And the men turned their faces from there, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.…
I. THE MARVELLOUS CONDESCENSIONS OF GOD.
1. He has friends among men.
2. He reveals to His friends His plans, His hidden purposes.
(1) Because God had great things in store for him, He would take Abraham into His cabinet council.
(2) Another reason was that Abraham was a wise and faithful parent.
II. GOD TESTS THE WICKEDNESS OF MEN TO SHOW WHETHER OR NOT IT IS RIPE FOR JUDGMENT.
III. THIS NARRATIVE DISCLOSES IMPORTANT TRUTHS CONCERNING, INTERCESSORY PRAYER. The first solemn prayer on record is an intercession, a plea for sparing a wicked city. We see here:
1. The encouragements to intercessory prayer. God made known to Abraham what He was about to do, and thus invited his intercession. He has made known to us the purposes of His government. He has disclosed the issues of sin and holiness. Does He not thus invite us to intercede with Him in behalf of sinful men?
2. We see here the qualifications for intercessory prayer. Power in prayer is in proportion to holiness. The best men are nearest to God, and most powerful in prayer. Faith strengthened his petition. Humility made his approval pleasing to God. Charity enforced his plea. Earnestness characterized his intercession.
3. We see here the grounds for intercessor, y prayer. Abraham did not approach God thoughtlessly, or without good reasons which he was prepared to plead. He urged the value of righteousness. He also urged God's perfect justice as a reason for his petition. God would not destroy the innocent with the guilty. The Almighty is pleased to invite us to urge upon Him reasons for granting our requests, though they are at the beginning perfectly plain to Him. If to these reasons we add also His mercy displayed in the sacrifice of Christ, may not our prayers be irresistible?
IV. WE LEARN THAT THERE ARE LIMITATIONS TO INTERCESSORY PRAYER. Why did not Abraham ask that the judgment be averted from Sodom for the sake of five righteous men? God draws out from him the inanity of his intercessory spirit; and as the suppliant approach up nearer acquaintance with God, he gains a better understanding of the Divine judgments. He is led to a new insight into the condition of Sodom, and the forbearance and justice of God. Abraham appears at first to have been shocked at the destruction with which God threatened Sodom. His justice had not been outraged. His love had not been abused. But intimate communion with God reconciled him to the punishment which God inflicted. The point at which he ceased to plead came sooner than we might have expected. But the failure of his intercession, if he regarded it as a failure, resulted from his ignorance of the depths of sin, and an inadequate conception of the mercy of God. Men are often shocked at God's threatened punishment of the wicked. But the true way to comprehend the meaning of His threats is, not to argue against the justice of God, not to explain away His threatenings, and presume to interpret them in violation of the ordinary laws of language; but go and plead with Him for the lost, and as you approach nearer to Him in the increasing earnestness of petition, you shall gain such clearer insight into His wisdom and mercy as shall content you with His purposes.
(A. E. Dunning.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.