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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Genesis 18

 

 

Verses 17-33

The Prayer of Abraham for Lot

Genesis 18:17-33

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. The Lord appeared unto Abraham. As we approach this remarkable 18th chapter of Genesis we do not find the first time that the Lord ever appeared unto Abraham. The norm of Abraham's life was "walking with God." This constant fellowship with the Lord, made possible the special occasions where God came down and talked to Abraham as one talketh face to face.

2. The Lord appeared unto Abraham as he sat in his tent door. Had Abraham been a city dweller, as was Lot, it had been, perhaps, an impossible thing for the Lord to thus have come to His servant. As we become entangled with many things we become too much engrossed for speaking to the Lord.

3. The Lord appeared unto Abraham in the plains of Mamre. Mamre, means "fatness." It is always a fat place where the Lord appears to us. The old song says, "A sweet perfume upon the breeze, Is borne from ever vernal trees." That is always so it is a place of fatness and of fragrance when the Lord walks with us. Our winter is turned into summer and our thorns into roses when He is there.

4. The Lord appeared unto Abraham as a welcomed Guest. In all eagerness Abraham ran to meet his Heavenly Visitors, for two Angels accompanied the Lord. Abraham bowed himself to the ground and said, "Pass not away, * * from Thy servant: let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash, * * and rest, * * and I will fetch a morsel of bread."

Are we always glad to entertain the Lord? Many saints never seem to know that He is near. The Holy Spirit is our Holy Guest (Guest is the old thought in the word "Ghost"). If He is our Guest, is He a recognized, honored, acceptable Guest; or is He left forsaken and alone among the cobwebs of the basement or garret of our lives neglected and alone?

5. The Lord appeared unto Abraham and renewed His covenant with him. The Lord told Abraham that Sarah should soon have a son. Sarah, who was in the tent, laughed. Her laugh was unlike the laugh of Abraham who in our last study laughed with joy and anticipation over the anticipated birth of Isaac. Sarah's laugh was the laugh of doubt. Therefore, the Lord said, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh?"

Beloved, we may smile at Sarah's incredulity, but we assure you that our "laughter" in no way pleases the Lord. When God speaks we should be willing to accept His Word as true, without any skeptical doubtings. Unbelief is black with the frown of God. Faith is His pleasure. God honors faith and welcomes those who trust Him.

I. TO WHOM GOD SHOWS HIS SECRETS (Genesis 18:17 )

1. God tells His plans to those who are His servants. There is a verse in Revelation 1:1 , which reads: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass."

God shows to His servants. The word, is "bondslaves." If we then would know God's will and way we must be His recognized and obedient followers. Why should God tell the world what He has told us? In Matthew, chapter 13, Christ said, "It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but unto them it is not given."

2. God tells His plans to those who obey His voice. Here it is, "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord." What good is there in telling your will to one who will reject to follow? That would be no more than casting pearls before swine.

The call of the Lord is, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Then with the body and its members presented, ready to do God's will, what will happen? Here it is: "That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

3. God tells His plan to those who seek His face. Abraham welcomed his Lord. He walked with Him. He delighted in the most intimate fellowship with Him. Abraham was a friend of God. To him, therefore, God told what He was about to do. If we expect God to tell us His things we must walk in His presence.

II. GOD'S STATEMENT OF ABRAHAM'S COMING GREATNESS (Genesis 18:18 )

1. God foresaw Abraham's national prowess. God said, "Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation." The future lay before God in just as clear a profile as the past could ever lie before us. God sees that which shall be as though it were.

The great architect plans every detail of some uplifting skyscraper that will catch the admiring gaze of thousands of human eyes. I, for instance, could not see that tremendous building all completed before the first spade has started to remove the dirt for its foundation. However, the architect could and does see it as it will stand completed before the plans for the building are ever turned over to the contractor.

Cannot God, with far more accuracy than a human builder, see His masterful purposes and plans as though they were already a historical fact, millenniums before they are actually realized? Certainly He can.

2. God foresaw Abraham a world-wide blessing through Christ, his Seed according to the flesh. God knew that out of the loins of Abraham Christ should come, so far as His human genealogy was concerned. God knew that Abraham, in Christ, and by Christ would be a blessing to every nation tinder the Heavens. He knew that all nations would be subservient to that one nation, of which Christ should be its last and lasting King.

Now we understand greater depths to God's statement, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" God seemed to be saying, "Why not tell Abraham inasmuch as he is so closely related to those great and matchless purposes of Mine which shall eventually bring the Eternal Son down to earth?"

Beloved, let us stop and wonder! We mere worms of the dust are yet twined and intertwined into the eternal purposes of God for all ages. Let us reverently bow the head and worship.

III. GOD'S STATEMENT OF ABRAHAM'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY LIFE (Genesis 18:19 )

1. God knew Abraham's parental integrity. God did not alone take cognizance of Abraham's far-flung future greatness, and of Abraham as he was related to the human lineage of Christ, as Son of Mary. God also knew the personal fidelity of Abraham to his immediate relationship as father to the family from whom those future blessings would flow. God even entered into Abraham's personal family life, and said, "I know him, that he will command his children * * after him."

