Scripture Focus: … but Abraham still stood before the Lord. And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?”(Genesis 18:22-23)
Genesis 18-19 recounts the first example of powerful intercession in the Bible. Abraham is visited by three “men” – the Lord and two angels. He offers them hospitality, after which the angels depart for Sodom. The Lord then discloses His plan to destroy the city because of its wickedness, and Abraham enters into impassioned dialogue with the Lord, interceding for Sodom with increasing fervor and daring faith. Two specific scenes follow that characterize the nature of true intercessory prayer: the intercessor’s strength and security.
The intercessor’s strength is in his freedom to bring his heartfelt requests to a sovereign God. Note that God never rebukes audacious faith. “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?” Abraham then begins to plead with God. “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous…? Far be it from You to do such a thing…. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:17, 23-25). When the Lord agrees to 50, Abraham’s pleas get bolder.
Here is true freedom. The foundation of all intercessory strength is the belief that God will always do what is right. There was no way Abraham could fail, unless he stopped praying. What a grand lesson this is for each of us! The intercessor’s key strength is not in winning, but in participating with the God who always wins, regardless of what the results look like to us.
The intercessor’s security is in knowing God’s heart. Although Abraham posed a query, his security lay in his genuine belief and deep conviction that God would always do what was “right” by His own standard of wisdom. We must, then, conclude that the rescue of Lot and his family was part of God’s plan from the start. It was based on God’s foreordained overall purpose, with Abraham’s intercession being the means of His doing so. The angels’ assignment undoubtedly included giving an ‘all clear’ when Lot was safe, because one said to him, “Hurry, escape there (to Zoar). For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” (Genesis19:22, emphasis added) God’s judgment was placed on “hold,” and an angel on assignment was stopped in his tracks until Lot obeyed the order to leave.
These amazing scenes represent God’s immense mercy even amidst judgment. We see God willing to wait, as justice is tempered by intercession. This gives intercessors great hope, knowing that in the midst of certain judgment, God was still willing to listen. Wickedness positioned Sodom for destruction, yet a loving God still dispensed mercy.
Unless otherwise noted, authorship of this devotional series is shared by the IFA staff.
In your time of personal worship and intercession today:
- Take comfort from this account that our Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy (Psalm 103:8). Praise Him that He is sovereign and almighty, and invites His people to reason together with Him. (Isaiah 1:18)
- In your prayer journal, list ways that God has been patient with you. Do you rest in His lovingkindness and the surety of His righteous judgments?
- Repent for times you have doubted His mercy and righteousness, or the ways that you have doubted His listening ear. Do you approach Him with gratitude and wonder because He commands His angels concerning the affairs of men? Are you able to acknowledge that He is a loving Father who will always judge righteously as He upholds His purpose in every life? Give thanks that we should be called the children of God! (1 John 3:1)
- Approach God with boldness today on behalf of our nation, knowing that He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)