Lot In Sodom - Intercession Genesis 17 - 18

Genesis 17-18

The strangers whom Abraham entertained, became known to him before they went on their way. He whom the patriarch had instinctively recognized as their chief, soon disclosed himself as the Lord himself, and is, indeed, distinctly named in the sequel as Jehovah, and the others are in the event seen to be angels. This disclosure was made by the manner in which the Lord began to speak to Abraham about his promised son; and it is now first that he learns with  certainty, that this child of promise is not to be Ishmael, but the son of Sarah; and further, that this child should be born very soon. Sarah, who overheard this declaration as she stood within the tent, laughed in her heart, as at a thing impossible to credit. But the Lord heard that silent doubt, and taxed her with it; ending with the unanswerable question—“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Abraham, on a like occasion, had himself laughed, and was not rebuked. But the difference of feeling in this matter between him and his wife, is shown by the circumstance, that he forthwith prostrated himself before the Lord; whereas Sarah, when charged with her laughter, denies that she had laughed at all. The circumstance affords the reason for the name of Isaac, which was given to the son; for the meaning of that name is laughter.

The custom of the East required Abraham to escort his guests a little on their way; and as he proceeds, the Lord makes known to him, that a dreadful visitation impends over Sodom and the other cities of the plain, for their awful iniquities. Abraham avails himself of this previous intimation to plead for these cities. If there had been but the very few righteous persons that he supposed might be found in Sodom, the place would have been spared, at his desire, for their sake; and it had been well for them that they had such an intercessor—how well, then, for us who have always an intercessor at God’s right hand on our behalf! We have heard much about the efficacy of prayer, and many pious minds have been exercised as to the degree in which they may venture to pray in respect of temporal things. But there can be no question with respect to intercession. If any one doubts on that subject, we know no better solution than is to be found in this intercession of Abraham. In the tenderness of his heart, and in his firm conviction that God does not willingly stretch forth his right arm in wrath over a guilty world, he ventures to come with boldness before the throne of grace. Let us take the intended lesson from his example; and come, as we are invited, with boldness before God in prayer, that  we may obtain mercy for ourselves and others, and find grace to help in time of need.

Abraham at first thought it probable there might be sixty righteous men in Sodom, and he prayed that the place might be spared for their sake. This the Lord freely granted. The patriarch then had a misgiving, that there might not be so many, and he ventured, with great humility, to make successive intercessions for the reduction of the number, until at last he thought he had ensured the safety of the place, when the Lord had graciously promised to spare the town, if but ten righteous men were to be found therein. How little do the men of this world know the extent of even their worldly obligations to the righteous? How often has not the Lord spared great cities from plagues, pestilences, famines—from earthquake, fire, and sword, for the sake of the little sanctuary he has therein, among those to whom his Name is dear? They may be passed unregarded by, in the market and in the street; but they are the salt, they are the leaven, that keeps the mass from corruption. They are His own now, and they shall shine forth more eminently His, in the day when he maketh up his jewels; and it is for them that a blessing rests upon the place where iniquity abounds; and it is for their sake that the curse and the ruin are averted from it. In the belief that the duty and privilege of intercession for Sodom to the consideration of the reader. It shows that the Lord is very pitiful and of great mercy; and it demonstrates that intercession has power with him, and can prevail.

Abraham could not have been unmindful of Lot, who was in Sodom. The more the reader thinks of Lot, the more difficult his case seems to us. From all that appears in the history, there was nothing very lovely in his character; for even his being eventually saved, was more for Abraham’s sake than for his own. He appears, from his history, to present to our view a very weak and selfish character. On the return from Egypt, he seems to have taken part with his  herdsmen in their quarrels with those of Abraham; and when at length the latter proposes a separation, for the sake of peace, and leaves him the choice of situation, he has not the grace to decline the generous offer of his elder and uncle; but takes it eagerly, and adopts for his home the fat pastures of Sodom, although he well knows that the men in that quarter were the most wicked in the land. At first he did not intend, however, to mix with the citizens, but to live in his tent. But it is dangerous to palter with duty, or to venture too near the strongholds of sin. Even as the moth careers merrily and thoughtlessly around the flame, and at last is overcome by the fascination, and plunges therein to his ruin—so Lot, ere long, has left his tent, and has got a house in Sodom. There he forms family ties; there his daughters marry, and he gradually gets more and more entangled. So strong is that entanglement, that even his capture, and rescue by Abraham, do not suffice to break the chains which the world has cast around him. He goes back to Sodom, and tarries there; and it would appear, that this was under circumstances which inflicted much pain upon Abraham, and probably offended him greatly. It is else difficult to see how, in looking to the possibility of dying childless, he refused to regard Lot as his heir.

One of Lot’s measures, or suggestions, when the angels who went to destroy Sodom were with him, seems to show that although still a good man, his moral sense had been somewhat weakened by daily intercourse with the ungodly people with whom he had fixed his home; and his reluctance to leave Sodom, and the enormities into which his too easy nature was led, after his escape to the mountains, are facts of the same purport—and speak with trumpet-tongue of the danger of this intercourse with sinners. No good can ever come from such intercourse—in his day or in ours; and let none of us, as he perhaps did, rely too much on his own strength, for who can daily touch pitch without being defiled? If Lot had been altogether right-minded, not the finest pastures of the world, not all the conveniences and apparent  advantages for the settlement of his daughters, which a residence in the town presented, would have induced him to go or to stay there. Rather would he have fled the place—rather would he have plunged at once into the desert. There was nothing to prevent him; for he was not, like his uncle, under any command to remain in the land of Canaan.

For all that appears in the history, we might have strong fears for this man’s state. But St. Peter calls him a just man, and says, that while in Sodom “he vexed his righteous soul, from day to day, with the filthy conversation of the wicked.” This relieves us, by showing that his character was still substantially true. But it does not altogether clear him from these imputations. It shows that he had good feelings and perceptions; but was a feeble-spirited man, lacking the strength to act on his own convictions. He was content to mourn over the guilt he saw; and would rather passively sit down amid the certainties of danger, and the probabilities of judgment, than rouse himself to one great and energetic effort to be free, and, at whatever sacrifice, depart from the abominable and tainted place.
Let us profit from the example, which is less different than it may seem from the experience of many of us. Still there are Sodoms—and still there are Lots who think that, with a religious profession, they may live in the world, and pursue its profits and its pleasures without danger. Let them beware. They are in great peril. If we be indeed God’s people, let us come out of the world, and touch not the unclean thing—remembering that the church of God is not mixed up in the world, and to be left undistinguishable from it; but is indeed—

“A people walled around,
Chosen, and made peculiar ground;
A little spot enclosed by grace
Out of the world’s wide wilderness.”