Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sweet Mercy

Abraham and Sarah living a life of faith in an area of depravity. Sodom is filled with evil. Sin prevails throughout this land, but Abraham and Sarah are living the example of faith in a place where hope seems sparse. But here is Abraham seeking mercy on the righteous of this land. There must be righteous men here. Oh, the hope of Abraham for his fellow man. He's willing to intercede for them. He's willing to stand before the Lord and ask for mercy for a people who chose to seek self desire instead of the God of hope. 

In Genesis 18 I find God's mercy throughout this chapter. Here we see the intercession of one man asking for mercy for the hearts of man. Man that is so undeserving. Abraham is speaking to the Lord on behalf of the people of Sodom. Abraham's heart is mighty here. Where is our heart for this lost world? How often do we go to the Lord on behalf of another asking for mercy upon them? 

To start this chapter we see something remarkable. Abraham and Sarah are called on by the Lord and two angels. I am still trying to wrap my mind around our Lord visiting Abraham, but then my ways and understanding are not God's. His ways are higher and that only makes me walk in faith all the more. Try to envision this meeting with me. Our Lord is extraordinary! 

It reminds me of scripture telling us to be hospitable to all for we never know if we shall entertain angels. {Hebrews 13:2} A reminder that we must live always as if it is possible. For what we do unto others we in turn do to our Savior. A little love goes a long way. From a little love comes much love. Love has the power to grow. 

Abraham and the Lord are talking about Sodom. The Lord is looking toward Sodom and Abraham stands before the Lord. He comes near the Lord and says, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" {Genesis 18:23-25} Look at the boldness of Abraham. In his boldness he isn't disrespectful to the Lord, but being honest and pure in heart. "So the Lord said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes." {Genesis 18:26} Grace. Sweet grace. 

But their conversation goes deeper. But isn't that grace? It's deep and wide. This is what I love about this chapter. Our Lord is listening to Abraham. He is hearing his heart. Abraham is interceding for others. He has a great hope that righteous shall be found by the Lord. Abraham much like us finds it hard to believe that there cannot be any righteous found among the evil surrounding them. Can people truly be so evil? That's a question we have all asked.  Abraham is standing in the gap. This is what our Lord would later do for us. 

In their conversation they go from a hope of fifty, to forty-five, to forty, to thirty, to twenty, and then to ten. "Then he said, "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." So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place." {Genesis 18:32-33} 

Abraham knows the city. He knows of the sin. But yet his heart is pouring out before his Lord. He's wanting the Lord to save the righteous among the evil. Our Lord too knows, but He is willing to listen to the heart of Abraham plead on behalf for others. Abraham knew God cared about the righteous there. See, Lot and his family should have died there among the others, but by the mercy of God, He saved them. Not even ten righteous people could be found there in Sodom. God showed mighty grace. God wants to see all men saved. He doesn't want any to perish. This land was out of control and the evil was growing. 

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to e saved and to come tot he knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." 1 Timothy 2:1-6

Oh, the power of one man's prayer. Just think if we all came together and prayed for others with the deep passion that Abraham walked. He didn't just talk the talk. He walked the walk. We see his great faith and it is a mighty example to us in our walk today. 

For us to intercede on behalf of others is a powerful testimony of our love of Jesus. The cross isn't just for a few, but for all. We are all sinners in need of grace.

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

We complain a lot, don't we? We hate seeing evil around us, but what are we really doing to stop it? We watch the news and see what's happening around us. We shake our head in disgust. Wish we lived somewhere else. Abraham could have said, "Lord, do what you want. Destroy the whole lot of them." If we are not careful we can grow that non-caring attitude. If it doesn't land on our doorstep then it's not our concern. Friends, our fellow man is our concern. Our hearts should be broken for the lost. 

What if we prayed for our country? For our leaders? For those campaigning for president? Just what if we interceded on their behalf? We worship the God of hope. Shouldn't we be living as with the same hope that Abraham chose? We don't have to pretend we are not living in end times. More than ever we should be praying for the hearts of man to come to know the Jesus we know. We are sojourners in a land that is not our home. 

We don't see Abraham complaining about his fellow man living in this land. He is walking with hope and a desire for God to reach the heart of man. We don't just see Abraham's faith. We see his works as he desired for his fellow man to be saved from the wretched destruction of the evil that prevailed. We see his heart as he goes before the Lord. Abraham was a man of great faith that followed God in obedience which is the action of faith. Let us look to him as our example and follow in his steps and intercede for others to be saved from this world and accept their inheritance in heaven. Our gift of eternal life from the One who interceded for us all. 

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Hebrews 11:8-10

May we who are in such need of mercy have mercy upon others. We are all undeserving of His mercy, but oh, how His mercies are new each day. Let us take a stand against evil, but let us never stop praying for the heart of man to come to know the King of kings. Let our lives be a lighthouse for the One who showed mercy upon us that we may be an example of great faith and love just as Abraham.

"It is mercy, not justice or courage or even heroism, that alone can defeat evil." Tolkien

"Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn't mercy." Timothy Keller

"I used to think that mercy meant sharing kindness to someone who didn't deserve it, as if only the recipient defined the act. The girl between has learned that mercy is defined by its giver. Our flaws are obvious, yet we are loved ad able to love, if we choose, because there is that bit of the divine still smoldering in us." from The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

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