There are two cities in the Bible, known even to people who know almost nothing of them. These are the twin cities Sodom and Gomorrah. We can find many sermons based on the destruction of these cities as well as Abraham’s intercessory prayer for their deliverance. This sermon is based on the same, but I want to share some different insights.
1. God deserves our undivided Attention
“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (Genesis 18:17-22) Was God in a dilemma? Certainly not. He is sovereign and doesn’t want man’s permission to accomplish his purpose, (Isaiah 46:10). God is rather saying he will not conceal his intentions from Abraham, because God has chosen him. (Which means God had called him out from the world as in Genesis 12:1) Then we are told that Abraham still stood before the Lord, even after his visitors left. In this context, the verb “stood” is used to say God had Abraham’s undivided attention.
“Good listening is like tuning in a Radio. For good results, you can listen to only one station at a time. Trying to listen to my wife while looking over an official report is like trying to receive two radio stations at the same time. I end up with distortion and frustration. Listening requires a choice of where I place my attention. To tune into my partner, I must first choose to put away all that will divide my attention.” (Robert W. Herron, Homemade, June 1987)
When I became a born-again Christian, I often wondered what do people mean by God spoke to them? I asked if God can speak to them and why he will not speak to me? As time passed by, however, I realized that God has been speaking to me indeed, but I did not hear because I wasn’t paying attention. This passage shows God’s desire to share his deepest thoughts with us. Let us learn to give God our undivided attention.
2. God is the Judge with Discernment
There has been some debate as to why God had to go down to Sodom and Gomorrah to verify the facts because the Bible says he is present everywhere and knows everything (Genesis 18:21). But this verse is not to be understood literally. The writer is actually using figurative language to say God is the righteous judge whose judgments are flawless because he discerns and correctly assesses every situation.
A man on a journey sat down under a tree to have his lunch. A woman was also seated close by frying some fish. The man did not have any fish in his meal but enjoyed it very much because of the aroma of the fish being fried. When the man finished his meal and got up to continue his journey, the woman approached him and demanded payment for the aroma of the fried fish. The man refused and both went to a judge. The judge, after listening to the woman’s complaint told the man to take out a gold coin from his pocket and hold it to the Sun. Then he told the woman to enjoy the coin’s glitter. The book of Psalm says:
God is a fair judge, a God who is angered by injustice every day.Psalm 7:11 (GWT).
But then why there is so much injustice in this world and God is not doing anything about it? Remember that the Bible also says that “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” God permits injustice for a limited time to give the oppressor time to repent (because he is the just God). In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, he decided to destroy the two cities because their inhabitants did not repent and their sin became no longer bearable.
3. God’s glory transforms us Internally
In Genesis 18:27 Abraham compares himself to dust and ashes. This wasn’t a sign of low self-esteem or flattery but the words of a man who was transformed from inside after seeing God’s glory. It convinced Abraham of his fragile nature and the need for God’s mercy.
Many years ago a young man who sought supernatural intervention for his problems, walked into a Hindu Temple, hoping to receive the favor of the gods that the temple was dedicated for. While he was there he heard an audible voice, which said: “You have come to the wrong place.” He realized this is indeed the Lord Jesus speaking to him. Talk about an encounter! He immediately left that temple and a few days later joined a church in his neighborhood. Long story short, he dedicated his life to service to God and led many people to Christ.
Living in a fallen world keeps us from truly comprehending how vast the difference is between us and the Lord. Too often we attempt to bring Him down to our level, but just a glimpse of God’s glory opens our eyes to recognize his unapproachable superiority. It transforms us within. It convinces us of our sinful, fragile nature and the need for a savior, (Isaiah 6:5). For our sake, we must pray every day that God will give us a glimpse of his glory.
4. God’s children are the salt of the Earth
Abraham interceded for the sinful people in Sodom and Gomorrah. He had compassion for them. While he understood God’s judgment of sin, he asked God to spare the city even if there could be found as few as ten righteous people. God said he will not destroy the cities if he could find at least ten righteous people in them. (He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” Genesis 18:32) Unfortunately, there were not even ten.
Salt is a unique mineral with so many uses that The Readers Digest Magazine once published a list titled “60+ ways to use salt”. In the ancient world, however, preservation was its main use.
Jesus said we are like the salt of the earth, (Matthew 5:13) because God has called us to preserve this dying earth. How do we preserve it? By leading the wicked to righteousness, (2 Peter 2:5).
In my sermon about Abraham’s intercessory prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah tonight, I shared with you four principles that should help your walk with God. It is my prayer you will be blessed by this message.
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