Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Life of Abraham - Genesis 18

When I started writing about the life of Abraham, one of the distinguishing characteristics that I wanted to talk about was his faith. We have seen that faith in action numerous times already in just a few chapters. For almost 25 years of his life, Abraham waited on God’s promises, as we have seen in the past few chapters. Another character trait becomes apparent here in chapter 18 of Genesis when we see Abraham’s mercy come through. That mercy was directed at the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Here, Abraham pleads his case for even a few, and it is an early indication of how Christ pleads our case individually for us before God.

The first part of this chapter deals with Abraham receiving three mysterious visitors. These visitors were none other than God Himself manifesting Himself in human form. Abraham didn’t know this, and easily could have turned the visitors away because of his limited resources in this harsh desert climate. Instead, Abraham welcomed them and treated them as family. He provided the choicest calf as a meal and welcomed the Lord with open arms. As a result, God remained faithful in his promise and stated he would have a son with Sarah by the time he returned the next year.

20 Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" – Genesis 18:20-25

Abraham did not need to plead for the righteous people of Sodom. He easily could have sat back and said, “That’s great, Lord. Smite those sinners.” Instead he saw the city as Christ sees humanity. We are all lost, but there are still those that seek him and are worthy of saving. Abraham intervened for those that stayed faithful even when surrounded by wickedness. This is very similar to how Christ sees us. We live in a broken and lost world, yet Christ has promised to intervene for us if we only seek him. This was against the standard of the day when groups were often judged together, instead of individually. Abraham showed the same love to the worthy that Christ shows us.

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