Today's Reading in the One Year Bible (NLT)
18:32 Finally, Abraham said, "Lord, please don't be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?" And the Lord replied, "Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten." God knew exactly how few righteous people there were in S&G, but I believed he let this play out for Abraham to teach us this principle today: His mercy is so great, God would not cut our time short for the sake of ten either.
We learn something important about the heart of a great leader (vs. 18). As we discover throughout today's reading, S&G were so wicked, that I for one would have readily and happily agreed it was time to eradicate them from the planet. But not Abraham. With a bold persistence, He interceded thoughtfully and specifically for the people of these cities, because he knew that lives and eternities were at stake. We must have the same heart for the lost in our communities today, not growing cold of heart, but interceding on behalf of those who would believe.
Most important, we learn something important about the character of our God. As we will learn tomorrow, Abraham is a Father God type. Through this exchange, God used Abraham to reveal His heart to us-He is grieved over every lost child who chooses evil and would not destroy a city or region for the sake of a few, shown when He led the only three willing people to safety (vs. 16).
19:7-8 Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection." The men of Sodom were so wicked and depraved, they came to force homosexual relations on the two visitors, but we are just as shocked at the willingness of Lot to give up his daughters to the mob as we are at the sinful desire of the mob itself. To understand why this happened, one must understand the culture at that time where a guest had such a high place of honor in your home, you were to protect them even more than your own family.
19:24 Then the LORD rained down fire and burning sulfur from the heavens on Sodom and Gomorrah. If you have about 15 minutes today, watch this intriguing and awesome video on youtube. It shows the modern day remains of Sodom and Gomorrah including skeletal ruins, brimstone, and the purest form of sulphur on earth. The sulphur can be found in the form of "rain" that actually penetrated rocks, and it can also be set afire, producing a beautiful blue flame and a noxious smoke. I was absolutely fascinated by this video as I didn't know there was still evidence of the cities.
19:25 He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, eliminating all life-people, plants, and animals alike. Lot chose this area to live because it was so lush and fertile. Looking at the area in the video, you cannot even get a glimpse of a living thing anywhere, because it was so completely destroyed. Also, in there is evidence of several cities destroyed in the area, as this verse indicates, not just S&G.
19:26 Note that when Lot's wife looked back, the Hebrew definition is: to regard, show regard to, pay attention to, consider. This is a strong warning to us today not to turn back to the world with loyalty or longing.
19:30-35. Okay, weird that your brother is also your son. But remember that this is before the law was given, and people were living by what was "right in their own eyes." In that culture it was very important to continue your family lineage.
7:7-8 "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Seeking answer to prayer, wisdom, or divine guidance takes persistence. Ultimately, our persistent seeking and longing should be for Jesus, the bread of life, not just for what He can do for us.
7:13-14 "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. I believe this verse carries more weight than we give it credit for. For instance, 1/3 of the world claims to be "Christian" in our day or at least 2 billion people. This includes (not in any particular order) Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Non-denominational, New Agers, Eastern Orthodox, Methodists, Lutherans, Assemblies of God, Presbyterians, Anglicans, among many others.
As you can see from the spectrum of "Christians," not all are truly Bible-teaching Christ followers from the get-go. Add to that, many of those listed have a whole spectrum of beliefs under the umbrella of their affiliation, some adhering to truth, some largely (or completely) not. Add to that, even the churches largely adhering to the true teaching of the Bible of entering through "the narrow way," it is still an individual choice. Just because a Bible-teaching church is filled with people on Sunday hearing the truth, there is no guarantee how many are truly Christ followers.
Personally, I would be surprised if the true followers of Christ in this world today exceed 500 million, or 1/12 of the world's population, and there's a good chance it's much lower. Only God knows for sure, but this is a noteworthy warning to every individual.
Questions for personal reflection:
What is "the gate" (see John 14:6)? What does the difficult road Matthew mentioned, which is apparently a part of the lifestyle choice, look like for a believer in America today?
Do you think God seemed unfair to Sodom and Gomorrah? Why or why not?
Does God still reason with you today about the cares and concerns of your heart? Have you ever tried it out?