Christ in the OT: Abraham Intercedes for Who?

I was meditating on Genesis 18-19 this morning and found my heart warmed by how it points to Christ. God revealed his plans and promises to Abraham and Sarah, but his revelation was met with laughter and little faith (18:9-15). God then says (in Abraham’s presence!), “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (18:17). Shall I reveal more? The Lord says, “I am going to build Abraham’s family, so does he really need to know what I am about to do now?” (paraphrase of 18:17-18). Note: The Lord has this discussion with the angels while looking over the reputable city of Sodom where Lot, Abraham’s nephew, lives!

Imagine being in Abraham’s shoes

Do you think Abraham would be a little concerned about his family? Some of my family members live in Guelph. If Guelph was known as “the city of sin” in Canada … and if the Lord appeared to me and looking over Guelph said to a few angels, “Shall I hide from Paul what I am about to do?” My heart would be consumed with concern, but resolved to plead and pray for mercy. What ensues in the narrative is the famous intercession of Abraham. But what’s the point?

What’s the point? (Keep reading)

Abraham is concerned that God does not “put the righteous to death with the wicked” (18:25). Abraham intercedes: what if there are 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, even 10 righteous people? God answers: “for the sake of ten I will not destroy it” (18:32). And the point? Keep reading.

The narrative transitions

Then the narrative transitions to the destruction of Sodom but the salvation of Lot and his daughters (19:1-28). Though Peter writes of “righteous Lot” in the NT (2 Pet 2:7), in the flow of Genesis 18-19, Lot seems to be in a backslidden state, for he is certainly not depicted as righteous by his lingering (19:16) in response to the angels urgent warning to get up and go (19:15)! We read that the angels had to seize him and his family “by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him” (19:16). He fails to have faith that God will provide for him in the “hills” (where the angels direct him), and asks to be sent to the little city of Zoar. In the larger context, we see him make decisions based on what is pleasing to the eye (13:10-13; cf Gen 3:6!). Thus, though Lot is “righteous” before God (2 Pet 2:7), we see him behaving in an unrighteous manner. Yet, Abraham is pictured as the man of faith (though he has had his own struggles!).

The point: God remembered Abraham and saved Lot

Why focus on the backslidden state of Lot or the righteous concern of Abraham? Well, the narrative transitions back to “the place where [Abraham] stood before” (19:27). This recalls the scene when Abraham intercedes for Sodom. And this is what Scripture says: “when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow” (19:29). He doesn’t remember Lot and save Lot. In other words, it was not because of Lot’s righteousness that he was spared. He remembered Abraham and saved Lot. Were there ten righteous people in Sodom? Nope. It was destroyed. But, Lot was spared. Why? See the typology (and here is the point!): on account of the righteous one, others receive mercy (look at 19:16)!!!

Abraham is a type of Christ

God remembers Abraham, and saves Lot. God remembers Christ and saves us! Abraham is a type of Christ here. And all of this reveals the mercy and grace of God. Christian, we were like Lot, lingering and not heeding the voice of God, but because of Christ, God took us by the hand, “the Lord being merciful to [us]” and saved us “not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Tim 1:9). We receive mercy because of Christ!

The purpose of this post

The purpose of this post is to consider the Gospel in the OT. May we find our hearts warmed and strengthened by the grace of God. But may we speak of that grace to others. Some unbelievers have heard the stories, but has anyone taught them the point? When we find people familiar with the OT stories, may God give us the grace to show how it is primarily about Jesus Christ. God help us.

One response to “Christ in the OT: Abraham Intercedes for Who?

  1. My pastor just preached a great message on this text you really might enjoy after meditating on this. It’s located here –

    The way God related to Abraham is such a beautiful portrait of His relationship with us as Christians today. He works His plans through us in a way that points to His pre-eminence and love all at the same time (which truly flies in the face of the world’s logic stating those things are incompatible).

    I think what you say here – “May we find our hearts warmed and strengthened by the grace of God. But may we speak of that grace to others” – is what I realize more and more as I read the Bible. God partners with His fallen creation to accomplish the work of restoration He’s doing. He calls men like Abraham, Jonah, David, and others in the OT to stand for His name. He sends Christ, who takes 12 ordinary men under his wing to spread His message in the NT and even appears to a man who hates him by persecuting His followers – Paul – to reveal some of His most important teachings to the church (His bride). He truly loves us and it’s all because of who He is. Thank you God!

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