Rogate, The Fifth Sunday after Easter May 9, 1999
And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place. Here ends our text.
In the Name of our Risen Lord Jesus, Who bids us come to Him in prayer, Dear Fellow Redeemed,
Hark back to your high school physics and see if you can recall the definition of a lever. Do you remember? It’s one of the five simple machines. A lever is “a bar resting on a fulcrum; it overcomes resistance on one end when pressure is applied to the other.” Leverage is the mechanical advantage you gain when the fulcrum is moved closer to the object you want to move. Leverage is what allows you to move a rock twice your own weight with a pry bar, or pull a nail out of a 2x4 with a claw hammer. To grasp the nail with your bare hands and try to wrench it free would of course be foolish; you’d never do that, especially if you had the leverage of a claw hammer available.
Why is it, then, that Christians so often overlook the leverage they have with God?—Because it’s true, you know—we have got leverage! Jesus Christ is our “IN” with God. Through Him, we have access to the power and influence of the Creator of the Universe Himself, if only we’d take advantage of it. Haven’t thought about it lately? Then maybe your prayer life isn’t the powerful force it could be! Let’s take a look at the example of Abraham. God’s Word for today reminds us that, like Abraham—
Our text takes us back to Old Testament times, to the time of the Patriarch Abraham. When we meet him, Abraham and his wife Sarah are elderly and childless. For the time being, they are dwelling with their servants, their flocks and herds, on the plains of Mamre. Not far from them, Abraham’s nephew Lot lives in the city of Sodom. Sodom, and it’s sister city of Gomorrah, are infamous for their wickedness and corruption.
On that particular day, Abraham was going about his business when three very peculiar strangers arrived quite suddenly on the scene. “So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground.”—Gen 18:2. It soon became clear to Abraham that these were no ordinary men. Two of them were angels, and the third is identified in our text as the Lord Himself. They were on a mission—to investigate and, if necessary, to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. After a while, the men set out toward Sodom, and Abraham went along with them for a ways.
Now we’re privileged to hear the Lord deliberating over a certain question. Should He, or should He not let Abraham in on what He is about to do? In the end, the Lord decided to tell him about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and to listen to what Abraham had to say about it. After all, Abraham was special. Abraham had leverage with God.
What kind of leverage was it? What was it about Abraham that wouldn’t allow the Lord to conceal His plans from him? What did Abraham have that made God Himself willing to listen to his prayer?—Our text tells us: And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
God couldn’t hide His will from Abraham, because it was through Abraham’s line that the promised Messiah would be born. According to God’s promise, he and his elderly wife Sarah would have a son, Isaac. Isaac would father Jacob, Jacob would father Judah, until eventually, of that line, the Savior of the world would be born. Abraham believed the promise that the Lord had made to him. He believed that one of his descendants would be the Promised One, who would bring the blessing of salvation to every nation on the earth.
Abraham was the forefather of the Savior, and he had faith in the promise of that Savior. That was Abraham’s great leverage with God! That relationship with Jesus Christ was what kept the Lord of the Universe standing there on the plains of Mamre, listening to Abraham’s prayer.
What about us modern day believers? You may think, “Well, I’m no Abraham! I’m nothing special—why should God listen to me?” But in some ways, you are very much like Abraham. Like him, you too have leverage with God. And like Abraham, it’s leverage that comes to you through Jesus Christ!
For a person seeking employment in certain industries, they say it’s not what you know, but who you know that counts. Knowing someone on the inside can get you an interview with the boss, and that may mean the difference between employment and unemployment. For us Christians, too, it’s who we know that counts, and our person on the inside is Jesus Christ! The Bible says that the unbelieving heart is by nature God’s enemy—the Lord is no more likely to listen to an unbeliever’s prayer than He is to listen to a prayer offered by Satan himself. But Jesus Christ came to earth to overcome that enmity. He died on the cross in order to break down the wall of sin that stood between us and God. And He did it!—Jesus paid the price of every last sin that stains your conscience. Faith in Jesus Christ has turned you from God’s enemy into His own dear child, and it’s that faith that makes your prayers effective. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name he will give you.”—Jn 16:23.
Not only does God allow us to pray—He actually encourages us to pray, just as a father delights in granting the requests of His children. Having Jesus Christ as our beloved Savior—that gives us great leverage with our heavenly Father. It’s leverage we can be bold in using! The writer to the Hebrews says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”—4:16.
Abraham was no wall flower when it came to using his leverage with God. He prayed boldly. His nephew Lot was in the city of Sodom, and he was going to everything he could to avert the city’s destruction for his sake. Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? The Lord granted his request—if there were fifty believers in Sodom, the city would not be destroyed. Abraham became more bold. What if there were 45 believers? All right, for the sake of 45 believers, the Lord would not destroy the city—Four more times Abraham boldly repeated his prayer, each time lowering the limit, and four more times the Lord agreed. For the sake of ten righteous, the city would not be destroyed. As it turns out, there weren’t even ten believers in Sodom and Gomorrah, so the cities were destroyed with fire raining from heaven. But Lot and his family were rescued. So you see: Abraham’s prayer was granted after all. The point is, Abraham was bold in using his leverage with God. And we can be bold, too!
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon put it aptly. He said, “Prayer pulls a rope down below and it rings a bell up above in the ears of God. Some are so careless about prayer that they hardly even budge the bell. Others give only an occasional jerk on the rope. The person who really gets things done is the one who grabs the rope boldly and pulls continuously with all his might!” Abraham was like that. He kept after God until he got what he wanted. Our Lord wants us, too, to keep after Him. He has made many wonderful promises to us in His Word, and He wants us to hold Him to those promises. We should assault the throne of grace with constant prayer. Everyone knows the passage where Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” But too many people give one feeble knock at God’s door and then give up. Jesus words, in the Greek, reveal that the process should be ongoing—keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking, and don’t give up! Jesus told His disciples, “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”—Jn 16:24.
You and I have a privilege that’s unique to believers—the privilege of prayer. Let’s use that privilege to obtain all the things we need in this life: forgiveness of our sins, strengthening of our faith, money and goods to satisfy our daily needs, comfort in times of sorrow. Can the Lord’s answer to our prayers possibly be in doubt? Remember—we’ve got Somebody on the inside. We’ve got leverage with God! AMEN.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.