Abraham the interceding priest
The interceding priest
The Bible presented
Call to worship
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. (Psalm 100:1-2)
Prayer of Adoration and Invocation
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. (Galatians 1:3-4)
Hymn: “I thank You, Lord”
Scripture Reading 1 Timothy 2:1-7
Prayer: Confession of sins
Declaration of pardoning
You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. (Psalm 85:2)
Hymn No 377: “Come to the Saviour”
Offering and Dedication
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. (Malachi 3:10)
Remaining seated, all sing:
Hymn no 365: “We give You but your own” (Tune: 276 ‘Trentham’)
Prayer for others
Scripture Reading Genesis 18:16-33
Sermon “Abraham the interceding priest”
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Our study of Abraham towards the end of last year took us to the amazing grace of God displayed in the life of Abraham. Over the life of Abraham we write in big letters: The Lord provides.
Chapter 14 of Genesis describes something of the more difficult times for Abraham. He was at war with the surrounding kings, but by God’s grace he had victory. In this episode we find in essence something of the life of Jesus Christ who would come to destroy all enemies. But we also found something of the church: in Abraham the church today does not escape troubled times; in fact, we are called to war against the evil powers of this ages, and in the power of the victorious Saviour, have victory for his sake.
The work and life of Jesus can be seen in his person as the King, the Prophet and the Priest. Because He was prophet, priest and king He also give us, as church, but also as individuals, the task to be prophets, priest and kings.
Tonight we will look at our task as priests, as we see it in the life and example of Abraham, but fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
8 The Lord reveals his plan to Abraham
The Lord deliberates—Shall I hide from Abraham? (17,18)
So far, Abraham has no clue why God has come down. But last time He did that, He disappeared out of Abraham’s sight right after the announcement (17:22). This time He stays. Clearly He has come on another mission as well.
In this chapter we find something wonderful. God reveals Himself in human terms so that we can understand something of what is happening behind the scenes. The Bible tells us that God actually wonders to Himself should I keep my plans a secret from Abraham?
God is wondering whether He ought to invite Abraham to sit in on the divine council. God also revealed this counsel to Noah, telling him to build an ark since the world was about to be destroyed.
But, amazingly, God is not just wondering whether it would be appropriate to let Abraham sit in on this council. The sovereign Lord whom no one can coerce thinks, grants Abraham the privilege to know what He was about to do.
8 After all, Abraham will become a great and mighty nation (18a). And even more significant, all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him (18b). God is about to destroy a nation from off the face of the earth. Sodom will be no more. Should He not first allow Abraham the chance to bless this nation since blessing the nations is his destiny?
We know that ultimately, Abraham’s blessing the nations is fulfilled in Christ. In Christ all the families of the earth are blessed for they are gathered from every nation, tribe, and tongue to bless the Lamb who blessed them, interceding on their behalf, dying that they might live.
Should not the ancestor of Christ, Abraham, a believer in the promised seed, be allowed to imitate his Saviour by making intercession? Thus Abraham’s action will be a picture of Christ’s as well as a cry for Christ who will more effectively intercede than Abraham could.
The Lord decides — No. I’ve chosen him for a purpose (19). I have known him, that is, I have chosen him to carry out my purposes. I have been intimate with him; he is my friend. I have loved him. I have pledged myself to him to be his God, that he may command children and household to do righteousness and justice.
8 What God is about to do in Sodom will become a cautionary tale for all time. Abraham will tell it to his children. The Israelites will tell it to theirs; Moses will warn the children of Israel of the dangers of disobedience using Sodom as his example; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Zephaniah — these prophets will all point to Sodom as the example of God’s judgment on the wicked to turn the ungodly to the fear of the Lord and remind the faithful of the wrath they have escaped by God’s grace and mercy. Peter, over 2000 years later, will tell it to us — 2 Pet 2:4-9 —
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly; 6 and if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example of what is coming to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds that he saw and heard), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment
But unless God tells Abraham why he’s destroying Sodom, how will Abraham know? If he just looks southeast one day and sees smoke rising up from a destroy Sodom, will he know it is God’s judgment?
After all, hadn’t Chedorlaomer and the other kings come and overrun Sodom once? And how had Abraham reacted? By seeing them as the instrument of God’s judgment? No. Rather he saw himself as the instrument of God’s vengeance on Chedorlaomer. He restored the goods and people that the king of Sodom has lost.
The area was prone to volcanos and earthquakes in any event. How would Abraham know that this natural disaster had a supernatural intent of judging the city for its wickedness? If Abraham is to be able to instruct his children concerning this event, the Lord must first instruct him.
The Lord reveals — I am considering destroying Sodom (20,21)
8 The Lord wants Abraham to respond (22)
God does not immediately disappear. In the past, when God had said his piece, he had vanished out of sight. There was nothing left for Abraham to do but trust and obey
Now the Lord waits for a response. Amazingly, He has not just let Abraham listen to the divine council. He has given Abraham a seat on it.
God wants someone to mediate, to intercede for Sodom
He wants someone who also partakes of flesh and blood, someone who knows the weakness of men and can sympathize, to plead with him on their behalf. He has appointed Abraham to that task, that Sodom might not die without a defense attorney.
Here the shadow of Christ emerges
Abraham intercedes for Sodom (22-33)
God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked
Abraham wastes no time pleading his client’s innocence. Sodom is guilty and he knows it. But if he is to teach his children and his household justice, he must understand what justice is. Is it just to destroy the righteous with the wicked? Abraham even poses an answer "Far be it from you…. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (25)
Did God not plunge the whole race into sin and misery because of the sin of one man, Adam? And didn’t Noah curse the entire line of Canaan because of the sin of one man, Canaan’s father Shem? Hasn’t God established this principle that one sinner outweighs much good? He’ll use this principle again with Israel if you recall. When they conquer Jericho, Achan will hold back some of the silver — silver that God had said belonged to the treasury of the Lord. What is the result? The whole nation is defeated in battle. Because of one man’s sin
8 Abraham pleads before God to turn his principle upside down: Not, the presence of sinners pollutes the city, but, the presence of the righteous makes it clean. How many righteous do you need? What if there are 50 righteous? (a strong minority). Abraham stops at 10, but the point has been made. God cannot destroy the righteous along with the wicked and be just. If he finds only 8 — say Lot and his family — He can’t simply destroy them because they live in a bad neighbourhood.
The testimony against Sodom will be the testimony of Scripture against all mankind "There is none righteous. Not even one."
8 Abraham braves the wrath of God
27 — I, who am but dust and ashes; 30 — Let the Lord not be angry; 31 — Indeed, now I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord; 32 — Let the Lord not be angry
Again, like Christ, who not only risked but endured God’s wrath
A. the need for a righteous representative
B. God cannot in justice withhold his wrath forever. God cannot destroy the righteous with the wicked, neither can He withhold justice from the wicked forever.
C. Now we find the tension solved in Christ: He intercedes for us, by being the true Mediator.
Hymn No 335: “Saviour, again to your dear Name”
The Lord’s Prayer
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)