Abraham has a discussion with God in Genesis 18 about God decision on Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham has this discussion because God invites him into the decision-making process through which God is going to determine what to do with the sound of sin rising to heaven from these cities. In other words, God chose to stop by Abraham’s place and talk about what He was going to do in history, with these nation states, and the region Abraham to which Abraham has been called and assigned to represent God in the earth.
The discussion occurs because of Abraham’s assignment; otherwise God would just go to Sodom and Gomorrah and do what He thought best, when He thought best. The timing and action taken, however, are part of a strategy and purpose God is working through. God does things according to His own plans, not abstractly or randomly – God does not function by whim or mood. He functions by purpose and strategy.
Abraham’s Arrival Changes the Region
Abraham comes to this region by Divine call and assignment, and that assignment is part of Abraham’s life’s work destiny and purpose. God responds to these two city states based upon His own purpose for the place in the time of Abraham’s arrival. So, God’s representatives to a place in the time of His strategy are the most important determiners of how God deals with that place in that time.
While this seems complex to some people, it is simply to God. (What is obvious to God isn’t always obvious to man.) God says, “Here’s what I’m doing sending Abraham to this place at this time, so what I will do in Sodom – and I have to do something about this situation because Abraham is here now – will be determined between Me and Abraham, even through Me and Abraham. I will not do anything about Sodom and Gomorrah without including the man I’ve sent to represent and implement My purposes here and now.”
Abraham’s Assignment Changes the Representation
Once Abraham realizes that God is going to Sodom and Gomorrah, he understands fully what God is capable of and what God will do as a holy God about the sin of these cities. He knows God well enough to understand His nature, but Abraham immediately begins to discuss the issues based upon his own comprehension of justice: “Would you destroy the innocent with the wicked?”
This is a rhetorical question requiring no answer. Abraham is stated the obvious because as God’s representative, what is obvious to God has become obvious to Abraham.
Notice that this is not obvious to Lot because Lot does not represent God in this region, and Lot separate from Abraham is exposed to the conditions of this region in a very unhealthy way. Even though the Bible clearly states that Lot is righteous, that Lot’s soul is vexed with the sin of the cities, Lot sits in the seat of authority in the cities, Lot still doesn’t represent God in the cities! While Lot will escape, the reality is that Lot will lose everything – everything – in the process because Lot is not engaged in the assignment of Abraham.
[I’m certain people will jump to faulty conclusions about what I’m pointing out here, with the inadequate and often misunderstood and misapplied definition and use of the term, “covering.” Please avoid jumping to any conclusions; either that what others say or you think about this term is what I mean if I were to use it. Note also that I am not using this term at all. What I am discussing is the reality that God deals with regions and generations – people in a time and place – according to His purpose and strategy and sends leaders into those regions at a time who represent His purposes and strategies. What God is doing may be much more obvious to these leaders than it is to other people, even righteous ones; and, what God does in that region at that time will be consistent with God’s strategy and their leadership. Aligning with the assignment is the place of covering more than aligning with the people in some humanly created structure. In other words, alignment is more than association as defined by men; it is alignment of function, set in place by God’s representatives to the region.]
Lot was separated from Abraham because he wasn’t in alignment with Abraham’s sent purpose. While being close to Abraham, Lot was still in it for himself, a Judas spirit working against the purpose of God in His sent representative. Lot wasn’t submitted to Abraham’s assignment, so he brought constant conflict to the relationship. Finally, Abraham separated the assignment from Lot in order to remove the distraction from the assignment. Lot insisted upon taking a place and position for himself instead of submitting his life to God’s purpose and strategy.
Some people in modern American christianism insist upon equal billing with every other leader in their region and generation. They surround themselves with people of sameness so they feel comfortable at the level of their function experiencing a soulish feeling of peace, acceptance, security, and success: “I feel so good right here, doing this and that, finding myself and my potential here, and just finally fitting in.” Well, that motivated Lot so much that he chose to join himself to Sodom and Gomorrah, a righteous man joined to wickedness, rising to the top of the heap, the best banana in a really bad bunch. The Bible says, “Lot joined himself to Sodom.” Yet, the Bible says Lot is righteous.
[I hear the echoes of people saying that the New Covenant doesn’t work this way. Of course it does! Only much better! The principles of the Old were not destroyed but brought to fullness so we could get to work on fulfillment. The principles of who God is, how God does stuff, how God deals with nations, regions, cities, people, and generations is included in the book. The New Covenant didn’t change God one iota! The New Covenant enabled man, not God!]
Abraham’s Attitude Changes the Response
That brings us to the attitude of Abraham about what God is doing visiting the Sodom metroplex: Will not the Judge of the whole earth do right? Of course He will! So, what will the Judge of the whole earth do, by what principles will the Judge judge? If He were to discover fifty righteous people in the cities, would He spare them from destruction? Yes! If He were to find as few as ten, would He spare the cities. Yes!
Abraham is discovering something of God’s nature and his attitude changes the response of God in one very fundamental way: God is willing to discuss His actions with His sent leaders. To listen to their attitude about cities and regions. To measure His own response by their responses.
The only way a person who lives in a city or region can become part of that dialogue is to align with God’s sent leaders: if you weren’t sent here, your place of being sent is with the ones God has sent here. You can’t just be in a place because you join yourself to the place! You have to be in place by aligning yourself with God’s purpose and strategy. In this way, you will begin to get some of God’s attitude in you so you can have discussions with God that makes sense.
Abraham’s attitude was a response to God’s attitude. Abraham’s attitude changes God’s response because God has chosen to discuss His actions with the sent leaders of the region at the time of His taking action: God didn’t just do whatever He wanted to do; He consulted with His representative because that was consistent with His purpose. God wants to proceed and process with a representative. Abraham is sent at the time he is sent so he will be in place at the time God will act.
Abraham’s attitude develops from a shared spiritual experience with God. Abraham understands Sodom from God’s point of view and the perspective of God’s purpose. God is dealing with Sodom and Gomorrah in this way, not simply because they are evil since many city states of evil; He is dealing with Sodom and Gomorrah this way because of His purpose for the land, and the discovery that these cities have fallen into a place of irredeemable chaos: nothing is left within the cities that serves as a basis for restoration and redemption. [Just as the earth before the Flood.]
Abraham’s attitude matches God’s attitude: whenever and wherever possible, God is out to redeem and restore His purpose for cultures, to restore His purpose for places and generations. When a place and people at any time move beyond the line of redemption, God will not allow that level of rebellious chaos to continue; but as long as there is a righteous remnant available, God continues to work in mercy.