Does God not likewise enter into our own individual heart life, and home life? Does He not observe us on our knees as we plead for our sons and our daughters at the throne of grace? Does He not see us as we talk to them and seek to direct them in the ways of God Almighty? Yes, God not only observes these human relationships, but He is tremendously interested in them. God does not see us hall so much as we are at church and under the eye of the public as He sees its in the inner life of our own domiciles.

2. God knew Abraham's faithful dealings with his children would make it possible to bring upon him all those things which He had spoken to him. Here is a new sidelight to God's promises to Abraham. Much was dependent upon Abraham himself and upon the behaviour of Abraham's children. Sons and daughters may, by their erring ways, hinder God's blessings toward their parents. God proposes, yet, in many things, man interposes.

Man. may hinder God's workings. Where? In those places where God makes Himself dependent upon our faithfulness. There are many things which God would do for us, which He cannot do because we hinder Him by our perfidy. Listen to this Scripture: "And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." Who could not do works? Christ. Why could He not do works? Because of their unbelief. He could not, because they did not believe.

IV. THE INSIDE VIEW OF AN ANCIENT FAMILY (Proverbs 4:3-4 )

1. The ruling passion of the home should be love. With what depth of meaning do the words sound forth, "I was my father's son." Every son is, of course, the son of his father. There is here, however, a throbbing touch on Solomon's heartstrings, as he wrote: "I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother."

Let us go into Abraham's home. He loved Ishmael. On one occasion Abraham cried to God, "O that Ishmael might live before Thee!" As for Isaac, the son of Abraham's old age, he was the love of his heart. Nor was that all. Isaac loved Jacob, and Jacob loved his sons. God give us love in our homes. A love that holds our household to God.

2. The father should be the teacher in the home. Solomon said of David, "He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words."

God said of Abraham, "He will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord."

In the volume of the Book it is written concerning God's Precepts: "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou riseth up." When parents take this command seriously and forcefully execute its instruction they will have no trouble in the future of their children.

We need family Christianity. Perhaps the greatest calamity that could have befallen our beloved country is the utter collapse of the old time Family Altar.

V. GOD'S REVELATION TO ABRAHAM (Genesis 18:20-21 )

1. God's revelation of coming judgment. It was this of which God had said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" God proposed to let His servant know what He was about to do upon Sodom and Gomorrah.

I ask you to pass for a moment with me down through the centuries from that day to ours. If the cry of Sodom had come up before the Lord, has not the cry of our day likewise come up to Him? Christ said, "As it was in the days of Lot * * thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." That our day equals the days of Lot in its wickedness and negation of God, we are satisfied. Indeed, in some parts of the country we fear that we have by far surpassed the sins of that day.

Here is what we want to ask, "If God did not hide from Abraham the coming destruction of Sodom, will He hide from us the coming destruction of this present cosmos?" We wist not.

In speaking of the coming destruction which the Day of the Lord will bring upon the ungodly, God says it will be when they say, peace and safety. God, however, also says, "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." At this very hour multiplied thousands of God's choicest saints are momentarily looking for their deliverance as the day of God's wrath upon a godless age hastens on.

2. God adjusts Himself to man's way of thinking. He said, "I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether," etc. God seemed to be saying to Abraham, that His decision to destroy Sodom was not hasty, nor premature. He seemed to express that He had given Sodom every opportunity to repent.

Moreover there seemed to be, to Abraham, a possibility of a reversal of judgment, providing a sufficient ground for merit might be found. This was, no doubt, the basis of Abraham's prayer which followed.

VI. TURNING THEIR FACES TOWARD SODOM (Genesis 18:22 )

There were five definite looks toward Sodom.

1. There was the look of Lot. Lot's look was the look of self-advantage. He saw that the plains were well-watered toward Sodom. He saw that he had a splendid financial future by commerce with Sodom.

The result of Lot's look was that he pitched his tent toward Sodom. Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also; and soon, if we can work it out that way, our footsteps will lead us in that direction.

Lot realized the longings of his look toward Sodom. He achieved his desires and soon sat in the gate of Sodom as some great one.

2. There was the Lord's look. The Lord said I will see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it. God's look was the look of judgment, linked to mercy and opportunity.

We must remember that the cry of Nineveh also came up before the Lord. Then Jonah was sent down there to proclaim coming judgment. But that judgment was delayed when the Ninevites repented.

We have every reason to believe that if Sodom had repented upon the visit of the two Angels there had also been given to Sodom, at least a deference of judgment. When Abraham prayed for Sodom God proclaimed His willingness to spare the city if there were so many as ten righteous. However, there were not ten righteous. And, when the citizens of Sodom tried to drag God's Angels out to wreak upon them their villainy, full proof that the sin of Sodom was fully ripe was demonstrated.

