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Mosaic Boston

Mosaic Boston

102 episodes

Jul 25, 2021

7.25.21 

Jul 18, 2021

A Prayer for Restoration 

Jul 11, 2021

God is King 

Jul 4, 2021

Balm Psalms, Season 2, Week 1 

Jun 27, 2021

Sarah's Death and Burial 

Jun 20, 2021

Faith Under Pressure 

Jun 13, 2021

Plant a Tree in the Desert 

Jun 6, 2021

Déjà vu All Over Again 

Audio Transcript: This media has been made available by Mosaic Boston Church. If you'd like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston in our neighborhood churches or donate to this ministry, please visit mosaicboston.com. Good morning. Welcome to Mosaic Church. My name is Jan. We're the pastors here at Mosaic along with Pastor Shane and Pastor Andy. And if you're new or visiting we'd love to connect with you. We do that through the connection card in the worship guide. The physical one or you can also get the digital version in our app or on our website. And if you fill it out we'll be sure to get in touch with you over the course of the week. Happy summer. And happy bring an iced beverage to church day. If you see my last station back there I've got 18 water bottles back there. Stay hydrated my friends. Stay hydrated. Oh, that said would you please pray with me with the preaching of God's Holy Word. Heavenly Father we thank you that you are good God and you are a great God. Although our sins, our rebellion, our transgressions deserve punishment. Instead, you poured out that punishment upon your Son Jesus Christ. The Lamb of God, the Son of God. Jesus on the cross, you got what we deserved so that you could offer to us what you earned. We thank you for the gift of salvation. We thank you for the gift of grace that just doesn't make any sense. Why would you do that? You did that because you are God who is love. We thank you for the Holy Scriptures. We thank you for the story and the example of Abraham that often he was not a hero, he was actually an anti hero. And yet you came in and you worked with him and he poured out your love upon him and you kept sculpting him, kept molding him, kept shaping and sanctifying him and I pray that you do the same with us. If there are habitual sins in our lives. If there is recidivism in our lives where we fall back into patterns of sin I pray today pull us out by your grace and give us a vision for our lives to be people who are a blessing to many. Bless our time the holy word. Holy Spirit we welcome you into the space. We love you and we love your presence. We pray that you today convict us and encourage us where we need to be encouraged. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen. We are in a sermon series. Going through parts of the book of Genesis. We're calling it Jesus in Genesis. And we're in particular looking at the story of Abraham and how our story relates to his story and more importantly how his story and our story points to the story of Jesus Christ and our need for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The title of the sermon today is Déjà vu All Over Again. And we see Abraham committing his greatest sin that he's ever committed. And he does it again. In chapter 19 we saw the story of God's punishment coming down on Sodom and Gomorrah. God pulls through the angels Lot out and ends the story in a very hopeless situation. So now we're done with Lot and we'll hear nothing more of him. And after the promise that God made in chapter 18, where Jesus Christ as a Kristoff and he shows up. He's flanked with angels. And he comes to Abraham and Sarah and promises that in a year you will have the promised son. You've been waiting for over two decades. Probably 25 years but next year he's coming. And what we're expecting after chapter 19, is that in chapter 20 Isaac is born. Why do we expect that? We expect that because Abraham has been winning. He's been growing in his faith. God called him in chapter 12. He said I'm going to bless you, I'm going to make your name great, I'm going to bless those who bless you. And I'm going to bless the nation's through you Abraham. He follows God and we see him early on his walk with the Lord was serpentine. It was wandering. Kind of like Storrow Drive. Just wavering back and forth. And what we see with Abraham is now he's beginning to string wins together. We see that beginning with Lot and goes to his nephew Lot and he gives him a pic of the land generously. And then after Lot is taken into captivity by a coalition of kings, Abraham the great warrior gets his 318 trained men and they together go to war to save Lot and he comes out victorious. He's recognized by Melchizedek as a man of God. He resists temptation. When the king of Sodom offers him financial profit, the Lord appeared to him twice to reaffirm and elaborate the covenant. And God said here's a sign of the covenant. You need to circumcise yourself. And Abraham in his '90s probably his greatest act of faith promptly obeys, circumcised himself with a flint knife and does the same to 318 trained men. You see just his faith guides everything that he does. Win after win after win after win and apparently he got tired of all that winning. So after Abraham wins, now Abraham sins. And in chapter 20, Abraham takes his 90-year old wife. He's 100. He takes his 90-year old wife and passes her off to King Abimelech. And she's taken into his harem. He pimps off his 90-year old wife. Apparent grandma was really good looking. I don't know what it was. A different oxygen, different food levels, no GMO, Pilates. I have no idea. But apparently at 90 she was still smoking hot and King Abimelech takes her into his hands. So we'll get into that. The worst part is. The worst part that as I sat down and I'm like chapter 20. I'm writing this sermon. I'm crestfallen. I'm like, "Oh, no. Not again." The worst part of this whole situation is he's done this before. He pimped off his wife who was a little younger to the king of Egypt back in chapter 12. And God intervened and God saved him. And now he does the same thing again. Big lesson for us is dear Christian sin clings so closely. And time with the Lord does not make you impervious to sin. It doesn't make you impervious to falling back into old patterns of sin. Into tragic recidivism where you relapse. The point of the whole text is Abraham's a sinner saved by grace. Still remains a sinner. He's a saint, he was a sinner and a sinner who's a saint. So never lose sight dear Christian. That we have to be aware of sin and that we are to fight the good fight of faith. We'll do the same thing we've done in the past weeks. We're going to walk through the text verse by verse. But three big sections. Three points to frame up