are walking in darkness, and those who have wandered away from the faith. James declared, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:16-20). What an awesome privilege it is to reach out to those who have no faith, and those who have wandered away from the faith. When you reach out like this to someone in these circumstances, you are reaching out just like Jesus would. However, sometimes people will tell you to leave them alone, or to never speak to them again about Jesus. This is where your prayers can be very effective. Charles Spurgeon said once of lost sinners in his Metropolitan Pulpit Commentary, volume 18, page 263, “If they will not hear you speak, they cannot prevent your praying. Do they jest at your exhortations? They cannot disturb you at your prayers. Are they far away so that you cannot reach them? Your prayers can reach them. Have they declared that they will never listen to you again, nor see your face? Never mind, God has a voice which they must hear. Speak to Him, and He will make them feel. Though they now treat you despitefully, rendering evil for your good, follow them with your prayers. Never let them perish for lack of your supplications.”
Remember this powerful truth, “If they will not hear you speak, they cannot prevent your praying… Your prayers can reach them… Never let them perish for lack of your supplications.” Therefore, speak to those whom God brings by your path, and pray for those who will not hear! Remember, someone was probably praying for you in this same way before you surrendered to the Lord. Your prayers can reach them!