Questioning a Sovereign God
Read Genesis 18:16 – 19:29 ~ Focusing on 18:22 – 26, ESV
Last week, our study focused on Abraham and the visitation of three messengers. As we continue in our study of the life and person of Abraham, let us reflect on the nature of God’s sovereignty.
So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
One of the most common objectives toward the Judeo-Christian faith is that of human suffering and the lack of Divine intervention. The question is based on the idea of God’s lack of compassion, mercy, and justice. Even as Christians, we tend to question the Sovereign God for our own suffering. Abraham was no different that us. He questioned God’s justice and intervention. Abraham bargained with the Divine Sovereign Creator.
Abraham was chosen by God (Genesis 18:19). This choosing of Abraham came with the instruction that he will instruct his household in the way of the Lord because Abraham was righteous. This blessing, and covenant between the Divine and Abraham, included blessings and protections. The only requirement came through obedience to God’s words and commandments.
Matthew Henry’s commentary shares this insight:
Abraham must know, for he will teach his household: I know Abraham very well, that he will command his children and his household after him, v. 19. Consider this, [1.] As a very bright part of Abraham’s character and example. He not only prayed with his family, but he taught them as a man of knowledge, nay, he commanded them as a man in authority, and was prophet and king, as well as priest, in his own house. Observe, First, God having made the covenant with him and his seed, and his household being circumcised pursuant to that, he was very careful to teach and rule them well. Those that expect family blessings must make conscience of family duty. If our children be the Lord’s, they must be nursed for him; if they wear his livery, they must be trained up in his work. Secondly, Abraham took care not only of his children, but of his household; his servants were catechized servants. Masters of families should instruct and inspect the manners of all under their roof. The poorest servants have precious souls that must be looked after. Thirdly, Abraham made it his care and business to promote practical religion in his family. He did not fill their heads with matters of nice speculation, or doubtful disputation; but he taught them to keep the way of the Lord, and to do judgment and justice, that is, to be serious and devout in the worship of God and to be honest in their dealings with all men. Fourthly, Abraham, herein, had an eye to posterity, and was in care not only that his household with him, but that his household after him, should keep the way of the Lord, that religion might flourish in his family when he was in his grave. Fifthly, His doing this was the fulfilling of the conditions of the promises which God had made him. Those only can expect the benefit of the promises that make conscience of their duty. [2.] As the reason why God would make known to him his purpose concerning Sodom, because he was communicative of his knowledge, and improved it for the benefit of those that were under his charge. Note, To him that hath shall be given, Matt. xiii. 12; xxv. 29. Those that make a good use of their knowledge shall know more.
We know that in Genesis 14, Abraham had defeated those kings, and now, he stands before God. His concern is over the welfare of those righteous men and women who may also fall to the coming judgment. This is important as there are some eschatology teachings that help us understand our time.
Abraham communed with the Sovereign God through his own assurance of faith. Drawing near denotes a sense of intimate knowledge and relationship. His heart reflected the holy nature and character of God. Abraham intercedes on behalf of Sodom. Do we intercede with assurance of faith, having intimate knowledge and relationship of God?
Abraham brings to action his faith in the mercy, justice, and compassion of God. The righteousness of God’s laws, and the emblem of the covenant made between the Divine and Abraham. He pleads with the Lord in holiness, assurance, and hope that the righteous may not suffer under the same calamity and condemnation of those who are wicked. In a way, this is a reflection of a prayer between man and God.
Tragedies and injustices abound in our society today. They may cause us to question, and sometimes, God’s purpose. We may have experienced, or are now experiencing, some travesty in our own lives where we bargain with God. Looking to Abraham as a man like unto us, what are we to learn from his relationship with God?