our time. Point one is Abimelech restrained. Second is Abraham rebuked and third is Abimelech restored. First Abimelech restrained. Genesis 20:1. And from there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur. And he sojourned into Gerar. So Abraham was called by God to go to the land of Canaan. That's the promised land. The first time he sinned against his wife and against God, he went from the promised land to Egypt. Now he goes from the promised land to Kadesh and Shur into Gerar. He's traveling from the extremely southern point of Palestine. Shur was on the border of Egypt. And he visits the royal city of Gerar which is just above the Gulf of Suez on the way to Egypt. Suez we've heard recently in the news. The Suez Canal. That's where the container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal. This is the general vicinity where Abraham goes. It's hostile territory. We're not told why he goes. Perhaps he went because there was famine in the land or perhaps he went because he was afraid of God who judged Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham watched him judge Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps he was afraid of retaliation from the neighbors of Sodom and Gomorrah, that they will retaliate against Abraham in order to retaliate against God or perhaps he was bitter. Later on the text he says God made me go from my hometown to land of Canaan. There's a bitterness. Perhaps it's because he expected that when he interceded for Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah that God would answer him. And he didn't get what he wanted from God. Perhaps he's... But we're not sure. So now we see him going into hostile territory with his flocks, with his herds, with the people he has with him. He's a chieftain. There's over 300 people with him. So it's a huge caravan. And he's going into hostile territory as a believer. These are different people, they worship different gods. It's kind of moving to Boston from somewhere where it's acceptable to be a Christian. You move up to Boston and you keep your bumper stickers on your car. You keep the little fish on your car. Why do you keep the fish on your car? Because you're a Christian. That's why. Why'd you put the fish in your car in the first place? Because back in Mississippi when Christian police officers pull you over, they're going to let you go. You're a Christian. Up here no one cares. I remember when Pastor Shane moved up here, he had a little Toyota Camry. And he had a little Jesus fish on the back of his car. And after an evening service, we show up this car and the back windshield was just mis shattered. Someone threw a brick through the back of his car. Why? I don't know. Jesus fish maybe. So if you've got Jesus fish on your car, man congratulations. You are a very bold Christian. And now you have to drive like a hostile territory. He goes there. He knows that he is not like these people. That he believes unlike these people. These are enemies of Israel. We'll learn later on. The Philistines come from this general land. So what happens? Well, Genesis 20:2. Abraham said of Sarah his wife. So now people are asking, "Hey Abraham. Who's that woman next to you? She's apparently very good looking." And the tradition of that land was the king could take any unmarried woman into his harem or the king could kill any husband of the married woman to take her into his harem. So that's why Abraham said of his wife Sarah. She is my sister. And Abimelech King of Gerar sent and took Sarah. He takes Sarah the wife of Abraham. First thing Abraham does is exactly the same thing he did 30 years ago. Why? What's he motivated by? Motivated by fear. Fear for his life. And he gives up his dear wife Sarah. Decades they've been married. Gives her up to a King Abimelech into his harem. Now I've been married by God's grace and my wife Tanya. It's going to be 15 years this week. Someone came up to me. Praise... Yea, clap for her. Good job. Thanks, Edgar. And I've made some faux pas. Some mea culpa. Some my bads in my life in my marriage. I have some bad ones. The first one I think is first year married. I forgot it was her birthday. I just forgot her birthday. Show up at home, she's dressed up, makeup on. It's dinner on the table. Beautiful. And I'm like, "What's the occasion? Of course I know. Well, I forgot your present in the car." So I run down. And I go to the nearest store that was next our apartment building. It was TJ Maxx or Marshalls. And I went to the first thing I could find. And it was a little wooden bucket with soap stuff. And some country CDs. So that's what I grabbed for. I was like, "You're from Ukraine. You like country music." No, she did not. That was a... So still to this day I'm recovering. I've made some bad mistakes in my marriage. But I've never pimped off my wife. Praise God. And the lesson here gentlemen is don't pimp off your wife. That's number one. Number two, is Abraham the great father of the faith does this. And he does it twice. And what's the lesson here? The lesson here is under pressure, under stress, under anxiety. When motivated by fear, it's so easy to relapse the former sins. It's so easy to go back to old patterns of life. So the question for us today is what sins from your past are you prone to return to? Especially when under stress. And when are you prone to return to them? And you need to know that. You need to reverse engineer your walk with the Lord and you need to know yourself and when you're tempted so that you do not make provision for the flesh. Don't put yourself in positions where your flesh takes over. And instead of walking by the spear you walk by flesh. Speaking of harems. The custom of the land. You have power, you have money, you can make yourself a harem. A harem is just a group of women that you sleep with. Your concubines. Perhaps you don't have the money and the power and the opportunity to build yourself a harem. But we live in a day and age when people are building not physical harems but definitely digital ones. And Jesus spoke right into that. And he said whoever looks upon a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Abimelech committed the sin of adultery when he just looked at another man's wife. And so we see Abraham sinned and we see Abimelech sins and there's a lesson for us that we are to fight our sin and protect in particular sexual sin. So the question is what's going to happen? Who will protect Sarah from being defiled? Because God promised that Sarah is going to have a child with Abraham. God promised a unilateral covenant that he's not going to break his word. That's exactly what we see God coming to the rescue. This is verse three. But God. I love that phrase because that's the same phrase that's used in Ephesians when it says that you are dead in your sins and your trespasses. All of us are on our way to hell but God intervenes but God sent his Son. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you've taken for she is a man's wife. Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me she is my sister and she herself said he is my brother. In the integrity of my heart. And the innocence of my hands I have done this. God speaks, God intervenes. Speaks to him in a dream. Does God still speak in dreams? Yeah, he does. And sometimes to you, sometimes to your loved ones. This week I was sitting at home in my basement. It was 11:00 PM and I smell something burning. And I run around. I ran upstairs and make sure it's nothing upstairs. And then I ran back downstairs and one of my outlets was on fire. I had to pull out a plug and sparks were flying. I was like, "Whoa, that was weird." The next day my daughter Elizabeth wakes up and says to my wife, "Hey, Mom. I had a dream that our basement set on fire." Sounds trippy. She had no idea. And I was like, "Did we make it on alive?" She said yeah. I was like, "All right. Praise God." It's just once a month. So sometimes God speaks in prophetic dreams. Sometimes it's just to reaffirm yes, I'm with you. Yes, I'm here to protect you. Sometimes it encourage, sometimes is to sanctify. So God speaks to an unbeliever through a dream. Can God speak to unbelievers? Yeah. God can do whatever he want with whomever he wants. He sovereign speaks to this guy in a dream and says you're a dead man. The same God who set Sodom and Gomorrah on fire, judgment, fire, brimstone comes to King Abimelech who's definitely heard about what went on Sodom and Gomorrah. And he says you are a dead man. I'm going to kill you. Does God have the authority to take our life? Yeah. The God of the universe who gives us life can take it at any single moment. And God says that you're dead. Maybe you've taken another man's wife. Why? Because God cares about marriage. He cares about marriage a lot. Abimelech says I haven't approached her yet. And Abimelech says Lord, that's a great start. Lord, he knows that this is God and he speaks of innocence. He's like, "God, I'm innocent." Actually a relative term. He's sinful in other ways. But from this perspective, he's innocent. He did what he did without knowing the full story. And Abimelech makes the same argument to God that Abraham made to God as He was interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah. He says will not the just God of the universe do what is right. And he's got a case. What he's really saying is, God I didn't deserve this. If anyone does deserve it, who is it? If anyone does deserve to get whacked for the situation that they're in, who deserves to get whacked? Abraham. God why aren't you coming after Abraham? Why are you coming after Sarah? Who also isn't a total victim. Apparently they played this con whenever they've when because that's what Abraham says later on the text. I asked my wife. I was still talking about this text. And she's like, "You know what? I bet Sarah wanted to leave." I was like, "Why did you say that?" She's like, "Just imagine you have the option of being a princess. You were living in a tent. Now you get to live in a mansion. She's not completely innocent either. You get a black American Express Card. You get your hair's done and your nails done, your hair done and all that done like everyone's pampering. Who knows. But she went along with this plan." And what's fascinating about this text is Abimelech the pagan king is more righteous. Presented as more righteous in this text than the man of God. In chapter 18, God said about Abraham. I've called him. He's mine. I've chosen him to be righteous, teach righteousness to his children. And we see the unbeliever behaving more moral than the believer. And that's often the case. Unbelievers are sometimes some of the most moral people just really, really good people. Generous people, caring people, loving people. And then on the flip side, it's the believers that are sometimes the most mischievous and the most sinful. You ever do business with a Christian? With an unbeliever, you got to sign one contract. With believers, two. At least two. Because of the Christian, when they became a Christian, they understand how wicked they are. That's what makes them a Christian. What makes you a Christian is I have sinned against God, I need to repent. It's really bad. Every Christian that you see is a really bad person. But the difference is they know they're a bad person. Sometimes the moral people are very moral people to get away from God. Abimelech is the moral person in this text. At the end of the text, he's very generous but he never becomes a Christian. He never loves God. You can do a lot of good things. And you can be a very moral person and not be a believer not go to heaven because you are doing all the great things not for God but for self. Back to Abraham. What was motivating him? What motivated him to sin again? It might have been bitterness against God. It might have been just time has elapsed. It's been 30 years since chapter 12 and chapter 20. It might have been that he knows just how lavish God's grace is. Did Abraham deserve to be called by God? No. Did Abraham deserve to get a word from God? No. Did Abraham deserve for God to speak to him and show him the covenant? No, no, no, no. Did Abraham deserve for God to tell him I'm making a unilateral covenant with you even if you break your end of the bargain, I'm still going to hold up mine? He didn't deserve that. Abraham also knew that God saved him once. I sinned you save me again. You also promised me that within a year I'm going to have a son. So clearly, you are going to work out your plan. And you might not need me in the process. This whole idea of I can sin because God will come to the rescue. This idea is called cheap grace. Where you say Jesus died on the cross for all my sins past, present and future. So why not continue to sin? God will forgive me. It's his job. I think part of that is going on in this idea of cheap grace. And yet God will forgive. Dear Christian, if you are in your sins. If you sin, God will forgive you if you repent of that sin. But it doesn't mean you won't bear the consequences of that sin. And it definitely doesn't mean that God won't discipline you like a loving father. Does God discipline Abraham in this text for this sin? Oh, yeah. He publicly shames Abraham through Abimelech. And he publicly shames Abraham for 1,000s of years by including this text in the Bible. So we look at this guy like, "You're