The Life of Abraham: A Journey of Faith – Part 9
Righteousness and Justice – Genesis 18:16-19:38
Crosspoint – Dave Spooner – March 6th, 2022
- I want to remind you that the main theme of this entire series is to trust God’s promises by living a life of faith. Through the life and story of Abram and his family, we have followed this theme as we learn from his life of faith. We have seen him take confident and courageous steps of faith, as well as missteps and mistakes along the way. In God’s dealing with Abram and with us, we see what is true and what to do as we see how God interacts with His creation through a story from the Bible and the story of the Bible.
- This morning we are dealing with the heavy and important subjects of righteousness and justice. We can see both the wrath and mercy of God in our text for today, which is the story surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah. If I were to distill this sermon in a sentence, it would be this: God is righteous and just, so we as His children are to do what is righteous and just.
- Let me expand this out in a fairly dense paragraph that I will unpack in this message. As God’s people, we are called to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, and we are to direct our children and households to do the same. Doing so brings a blessing to the neighborhood and the nations, both presently and permanently. God does distinguish between the acts of the righteous and the acts of the wicked as seen in both His mercy and His judgment. God will deliver His people from His wrath and deliver His wrath on the wickedness of people. Unrighteous actions will not produce righteous results. I am going to break this down into three key points. The first one is:
Keep the way of the Lord
- Right before our text today, we saw the Lord and His two messengers deliver the message to Abraham and Sarah that God will produce an heir of the promise very soon from their bodies. From that passage, we saw both their hearts and their failings, which challenged us to measure our hearts. Then the story continues in Genesis 18:16 as they turn toward Sodom.
Gen 18:16-19 NIV
When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.”
- Abraham would become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations will be blessed through him. He was called out, he was chosen, and he was elected to keep the way of the Lord by doing what was right and just.
- By doing what is right and just – we keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. So those who believe in the promise of God and are the children of the promised one (who is Christ) are to keep the way of the Lord, doing (not just believing) what is right and just.
- By directing your children and household to do the same – we as adults and as parents have the privilege and the responsibility to direct our children and those in our household to do the same. We, as parents, have a responsibility to raise our kids in the way of the Lord. We do this through demonstration and instruction.
- By so doing, you will bless the neighborhood and the nations, both presently and permanently – when we do what is right and just, then this will bless our neighborhood and the nations. They will be blessed both in the present and in eternity. This is our calling. We are the people who are to be in this world because of God’s working in us and then working through us. And through us, God will fill His promises both to us and through us. When we cease doing what is right and just, we cease being a blessing to the neighborhood and the nations. We are blessed to be a blessing. What God tells us to do, He does Himself, which we see from the next interaction.
Know that God will do what is right and just
- Now the Lord turns to Abraham and tells him what He will do.
Gen 18:20-21 NIV
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.”
- God hears the cries of His people, and God will sift the lives of all people. God already knew what He was going to do, and God already knew what was in their hearts. He was going to test them so there would be tangible proof of who they were, as seen in what they did. His test of the people was to send two of His angles into their midst to provide the final evidence of how depraved they were. God tests all people to give evidence of our hearts (see Matt. 25 and I Cor. 3).
Gen 18:22-25 NIV
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?”
- After the men (angels) turned away and went toward Sodom, Abraham and the Lord had a conversation. Abraham had a question about how God judges people. Will you, God, sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Will the righteous be destroyed like the wicked? Will you treat them both in the same way regardless of how they act? Then if that is the case, does it matter how we act? Will not THE Judge of all the earth do right? This is the question that many people have when it comes to the justice and judgment of God. Will God be true and right in His judgment? Is He a just judge?
- To this question, God answers in an interesting way, saying that if there are 50 righteous people, He will spare the whole city for their sake. But then Abraham continues his questions, and then asks, “what about for 45, what about 40,” and he keeps driving the number down, down, down until they get to ten, where God says He would spare the city if there were ten people who were righteous in it. And when they had finished talking, the Lord left, and Abraham went back home (Gen 18:26-33).
- What we learn from this is that God will deal with people according to what they deserve. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Cor 5:10-11 ESV; see also Rev. 22:12). He will be just in His judgments.
- (This next portion is a summation of Genesis 19-1-28.) The two angels proceed to Sodom and enter the gates of the city where Lot sees them and invites them to stay at his house. The angels tell him “no” and that they will spend the night in the city square. Lot insists that they stay with him, so they do so, and Lot prepares a meal for them. Then all the men from every part of the city, both the young and the old, surround the house and demand that Lot brings the men out so they can have sex with them.
- Lot refuses to do so and then offers his two daughters to them to judge them, which he knows they have no interest in. The crowd gets mad at Lot and moves to break his door down and take the men by force.
- At this point, the angels grab Lot and slam the door shut. Then they blind all the men so they can’t find the door and tell Lot to go get anyone else and then get out of the city because the Lord is going to destroy it. Lot goes to get his sons-in-law, and they don’t come because they don’t believe Lot.
- Then the angels, because of God’s mercy, hurry them out of the city and tell them to “flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” Lot asks not to go to the mountains but to go to the nearby small town of Zoar, which the angels grant to him.
- “Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah” and totally destroyed it. Lot’s wife turned back (in order to “save her life” see Luke 17:29-33), and because she wanted her life in Sodom, she was destroyed with Sodom.
- The next morning Abraham looked up and went to the place where He walked with the Lord, and from there, “he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.” At the end of this passage, we have this summation:
Gen 19:29 NIV
So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
- God will spare the righteous with His mercy – we are spared from the wrath of God because God makes us righteous when we believe in the promised Son. God spares us from His wrath because of His mercy through the shield of His Son, who makes us righteous through His righteousness.
- God will strike the wicked with His wrath – for those who are wicked in their heart, evidenced by their actions, will be judged according to their deeds. There is no such thing as universalism. Not everyone will be saved from the just judgment of God, but God, because of His mercy, provides a way through Christ to be saved. On the day of judgment, God’s judgment will be swift and severe.
- There is an afterword to this story about Lot and his daughters that brings us to the final point.
Know that unrighteous actions will not produce righteous results
- Lot and his two daughters end up living in a cave because they are afraid to live among the people, and they are afraid to live out in the open. They could have returned to live with Abraham, rejoining the man of promise, but they chose to live on their own. The text records:
Gen 19:31 NIV
One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”
- In their desire for a good thing, preserving their family line, they did an evil thing hoping good would result. They indeed did their plan, and they both became pregnant, and their sons became the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites (See Gen 19:33-38). These two groups were enemies of the people of God and were destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness (See Zeph 2:9). Unrighteous actions will not produce righteous results. For example, these are things that I have personally seen people do:
- Threaten a teacher to get your kid to pass.
- Cheat on your spouse to “help” your marriage.
- Run an illegal business to “help” your church.
- We must all be careful not to think like this.
Conclusion and Communion
- This whole stark passage is cited in the New Testament as an example of God’s love and mercy shown to those who receive the promised Son, and of His righteousness and justice in condemning the wicked who reject His Son (See 2 Peter 2:4-10, Luke 17:22-37, Jude 5-7).
- God is just and will judge truly. God is love and will save fully (those who are His).
- Trust in the promises of God by living a life of faith. Follow in His way by doing what is righteous and faithful. Teach your children and your household to do the same, and by doing so, you will be a blessing to the neighborhood and the nations, both in the present and for eternity.
- Praise God for His mercy and grace to you and through you.