The Dog Returns We made through the tough sections of Genesis 19. We saw some things that are disturbing and make us uncomfortable, but that’s the Bible. Hopefully, you also saw that chapter 19 is a bold statement on sin and sexuality. The fall of Sodom and Gomorrah and the disgrace of Lot stand as a condemning statement against humanity.
And we have seen a split, a contrast between Abraham and Lot. These two men, both righteous according to God’s word, have taken two different paths. Lot had chosen to live in a place surrounded by evil and he paid the consequences. Abraham, on the other hand, has chosen to walk before the Lord. Now, as we have seen, he is not a perfect human being. He is a hero of the faith, but all of the heroes are real people, that struggled with real temptations, and, on occasion, they stumbled. It doesn’t mean that they weren’t a child of God. It doesn’t mean they lost their salvation. It just means that they hadn’t arrived yet. Like Paul says in Philippians he was not perfect but he was pressing on to make perfection and the resurrection from the dead his.
Genesis 20 through 23 contain some of the struggles that Abraham has as he tries to live before God. Some of the struggles are outside of his control. Some of the struggles come from God’s direct command. And some of the struggles, like the one we’ll see today come from Abraham’s own doing. Even though we see Abraham riding the rollercoaster of faith, God shows himself in this narrative as one that is always faithful. He has made a covenant and he will see it fulfilled. And even though what Abraham does deserve punishment, God shows himself merciful and withholds punishment and graciously give Abraham blessings.
I’ve chosen to break the passage down into four parts for you. In verses 1 and 2 we find Abraham deceiving Abimelech and we’ll talk about how we are repeat offenders before God. In verses 3 through 7, we have the appearance of the Lord to Abimelech in a dream, which reminds us that God intervenes on our behalf. Third, Abraham is confronted by Abimelech and we see the uncomfortable but welcome truth that God mercifully exposes our sin. Finally, we’ll see the intervention of Abraham for Abimelech and we’ll marvel at how God graciously uses us. www.lvchurch.org
Back in chapter 18, we saw God revealing his plan to Abraham to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great sin and wickedness. Abraham through the leading of God prayed for the wicked cities. Abraham began to fulfill the promise that he would be a blessing to the nations. He stands as a type of Christ as he intercedes on behalf of the people who are completely lost in their sin and have sunk to a debased mind. He pleaded for mercy if there were as few as 10 righteous people in the city.
In chapter 19, we witnessed a graphic example of the sin that the cities were involved in. The actions of the men of the city were just one sin amongst a sea of sins that demonstrated to us that God does not bring his judgment arbitrarily. God is a just judge and only brings judgment upon those who deserve it. Sodom would stand as an eternal symbol of God’s eternal judgment against sin. Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Zephaniah, Paul, Jude, and John all use Sodom as a standard of depravity and an example of judgment. This is why this story has been recorded for us in Scripture. It was a warning to all those that reject God, reject Jesus, that a worse destiny awaits.
Now we come to the end of Genesis chapter 19 and another disturbing passage. Most pastors these days have resorted to preaching topically random passages of Scripture. Some do this out of the fear of man because they want to please the people. Some do it out of ignorance because they do not know how to handle the text. Others will never preach from this passage because it doesn’t fit their “vision” or agenda. Other preachers skip this topic because they don’t think their people can handle it. You will never hear them preach on this passage. I read that even some bible commentators have skipped over this section. This is one of the beauties and the difficulties of preaching expositionally through a book of the Bible. We are forced to look at and consider some things that we would otherwise skip over. Yet, this is the word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness. Rest assured if you learn from this lesson you will be closer to being complete, equipped for every good work.
This passage breaks down into three main parts. First is the setting of this story in verse 30 where we will consider the messes we make. The second section is verses 31-35 where we read the story of Lot and his daughters play out and we’ll consider how we open the door for sin. Finally, in verses 36 -38 we see the commentary on the story and we’ll think about how we, through this story, are instructed and encouraged.
Over the past several weeks we’ve been looking into this appearance of the Lord to Abraham. It started with God changing Abraham’s and Sarah’s names. God gave Abraham the sign of circumcision to strengthen his faith. Then God gave Abraham the promise that in a year he would have a child from Sarah.
In chapter 18, a little time has passed and the Lord appears to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre. The Lord repeats that in a year’s time Sarah would have a baby. By now, Abraham is believing. He is trusting in God’s promises and his plan to bring about the promise but, Sarah has an issue. She’s not quite there yet. And so God challenges her. He confronts her doubt. He instructs her.
God then turned to Abraham and tells him that he is going to let him in on his plan. God tells him he’s going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because their sin is so great. Abraham follows the lead, the prompting of God and intercedes for the wicked. Abraham begins to fulfill the promise that he would be the blessing to the nations. He prays according to God’s great mercy that God would spare the cities if 10 righteous persons were living there. Of course, God would spare if there were ten. The problem is, as we will see today, there weren’t 10 righteous. But Abraham was correct in his intercession.
And so that brings us to chapter 19. I hadn’t planned on preaching about Sodom and Gomorrah right before Christmas. It’s not a typical advent text. But as I began to think about it and talk with the elders, the idea began to grow on us, on me. John 1:4-5 came to mind. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” As I said last week, there is a contrast made by God here. The light of new life, the promised child of the covenant, is contrasted to the death and depravity found in the city of Man. Though the darkness is great and is widespread the light shall not be overcome.
As we think about chapter 19, I want to point out three things about God that are on display. In verses 1-14 we find that God is merciful and just. In verses 15-22 we see God as a savior. And finally, in 23-29, we find that God is the perfect judge.
The chapter before us breaks down into two main scenes. In the first we find the promise and the struggle to believe in verses 1 -15. We have already seen God giving Abraham assurances of the promises and bolstering his faith and here we find God doing the same for Sarah. Then in the second scene we find the plan and the intercession. God has a plan, which included Abraham and his prayers for the lost.
Abraham is a normal man and his faith ebbs and flows depending on the situation he finds himself. His desire is to grow in the faith and to be pleasing to the Lord but he still struggles. His view of God is still too small. But here in chapter 17, and specifically the section we are looking at today, God is trying to expand Abraham’s view. Abraham’s view of God is still too small. It needs to grow and keep growing.
You see, people often see a stark division between the Old and New Testament. Some will suggest that there is a God of the Old and a different God in the New. They see very little continuity between the Testaments or the way that God acts. But we as Christians know that this is not the case. There is one covenant-making God. He might have made different covenants at different times and set different terms, but he is the same God.
As you read through chapter 17, there is one phrase that is repeated over and over by God. It is, “I will.” God says “I will” twelve times in this passage. In the paragraph we have before us we have five instances of “I will”. Along with these, “I will” statements are several “shall” statements. Do you kind of get the feeling of what is happening here?
And now we arrive again at one of those moments in Abram’s life where his feet almost slip. And why? It’s not because his enemies are gathering around him. It’s not because he is an enemy of God. It’s because of his own doing. Let’s look at what happens and as we do I want to ask four questions. Do we trust enough? Who is good? Does God care? Can we wait?
Why do we fear and why is it that when God speaks in the Old Testament or Jesus in the New, many times the first phrase is, “fear not,”? Let’s look at Abram here and see if we can’t find answers to those questions and maybe we’ll find a cure for our fear.
Many of the stories we read in Genesis are about the choices humans make. God providentially brings about a crossroads and those involved have to decide which way they will take. Will they follow God and goodness or will they choose their own path and evil?