Abraham's Intercession for Sodom
William Nicholson, 1862
"Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?"
And He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of ten." Genesis 18:32
This language forms a part of Abraham's intercession for Sodom. It is the last condition which he could urge for its preservation. But that condition was not found to exist; therefore its destruction was inevitable. The crimes of Sodom were so notorious, that God destroyed it by fire from Heaven, with other cities, Gomorrah, Zeboim, and Admah, equally as wicked, Genesis 19.
From the intercession of Abraham let us derive instruction:
I.The wickedness of the inhabitants of Sodom and their exposure to destruction, deeply affected the heart of the patriarch. He saw the moral and intellectual powers of man prostrated below the brutes that perish. He knew that such wickedness was hateful to God's Infinite Purity, that the measure of their iniquity was full, that it was a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, not merely as it concerns the body, but also as it concerns the soul.
And similar feelings pervade the minds of all true Christians now. They look at the degenerate and ruined condition of sinners, who are under the curse exposed to everlasting death, etc. etc. Like Abraham, like Christ who wept over Jerusalem, like Paul who mourned on account of the approaching doom of the Jews — they are deeply affected by the sinful state and coming doom of the impenitent and unbelieving.
II.Abraham manifested deep solicitude for the deliverance of Sodom from destruction. He not only saw their danger, but was anxious to avert it. His intercessions imply this. He was a philanthropist, anxious to save them. Probably he thought that the granting of a longer space for repentance, and warnings faithfully given, might be successful in turning their hearts to God.
Just so, Christians long for the salvation of sinners. They not merely feel for them; but are anxious, instrumentally, to save them. The circumstances of sinners are sufficient to justify such solicitude. The soul is defiled condemned the soul is immortal of more value than worlds; it will either partake of the felicities of Heaven — or become the victim of wrath in the gulf of perdition; it must live forever! "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved!" Romans 10:1
III. Abraham's solicitude was combined with fervent and importunate prayer. The account in the context is interesting. He prayed more than once. He wrestled in prayer. He filled his mouth with arguments, etc., that they might be spared.
Christians also by the wretchedness of man, by the state of their unconverted friends, relatives, husbands, wives, parents, or children — must be brought to the throne of grace, to plead with God on their behalf. They must persevere in prayer.
Prayer must be combined with action or the use of appropriate means — to effect the salvation of men. We must warn, advise, teach, and preach Christ — as the sufficient and enriching Savior.
Prayer must be attended with faith and hope. "Perhaps," said Abraham. God is able to effect great things by his word, Spirit, providence, and other agents. Leave the matter with him. Commit your labors into his hands. "All things are possible to him who believes," if his faith is properly grounded, and according with his holy will.
IV.God will favorably regard the prayers of his people. In the case of Abraham, if ten righteous people had been found, Sodom would have been spared — a proof that God will answer prayer.
God loves his people, and will regard their prayers. He is their Almighty Father, and will listen to the cries of his children. For evidence of it, refer to the Divine invitations to pray the numerous promises he has made to hear prayer and the examples of those who have prayed successfully.
V.Saints are the salt of the earth, for whose sakes the judgments of God are often averted. Isaiah 1:9; Matthew 5:13-16. Ten, only ten righteous people, would have preserved Sodom.
It is the piety, the love for souls, the holy action, the fervent prayers, etc., that preserve a people, etc. What would become of Britain, its drunkards, its lascivious, its sensualists, etc. etc., if ten righteous people were not to be found in it?
VI.It is a solemn thing sometimes, when the intercessions of God's people do not prevail. It was so with the inhabitants of Sodom. It will be so with the incorrigible and willfully impenitent, who say, "Depart from me, I desire not the knowledge of your ways!"
1. What encouragement have God's people to pray!
2. Prayer is confined to the present world, and must be done here, or not at all. No prayers for the dead.
3. Learn the value of Christians. Sinners despise them, but God says, "You are the salt of the earth."