a loser. You're a loser twice." God does discipline. Look at Hebrews 12:5-11. Have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline. If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the father of spirits and live. For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them. But he disciplines us for our good. That we may share his holiness. For he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant. But later, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Shows us that we're saved not by a morality. This is what the text shows us. But just by sheer grace. We're saved by sheer grace not because we're better. We're not Christians because we're better. We're Christians because we're saved, forgiven. And we're not saved because we're good. We're not forgiven because we're good. We're saved because God is good. That's really what this chapter is highlighting. That despite Abraham's sin, how great God's grace is to intervene and help him. God intervenes just like in chapter 12 showing you that God is the only hero of the story and of the book of Genesis of the whole Bible. And God intervenes his work in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah, right? And that's what God is doing. He's exposing sin in their marriage. He's exposing deception in their marriage. A lack of faith prior to the child coming. And this is important lesson that before you have a child, you need to know that whatever sin there is, you got to work through and repent of it and do the hard work because when children come, everything just gets magnified. It's just exponentially harder. Not only does your wife see your sin but the kids see your sin and oh, your sin then impacts your kids. And imagine Isaac wakes up and he says, "Abraham. Dad. Daddy, where's mommy?" And then Abraham's like, "Oh, long story. Hear I pimped her out to King Abimelech. You want cereal for breakfast." That would scar the kid for life. So God is working on their marriage exposing the sin. So there's repentance prior to when the child comes. Verse six. God speaking to Abimelech. Then God said to him in the dream. Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart. And it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore, I did not let you touch her. Now then return the man's wife for he is a prophet so that he will pray for you. And you shall live but if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die. You and all who are hers. So I didn't touch her. You wanted to obviously. That's why you married her. I don't let you consummate the marriage. So God here is sovereign even over sin. He's the one that keeps Abimelech from sinning and the part of the Lord's Prayer is Lord, lead us not into temptation. God I beg you please keep me from sin. Prevent me from sin. And God does that with Abimelech. And then God gives Abimelech a choice. You can either return her and live or if you don't, you'll die. And that's the same choice that God gives every single human being. Either repent and that's turning from sin and you will live. Repent and believe in Jesus Christ. You will live if not, you shall surely die. The decision is yours. If Sarah had stayed even one night with Abimelech, there would have always been a question of is Abraham Isaac's dad? And the other thing I want to point out is this is the first use of the word prophet in scripture. And which is very ironical though. We're prophets messenger for God. And the first time the word prophet is used is in the context of the Prophet's sin. Showing that every single human prophet is fallible and sinful and it points to our need for a greater profit who's never sinned. And Abraham will pray for you. And at this point, Abimelech is got to be thinking what in the world? The guy sinned against me, lied to me. And now it turns out he's a prophet. And it turns out he needs to pray for me so that I can get saved. It doesn't make any sense. Just from a human perspective from a societal justice perspective. It doesn't make any sense. We'll leave that hanging until point three. Point two. Abraham rebuked. We see this in verse eight. So Abimelech rose early in the morning which is contrast to Lot when God warned him through the angels. Hey, get out of Sodom and Gomorrah because fire and brimstone coming. Lot slept on it woke up had breakfast. Finally, the angels had to drag him out. Here Abimelech wakes up first thing in the morning. This what he does. Called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. Abimelech fears God. His servants fear God. And yet they don't become believers at the end. They fear God like children fear a stranger. Please I don't know what you're going to do with me. I'm afraid of you. Abraham fears God as a child. There's a difference. There's a loving relationship. Here Abimelech never becomes a Christian. His father's never become Christian. They're just afraid of punishment. Whereas a real child of God fears disappointing God which obviously Abraham did in this situation. So he too needs to grow in fear of God. Verse nine. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you?" That's interesting. Because the very first time that the word sin is used in this chapter is from God talking to Abimelech. I kept you from sinning. So now Abimelech has an understanding of sin. That sin is transgressing God's law. How have I sinned against you that you brought on me and my kingdom of great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done. And here what's fascinating is Abimelech preaches a sermon to Abraham. Abimelech gets everyone to get the whole court together. Puts Abraham in front. It just lights them up with the words that God gave them. So this is God speaking through Abimelech that you Abraham are a hypocrite. Your witness is terrible. Your witness to God. If God didn't intervene, all of us would have perished. You would have brought great sin on me and the kingdom. You did what ought not to have been done. And that's a fascinating term. Abimelech how did you know what ought to be done? How do you know? God told him. Abraham, did you know what ought to be done? Yeah. So you sinned against me. And this is a fascinating idea. And every single person you ask that's alive and a christian or non Christian. You ask them is the world as it ought to be? And every single person says no, the world is not as ought to be. There's a lot of crime and there's a lot of evil and there's a lot of terrible things in the world. Corruption in the world. The world is not as it ought to be. Are you as you ought to be? No, I'm not. Well, how do you know? Because there's a moral law written on your heart. A moral compass. Is it calibrated perfectly? No, it takes