Leaving No One Behind

Last Wednesday Evening the Pastor was talking about the true story of Noah, as opposed to the fantasy that Hollywood has entertained us with recently. During his discussion an interesting rabbit came across the floor and we chased it for a while. The rabbit may or may not have been caught, but sense I need the exercise I thought for a little while we would chase that rabbit just a little further into the briar patch.

The question, I believe that was brought was, “Will God destroy a city if there is just one righteous soul living in it?”

The story this question arose from can be found in Genesis chapters 13, 18, and 19. The problem was that Abraham’s nephew Lot had traveled with him and the Lord blessed each one with large herds and flocks, many tents to house the hired hands, and the land they had settled in between Bethel and Ai could not sustain them. Of course this caused contention between the helping hands that were loyal to Lot and the hands of Abraham. Abraham in his graciousness offer to Lot gave him the choice of land. Whichever Lot chose Abraham would go the other way. Lot looked over and saw the valley of the Jordan River that was well watered and chose to go there to live separate from his uncle Abraham. Abraham settled in Canaan and Lot moved as far as the city of Sodom. In verse 13 we read, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.”

Some time has passed now and the Lord and two men, who were angels, appeared to Abraham and told him that within a year Sarah would give birth to a son. This was a joyous time indeed and as the Lord and the angels were preparing to leave towards Sodom, the Lord paused to say this to Abraham, “And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.” (Genesis 18:20) From these words of the Lord came the question of the evening. In verse 23 we read, “Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Then Abraham began to bargain with the Lord. We remember that Sodom is where Abraham’s nephew Lot lived and so Abraham was very concerned for his safety. We also know that the Lord knew this as well and was concerned as we read in verse 17, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” I think the problem with Abraham is that he tried to bargain with the Lord instead of coming right out and speaking his heart. Perhaps Abraham figured that one soul was not of value to God but fifty surely was. So Abraham opened the bidding at fifty. The Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.” Abraham then bargained for forty five, then forty, thirty, then twenty and ten. The Lord then said in verse 32, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten.” After that the Lord departed and Abraham returned home. I believe the Lord may have become frustrated with Abraham. The Lord knows the heart of a man (Acts 15:8) and knew what was on Abrahams mind. The Lord knew that the concern of Abraham was his nephew Lot who was living in Sodom and Abraham knew of only one righteous man in Sodom, Lot. Abraham should have been forthcoming with the Lord and spoke his heart with his true intention. Imagine man, who is but “dust and ashes”, as Abraham stated in verse 28, as if we of finite minds can strike a better deal than God with an infinite mind.

The Lord had already made provision for Lot’s safety. We read in Genesis 18 verse 22, “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom.” The angels were not going to destroy the city of Sodom, it was destroyed from above, “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven.” (Genesis 19:24) The angels had gone to warn Lot and his family, but only Lot, his wife and daughters heeded the warning. The Lord knew the desires of Abraham’s heart and had already made provision to satisfy his desires, yet Abraham wanted to bargain. Abraham gambled with fifty souls, then forty five and down to ten, and the Lord withdrew and Abraham went home with that empty feeling that he could not save Lot. I wonder if sometimes we are being unfaithful by attempting to bend the will of God and not trusting that He has made provision for His Children.

In answer to the question, Will God destroy a city if there is just one righteous soul living in it? My answer is probably not, because that was not in God’s plan. Just as in the days of Noah it was not in God’s plan to save the world. But God did make provision for the righteous. He saved Noah and his family and He saved Lot and his daughters. So maybe the question is really will God save the world for one righteous soul? I have the same answer for that as well, NO. But we can exercise our faith in this truth that He has made provision for all of His children, even the very last one.

I find my hope in the words written by Peter in this verse. “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:7-9) I do not believe the Lord will come in judgment until the last one who will repents and comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

So another question comes to mind, what does that mean to us today? We pray each day “Thy Kingdom Come” and what is holding it from coming is that last repentant sinner to come forward and call upon the name of Jesus. This world may not be so bad for us right now but I believe the better days are far behind us. I do not have a gloomy outlook as the days ahead will be the most exciting times to come. His Kingdom is coming and it will come much quicker if we look to the rest of that passage, “Thy will be done.” We all have a calling from our Lord Jesus Christ and if we are to fulfill our calling then we must be in His will during our lives here away from our home in Heaven.

“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 10:7) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-19) If we want to get out of here before all Hell breaks loose, then we had better get busy about the Kingdom business.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, April 9, 2014

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