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Abraham's Intercession

by Don Costello  
5/18/2008 / Bible Studies

Genesis 18:23-33

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 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 sake.
And Abraham answered and said, Behold mow, 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.

1. For decades I have heard the above Scripture quoted and used to defend the opinion that God was not going to judge America for it's wickedness. The logic used was this: There are millions of righteous in America because of the Christians in this nation, and if Sodom would have been spared for ten righteous, then America surely will be spared because of the millions of Christians [righteous] in America.

a. As we shall see this whole argument will fall apart when other Scripture is applied.

2. In the passage Ezekiel 14:12-21, the LORD is telling Ezekiel that when Jerusalem is judged by God, only the righteousness of the individual would save that individual, even if those people were Noah, Daniel, and Job.

a. The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grieviously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread threreof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:
Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls, by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.
If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts:
Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the LORD God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.
Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it:
Though these three men were in it, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.
Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:
Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the LORD God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.
For thus saith the LORD God; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?

a. We can see that there are differences of standards between Sodom and Jerusalem. In Sodom ten righteous would have delivered the whole city. In Jerusalem, during Ezekiel's day even if Noah, Daniel, and Job would have been there, their own righteousness would have delivered their own selves, not even family members. The different standards are obvious.

b. The differences in the standards are because of the different amounts of light or revelation given to the two communities. Israel was given much more light than Sodom.

3. This principle is demonstrated in the ministry of Jesus. He moved his headquarters to Capernaum according to Matthew 4:13-16, and as a result the people saw great light.

4. The three main cities in this area, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were condemned by Jesus because of the light shown to them and they still would not repent. Jesus said that the judgment upon Sodom would be less severe than for these cities because Sodom received less light.

5. This principle is also mentioned in Luke 12:47, 48.

6. In respect to Ezekiel 14:12-21, some would propose that if Ezekiel had interceded for Jerusalem like Abraham had for Sodom, God would have spared Jerusalem. This is not the case because about 6 years previous God had told Jeremiah not to pray for Jerusalem because he would not hear him, Jeremiah 11:11-14.

7. Conclusion: The argument that God will not judge America because of the tens of millions of Christians [righteous] in the United States is not applicable because this is a standard for a community that has received little light, such as Sodom. If anything, the fact that there are tens of millions of Christians in the United States and our culture has continued to decay in spite of us being here shows our disobedience and our failure to be "the salt of the earth" that Jesus was speaking of in Matthew 5:13.

My name is Don Costello. Ever since I received Christ in November of 1976 I have had a passion to study and know God's word.My wife Melissa and I have 5 children.

My e-mail address is

I have a blog located at:

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