"When Righteous Men are Few" part 1
Date: 9 October, 2016
Text: Genesis 18:16-33
Title: When Righteous Men are Few
def. Intercessor: One who intervenes, especially between God and His people. This is a prayer warrior - a person who has power in prayer and uses that to impact God's economy.
ill. Moses was a great intercessor/ prayer warrior:
Exodus 32: 31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin — ; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
Note: God expects there to be intercessors.
14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.
16 ¶ And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
Isa 64:7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
Eze 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
exp. God is perplexed when there is nobody WHO CARES ENOUGH TO STAND IN THE GAP.
ill. Being an intercessor or prayer warrior was normal to the early church.
Acts 1: 12 ¶ Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.
13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
Acts 2: 1 ¶ And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
ill. The disciples appointed deacons to help oversee the work of the church. BUT THEIR PRIORITY WAS PRAYER AND PREACHING.
Ac 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
quote: Martyn Lloyd-Jones book, REVIVAL. He said almost 60 years ago, "Surely no one should need to be convinced, today, that nothing short of a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God is adequate to deal with our situation in this mid-twentieth century? ...here is the vital question. Have you seen the desperate need of prayer, the prayer of the whole Church? I shall see no hope until individual members of the Church are praying for revival, perhaps meeting in one another's homes, meeting anywhere you like, and praying with urgency and concentration for a shedding forth of the power of God, such as he shed forth one hundred and two hundred years ago, and in every other period of revival, and of reawakening. There is no hope until we do."
exp. Have we any reason today to hope for an outpouring of God's Spirt or a special mercy of God because of the effectual prayers of God's people?
We need people today who care enough about the needs of those around them that they are willing to stand in the gap and pray for God's mercy for our land. Do you care enough to pray?
Our text this morning is of one of God's special friends - Abraham. Abraham, like Moses, was a powerful intercessor. He'll be our example of intercession this morning. He'll help us see what intercession looks like.
I. An intercessor walks with God.
exp. God created man to walk in fellowship with him.
ill. Garden of Eden - Adam and Eve - God coming to walk with them in the cool of the evening. (Genesis 3:8)
ill. Enoch - Ge 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
A. Abraham walked with God.
16 ¶ And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
question: Who were these men?
Genesis 18:1 ¶ And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:
exp. Two of the men were angels - who would go to Sodom to destroy it - one was the Lord Jesus Christ in a preincarnate state.
note: When the men rose up to walk - Abraham walked with them. He walked with God.
song: In the Garden "And he walks with me and he talks with me...."
question: How is your walk with God - and I do mean physical?
1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
app. You are either abiding in Christ today - and walking with him or you are not. An intercessor must walk with God.
B. God walked with Abraham.
17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
exp. God does hide things at times even from His best servants.
ill. The couple that made a prophet's chamber for Elishah - God gave them a son. When the woman's son died and God hid it from Elisha for some reason. 2Ki 4:27 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.
note: Abraham was a prophet of God's.
ill. God told Abimilech, King of Gerar - Ge 20:7 ...for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live:
exp. God had such a close walk with Abraham that he thought about what He was revealing to him.
app. Does God ever reveal something to you because HE IS WALKING WITH YOU? Have you ever been reading your Bible and got excited because something made sense and you had never thought about it before? You couldn't wait to tell someone because it was such a startling revelation to your heart?
ill. Samuel was startled when God started revealing himself to him. The old priest, Eli, had to tell him to say, "Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth."
app. Are you listening to the Lord?
C. God blessed Abraham's walk.
18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
exp. God knew Abraham and had determined to bless Him for His faith and obedience. He had the blessing of God upon His life.
Question: Do you have the blessing of God upon your life?
Psalm 1: 1 ¶ Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
exp. God's blessing is available to those who will read, believe and obey HIS WORD.
ill. Cain killed Able because Able had God's blessing and he did not. But, all he had to do to get God's blessing was obey God's Word.
Ge 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
App. An intercessor walks in the FAVOR OF GOD. He has God's blessing.
D. God had confidence in Abraham's walk.
19 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.
exp. God knew that Abraham feared Him and that his children would be brought up in the fear of God.
· Abraham so feared God that when God said to move by faith to a foreign land he moved without knowing where he was going.
Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
exp. He even let his nephew, Lot, have first choice over pasture land for his animals.
· Abraham so feared God that when God said to sacrifice Isaac he submitted to Him
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
· 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
app. How confident is God in your walk this morning. Does he see you as a God fearing person who will bring others up in a God fearing way? AN INTERCESSOR WALKS WITH GOD.
II. An intercessor waits on God.
A. Abraham waited to hear God's complaint.
20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
exp. Even today we associate Sodom with sin. It was a wicked city. And their wicked deeds were being observed by a Holy God.
Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
note: He see's the wickedness of our day as well.
· Our world says "living together" God says "Fornication." Heb 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
· Our world says "Pro life" God says, "murder." ill. Clinton - late term abortions. Ex 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.
