Have We Abandoned Holiness and Righteousness?
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Delivered By
Pastor Ed Dinkins
Delivered On
May 15, 2016
Central Passage
Genesis 18:20-40
Subject
Third Sunday Service
Description

Commentary - Data Source: Genesis 18 Commentary - John Schultz

"Abraham knows the situation in Sodom. He anticipates what the angels will find there and that God will wipe out the place. In his eyes God's judgment is a foregone conclusion. In vs. 23 he presupposes that the wicked will be swept away. His thoughts are immediately with Lot and his family. Although the distances that separated them must only have been a few miles, contact may have been scant or non-existent. He also presupposes that Lot will not be the only righteous person in the city. It turns out that he is wrong about that. His question is: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?" 

Abraham is right in feeling horrified about the coming destruction of the cities. He is wrong in his suspicion that God may not be perfectly righteous in the way He is going to execute judgment. Behind his question is the hidden suggestion that he may be more righteous than God in this. We find the same philosophy behind the cry: "If God is love this would not happen." The problem is, that we have a tendency to confuse our horror about the perdition of man with the content of the wrath of God. We tend to shift the burden of responsibility from man to God as if the sins man commits are actually acts of God. We do not realize how much we degrade man in the process by trying to diminish his responsibility. The above mentioned phrase "If God is love..." was uttered at the end of World War II when the horrors of Auschwitz and other German concentration camps were discovered. Very few people came to the conclusion that God had not done this but man. But just as Job held God responsible for what happened to him, so does modern man and so was Abraham about to do. 

One helpful thought is that our sense of righteousness is derived from God's righteousness. This will help us to understand that we are not more righteous than God. Abraham did come to that conclusion when he said: "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" The very basis of all ethical behavior is at stake here. If God, the Judge of all the earth, would not do right, there would be no difference between good and evil. 

Abraham was deeply shaken and we have to understand that God wanted him to be. The vs.23-32 show that intercession is a progressive discovery of the mind of God. Abraham must have thought that in crediting Sodom with fifty righteous citizens, he was giving them a stingy allotment. He must have understood from the way God answered, that he was beside the mark, so he took away five. But after deducting five people twice, he realizes that the situation was much worse than he anticipated and he takes away ten at the time. Finally, he stops at ten. At the end of the intercessory prayer Abraham goes away with the impression that there are fewer then ten righteous people in Sodom and that God is justified in turning the city upside down. What he did not know was that there was only one righteous person in the whole place and that God would not allow the destruction of the city as long as that one person was still there. In 19:22 the angel says to Lot: "'I cannot do anything until you reach it.'" (That is why the town was called Zoar.)" That Lot was the only person becomes evident from the fact that his wife could not detach herself from the place and from the immoral behavior of his two daughters later on. God's righteousness and compassion is infinitely bigger and greater than ours! "

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