3. There was the look of the angels. We read, "And the Men rose up * * and looked toward Sodom." As they went Abraham went with them to bring them on their way. The patriarch did not know the objective of that visit of the angels. Perhaps he thought it was a visit to his nephew, Lot.

However, we know that the look of the Angels was a look of judgment to be immediately executed. However, not altogether of judgment, but also of deliverance. Of judgment to Sodom, and of deliverance to Lot.

Here is a tremendous message. God does not destroy the righteous with the wicked. As we pen these words we are reminded of the "As it was in the days of Lot, thus shall it be." Truly, if God in Lot's day spared Lot, a righteous man, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked, will He not also spare saints at His Coming? The fact is, God hath not appointed us unto wrath.

There are some who think that the Church will enter the Tribulation. If that be so, they cannot pass through it, for the simple reason that when God pours out the vial of His wrath we are not and cannot be subjects to wrath.

Saints may feel the terrific onslaught of the wrath of men. In the world they do have tribulation. Nevertheless, when God judges the world and casts down His fire from Heaven, He will not suffer the world-hated and world-persecuted believer to feel the keen edge of His sword.

4. There was the look of Lot's wife. More of this will be developed in another study. Just now we wish to say one thing. Let us never allow ourselves to become so entangled in the affairs of this life that we will loath to leave it.

5. There was the look of Abraham. Here was the remorseful look of accepted conflagration and despoliation.

As Abraham looked toward Sodom, "Lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace." What feeling of pain must have filled his soul as Abraham saw everything that was Lot's swept from him. He loved Lot, and no doubt he had feared all along this very thing. Lot had been saved, to be sure, but he had been saved through the fire. He was saved, but all the work of a lifetime had gone up in the flames.

We need to remember that accompanied with the pouring out of those terrific judgments that will accompany the pouring out of the vials of wrath at the Lord's Coming, will be the judgment of the believer's works. The wicked will be overwhelmed by judgment. And, alas, how many of the saved out of the judgment will suffer the great loss of all that their life might have meant in spiritual acquisition and rewards, as they see themselves saved "so as by fire."

AN ILLUSTRATION

"' A father cannot forget how many children he hath. He that leadeth us by the hand wherever we go knoweth where and how we go.' This is a very simple statement, but exceedingly full of consolation. We, being evil, do not forget our children; we know our own, and do not omit even the last little one from our tender memory; how much more shall our Heavenly Father think upon all His own, and have them under His watchful eye! It is a pleasure to us to think of our children, for they are parts of ourselves. We could almost as soon cease to be as cease to remember them. Our Father above is all a Father can be and more: we are poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon us.

It were well if the converse of all this were true. We, alas! as children, too often forget our Father, and bear ourselves towards Him otherwise than is meet. If we treated our God as good children do a loving father, our conduct towards Him would lead us to a holy, happy life. We should long to be with Him, and to be happy in His company; we should be jealous for the honor of His Name, and feel pleased when we hear others extol Him. He would be our rest, confidence, pattern, love, and delight. Miss Havergal, in her own sweet way, has worked out the ideal treatment of a father, and we can readily spiritualize it."

'How do you love your Father?

Oh, in a thousand ways!

I think there's no one like Him

So worthy of my praise.

I tell Him all my troubles,

And ask Him what to do;

I know that He will give to me

His counsel kind and true.'"


Verses 20-22

Where Lookest Thou

Genesis 13:8-11 ; Genesis 18:20-22 ; Genesis 19:25-28

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

Our Scripture today presents four looks toward Sodom. 1. There was the look of Lot, or the look of worldly advantage. 2. There was the look of the Lord, or the look of coming judgment. 3. There was the look of Lot's wife, or the look of folly and of pride. 4. There was the look of Abraham, or the look of compassionate submission. Let us examine these four looks, one at a time.

1. The look of Lot. There had been a strife betwixt Abraham's herdsmen, and the herdsmen of Lot. Abraham realized that the time for separation had come.

There are some who may feel that Lot had a keen business vision, and that he could see a dollar a long way off. We agree, but we add that Lot's vision was circumscribed by his own personal advantage, and that, in reality, he was blinded and could not see afar.

2. The look of the Lord. This was the look of judgment. The Lord saw everything that Lot saw, but he saw more than Lot saw. The Lord beheld in Sodom a city that reeked with sin. He beheld the wreckage that would come to Lot and his family by reason of Lot's foolish choice.

"The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him." Those same eyes, however, look in judgment upon all whose heart wanders from the Lord.

3. The look of Lot's wife. As they fled from Sodom, Lot's wife turned, and looked back. We can hardly wonder at her folly. Everything she loved was in Sodom. She had left the daughters, who had married Sodomites, and her sons-in-law behind her. She had left her friends of fashion and of pomp behind her. She had left her beautiful home and its luxuries behind her. She had left more than all of this she had left the affections of her own heart behind her.