God's word brought in to recalibrate Abimelech's moral compass here. Abimelech's concern isn't just for himself but for his kingdom. Which shows that he's a good ruler and again shows that he's a good person despite the norms of the day. Verse 10, Abimelech said to Abraham. What did you see that you did this thing? Abraham said I did it because I thought there is no fear of God at all in this place and they will kill me because of my wife. So Abimelech is like, "Why do you do this?" And Abraham says I did this because you guys don't fear God. And here Abraham is the hypocrite of Matthew seven where Jesus says before you pull out the speck in your brother's eye, make sure there's not a log in your own eye. So Abraham to Abimelech. He's like, "I did this because you don't love God. You don't fear God. I did this because you have a toothpick in your eye." As Abraham has a two by four in one eye and a telephone pole in the other. He's just the biggest hypocrite of this whole text. You guys don't fear God. I just knew all of you guys are perverts and sickos and weirdos. You kill me to take my wife. So I decided to pimp her out before you did that. Just the logic is so warped. I knew you were so sinful. So I'm going to sin to prevent you sinning against me. And this just shows a lack of faith. He didn't go into the place on mission to share the gospel. He went to the place selfishly to preserve his wealth, kind of like Lot did when he went to Sodom. And apparently there was more fear of God in Abimelech than there was in Abraham. That's the contrast. Verse 12. Besides. So now Abraham is... He knows he's caught. But he lawyers up and he just... Oh, what a text. Besides, he pathetically tries to make excuses. He's caught in sin and he's like, "Besides." He's like, "I knew you don't fear God. And besides she is indeed my sister. Cue the country music. She is indeed my sister." Like a pro. Why are you even...? Don't even bring that up. Why did you marry your sister? Oh, because it was easier. We didn't have to change last names. You're a pervert. Don't do that. This is pathetic. It's like you get caught in a sin and then you try to excuse it and the excuse is even worse than the sin. You get pulled over by a cop and the cop is like, "Why are you speeding? Why are you speeding?" And you say, "I swear to drunk. I'm not God. I'm not God." The first service nobody got it. Here, a couple... The excuses are worse than the sin itself. Kids do this all the time. Where you get caught in a sin and then you just try to excuse it. That's what Abraham is doing. He knows he's caught. He's caught by daddy, he's caught by Abimelech. And then he starts saying this is my sister that I married her. My father though not the daughter of my mother and she became that way. And when God caused me to wander from my father's place that's it. That's the verse. God caused me to wander. When God forced me to wander. Remember last week I was talking about Lot. He got saved but he wasn't happy about it. It's like a high schooler getting saved before they start freshman year in college. And like, "Don't save me yet I want frat parties." That was Lot. That's Abraham. He wants to sin right now. And he's just caught in the sin. And then who does he blame for this whole situation? Oh, God caused it. Same thing Adam did. Adam sins, eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God comes looking for him. Adam where are you? And what does Adam say? The wife whom you gave me. She forced me. You see the past 70. You see he's trying to shirk his responsibility. Pass it off. There's bitterness toward God. And I said to her this is the kindness you must do to me at every place to which we come. Say of me he is my brother. And he's saying this is the kindness you got to do me. This is how you need to love me. That's what we're doing. Instead of saying how can I love my wife and sacrifice myself to protect her, he goes to his wife and says this is how you must love me and sacrifice yourself to protect me. He's just got everything back. And remember last week I was talking about Abraham was a great patriarch and Lot was a soytriarch. Where here Abraham, he's back to soytriarch land. He loses his spine. His faith spine and he goes to his wife and he says I want you to sacrifice yourself for me anti gospel. What is the gospel? The gospel is Jesus Christ sacrificing himself for his bride. And then Jesus says to husbands. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Abraham is doing the opposite here and technically was Sarah his sister. Yes, technically yes. But it's not the full truth. She was also his wife. His sister wife. A half truth masquerading as the full truth is a full lie. And we need to know this. If you are going to grow in discernment and understanding of reality, you need to understand that this is the thing. People lie with facts. Just like Abraham lies with facts. People lie with statistics all the time. Your head could be in the oven and your feet in the freezer and on average, very comfortable temperature. You're not comfortable. Statistic lie all the time. If you want to understand politics and you understand the news. You need to understand that people all the time spin one fact and present one fact which is half truth as the full truth. And they do it for click bait and they do it for eyeballs and they do it to persuade us with a narrative et cetera. So we as believers need to grow in discernment knowing that people lie all the time with facts. And this is what Abraham was doing. Abraham's behavior is pathetic, it's an excusable, it's deeply disappointing. He's here no different than Lot was in last chapter. Last chapter Lot takes the angels into his house, shows them hospitality and then an order protect himself and the angels, he passes off his daughters to the gang rapers. And he says, "Hey, take my virgin daughters instead of the angels." He's sacrificing his beloved ones for himself. Abraham's doing the same exact thing here. The worst part he's in the middle of his Christian life. It should be expected that he would do better but he suffers from what something that all of us suffer from is thing called spiritual amnesia. And once again he falls on his face, fails in his faith. We see cowardice, selfishness, indifference. He stumbles badly. So will his son Isaac. Who will do the same thing. And then his great, great grandsons will sin as well Judah in particular. Abraham stumbled, so have I. And so have you. And this just shows the fallibility of the saints. And when you become a Christian, you're still a sinner. You're a sinner saint and a saint sinner. And the privileged position doesn't preclude him from failure. It doesn't preclude him from floundering. Genesis 20:14. Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen and male servants and female servants and gave them to Abraham and returned Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, behold my land is before you, dwell where it pleases you. To Sarah he said, behold I've given your brother... Tremendous Abimelech. Tremendous little jab. Behold I've given your brother 1,000 pieces of silver. It's a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you before everyone you were vindicated. What in the world just happened? Abraham sins against Abimelech. Abimelech is the one giving gifts to Abraham. This makes no sense. It should have been Abraham saying here Abimelech. I'm sorry. My bad man. Here's some animals. Here's some silver. Instead, Abimelech is the guy. He's like, "Take the animals, take any real estate you want. Here's 1,000 pieces of silver. Half a piece of silver was a monthly wage of an average worker. Half. So that means 1,000 pieces is working 167 years. That's like if our average salary is 40 grand. He's given him $7 million. Just incredible wealth. On top of that, this is what Abimelech is doing. This why I think he's a funny guy. When you get married, the price of a bride was 50 shekels and he's like Abraham I'm not just going to give you 50 shekels. I'm going to give you the price of 20 brides. 1,000 shekels. It's boss right here. And part of what he's doing is, he's vindicating the honor of Sarah. He cares more about her reputation than Abraham did himself. So Abraham was a complete anti hero here. Abimelech takes God's warning seriously. Abraham doesn't. Story continues. These are point three. Abimelech restore. Genesis 20:17. Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. Apparently part of what happened with Abimelech was there was a curse put on all the people for Abraham's sin. And the wombs of the people were closed. And what's ironic is... Oh, and this is verse 18. For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife. The irony is that in order to open Sarah's womb for the promised son, God closed the wombs of many other women. Here the Lord is Lord of Abraham's sin. He's the Lord of Abimelech's non sin and he's the lord of childbirth. And he's the Lord over everything. A question here that I want to wrestle with at the end in closing is why is this text here? Why is this here? It teaches the lesson that we all stumble, that we all fall. We have a proclivity to relapse into sin. But is that all it's teaching us? I think it is teaching us more. Because by the end of the chapter, despite Abraham's sin. Abraham is a better man for it. He's learned from this sin. In a sense he's been sanctified by his sin and he's been blessed through the process of the sin. So there's a deeper lesson going on here. And I think there's a doctrine here. A doctrine that's taught by theologians in their books not often taught out loud. Because of the danger of this doctrine being twisted to justify sin. The doctrine's called O felix culpa in the Latin. O happy fault. And the phrase goes back to Gregory the Great in the end of the sixth century. And he got it from Augustine. And who got it from St. Paul in Romans seven. That yes, we wrestle with sin undeniably. But at the end, it brings glory to God because our sin... It turns our attention to Christ like nothing else does. Sin is undeniably ugly is disreputable, inexcusable, it's harmful. It's an abomination before God. But sin is also an occasion often to learn the absolute deepest lessons of our lives. Life changing discoveries. Now sometimes you know what true. You know a truth. I'm a sinner saved by grace. You know a truth. And then you sin. You commit a sin that scares you. Why I did that. And you walk out of that sin by God's grace pulls you out. And you have such a deep awareness of sin like you never have a deeper fear of God. A deeper love for God and more zeal to fight the good fight of faith without the fall, without the sin of Adam and Eve, we would have never had the incarnation. We would have never had the death of Christ on the cross. The resurrection. We wouldn't have had some of the most incredible victories in the spiritual warfare. One theologian says there would certainly have been no display of some of the divine attributes of God had sin not been. They would have been conserved forever and the depth of the Godhead. So in a sense, we get to know more of God, the depth of God, the greatness of God because sin entered the world. And obviously, we can't use that as an excuse to excuse our sin, to justify our sin. God hates sin. Sin is wickedness. But there is this undeniable reality. As John Owen says the greatest evil in the world is sin. And the greatest sin was the first. And yet Gregory feared not to cry O happy fault which found such a redeemer. And I think we can't deny that. Some of the greatest lesson we've ever learned in our lives about God, about the truth, the reality of good and of evil, of God and of Satan, we've done through the sin. Romans 7:14-25. This is the text that Augustine points to. For we know that the law is spiritual but I am of the flesh sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me that is in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies closer and for I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from the body of death. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I myself serve the law of God with my mind but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. The logic is irresistible. I'm wrestling with sin. St. Paul says he struggled with sin. If he was always finding himself flat on his face even near the end of his life mourning his great moral weakness then there's hope for me and there's hope for you. His sin pointed him to the glory of the Savior Christ. And Christ gets glory from saving us from sin. And then God uses our sin in the process of sanctification because we realize what it took for Jesus to turn my sin into sanctification. What did it take? It took the cross of Jesus Christ. There on the cross of Jesus Christ, Jesus got what we deserved. Punishment for our sin to extend to us where he earned. Kind of like Abraham and Abimelech. Abraham sins, God goes to Abimelech and says you're a dead man. Abraham gets what he didn't deserve. And then Abimelech gives to Abraham... So Abimelech gets what he didn't deserve. Abimelech gives to Abraham what Abraham didn't deserve. It's a double imputation. This is what happens when we believe in Jesus Christ. That our sins get counted to him. His righteousness gets counted to us. He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. Obviously the danger here is that we can sin as a way to get more grace and Romans six deals with that. And obviously that's false. In Romans two, St. Paul sternly condemns that idea that doing evil may bring about good. Does God want us to be complacent with sin? Does God want us to sin? Of course not. But this chapter's showing that God is greater than our sin. Whatever the things in your path, God is greater than our sins and God can use those sins as a sculptor. We're all block of marble and Jesus is sitting here with a hammer and chisel and just chiseling away the sinful parts of who we are so that we can be more faithful to him. And the final analysis Abraham is a better man. He's prepared for the rest of his life to live a life of faithfulness. 