coffee and a Bible

Abraham the Intercessor (Genesis 18:23)

Share the Post:

We normally think of Moses as the primary intercessor of the Old Testament.

After all, he’s the one that steps in several times to ask God to forgive the nation of Israel for their sins (Exodus 32:30-33). They didn’t deserve a man like Moses to lead them — someone who loved them unconditionally and cared so deeply about their survival.

Yet in Genesis 18, it’s Abraham who steps into this role for a moment.

After God outlines His plans for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asks a simple question: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23).

Who Was Abraham Protecting?

Some have argued that Abraham’s plea for God’s mercy is given on behalf of the cities themselves.

I don’t believe that’s true, for a couple of reasons.

First, because Abraham’s prayer acknowledges the existence of the wicked. They’re there — no doubt about it. He knows it, he’s seen it, and most likely, has heard about it from his nephew Lot. He knows that judgment will eventually find its way to them; no amount of interceding will change that.

It’s noteworthy that Abraham sets the bar really low to begin with when he begins to ask God for leniency. His first request is to find 50 people in the entire city of Sodom. 

If we’re correct to assume that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were prominent cities in the Transjordan area, this represents a fraction of a fraction of the people that live there. The fact that he eventually only asks about finding ten doesn’t change that at all.

Second, and most directly, his prayer reveals what his aim is: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Even though he acknowledges God’s justice, he doesn’t want the righteous to become a sort of “collateral damage,” paying the price for the sins of the wicked.

God’s Justice is Just

Personal safety is always a concern when we’re surrounded by sin. I remember getting in trouble several times as a kid just because I happened to be near my brother who was acting up (I was always completely innocent, I promise).

But God doesn’t work that way. He knows those who are His (2 Peter 2:4-10), and has said repeatedly that people will bear the punishment for their own sins — not someone else’s (Ezekiel 18:19-20).

If you’re living for God, you have nothing to be concerned about from the people in the world around you (Romans 8). You have your own intercessor in Heaven (Jesus) that is pleading on your behalf continually (Hebrews 7:25).