How to be a
A Sermon on Gen 18:22-33
by John Drury
The following sermon is on Gen
18:23-33.† The congregational context I
have in mind is my summer field education site,
After God miraculously saved the
Israelites from slavery in
††††††††††† Now I could give you a quick answer to this question.† A priestly kingdom stands as a mediator of blessing between the God of Israel and the other nations of the world.† And that is the right answer.† But we all know how definitions, even the most precise ones, seldom drive us into action.† We need something more than a definition Ė something that will put flesh on the skeletal idea of a priestly kingdom.† Well, we are in luck.† There is a story tucked away in Genesis that exhibits what mediation for other nations looks like.† Listen now to Godís Word as it comes to us in Genesis 18:22-33.
22 Then the men turned away
from there and went toward
while Abraham was still standing before the LORD.†
23 And Abraham came near and said,
"Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?†
24 "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city;
will you indeed sweep it away
and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?†
25 "Far be it from you to do such a thing,
to slay the righteous with the wicked,
so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike.
Far be it from you!
Shall not the Judge of all the earth judge justly?"†
26 So the LORD said,
"If I find in
then I will spare the whole place on their account."
27 And Abraham answered and said,
"Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord,
although I am but dust and ashes.†
28 "Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five,
††††††††††† will you destroy the whole city because of five?"
And He said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."†
29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose forty are found there?"
And He said, "I will not do it on account of the forty."†
30 Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak;
suppose thirty are found there?"
And He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there."†
31 And he said, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord;
suppose twenty are found there?"
And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the twenty."†
32 Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once;
suppose ten are found there?"
And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the ten."†
33 And as soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the LORD departed;
and Abraham returned to his place.
Now in a church
like ours that values and practices prayer, there is a level of excitement when
we hear this text.† We love to watch
Abraham the intercessor display the art of powerful prayer.† We anticipate learning new tips on how to
pray earnestly and effectively.† But I
want to pause for a moment to reflect not on how Abraham prays, but for whom
he prays.† He is praying for
does Abraham do?† He immediately stands
in the gap to intercede for
††††††††††† Abraham is living out his call.† He is moving with the grain of his election.† Abraham has begun to understand why God has set him apart.† From the beginning of their relationship, God made it clear that he intends to bless others through Abraham.† And here at Mamre the Lord once again reminded Abraham of his promise to bless all the nations through him.† God reminded him that he was chosen in order to do righteousness and justice.† Abraham seizes the chance to speak out for justice.† He seizes the chance to bring blessing on others through intercessory prayer.† He prays with urgency and intensity, arguing with God, whittling him down to the smallest stipulation for salvation.† Now that is what it looks like to be a priestly kingdom.
Abrahamís hopes are unfulfilled.† His
prayer comes true, but in a backhanded way.†
God does promise to not destroy
you might ask, ďDoes that mean Abraham should not have prayed that earnest
pray?Ē† The answer is no.† Despite the twist, Abrahamís prayer stands as
an example of election-for-intercession.†
Not really despite, but because of the twist, for we now see clearly
that Abraham is an example to
too have been called a priestly kingdom.†
1 Peter 2:9, drawing on Exodus 19, calling us a chosen race, a holy nation,
and a royal priesthood.† The church is
also a kingdom of priests.† And we could
learn a thing or two from