Long post alert!!

This morning I taught on the subject of Intercessory Prayer, which is prayer that you offer on behalf of someone other than yourself. Taken from Genesis 18, this lesson centers around Abraham interceding on behalf of the people who lived in a city known as Sodom. Yes, that Sodom.

I can’t think of a more timely lesson, what with millions around America celebrating what they call Pride Month. And while it would be very easy to draw a parallel between ancient Sodom and modern day America, the crux of the lesson is about interceding with God for those who are spiritually lost.

More to the point, do we as Christians love the unsaved (regardless of their sinful lifestyle) enough to intercede on their behalf?

This is THE question, at least as I see it. It has nothing to do with the sin of homosexuality, but it has everything to do with looking past the sin and seeing a person who is lost without Christ in their hearts. That is what Abraham did, and he lived over 2,000 years before Jesus walked upon the earth.

It’s true that Abraham had good reason for interceding on behalf of Sodom. He had family living there, with his nephew Lot, his wife, and daughters making their home in Sodom. So the case can be made for Abraham acting for selfish reasons.

Except that Abraham wasn’t just concerned about his own family. That is why he sought the LORD for mercy. Read along from Genesis 18 to better understand what Abraham said to the LORD.

23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 

24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 

25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26 So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

Abraham did not have 50 family members living in Sodom, yet he was concerned that there just might be that many righteous there that would be destroyed along with the rest of the inhabitants. He then proceeds to bargain with the LORD until he reaches 10 righteous. In effect, he received a guarantee from the LORD that if even 10 righteous were in Sodom, the city would be spared.

What this story tell us is that Abraham could have asked the LORD to destroy Sodom for their wickedness. After all, Abraham was a friend of God. He was on a first name basis with the Almighty! Instead, he asked for mercy for those that were lost. What we see here is the heart of Abraham.

He didn’t want vengeance. He didn’t ask for Sodom to be punished. He asked for Sodom to be spared. In other words, Abraham interceded with God for compassion to be extended to Sodom. You see, there was a lot more going on in Sodom than what most of us realize!

Like most of you, I was taught that the reason God rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah was because of the sin of homosexuality. Truth is, that’s only partly correct. Surprised? Shocked? Disillusioned? Angry? Well don’t be, because I’m going to show you something from God’s word to back up my statement that there was a whole lot more going on there than homosexuality.

If we look at Ezekiel chapter 16, we find that the LORD is speaking through his servant Ezekiel to the people of Jerusalem. He is reading them the equivalent of the riot act. After reminding them (again!) of all He had done for them, God calls them harlots, whores, and an abomination. Tough words, wouldn’t you say?

God then compares them to, yes, you guessed it, Sodom! Read along with me beginning with 16:46:

46 And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters.

47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.

48 As I live, saith the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.

49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

God just told the inhabitants of Jerusalem that they were more corrupt than Sodom was! Please look again at verse 49, for these are the sins of Sodom that led to her destruction:

Pride…they had enough to eat that they no longer depended upon God…idleness…neglecting the poor and needy. Did you see anything there about homosexuality or sexual perversion?

So, am I saying that homosexuality is not a sin? No, I am not saying that at all. Of course it is sin. Just as adultery, murder, stealing, cursing, drunkenness, and a host of other things are considered sin according to God’s word.

People, meaning you and me, and most especially those of us in the Church, are apt to categorize sin. That is not a “God thing”, that is a man thing. We are the ones who have decided that certain sins should be ranked higher than others. According to Jesus, there is only one sin that is unforgivable, or at the very top of the list. That would be the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. ALL others are forgivable!

Getting back to Abraham, he certainly knew that Sodom was a vile and wicked city. He knew there was rampant homosexuality in the midst. But he also knew that there were a host of other sins being committed there. That is why he interceded for them, because he knew they were altogether lost in sin.

The lesson for all of us here is simple: is our heart motivated by love or vengeance? Do we want to see sinners saved or punished? Are we vessels of mercy or condemnation?

I know which I aspire to be. The God that spared me from the Hell I deserved is still saving today, and I want to have a hand in that. I’ll leave sorting it all out to Him, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over these many decades of following the Lord, it is that I am not worthy to pronounce judgment on anyone.

Have a blessed day!