The Word of God contains thrilling accounts of men who stood despite the opposition of the day.
The Bible gives us many examples of men who stood. These include Old Testament characters such as Abraham, Moses, David, Elisha, and Ezra. When we examine both the background that prompted them to stand and their reaction to such circumstances, we can learn from them and emulate their course of action.
In Genesis 18, it is twice recorded that Abraham stood before the Lord. In this incident we see his true spiritual character and manner of life, issues which are so essential if we are to enjoy communion with God. As the three heavenly visitors approached the tent, Abraham ran to welcome them, inviting them for a meal. He stood before them under the tree while they ate. It was then that he and Sarah received the promise of a son in their old age (v 1-15). What a blessing they obtained while entertaining their guests. Two of the men then went toward Sodom, but “Abraham stood yet before the Lord” (v 22). Consider:
A. Abraham standing before the Lord in intercession:
1. What prompted such earnest intercession?
The Lord desired to tell Abraham, His friend, that judgment was about to fall on the cities of the plain because of their exceeding sin and wickedness before the Lord. Abraham remembered that his nephew, Lot, and Lot’s family, had chosen to make their home in Sodom years before. Immediately he had deep concern for their welfare. He began to intercede with the Lord on their behalf.
We, too, have family and friends living in a world that is hastening to its doom. Sad to say, we seem to have become so accustomed to the things around us that we fail to see the stark reality that “time is running out.” Seldom do we step aside from the busy routine of life to think of what their end will really be if they die unsaved. The Lord, who alone could give a true assessment, said of Judas, “good were it for that man if he had never been born” (Mk 14:21). Surely these thoughts would prompt us to intercede more earnestly on their behalf!
2. What enabled Abraham to be so effective in pleading for mercy on behalf of Lot and his family?
Abraham, being the friend of God, had talked with Him many times. He was conscious of His greatness and power, and holy character. He also knew something of His heart of compassion and forgiveness when in Egypt (ch 12). Thus he confesses his own unworthiness, being but dust and ashes, in the presence of Almighty God, but recognizes that the Judge of all the earth will do right.
Like Abraham, we too have experienced His mercy and know that our God is a forgiving God. Therefore when we enter the Divine Presence and pour out our heart’s desires before Him, we must take humble ground and plead alone the merits of the precious blood that was shed on Calvary. We can come with confidence knowing our God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
3. What was the outcome of his intercession?
Abraham’s prayer was answered, but not in the way he had thought. When he rose early one morning and went to the place where he stood before the Lord (Gen 19:27), he saw the smoke of the cities ascending into the heavens. The only righteous soul that we read about in the cities of the plain was Lot (2 Peter 2:7). His wife disobeyed the command of the angels. Her heart and possessions were still in Sodom so she looked back and perished.
B. Standing before men in grief:
Genesis 23 tells of a sad day in Abraham’s experience when he stood before the sons of Heth in the midst of his grief and sorrow. He felt the passing of his wife Sarah very keenly, but even in these circumstances his dealings with the Canaanites were exemplary.
1. Why did the sons of Heth call him a mighty Prince?
For many years Abraham had built a consistent testimony among the inhabitants of the land where he had come to sojourn. The sons of Heth observed his dealings with the nations. His manner of life proved that he was an honorable man, a man of integrity and honesty. Thus they described him as a mighty Prince among them.
How important for us today to live godly and upright lives before the unconverted, knowing that our actions carry more weight than our words. Our walk before men should display to others that we are citizens of a heavenly country.
2. What enabled Abraham to be different from the people of other nations?
Abraham’s faith in God and communion with God kept him separate from those around him. God had promised to make of him a great nation, one that would be set apart for His glory. Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. He was a pilgrim and a stranger looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. Even in his time of deepest sorrow, his confidence and trust never wavered. May we like Abraham seek to live our lives for the honor and glory of God, knowing that very soon our day of service will be over and we must then give account and be rewarded for faithfulness to Him.