Read: Genesis 18:22-33; Deuteronomy 32:4; Hebrews 4:14-16
The signs are visible on lawns all over town. They display the names of various roofing companies who will be replacing the roofs that were damaged in the hail storm that struck in early June. This week, after receiving the paperwork from our insurance adjuster, it was time for us to choose a contractor; however, the first step was reading the pages of information that were sent to us. Admittedly, there was quite a bit I didn't understand as we read through the adjuster's assessment. However, one phrase stuck in my mind. The contractor and company who will do the work for us doesn't work for our insurance company; they work for us. That means we choose which jobs our contractor does and does not do. Except for matters of the state codes, we are the ones who make the decisions, and if we use good judgment, this arrangement should work out well.
I wonder. When I come to the Lord, do I sometimes approach Him as if He works for me, forgetting that it is I who has the privilege of serving Him? Oh, I surely wouldn't put it so crassly, but when I forget that I am coming to the All-powerful, All-wise and All-present God, Psalm 139:1-18, it is easy for me to forget He is not to be approached with the posture that I know what is best. He is not a contractor. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16.
With that in mind, let's see how Abraham approached God with his intercession. He is a man who did it right, and the Lord listened to him. In Genesis 18:22-33, we have the honor of listening in as Abraham speaks with the Lord. This patriarch and his wife Sarah had just learned that God Almighty was soon to do a miracle in their lives. Because nothing is too hard for God, Genesis 18:14, this elderly couple would be welcoming a son.
However, after this wondrous news, God told Abraham that judgment would likely come upon Sodom because of their wickedness. We know from the earlier chapters in Genesis that Abraham's nephew Lot lived in Sodom. If judgment came, Lot could suffer along with those whom God knew to be blatantly sinful. It was time to approach the Lord on behalf of Lot.
1. The first thing we see about Abraham is that the Lord let his servant/friend into the loop concerning what He was about to do. If the Lord hadn't given this information to Abraham, the intercession would have never occurred. God wanted His man to know.
Sometimes, our hearts are burdened with all we see and hear. If we know about it, can't we go before God with it? Perhaps it has come to our minds because the Lord wants us to intercede for someone He wants to touch with His love.
2. The second thing to note about Abraham is that He drew near to God. We don't know what Abraham saw at this time, but he wanted to be near the Lord as he talked with Him. Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us to come boldly to God's throne of grace. Boldness and nearness to the Savior is not flippant or careless. It does mean that we, because of Jesus, have a means to approach God with holy confidence. Why? Because, He tells us to come so that we can obtain grace on behalf of ourselves and others when we come before Him. Isn't it comforting to know that Almighty God wants us to approach His throne for help when we or someone we know about needs His unmerited favor in a time of trouble?
3. The third thing we see about Abraham is that he appealed to the Lord according to what he knew about Him, Genesis 18:23-25. He believed God would do what was right and just when He sent judgment; so, he cried out to the Judge of all the earth. He didn't believe that God would sweep away the righteous with the wicked, and no doubt, Abraham was thinking about Lot and his family. Wouldn't there be ten righteous ones, including Lot and his household? No, though there were not even ten, God answered the cry of Abraham's heart. He made a way for Lot and his daughters to escape God's judgment. How blessed we are that we know even more truth about God than Abraham did. Because of Jesus, we have even a deeper knowledge of what the Father is like, John 14:9. It is not presumptuous to come to the Lord and intercede, holding out His promises while asking Him to display His attributes on behalf of those for whom we are interceding.
4. The fourth noteworthy thing we see about Abraham is that he knew how small he was as he interceded before God. He was dust and ashes standing before a King.
Somehow seeing our own weakness, though we often don't like being in that position, makes it sweeter to come before God because in those moments, we know how much we need His help and how big He truly is. Paul reminds us of that fact when he speaks of boasting in his own limitations. His weaknesses highlight God's power, 2Corinthians 12:7-10.
5. The fifth thing we see about Abraham is that his boldness did not result in haughtiness even though it did result in persistence. I have no idea why Abraham started with the number fifty as he spoke with God, but I love how he didn't end with that number. He kept crying out to God, and the Lord kept listening to him. Oh, if only there had been ten righteous ones in Sodom. Judgment would have never occurred. Yet, what a beautiful display of God's grace we see as Abraham cried out to God. God was not angry at Abraham's holy boldness. Abraham never forgot either God's greatness or mercy as he prayed; even so, he also remembered that he wasn't the one in charge.
These words are part of a hymn written by John Newton:
Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much;
None can ever ask too much.