· Our world says "Gay" God says, "that which is unseemly" Romans 1; Le 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
· Our world says "white lies" God says "liar." Re 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
· Our world says "entertainment." God says "wicked thing." Ps 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
ill. I saw an advert for a new television series called, "Lucifer." It was a red background with a man with wings.
app. Mankind needs to awaken this morning - God is not ignorant of the decisions the world is making AGAINST GOD. God has reason today to say about Scotland "because their sin is very grievous;"
B. Abraham waited to witness God's judgment.
21 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.
ill. When the Angels go into Sodom - the men of that city try to rape them. A 39 year old man was raped in Einburgh two weeks ago.
app. Abraham and God knew what he would find in Sodom. WE KNOW WHAT GOD WILL FIND IN LOANHEAD....
C. Abraham waits when Judgment is immenent.
22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
NOW: Abraham knows that judgment is within striking distance of Sodom. It deserves to fall there and he knows it. But, he also has family in the place WHERE THE WRATH OF GOD IS GOING TO FALL. IT IS TIME TO INTERCEDE.
ill. Nu 16:46 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun.
exp. Believer's wrath has gone out from the Lord.
II Thesallonians 1: ...the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
app. Lot didn't know it - but he was close to the fire of God's wrath. Only the prayer of Abraham would save him. Our world does not know it but they are one breath away from eternity in Hell. We had best take to our knees and plead with God for his mercy.
(Possibly stop here on Sunday and continue next Sunday)
III. An intercessor works with God.
exp. God doesn't need us to work in an advisory capacity - he knows what He will do. But, he does allow us to work with him in an intercessory capacity.
ill. A bank may have a grant that they are happy to give to a worthy cause based on their bylaws. You can't go to the bank and demand they change their bylaws or demand them to give their money. But, if you can prove a worthy cause that meets their requirements - they must extend mercy to you.
ill. Jonah - knew God's rules and wanted to avoid going to Ninevah because he didn't not want them to meet the conditions for God's mercy. He wanted them to be judged.
app. When we pray - we aren't changing or making the rules. We are WORKING WITHIN THE RULES THAT GOD HAS GIVEN FOR INTERCESSORY PRAYER.
2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
A. Abraham knew the heart of God.
23 ¶ And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
exp. God, you are just.
exp. When God brought the flood, the righteous were spared.
Ge 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
ill. When the plagues fell in Egypt - God's people were spared.
Exodus 9:6 And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.
ill. When God judged Israel for their disobedience in not TAKING THE PROMISED LAND - it was only those who were of fighting age.
Nu 1:45 So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel;
Nu 14:29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,
ill. I had a person in Walmart in the US ask me, "If there is a God, why did he let my baby die." I told them the words of King David - 2Sa 12:23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
Ro 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
app. The point is this - when an intercessor prays - he pleads the justice of God.
B. Abraham knew the mercy of God.
24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
exp. God, you are merciful.
ill. When Jonah was feeling bad for himself because God had taken away his shade. God was teaching him something of His mercy.
Jonah - you care about your gourd.
God cared about the people - expecially those who were less responsable.
Jonah 4:11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
ill. Remember when the disciples wanted the judgment of God to fall.
Luke 9: 52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
app. You aren't going to intercede if you are like Jonah - setting and waiting to see the wrath of God fall. But, if you have the heart of Jesus - you are going to do everything in prayer that you can to see them get saved.
C. Abraham knew the character of God.
25 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?
exp. God, you are holy.
note: The holiness of God makes us "sinners" uncomfortable. God is perfect in every way and we are not.
Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
exp. But, did you know that the holiness of God is what holds everything together?
ill. Because he is Holy - we have an infallible Book.
Because he is Holy - we have an infallible creator/ sustainer.
Becaue he is Holy - we have an unchanging eternity.
app. God can never, will never, has never lied - because He is holy. We can plead his holiness in His dealings with mankind.
D. Abraham knew the reasonableness of God.
26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
exp. God, you are reasonable. (He's not unapproachable, illogical, or disinterested.)
note: He does not make unreasonable dealings with mankind. He promised not to destroy that wicked city if 50 righteous were there - that number would go clear down to ten.
app. I'm tired of man saying, "God is the problem." The problem with Sodom was not the unreasonableness of God - it was the complete lack of righteous men.
note: That ought to concern us about our day.
E. Abraham knew the exhalted position of God.
27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
exp. God, you are almighty. This wasn't false piety but true humility. Abraham was a GREAT MAN - HE WAS THE FATHER OF A GREAT NATION - but he was nothing to God.
ill. King David, 2nd king, man after God's own heart, great intercessor
- Ps 144:3 LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!
app. Those who would intercede must get on their knees before the almighty God.
IV. An intercessor has words with God.
exp. God spoke, then Abraham, then God, then Abraham - THEY COMMUNED. v.33
28 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.
29 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.
30 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.
31 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.
32 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.
33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
ill. Andrew Murray - We have more than once seen that God’s listening to our voice depends upon our listening to His voice. We must not only have a special promise to plead, when we make a special request, but our whole life must be under the supremacy of the word: the word must be dwelling in us.
app. Are you letting God speak to you through His Word and then carrying the conversation back to God in prayer?
Sadly - there were not 10 righteous in the city and it was destroyed. But, because of Abraham's intercession - God spared those whom he could.
unbeliever: Do you realize that the wrath of God is upon you? Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
believer: Are you an intercessor? What is the hope for our community today? God's wrath is upon them? Will you stir yourself up to take hold of God that some may be saved?
Isa 64:7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.