Pentecost 10 – Genesis 18:20-33
We all know of people with an active prayer life; we all know of people who are always praying for one thing or another; we all know of people who seem to constantly have their eyes closed, hands folded, head bowed, knees bent, praying to God for the health of a friend, the softening of a family member’s heart, or for more favorable weather. We all know of at least one person, who seemingly is always talking to God about something that weighs heavily upon their heart.
We often call these people ‘Prayer Warriors’, people who do not just say they will pray for whatever you ask of them, but who actually do so. But today, I might propose a new name for these faithful pray-ers – Abrahams.
Yes, of all the people in the Bible, there is no one who must pray longer and harder and louder than Abraham.
Abraham desperately prays for a son; than when he finally does have a son, God tells Abraham to sacrifice that son, and so he fervently prays for another option. Later, Abraham prays earnestly that God would provide Isaac a wife.
And that does not even begin to take into account all the prayers Abraham must have said for Sarah, who struggled with her barrenness; or for Hagar and Ishmael who were forced to leave; or even at the end of his own life, when Abraham knew that his days grew short.
But praying for your own benefit, and for the benefit of those in your household is easy; we do it every day.
Today, Abraham prays for Sodom and Gomorrah.
This is not done in ignorance; Abraham knows full well that Sodom and Gomorrah are the worst places on earth; that they have totally disregarded the Lord and His word as they blatantly violate the natural law that God has written on the hearts of every man and woman since the creation of the world. Sodom and Gomorrah make the wicked places of today look like tropical resorts of faithfulness
And yet, Abraham prays for them; prays that God would spare them for the sake of the few righteous people who may still dwell within their walls.
How many righteous are there? Hard to say. Abraham hopes for 50; but finds 10 to be a more realistic number.
Abraham prays for the sake of 10; prays that the Lord would spare them all for the benefit of 10. Tens of thousands of residents, all wicked; all terrible, horrible, no good people. And yet, Abraham prays for them.
Would the Prayer Warriors of today offer up such prayers? Would you?
If the Lord of heaven and earth came to you and said that He was going to destroy Planned Parenthood for all of the wickedness that it has perpetrated and that it continues to perpetrate against women and against the unborn, would you ask that He relent for the sake of 50?
After all, not everyone who works at Planned Parenthood is directly involved in performing abortions; there are surely custodians and secretaries and people in the mailroom who just need a job and are trying to pay bills, who hold their noses when they go to work each day. Would you be willing to let all survive on account of the 10 righteous ones?
What about the sworn enemies of this nation? What if the Lord of hosts approached you and said that He was going to destroy Iran, that He was going to destroy ISIS, that He was going to destroy any nation that persecutes Christians; would you be willing to speak up on account of the 30 who may be righteous?
After all, there are Christians in Iran, in China, in all of these places that are so dominated by forces hostile to the faith; believers who risk their lives on a daily basis, just because they are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; would you be willing to speak up on account of the 10 who are righteous?
What about those churches in our midst that draw people away from the faith with their lies and their false teachings on marriage and on salvation? What if the Lord of the Church came up to you and said that He was going to wipe away those false churches that do not preach Christ crucified; that focus their attention on the things of this world as opposed to the things of heaven?
Would you be willing to speak up and ask that the Lord relent on account of the true believers who have not been completely lost yet? Would you be willing to speak up for the sake of the 10 who may one day repent and leave those false churches and hear the lifesaving Gospel again?
Would you speak up for fifty? Would you raise your hand for forty? Would you vote no for the sake of thirty? Would you hold out hope for twenty? Could you convince yourself that there are at least ten?
Would you pray like Abraham?
Do you pray like Abraham?
Pray for those who persecute you; pray for those who are your enemies; pray for those who are not like you; pray for those who hate the name of Jesus.
Pray like Abraham.
Easier said than done.
Oh we pray for them, pray that they would repent, pray that hearts would be softened, pray that the Holy Spirit would work in their hearts and bring them to saving faith in Jesus.
But sometimes we also pray that God would just rid the world of these problems; that Sodom and Gomorrah would not be just a onetime thing, but that every 100 years, the two most wicked cities or business or groups of people on earth have an immediate forecast of hellfire and brimstone.
There would after all, be no shortage of candidates.
But it is here that we must acknowledge our own wretchedness. We may not fall into the categories of Sodom and Gomorrah, but we too have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. For all sin, whether it be the sins of immorality committed in Sodom and Gomorrah, or the sin of greed and gossip and coveting that occur in our own lives, that separate us from God, that make us enemies of God, that make us no better than those in the Sodom and Gomorrah of Abraham’s day or the Sodom and Gomorrah of our own modern day.
And yet, the Lord does not destroy us or wipe us out; He does not send hellfire and brimstone upon us; He does not send legions of angels, nor does He even come Himself with thunder and lightening.
Has He found ten righteous? Not at all.
Instead He has found one who is righteous.
Is it you? Is it I?
No, it is Jesus.
Jesus comes as the righteous one who appeases the anger and the wrath of God. Jesus comes as the righteous one who by His own perfect life and innocent suffering and death now makes you righteous. Jesus comes as the one who takes away the sin of the world, and leaves us not in our own Sodom and Gomorrah’s, but in His eternal kingdom where you will live forever.
Who has Jesus come to make righteous? Is it just you, who occasionally somehow muster the words to pray for those who persecute you and who do not live according to God’s commands? Is it just for those ‘prayer warriors’ who pray fervently that salvation may come to all people? Is it just for those who agree with us on a majority of issues?
Or is it even for those in our modern day Sodom and Gomorrah’s?
For the sake of one, Jesus Christ, we still pray daily that those in and around Planned Parenthood, and around all organizations that hate life in the womb and life in the nursing home, would repent of their wickedness, and be saved.
For the sake of one, Jesus Christ, we still pray daily that those in countries and ideological groups that hate Christians, would repent of their murderous intents, and receive the Holy Spirit.
For the sake of one, Jesus Christ, we still pray daily that those churches that are leading people to hell would repent of their lies and deceptions and their mishandling of God’s Word, and confess Jesus Christ as Lord of all.
We do all of this, because for the sake of one, Jesus Christ, you and I have not been designated for destruction, but that we have heard and believed that Christ Jesus died for our sins, so that we might be holy and righteous, now and forever.