And the men turned their faces from there, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.…
I. THE CERTAIN DESTRUCTION OF THE WICKED; which some people say they cannot believe, because out of harmony with their notions of the character of God. God is determined on the destruction of the cities of the plain, and all their inhabitants; and He gives these reasons (ver. 20) — "The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and their sin is very grievous," or heavy. Observe —
1. The cry was very great. A cry of blood, like that of Abel's from the ground, for vengeance against the murderer (Genesis 4:10). Murder, no doubt, was rife in Sodom; and He who had demanded blood for blood, could not overlook it. A cry of proud defiance against God, as represented in Ezekiel 16:49, 50; and that God knows too well what is due to Himself to disregard. A cry of oppression, injustice, and wrong. The cry of defrauded labourers, which the Apostle James says, "enters into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth" (James 5:4). A cry of cupidity, drunkenness, and revelry, such as went up to Jehovah from those whom He had called to be His people, and to whom "He looked for judgment, but beheld oppression; for righteousness, but beheld a cry" (Isaiah 5:7). And shall we not add, a cry from the vexed spirit of righteous Lot — a cry of filial supplication mingling its music, so agreeable to the ears of a loving Father, with the hoarse discord of angry passions and self-inflicted woes? Doubtless that cry from Lot brought down the Omnipotent avenger; and the accumulated cry from the multitude "which no man could number," of His blood-bought people, who have complained to Him of their treatment from a Satan-ruled world, in every generation since, shall at last bring Him down again, to teach the persecutors that they have persecuted not them but Him (Acts 9:4).
2. Their sin was very grievous, or heavy. Like a black cloud, gathering increased density from accumulated vapours of human wickedness until it becomes so charged with rain, thunder, lightning, and tempest, that it must at length empty itself upon the devoted earth over which it lowers. Thus sin cannot be suffered to press upon God's creation for ever — sooner or later it shall be removed, and all who have their life in it must perish.
3. The signal destruction of Sodom and her kindred cities was resolved on. God is a Sovereign Judge and Ruler. To Him vengeance belongs. "He can create and He destroy." "To Me," says God, "belongeth vengeance and recompense" (Deuteronomy 32:35); and His people are taught to address Him in that character (see Psalm 94:1); and shall we say that "God is unrighteous who taketh vengeance"? (Romans 3:5). The sinner, in fighting against God, is labouring for his own destruction.
II. THE CERTAIN SALVATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
1. If this means those whom God shall find naturally righteous, when He comes to take account of such as shall be saved, then the whole human race must be excluded from its benefits, for never since the day of Adam's fall, was there a man, woman, or child on the earth whom God would or could admit to be righteous in themselves
2. No inspired writer, either of the Old or New Testament, has failed to describe man as a sinner, and far from righteousness.
3. And yet have God's righteous ones, in every generation, had a place and a mission in the earth. God speaks of them as actually existing human beings. The Bible is full of their history, position, character, proceedings, and prospects.
III. THE FORBEARANCE OF GOD TOWARDS THE WICKED, FOR THE SAKE OF THE RIGHTEOUS, Under this head we are called upon to consider —
1. That God has a people whom He calls peculiarly His own, mingled among the mass of dead, ignorant, and ungodly human beings composing what is called the world; just as righteous Lot was placed in Sodom, in the city, but not of it, residing in the midst of its depraved inhabitants, yet not identified with their wicked ways or deeds of darkness, "but rather reproving them." We have a perfect illustration of the external mingling, yet spiritual separation, that exists between Christ's redeemed ones and the subjects of Satan's rule in this world, in the parable of the tares and wheat, supplied by our Lord for the instruction and consolation of His people in their present state. And in referring to the value of intercessory prayer for our beloved country at such a time as this. Abraham pleaded for Lot. He remembered him when God announced to him the overthrow of Sodom, where Lot dwelt.Observe:
1. Lot was dear to the heart of Abraham. He called him his brother (Genesis 13:8; Genesis 14:14); and he probably thought there would have been found at least ten righteous persons in his household, for whose sake Sodom would be spared. Thus our Divine Mediator loves those whom "He is not ashamed to call His brethren " (Hebrews 2:11), and claims for their sake the suspension of Almighty judgment pronounced against an apostate world.
2. Lot had accompanied Abraham out of the land of idolatry into the land of promise. He was, therefore, identified with him in his pilgrimage state, and this formed a link between them, which, notwithstanding their present local separation, rendered them objects of tenderest interest to each other. Thus Jesus included in Himself, on the cross, and at the sepulchre, all that the Father had given to Him. They were crucified with Him, and they are risen with Him (Romans 6:6; Colossians 2:12). Thus they are one with Him, and He is one with them.
3. But the tie between Abraham and Lot had been drawn still closer by the devoted affection exhibited by the former in rescuing his kinsman from the hands of the spoiler. Sodom had been attacked by the confederate kings, taken, and pillaged. Lot and his family were carried away captives, and his property fell into the hands of the conquerors. Abraham pursued the captors, and at great risk to himself succeeded in delivering the objects of his fraternal interest, and all that belonged to them, out of their hands. Our Divine Champion has done more than this. He has sacrificed His precious life to redeem His beloved ones from eternal captivity, and their inheritance from the confiscation of Almighty justice. The link cannot be more close or inseparable that binds them to their Deliverer and their Head.
4. Abraham obtained all that he desired — not impunity for the guilty citizens of Sodom, but safety for righteous Lot. The Lord was merciful to him (Genesis 19:16). "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given me; for they are Thine," and ascribe their salvation from present and eternal evil to the principle of unconditioned grace embodied in that prayer; while feeling satisfied that, as regards God's dealing with nations or individual members of the human family, merely as such, "the Judge of all the earth will do right" (Genesis 18:25).
(S. A. Walker, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.