I have been captivated by the recent story of Muslims standing as guards with the persecuted Coptic church in Egypt, so the idea of “human shields” is playing on constant rotation in my brain.
It also seems to be a theme re-occuring in these passages of the OT pertaining to Abraham.
In this section, God has in mind to judge and destroy two cities that are known for their pronounced wickedness.
These aren’t just tame and disagreeable cities.
Two men walk into town and all the other men want to rape them in the town square. Even Abraham’s cousin, Lot, who seems to have found some favor in God’s eyes, instead offer up his two daughters to the mob amassed at his house, thinking that was a more agreeable alternative. (I don’t quite understand that, but I can’t fully comprehend everything either, so I’m ok with some ambiguity).
So it would seem right that just as evil had spread and continued to get worse when God intervened, that He would probably do so again.
But this time, Abraham steps up into the center of it all and asks:
Then Abraham drew near and said,
“Will the God of the universe really destroy the righteous with the wicked?” – Genesis 18:23 (ESV)
“Will you reallly?”
The answer is “No!” (with a verbal exclamation mark)
But the question that doesn’t get asked is, “Is there really anyone righteous?”
This question will get asked, eventually (see the book of Romans for this). But for now, it is unasked, but the silence is deafening.
We know the answer is no. So the angels go about their way, into the city. They will judge it and destroy it…
…just, in the morning.
And in the meantime, they will got to Lot and his household, and exhort them to persuade others to leave the city with them.
Even his own household has a hard time leaving behind the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. One of them pays for this (Lot’s wife).
But just because it is a disappointing ending does not mean that we can’t glory in the fact that Abraham lived up to his calling.
He was tasked with being a blessing to the nations. This included Sodom and Gomorrah. And he stood in the way, between God and those cities, on behalf of a people who didn’t even deserve it.
Because that’s what Abraham knew he was to do.
He was to be a shield for others, because he was being shielded by another.
For Further Thought:
1. Is it ever right for God to judge and condemn others? If so, it ever right for you to do so?
2. If you answered “No” to question #1, why did you answer that way?
3. Does the episode involving the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah offer any hint, or trace, of mercy? Where?