Faith that is never tested will never grow strong. 1 Peter 1:7.
Faith must be put to work or it will always be weak.
This is the reason that God permits trials and testings, they sometimes test us to the very limit of our endurance, but they are meant for our good. Hebrews 12:11; 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Steel must be tempered by fire to become strong.
A tree must face the storms in order to become strong and be pruned if it is to bring forth fruit. When it is all sunshine it is all desert.
Silver must be constantly polished to remain bright.
The soil must be plowed and broken and crushed before it can bring forth fruit.
So the believer needs to be constantly tried and tested if he is to become fruitful for the lord.
Hebrews 12:6—“For whom he loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every Son whom He receiveth.”
Abraham’s life is a whole series of testings, trials, successes and failures, culminating in Genesis 22 with the offering of Isaac.
After each test Abraham’s faith becomes stronger. See Genesis 18:22-33.
Abraham becomes an intercessor for Lot, his backslidden nephew. The wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah has reached a peak, so God determines to destroy them.
Before he does so he tells Abraham (see v. 17)—“Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do.”
When Abraham sees that God is determined to destroy the cities, Abraham began to pray—he interceded (i.e., he stood between God and cities, for the sake of Lot and his family.)
Abraham commences to intercede—v. 24.
God’s answer—v. 26.
Abraham becomes bolder, and reduces the number of the righteous in Sodom to forty-five, then thirty, then twenty and finally ten.
“Per adventure,” he pleaded, “if ten shall be found there.” God said, “I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.” 18:32. Ten righteous people could not be found, only Lot, his wife and two daughters, so God destroyed the cities.
There are some interesting lessons to be learned from this incident.
1. The importance of believers in the world. God would not destroy the cities as long as there were a few believers there. As long as the true Church is in the world interceding, the hand of judgment will be stayed.
Sodom was spared for a time because one man, walking with God, interceded and stood in the gap. But when Lot and his family were safely out, God destroyed the cities with fire.
The Lord said in Luke 17:28-30, “As it was in the days of Lot—so shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
The sins of Sodom are being repeated today with a vengeance. The wickedness, immorality, dishonesty, graft, violence, ungodliness of the world even surpass the days of Lot. Professing Christendom, like Lot are living in this, utterly blinded to the actual condition and the awful impending doom awaiting the ungodly.
Thank God for the faithful, who realizing the impending doom, stand as intercessors in the gap and stay the hand of God.
In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth.”
Salt retards corruption, but will not prevent corruption from setting in eventually, but it retards and delays it.
Faithful believers, little known and often despised, are the “salt of the earth.”
2. The second lesson I would draw to your attention is the power of intercession.
The first great example is Abraham. The second is Moses, he by his intercession for Israel was also able to hold back the judgment of God—the great sin of making the golden calf.
God said in Exodus 32:10, “Let me along, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.”
God says to Moss, “Let me alone,” stop praying, stop standing between me and them. You are preventing me sending my judgment and destroying the backslidden rebels.
Moses stood faithfully in God’s presence and said, “Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people”—Exodus 32:12.
Apply this to illustrate the power of prayer.
The Rapture in Genesis
The presence of the “Dead Sea” in Palestine and also the surrounding desert stand as a striking proof of the fact and severity of God’s judgment on the cities of the plain.
God could not destroy the cities as long as Lot was living there. So God took them out. When they were safely away God destroyed the cities.
The reminds us of a great NT doctrine: The Rapture—1 Thessalonians 4.
This is when the Lord will remove believers from the earth, and after this will come judgment.