2 Timothy 2:13. If we are faithless he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself. Did Abraham betray the covenant? Yes, he did. But God did not. Abraham gave God reason to withdraw the promise but God would not. Abraham dishonored the Lord's name, dishonored his word but the Lord not only forgave him not only rescued him but blessed him abundantly with land, with animals, restored his marriage and gave him $7 million. God used Abraham's misbehavior then to create peace and harmony with the people in the land. Now back to the question. Is this fair? Was this text fair? Was it fair that Abimelech almost gets whacked for doing something that he didn't know he was doing? Oh, it's not fair. Is it fair that Abraham who commits the sin is called a prophet and has to intercede for the guy that didn't do anything wrong? Is that fair? No. Is it fair that Abimelech then gives the sinner Abraham $7 million, land and vehicles? Is that fair? No, it's not fair. Is it fair that Jesus Christ dies on the cross for my sin? That's not fair. It's not fair. God is greater than fair. That's not fair. But that's grace. And that's why grace makes us so... Makes God so great. Look, you might be a great person. Good person. You might be much better person than I am. You might recycle much better than I do. Sometimes a plastic bottle goes in the garbage in my house. It's terrible. You might drive an electric vehicle. You're much better than I am. You might waive the right flags and you might go the right parades and be an activist for the right things. You might be a great moral person. Being a good person doesn't get you into heaven. It doesn't. That's the point with Abimelech. It's not about being a good person. It's about being a perfect person. And there's only one perfect person and that's Jesus Christ. And the only way we can be reconciled with God and have our sins forgiven is to believe in Jesus Christ and ask for his righteousness to be counted on to us. And that's the beauty of the gospel. That through faith in Jesus Christ, God sees Christ's righteousness in you. It's as if Jesus Christ is interceding for us. Abimelech needed Abraham to intercede for him but Abraham died. So who can intercede for us? There's one who can intercede for us who is not dead. He's sitting at the right hand of God interceding for us. Isaiah 53:12. Therefore, I will divide him a portion with the many and he shall divide the spoil with a strong because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors yet he bore the sin of many. It makes intercession for whom transgressors. This one means to be a Christian you say God I am a transgressor. I have sinned. God I need you to intercede for me. Jesus intercede for me. And Hebrews 7:25. Consequently, he is able to save the uttermost those who draw near to God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them. If you are not a Christian we welcome you to become a Christian today by repenting of sin and believing in Jesus Christ. If you do that you are welcome and partake in communion. Today for homeless communion it's for repentant Christians. How do you become a Christian? You repent of sin and turn to Jesus Christ is for repenting Christian. So if you're Christian, if you have repented of sin but are currently living in habitual sin, you know that our sins in your life that you have not repented of them you have not turned from then right now is the opportunity to repent of those sins and partake in Holy Communion. If you don't repent today, if you don't become a Christian today, we ask that you refrain from this part of the service per 1 Corinthians 11. Right now we're going to pray for Holy Communion. If you haven't received a cup and you'd like to partake in communion, raise your hand and the ushers will pass them out as I'm praying. Let's pray. Heavenly Father we thank you for the gift of grace. What a gift it is. We thank you that you are more than fair. That you are also a loving God, a gracious God, a merciful God, a God that's long suffering. A God that longs to bless us not just in our lives but to the third, the fourth, the 10th, the 10,000s generation that comes from us. Lord we thank you for the story of Abraham. We thank you that you didn't give up on him when he was faithless but you remained faithful. In our own lives Lord, we repent of sin and we ask you to forgive us for all those times we've been faithless. And fill us with the spirit to fight the good fight of faith. Continue to sanctify us Lord and make us people who not only wage war against sin but our daily victories over. Lord Jesus we thank you for pouring out your blood and we thank you for your broken body. And I pray that you cleanse us through your blood and that you heal us through the brokenness of your body. I pray this in Christ's name. Amen. Take off the first piece of plastic, take the bread and then peel off the second piece of plastic which opens up the cup. And the night Jesus Christ was betrayed he took the bread and after breaking he said this is my body broken for you. Take eat and do this remembrance of me. Then proceeded to take the cup. And he said this cup is the cup of new covenant of my blood was poured out for the sins of many. Take drink and do this in remembrance of me. Lord Jesus we thank you for your intercession on our behalf as you sit the right hand of the throne of God the Father. We thank you not just for forgiveness of sin but that you use even our past sins to shape us and sanctify us and to sculpt us into the people that you have created us to be. I pray Lord Jesus that you send us the Holy Spirit and fill us and empower us. Give us the wisdom and the power and the strength to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ and use us here in the city to share the gospel with many so that many are saved. Draw the elect into your kingdom. And please use us in the process. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