When Lot's wife looked toward Sodom, she looked toward her treasures, and toward those things which were dearer to her than life. Let us fear lest we, too, become entangled again in a yoke of bondage, and begin to long after the "flesh pots of Egypt," and thus look back.

4. The look of Abraham. Abraham had prayed earnestly for Lot. The result of Abraham's prayer was that Lot and his two daughters were saved. God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out.

I. PRAYER, AND THE UPWARD LOOK (2 Chronicles 20:12 )

Moab and Ammon came against Jehoshaphat to battle. They were a great multitude, and Jehoshaphat was afraid. Then Jehoshaphat prayed unto the Lord and said, "O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee."

In answer to Jehoshaphat's prayer, the enemy was overthrown. We need to place our eyes upon God. God has said, "Fret not thyself because of evil doers." To the contrary, we must learn to "rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." When everything seems against us, it is only God's opportunity to show His strength. Sometimes, in earnest prayer, we need to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.

"Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." Habakkuk came to the place where the fig tree did not blossom, neither was there fruit in the vine; the labour of the olive failed, and the fields yielded no meat; the flock was cut off from the fold, and no herd was found in the stall: yet, the Prophet said, "I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

It was the clinging prayer of Jacob that made him a victor. It is when we come to the end of ourselves, and lift up our face with beseeching unto God, that He comes to our help.

God has said, "My grace is sufficient for thee." It is sufficient everywhere. What we must do is to lift up our eyes unto the Lord, and get in touch with His power. We will. always find that there is a larger balance to the credit of faith when we draw upon Heavenly resources.

II. SERVICE, THE OUTWARD LOOK (John 4:35-36 )

The Lord told the disciples to lift up their eyes, and to look, for the fields were white unto the harvest. When our eyes were upon the fields for service, His eyes would be upon us for blessing. When the Children of Israel faced the land of Canaan, God told them to enter in, and to possess the land. Then, said God, "I will be with thee."

We fail to receive from God, because we refuse to undertake for God. He who sits still, and never ventures, in faith, will find God waiting for him to step out, instead of working for Him.

The eyes of the Lord are looking for men ready to leave father, mother, brother, sister, houses and lands, that they may go forth to reap.

Do you see the ripened fields? Do you hear the voice of God saying, "Who will go and reap?" God grant that you may say, "Here am I, Lord, send me."

When the Lord commanded Joshua, saying, "Arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people," there was no time for fear, no time to weigh the difficulties of the wilderness. What mattered if there were difficulties ahead; God had commanded, "Go!" They dared not hesitate.

The Lord told Philip to go in the road which was desert. Immediately Philip arose and went. Can we not even now hear the voice of God saying to us, even as He said to Israel of old, "Go forward"?

The Lord Himself has promised, "I will be with thee." We must not cease to go until we have preached the Gospel to every creature; until every stock of ripened grain has been harvested home.

If barriers lie across our way, they will disappear before our march of faith.

'Tis the voice of the Master, "Press forward today,

The fields are all ripened with grain";

'Tis the voice of the servant, 'I'll haste to obey,

Not counting the cost, but the gain."

III. CONFLICT, THE INWARD LOOK (Romans 7:18-24 )

When we look within and view our human heart, in its sinful estate, we are crushed, even to despair. Paul said, "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." Do you marvel that Paul then cried, "O wretched man that I am"? The vision of his own sinful self was enough to cause him to bemoan himself.

It is always true that when we look within and see the contumely of our old man, we are disturbed and disheartened. What then shall we do? Let us reckon the old man as dead. Let us refuse to listen to its voice, to walk in its ways, or to fulfil its desires.

On the contrary, let us look away to the Holy Spirit, remembering that He, likewise, dwells within. If we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. If we walk in the Spirit, our moans of despair will be changed into paeans of victory. Instead of self-condemnation, we will have "no condemnation." Instead of the works of the flesh being made manifest, we will bear the fruit of the Spirit.

The believer must guard against being overwhelmed by introspection. He must remember that Jesus Christ is stronger than self, that the Holy Spirit will give deliverance from the dominion of the self-life.

It is unwise for the Christian to boast in the flesh, or to walk by the flesh, or to pamper the flesh. Paul said, "I die daily." There is only one place for the self-life and that is on the Cross, to be crucified with Christ. It we live the life of victory, we must not walk by the old man, but by the new man.

Christ has said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself." In the Christian experience Christ must be All, and in all, and the old man nothing at all.

IV. RETROSPECTION, THE BACKWARD LOOK (2 Timothy 4:8 )

As Paul looked backward over a fruitful ministry, and a faithful life, he could say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." Here is a retrospective that was worth the while.

We need to look backward now and then, not with the spirit of boastfulness, but with the spirit of honest contemplation.

At the end of every day it will profit us to study what has been done, and said, and thought. Thus we can profit by our mistakes, and increase our victories. The first will cause us to be more careful; and the second will bring us encouragement by the way.

