After All, God Is Just
A story in Genesis 18 came to mind this morning. Because it stood out from the many other thoughts sloshing around in my mental pool, I decided to investigate.
The chapter begins with Abraham hailing the Lord and two of His angels as they pass by on foot not far from his tent. With a little friendly persuasion, he convinces them to stop and take in some refreshments before they continue on. After a brief rest, they depart again, this time with Abraham accompanying them a short way. The Lord decides at this point to take him into His confidence as to their mission. After all, He knows Abraham. Abraham is a trusted friend whose faith and love for what is right and just will, in due time, become an exemplary template for mankind. Why not give him further insight into, and the opportunity to temper Divine justice? So, He informs Abraham of His destination. Sodom and Gomorrah are where they are headed. His mission? To see firsthand whether they have done altogether [as vilely and wickedly] as is the cry of it which has come to Me (vs 21).
Abraham knows exactly where this is headed. Sodom and Gomorrah are about to become charred smudges in the chronicles of human history. More than a little disturbed by it, he leans in closer. “Suppose there are in the city fifty righteous,” he asks, being respectful, yet knowing the Lord initiated his probing. “Will You destroy the place and not spare it for [the sake of] the fifty righteous in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing . . . Shall not the Judge of all the earth execute judgment and do righteously?” (vs 24, 25)
The Lord reassures him that if fifty are found righteous in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake (vs 26).
I can almost hear Abraham’s sigh of relief before another worry strikes him. What if there are only forty-five righteous? Or forty? Will the Lord still destroy?
We know the rest of the story. When the diminishing numbers reach ten, Abraham’s pleas for justice end, and the Lord resumes His mission. As it turns out, only four righteous people are found in Sodom—Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family. These, the Lord spare from the raging inferno (Genesis 19: 12–16).
I walk away from this story, first of all with a renewed urgency to keep appealing to the Judge of all the earth to do right when He executes His judgments upon America, which we indisputably deserve because of our grievous sins (Genesis 18: 25). He is also faithful and just to forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9). We need to keep asking at least until the Lord ends the conversation (vs 33). Lord, in (Your) wrath, remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:1)!
What if Abraham hadn’t bothered to intercede at all because the citizens of those cities were too wicked, too beyond help? What then? Would his family have been destroyed along with the rest? I mention that only because the present heavens and earth have been stored up (reserved) for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly people (2 Peter 3: 7–10).
I find particularly noteworthy, the fact that Sodom and Gomorrah’s grand finale was contingent upon the number of righteous people God found therein. That being the case, what of the over seventy-million in America who, through their recent votes, agreed with what God says is right? Surely adherence to the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, the rights of the unborn, the support of Israel, and our continued intercession on behalf of our country are all taken into account. After all, God is just.