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Prayer Changes Things

08 May

After Abraham entertained his guests with a place of rest and a meal, they got up to leave, but the Lord talked with Abraham on the way and revealed his intentions to his friend (Genesis 18:16-17). I find it astonishing that God would do such a thing. Why would he reveal his intentions to any human being? It seems to suggest a character trait of our God, showing us his willingness to be unambiguous in his dealings with mankind. He made his will and intent known to Adam, to Noah and now to Abraham. Is this what we could expect of God, if he calls us friend (cp. James 2:23)? Could we expect him to reveal to us what he intends to do in the world? Certainly there is a certain amount of intimacy that is shared between friends (John 15:15), but could we actually expect God to be so clear in his judgment of mankind (cp. Amos 3:7)?

Adam seemed to treat God’s word as irrelevant. Noah, we are told, preached God’s word to the world for about a hundred years (cp. 2Peter 2:5; Genesis 6:3) in an effort to get them to change their behavior toward God and one another. Abraham, however, didn’t preach to Sodom, nor did he take God’s word lightly, but rather sought to change God’s intention to judge Sodom and the five cities of the plane. At first one might think Abraham committed himself to an exercise of futility. How could he ever change what God intended to do? Is he more powerful than God?

The surprising thought is that if one looks back at God’s history with us, it is easier to change the intentions of the unchangeable God than to change the behavior of a rebellious people (viz. Adam and the people of Noah’s day). Abraham, surprisingly, had succeeded in gaining several concessions from God. First, Abraham appealed to God’s character—his righteousness. Even Abraham could see that it would be an unrighteous thing for the righteous to suffer the same fate as the wicked (Genesis 18:22-23), so he succeeded in getting the Lord to agree to save the wicked city if fifty righteous could be found therein (Genesis 18:24-26). Once the Lord agreed that the safety of fifty righteous was more important than the judgment of an entire city, Abraham bargained with the Lord until the number was reduced to ten righteous people.

Imagine the power of the righteous with God. Imagine the influence the righteous have with him concerning the wicked of every city who tempt God’s judgment by preying upon or taking advantage of the very people who keep them safe from harm. When one wonders how such a wicked person could escape the judgment of God, while the innocent are abused and live in fear, one needs to remember that it is because God values the innocent so much that the guilty temporarily escape his judgment. All things are not as they appear to be. God is righteous and neither he nor his elect will be mocked forever.

Nevertheless, Lot seems to have made his home in Sodom. What are we to make of this? Was he compromising his behavior to accommodate that of the wicked? The Scriptures conclude that Lot was a righteous man, but he was worn out by the wicked behavior of his neighbors (2Peter 2:7). I think there is a lesson for us all in this matter in that Lot shows us how evil behavior affects the righteous when we do not in our hearts cut ourselves off from the world (circumcision of the heart). Lot seems to have assimilated himself and his family with the city of Sodom. He involved himself in their affairs and sought to change their behavior through government (Genesis 19:1, 9), rather than through a relationship with God, a mistake many of us even today need to understand. Evil behavior destroys good morals (Proverbs 12:26; 1Corinthians 15:33). I wonder if God would have saved Lot and his family had not Abraham interceded on his behalf. Could it be that God is not of a mind to save the righteous from his judgment of the world, when they seem more concerned with their relationships in the world than with their relationship with him, unless someone takes their part? That is a sobering thought.

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Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Abraham, Walking with God

 

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