In retrospection, however, we must never be overwhelmed or discouraged by reason of our failure; nor, must we be satisfied with our successes. We must watch against resting upon our past accomplishments. We should use what God has done through us in the past, as an incentive to renewed and enlarged undertakings in the future.

If we would make our final retrospective, at the close of life's day, a cause for thanksgiving and praise, we must be very careful to fill in each day, as it passes, with faithful service; with fidelity to the faith; and with holy living.

When the Lord Jesus approached the end of His earthly ministry, He said, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do."

V. THE PERSPECTIVE, THE ONWARD LOOK (Habakkuk 2:3 )

We like the word spoken by Habakkuk: "For the vision is yet for an appointed time * * though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."

As we look at present world-conditions we are disheartened. We are walking through a valley of the shadow of death. Sin and sorrow are wreaking out misery everywhere. Satan is renewing every effort against the race.

The Word of God promises no relief. Unto the end wars are determined. Evil men are to wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. Iniquity will abound. God paints no roseate picture of the last days. He tells us, rather, that "perilous times shall come."

What Habakkuk saw, however, was a vision that looked on far beyond the present hour, far beyond the hour of Jacob's trouble. We know that Habakkuk saw the overthrow of Israel, and the cup of sorrow which she must drink; but he saw also the Lord coming, with His glory covering the Heavens, and he saw the earth full of His praise. He saw Christ coming in judgment against the nations that had despoiled Israel. He saw the sun and moon standing still as the Lord's arrows went forth. He saw the Lord marching through the land in indignation, threshing the heathen in His anger. Then, he saw the salvation of God's people, with the head of the house of the wicked cut down.

We need a similar vision. We would not be blind to the day of wrath that is about to fall upon the earth, but we would see also another day, a day of peace, a day when men shall beat the swords into plowshares, and the spears into pruninghooks; a day when Christ shall reign in righteousness.

If we see nothing but the present hour, heading up in the reign and rule of the antichrist, we will become discouraged; but, if we see beyond that hour, the day of "the Lord seated upon His throne," we will become encouraged and full of blessed anticipation.

VI. DISCOURAGEMENT, THE DOWNWARD LOOK (Genesis 4:5-6 )

Sin had entered into the Garden, and man had been expelled therefrom. Cain and Abel had been born with the ravages of sin upon them. Abel had placed his faith in the blood of a sacrifice, which anticipated the Cross of Christ. Cain had rejected the atonement, and had placed his faith in a bloodless sacrifice art ethical conception.

In jealousy Cain rose up and slew his brother. When Cain had seen that God accepted Abel and rejected himself, he was wroth, and his countenance fell. The result of sin is always a downcast look a fallen countenance.

God made man an "uplooker." He placed his head on the top of him. He gave him as his realm of his contemplation and vision, the things which were high and holy. Sin changed man's perspective; it turned his face from the skies, where God rules; to the earth, where man dwells.

The sinner looks at the things seen, not at the things unseen; he centers his affections upon the things of the earth, not upon the things of the sky.

Saints are "uplookers" and not "downlookers." We are looking for that Blessed Hope, and the Glorious Appearing of our Lord. We are building our treasures in Heaven, not upon the earth. We are strangers and pilgrims, journeying toward a City, whose Builder and Maker is God.

The man who, Cain-like, has his countenance downcast, and is living for this present world, is blind and cannot see afar off. The god of this world hath veiled his eyes lest the light of the Gospel of the glory of God should shine in upon him and convert him.

VII. ENCOURAGEMENT, THE GOD-WARD LOOK (2 Kings 6:17 )

Gehazi must have trembled with fear as he saw the enemy closing in upon Elisha, Then it was that the Prophet prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he may see." What Gehazi saw was the mountain full of God's horses and chariots, giving protection to His Prophet.

We need the vision which God gave to Gehazi. We need to see all Heaven working in our behalf. When this is before us, we will lift up the hands that hang down and find strength for our feeble knees.

Instead of looking at our emergencies, we should look beyond them, and above them to God's provision and power. When the Children of Israel saw the mountains on one side, the sea before them, and Pharaoh's hosts coming upon them and closing them in, they needed to look away to God.

The hosts of the Lord are an innumerable multitude, and they are all working in our behalf. The Lord, Himself, has placed at our disposal all of the power invested in Him, as He sits enthroned above.

Retreat should never be found in the Christian's vocabulary. We should not even try to go around our difficulties. We should press through them.

The ten spies came back, saying, "We saw giants." Joshua and Caleb said, "Let us go up at once" they saw God.

There are giants at every turn. They are in our family life; they are in our business careers; they are in our spiritual walk; they are everywhere. If we see the powers of God around us, we will say, "They be bread for us; we will eat them up." Without the opening of our eyes, and the faith which the vision of God instills, we will be eaten up by our enemies.

Our God is a God of infinite power. Our battle, therefore, is a battle with a sure conquest at its close. We will prove more than victors, through Him who loved us. We may experience a continuous fight, but we will have a glorious conclusion.

