Not Interested

Sometimes when my wife and I are talking, my son will interrupt, saying, “Dad, Dad, Dad…Stop…talking…just…play!”  In these moments, he’s only interested in playing and because we are neither playing nor talking about playing, he is not interested.

Part of our struggle to listen to God is that He is not always talking about what we are interested in.

Throughout the Gospels, the Pharisees ask Jesus many questions about the law.  They assumed the law was the path to God’s favor and blessing.  They hate the humiliation and suffering Israel has endured in exile.  Their concerns are urgent, but all Jesus wants to talk about is Himself.

We too have urgent concerns.  Where will I live?  Who will I marry?  When will these kids stop being crazy?  It can seem as if God never answers our questions or speaks to our needs.  But God does speak to our needs, because Scripture is always speaking about the Son of God, the one who we really need.  Scripture speaks, not of the details of the future or the secret to a pain-free life, but of the truth that is essential to know in every circumstance – Jesus reigns as the sovereign Lord, and He is good.

[28] And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

– Romans 8:28

Genesis 19

[1] The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth [2] and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the 00010353night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” [3] But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

[4] But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. [5] And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” [6] Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, [7] and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.”

– Genesis 19:1-7

The angels who had previously been hosted by Abraham come to Sodom, and Lot insists that they stay with him.  Lot more or less repeats the generous hospitality of his uncle, Abraham.  However, that evening, the men of the city arrive, acting in the exact opposite fashion and intending to abuse the visitors.

Lot is by no means perfect but he understands Ancient Near Eastern customs and to some degree understands the God of Abraham.  This God welcomes strangers.

Romans 5:8 tells us, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus comes for those who are far off.  To those who He once did not know, He makes children of God.

Genesis 18

[20] Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, [21] I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.” [22] So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. [23] 18.2.1Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? [24] Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? [25] Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” [26] And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” [27] Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. [28] Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” [29] Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” [30] Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” [31] He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” [32] Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” [33] And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

– Genesis 18:20-33

The Lord reveals to Abraham that He will go down to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if their wickedness is as great as He has heard.  Abraham pleads with the Lord to spare the city, first on behalf of fifty righteous persons, but ultimately for the sake of ten.  Abraham’s intercession is both compassionate and wrongheaded.

As the reader of Genesis soon finds, not even ten righteous people are to be found in these large cities, and God rains judgment on them.  This is tragic, disappointing, and unsurprising.  On the objective scale of a Holy God, “none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10-11).

We cannot ask that God would spare the world for the sake of ten righteous people; they will not be found.  But, thankfully, we can plead that God would spare the world for the sake of His glory and for the sake of His Son.  We can call on God to be who He is: gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.  We can plead the precious blood of Christ, which is powerful enough to wash away sin and redeem a lost world.