How do we continue to trust God when His will is in opposition to our dearly held desires and expectations? Abraham was faced with exactly this question when he pleaded with God on behalf of the city of Sodom.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again as we have this study on the life of Abraham, “Strength for the Journey.” Today, we’re going to talk about Abraham’s prayer. Now, I need to tell you that if you are following along in your Bible, we’re actually skipping chapter 17. And the reason is because it has a reiteration of the covenant, circumcision, and once again, the promise that Isaac is going to be born. But it’s actually here in chapter 18 where we have a fascinating story. What happens is, three men show up at Abraham’s tent and Abraham recognizes that they are very special. So he has a meal prepared for them and all those things and one of them says, “Next year at this time, I’m going to visit Sarah and she’s going to have a son and Sarah overhears it in the tent and laughs. And then, this person, who actually turns out to be Jesus Christ, that’s very evident, (it’s another theophany) this person says, “why did you laugh, Sarah?” She said, “I didn’t laugh.” Actually the Bible says she denied that she laughed. And then the Angel says this, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” Think about that today in your circumstance.
But now the tension heightens. What happens is these men take Abraham and they show him the city of Sodom. And they say, “Should we hide from Abraham what we’re going to do?” And Abraham knows exactly what’s coming, namely, that Sodom is going to be judged. So Abraham begins to pray and Abraham says, “Oh Lord, if there are fifty righteous will you still destroy Sodom?” God “No, if there’s fifty, I won’t destroy Sodom.” “God, what about forty-five?” “No, if there are forty-five, I won’t destroy it.” “What about forty?” “No, I won’t destroy it if there are forty.” “Oh” Abraham says, “Don’t be upset with me, but what about thirty? If there are thirty righteous will you destroy it?” “No, not if they are thirty righteous.” “Oh, be patient with me. If there are only twenty?” God says, “If there are twenty, I won’t destroy it.” Finally, Abraham—and you have to read the text here to just catch the emotion—says, “Oh. Again, this is the last time, if there are ten righteous, will you destroy it? And the Lord says, “No, if there are ten righteous, I won’t.” And that ends it. They leave. Abraham goes back to his tent and I can imagine that night he’s talking to Sarah and he says, “you know Sarah, my intercession spared Sodom and that means Lot is not going to be judged.” And she says, probably, “Oh Abraham, you are such a giant of the faith.” Well, isn’t that interesting? You turn to the next chapter and you read in verse 27, Abraham awoke in the morning and Sodom was burning. Sulfur and smoke and everything. The simple fact is: there weren’t ten righteous in the city. He had thought for sure—“Well, there’s Lot, his wife, he’s got two daughters. You know, there’s some friends of there’s.” No, there were not ten righteous. God kept His promise. There were only four righteous.
One of the things that we have to learn is this, that God sometimes answers our prayer, but the answer is disguised. Sometimes the answer is denied. We’ll look at this next time. Sometimes it is delayed and sometimes it is disguised. Abraham is going to get exactly what he wanted. Lot is going to be rescued. Lot is not going to be a part of the judgment, but there was no way that Abraham realized how God was going to fulfill his prayer. In other words, God saw his heart, even though God had a very different plan as to how Abraham’s “heart cry” would be answered. Lot is rescued and what a story. That’s why you definitely will want to join us next time as we talk about that and speak about the lessons to be learned from Genesis chapter 19. So glad that you joined us today. Join us again next time. Call your friends; tell them to join us and as for today just go with God.