AN ILLUSTRATION

BIRDS ON THE WING

"Birds are seldom taken in their flight; the more we are upon the wing of Heavenly thoughts the more we escape snares." "O that we would remember this, and never tarry long on the ground lest the fowler ensnare us. We need to be much taken up with Divine things, rising in thought above these temporal matters, or else the world will entangle us, and we shall be like birds held with limed twigs, or encompassed in a net. Holy meditation can scarcely be overdone; in this age we fear it never is. We are too worldly, and think too much of the fleeting trifles of time, and so the enemy gets an advantage of us, and takes a shot at us. O for more wing and more use of the flight we have! Communion with Jesus is not only sweet in itself, but it has a preserving power by bearing us aloft, above gun-shot of the enemy. Thoughts of Heaven prevent discontent with our present lot, delight in God drives away love to the world, and joy in our Lord Jesus expels pride and carnal pleasure: thus we escape from many evils by rising above them.

Up, then, my heart. Up from the weedy ditches and briery hedges of the world into the clear atmosphere of Heaven. There where the dews of grace are born, and the sun of righteousness is Lord paramount, and the blessed wind of the Spirit blows from the everlasting hills, thou wilt find rest on the wing, and sing for joy where thine enemies cannot even see thee."


Verses 23-33

Abraham Pleading for Sodom

Genesis 18:23-33

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

Here we have one of the Bible's most clarifying messages on prayer. We suggest several things in a general way. The sub-topics will discuss the Scripture study verse by verse.

1. The attitude of the one who approaches God. There is so much these days of almost arrogant and even flippant approach to God that we need to consider deeply this prayer approach of Abraham's. Mark several statements:

(1) Abraham drew near (Genesis 18:23 ). This we may all do, God's Word says, "Let us draw near * * in full assurance of faith." Our God has made it possible for us to come into His presence and to come near to His side. We should not feel that we are shut out from God. Rather we are urged to come before Him.

(2) Abraham drew near with boldness (Genesis 18:23 ). He said, "Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" We too may come boldly. "We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmity, * * Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace."

When we come to the Father through Jesus Christ our Daysman, we may come without fear and trembling. We have a right to approach Him through a new and living Way, even through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

(3) Abraham came pleading God's faithfulness and honor (Genesis 18:25 ). It is a wonderful aid to prayer to come to God standing upon His character and honor. We may rightly plead His honor and justice, His holiness and righteousness, When we have some definite revelation of God in His Word, or some definite promise of Scripture we may come with double assurance,

(4) Abraham came with all humility of spirit (Genesis 18:27 ). He said, "Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes." Here was a man who strongly felt his own nothingness and unworthiness. He was one of God's noblemen; and yet he pled only his unworthiness. He certainly did not come; in any worth of his own. He knew that such a course was folly. Had he pled his own life of service and integrity, God would, no doubt, have told him that any worthiness in him was by virtue of His Divine bestowal. With men. Abraham was some great one, with God he confessed himself but dust and ashes.

(5) Abraham came with importunity (Genesis 18:32 ). The once more of Genesis 18:32 includes the other pleas which went before. Abraham did not rest his case upon his first approach and request. Each time God granted him favor, he seemed to use it as a basis for greater favors. We need to learn to ask, seek and knock to keep on in prayer until we have prayed to victory.

2. The power of prayer in approaching God. One of the greatest prayer verses in the Bible is this one which goes back to the prayer we are studying today, And "God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out." In close proximity with that is this correlated Scripture "I cannot do any thing until thou be come thither." Thus, it was Abraham's prayer which afforded the human basis for Lot's deliverance. And because of Abraham's prayer the destroying Angels could do nothing until Lot was outside the city of Sodom.

Let us not, in the light of these Scriptures imagine that prayer is a lifeless, powerless waste of time and energy. Prayer does things. When Christians grasp the hand of God, they grasp the power that brings things to pass.

I. A FAR-REACHING QUESTION (Genesis 18:23 )

As Abraham drew near to the Lord in prayer, he said, "Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?"

1. Here was a question which revealed Abraham's love for his kith and kindred. No one will for a moment doubt that as Abraham spoke he had in mind his nephew Lot, and Lot's wife and children.

Family ties are not to be despised. Have you not read how Christ said to a young man, "Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee"? We also read that children, "Learn first to show piety at home." And so it should be. We want none of that Cain spirit which hauntingly says, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

2. Here was a question which becomes exceedingly important in view of Christ's imminent Coming. When the Lord said, "As it was in the days of Lot thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed," did He include Abraham's query? As Sodom was about to be burned Abraham asked, "Wilt Thou destroy the righteous with the wicked?" As the Lord's Coming draweth near and the Tribulation vials of wrath will e'er long be poured forth, we ask, "Wilt Thou destroy the righteous with the wicked?"

