Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Year through the Bible... A Heart Like Abraham's.

As I read through the Bible over the next year, I am sure I will find many new nuggets of information. I think some of those nuggets will be perfect and understanding the first reading, and some will be challenging and require further study. In either case, as I work through those nuggets, I will share some of them here, so that you can A) Hold me accountable to my goal, B) Add your thoughts/comments and C) Learn something new with me.

I was reading through Genesis 18 this morning and I came across a section that I had read before, but I questioned it this morning the same way I questioned it last time. I decided to spend a little time this afternoon studying it, so I could better understand it. I thought I would share with you what I found.

If you read Genesis 18:22-33, Abraham has a discussion with the Lord. In this discussion, Abraham asks the Lord about his plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham questions the Lord about the righteous. In a back and forth conversation, Abraham asks what the Lord would do if 50...45...40...30...20...10 righteous people were found among those living in Sodom, would the Lord spare them. In each case, the Lord replied that he would save the entire city for the sake of the righteous.

Why did Abraham engage the Lord in this way? I never understood that conversation, actually I never gave it further thought in the past. I pulled out my Logos Bible Software this evening and began studying some of the commentaries and books that I have in my digital library, in hopes of trying to understand what I should gleam out of this conversation.

I am sure I have not mastered this topic, nor do I claim to have "solved" the text. I just wanted to share with you some thoughts, out loud, that I walked away with.

Abraham had to have known that he couldn't change God's mind. Abraham had been close enough to God to understand God makes decisions from a Godly view point. Yet, Abraham was willing to, through humility, intercede on behalf of an entire people. The same people he had just rescued and returned to their land.

Perhaps Abraham was merely trying to determine how great God's mercy was. Although we are only 18 chapters into Genesis, we have already experienced God's mercy on more than one occasion. The Lord could have destroyed man-kind when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge. The Lord could have destroyed man-kind with the flood. In each case, the Lord was merciful and allowed man-kind to continue, knowing that man would betray Him again.

The Lord knew there were no righteous people in Sodom. Why did he allow Abraham to speak (pray) with Him in this way? I believe that the Lord was speaking to Abraham through this, so that Abraham's mind could be changed. If the Lord had not engaged Abraham and went and destroyed Sodom, perhaps Abraham would have questioned the Lord's decision. I think Abraham thought there were some righteous people in Sodom. Abraham may have thought that the Lord did not care about the righteous and destroyed them along with the unrighteous. However, since he spoke with the Lord, Abraham knew there were no righteous people in Sodom when he saw the smoke the next morning. Leaving no doubt in Abraham's mind as to what the Lord's actions were.

I think sometimes in life we take things to God for prayer, and we either don't hear an answer or are disappointed in the answer. I think that is because we do not give God a chance to share with us things from a Godly perspective. We are not open to answers that are outside of our box. The Lord will speak to us daily through his Word if we are reading, and can direct/change our minds if we are open to it.

Lastly, Abraham had a great heart for the people. I believe down deep, Abraham had some idea that the people (or at least some of them) of Sodom were far from God. Yet, he had such a heart for the lost; and to not see any of them punished that he was willing to go humbly before the Lord to intercede on their behalf. I have a relationship with Christ today, because someone had a heart for the lost so much, that they shared the Love of Christ with me.

I pray that my heart can grow to be like Abraham's...even to love a people who choose to be far from God!

What do you think?

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