Will the same dire judgments which befall the wicked, befall the saints? To us this seems utterly impossible. We could easily understand how they could pass into the beginning of the throes of that hour when mankind seems to be reaping the results of his own works; when, however, God begins to pour out His wrath it is simply impossible for saints to be judged with the ungodly.

We have passed out of judgment into life. God hath not appointed us to wrath. We are speaking of the wrath that shall fall upon the wicked. We are aware that there is a judgment of the believer's works, whether he has done good or bad. Lot might suffer the loss of his works because they were Sodom-centered, however Lot could not feel the force of the fires of Sodom upon his person. Whatever there may be of "suffering loss" to saints who have been inveigled into a union with Sodomites, they cannot pass under the condemnation which befalls the wicked.

II. A SECOND FAR-REACHING QUESTION (Genesis 18:25 )

1. From Abraham's viewpoint it was unjust to destroy the righteous with the wicked, and with plaintive voice Abraham pled, "Wilt Thou destroy the righteous with the wicked?" Certainly we should always bring our standards up to the Divine standards. We know that the Lord will do right. If, however, we see God doing that which in our minds is not right, we may come into His presence to seek to discover God's standard of judgment.

Abraham knew that Lot was in Sodom, and there contrary to the Lord's will. Abraham also knew that Lot was of a different fiber than the Sodomites. In fact, the Spirit afterward bore witness, that Lot vexed his righteous soul with the filthy conversation of the wicked.

As Abraham saw it, Lot was God's man, and he could not, therefore, be judged under Sodom's judgment. Therefore the appeal of the patriarch was on the basis of righteousness and not on the basis of mercy. Abraham pled honor and justice, and not grace and favor.

2. From the sinner's viewpoint, mercy, based upon the Blood of Christ is all he has to plead. Sodom could not plead: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Justice in righteousness called for Sodom's destruction. Had Sodom sought the staying of God's hand against her she could only have followed the course of the Ninevites, and in contrition and repentance have cried for mercy. This Sodom would not do.

The sinner cannot plead for the justice of the court, for his sins merit eternal death. He can, however, on his knees, prostrate before the Lord of grace, plead the Cross of Christ as God's satisfaction for his sins, and thus sue for mercy.

III. AN ETERNAL DIFFERENCE (Exodus 11:7 , l.c)

1. God makes a difference between the righteous and the wicked. When Abraham pled for Lot on the basis of justice and righteousness in dealings, he pled along lines of God's every dealing.

In after years when God announced the death of the first-born in every home of the Egyptians, and the safety of every first-born in every home of the Israelites, He said, "That ye may know that the Lord doth put a difference." God's difference in dealings was not, however, based on demagoguery and not upon the Divine prerogative to do as God wished to do.

God's wrath to the one was based on a just reward for unrighteousness. God's mercy to the other was based upon a sacrificial lamb. That is, in reality, God made no difference. Both the Egyptians and Israelites were sinners, both had to die, therefore, inasmuch as the wages of sin is death.; And both did die, only the eldest son in Egypt actually died, and the eldest son in Israel died in a substitute, the slain lamb.

2. What then is the basis of God's righteousness in separating between the righteous and the wicked; in slaying the one and sparing the other: in sparing Lot, and destroying Sodom? The difference was made upon the basis of a sacrifice. Lot was under covenant relationship with God. The blood of the covenant secured him.

When Abel was received and Cain was rejected it was because one came to God under token of the slain firstling and fatling of the flock, and the other came with fruit from the cursed earth which had no Calvary forecasting.

When Balaam stood with his hand upon the altar of sacrifice he could not curse Israel, for God, by reason of the blood of remission beheld no iniquity in Israel.

Here is the great distinction between saints and sinners, it is the distinction of the one being under the Blood, and the other being without the Blood.

IV. DOES THE PRESENCE OF THE RIGHTEOUS IN ANY COMMUNITY HOLD BACK DIVINE JUDGMENT? (Genesis 18:24 ; Genesis 18:26 )

1. The basis on which Abraham pled for the staying of judgment against Sodom. Abraham said, "Peradventure there be fifty righteous * * wilt Thou * * not spare the place for the fifty righteous?" To this the Lord gave accord. Then Abraham reduced the number of his plea until he cried, "If there be but ten righteous, wilt Thou not spare the city for the ten's sake?"

Did Abraham again approach God on a Divinely-planned basis for mercy? We believe he did. First, he made sure of Lot's safety by pleading that the Lord should not destroy the righteous with the wicked. Afterward Abraham sought to insure the sparing of the city itself upon the basis of the presence in Sodom of from fifty down to ten righteous.

2. Does God hold back judgments for His elect's sake? We believe He does. Let us consider. Christ said, "Ye are the salt of the earth." Salt is for savor, it is also for preservation. God's wrath poured out upon the ungodly must of necessity effect the believers. There is no city nor village where the righteous and the wicked do not jointly possess properties, and all kinds of temporal interests. To. destroy the one is to effect the other.

We almost shudder to think what the world will be like when all of the godly are taken out. Where is he who would care to live in a land where Christ is hated and wickedness runs riot? There is a deep meaning in the presence of the righteous anywhere, and a town, or city, or land may highly appraise the value of spiritual saints.

V. ABRAHAM'S ESTIMATE OF LOT'S SPIRITUAL POWER (Genesis 18:32 )

1. Wherein we see Abraham's weakening faith in Lot. Abraham began with "Peradventure there be fifty righteous." Then, after the Lord has accepted his prayer and plea, Abraham said, "Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty." The first word, "peradventure," makes our thought stronger. The patriarch began to fear that there might lack five of fifty. Then, in turn he said, "Peradventure there shall be forty," and then, "Peradventure there shall thirty be found." As Abraham prayed the whole career of Lot must have stood before him. At last Abraham prayed, "Peradventure ten shall be found there."

As the Lord said, "I will not destroy it for ten's sake," and as the Lord left as Abraham ceased communing with Him, we wonder if Abraham was altogether satisfied that Sodom would be spared.

2. What is our standard of attainment in soul-winning making others righteous? Before we condemn Lot too severely, let us stop and see if we have done much better. Have we beyond a doubt won others to the Lord?

Many saints are Lot like. They live in the midst of Sodom, but they are salt that has lost its savor. Their lives are not definite in their testimony. Some Christians, we fear, live and die without so much as winning one soul for the Master.

"Must I go, and empty handed?

Thus my dear Redeemer meet?

Not one soul with which to greet Him?

Lay no trophy at His feet?"

VI. GOD'S GRACIOUS LONGSUFFERING (Genesis 18:26 ; Genesis 18:28-32 )

Read just that portion of each verse where God says, "I will spare all the place for their sakes"; or, "I will not destroy it"; or, "I will not do it."

1. God's long-suffering is seen in His allowing Abraham to drop steadily from fifty to ten. That action seemed to say, "As you, Abraham, have dropped from fifty to ten, so have I waited, again and again for any possible abatement in Sodom's sinful deeds."

God, all through the ages, has dealt with great patience toward sinful mankind. He did not destroy Sodom until their wickedness had reached a hopeless condition.

2. God's long-suffering is seen in our day. Once more we can say, "As it was in the days of Lot." The world is hastening toward its greatest catastrophe. It seems that the harvest of the earth is ripe, and yet God waits.

Few of those who know world conditions believe that even God's long-suffering can wait much longer. Soon He must say, "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: * * for the harvest of the earth is ripe."

3. God's long-suffering has been seen in His patient dealings with His own children. Our God has dealt with us, "Like as a father."

Israel may feel that she is utterly forsaken and destroyed. Not so; her very existence as a nation after twenty-three. centuries of Gentile supremacy is sufficient proof that God will yet bring her back again.

4. God's dealings with the Church gives proof of His long-suffering. Early in the history of the Church it seemed as though Satan would almost subdue her. Even Paul, in his day, said, "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."

Later on Paul wrote with sadness, "All they of Asia have forsaken me." He saw the drift as the Spirit bore witness with his spirit. In the Spirit Paul detailed the whole course of the Church age, and even described its closing scenes as scenes of departure from the Faith.

As we see the Church in its apostasy, we find that the Lord once more has utmost compassion. He stands, even now, outside the door of the Laodicean Church, with its accumulation of riches, and yet with its utter neglect of its first love, crying, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock."

5. God's long-suffering is seen in His dealings with the nations. The Gentile nations have, generally speaking, repudiated the headship of Christ. In many places they have openly and wilfully sought to drive God out of their places of authority and power, if not out of their State altogether.

AN ILLUSTRATION

KEEPING UP A SUIT

Abraham was importunate in prayer.

"' Keep up the suit, and it will come to a hearing-day ere it be long.' In a suit at law there are many and grievous delays, and yet the man who has been forced into the court does not dream of relinquishing his case. He urges on his solicitor, and entreats him to lose no opportunity of getting the business settled; but he does not in a pet take the case out of his hands, for he expects that the judge will sooner or later decide the matter. It would be a pity not to continue steadfast in prayer, for it is certain that now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Every hour of importunity brings us nearer to the time when the Judge shall avenge His own elect. To waste all the cost of former tears and entreaties, and to let months of praying go for nothing would be a sad waste of effort. Let us hope in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him, abiding still at the mercy-seat. Has He not Himself said, 'Though [the vision] tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry'?

Sometimes, before we call, God hears us, and while we are yet speaking He answers us. This is to encourage us to a further trust in Him; perhaps to prepare us for waiting times. Frequently the richest answers are not the speediest. Ships may return all the more quickly because they leave a slender lading; and a prayer may be all the longer on its voyage because it is bringing us a heavier freight of blessing. Delayed answers are not only trials of faith, but they give us an opportunity of honoring God by our steadfast confidence in Him under apparent repulses." Spurgeon.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Genesis 18:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/genesis-18.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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