May 30, 2021

Don’t Grow Comfortable With Sin 

Audio Transcript: This media has been made available by Mosaic Boston Church. If you'd like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston in our neighborhood churches, or donate to this ministry, please visit mosaicboston.com. Good morning, and welcome to Mosaic. My name is Jan. I'm one of the pastors here at mosaic. And if you knew, if you're visiting, we're so glad you're here. We'd love to connect with you. We do that through the connection card, either the one that you can get virtually online or in the app, or the physical one, you can get in the back. If you fill it out and then submit it, we'll be sure to get in touch with you over the course of the week. Happy Memorial Day weekend. It's not just a three-day weekend. It is an opportunity for us to pause and to remember those who have fallen in fighting for our freedom. So, here in the beginning, we're going to pray for our law enforcement officers, we're going to pray for the military and those who are in authority over them, as we're told to do in scripture, let us pray. Heavenly father, we thank you that you are a God who has created us and you have created the world with a design, and you've woven into the design the idea of authority, that you are Lord over everything, that you have in innate authority, and then you delegate authority to others. Scripture tells us that you delegate authority even to the government, the governing authorities, and as Romans 13 says, in order for them to further the good and curb the evil. So, we thank you for those who are in law enforcement, for those who do a great job, for those in the military, and for those who are in authority over them. I pray that you give them wisdom, protect them from the evil one. Protect their lives and guide them as they do their job. We remember, Lord, today, those who have fallen, and the families of the fallen, we pray that you minister to them. Lord, and as they represent giving a life for those who are closest to us, giving life for friends, that is the epitome of love, that's what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. Lord, we thank you for this nation. We thank you for the blessing that it is to gather as believers and a free assembly to read the holy scriptures, to read them and to meditate upon them, and to apply them to our lives. Lord, Jesus, we thank you that you submitted to the authority of the father, that you humbled yourself, became a servant and went to the cross, and you did that to forgive us, to provide for a way for us to be forgiven for our rebellion against your authority, our rebellion against your moral authority, where you tell us how we are to live, how are to love, and how we are to serve. Lord, bless our time in the holy scriptures. Show us the anti-example of Lot. Make us a people who are less like Lot and more like Abraham, people who believe and actually act on that belief instead of believing secretly in our hearts by allowing our lives to have nothing to do with the faith. Lord, bless our time in the holy scriptures. We pray for the Holy Spirit. We want more of it. Welcome Holy Spirit. We welcome you to this place. Teach us. We pray all this in the beautiful name of Jesus Christ, amen. We're going through a sermon series through the book of Genesis that we are calling Jesus in Genesis. The title of the sermon today is don't grow comfortable with sin. Last week, we saw this incredible example of Abraham, father Abraham, who believes in God. And he knows that God is going to judge the wicked City of Sodom and Gomorrah. And he pleads with God. He intercedes on behalf of Sodom before God. A bright picture that points to Jesus Christ, and in chapter 19, we see just how wicked the City of Sodom was. And chapter 19, we get a vivid, raw, gritty account of the sinfulness of sin. It shows us how deep sin can get ingrained in a culture. We see a scene that's obscene, perverted. We see moral filth, pervasive debauchery. The big idea of the text is that we live in a sinful world, but we as Christians, as followers of God, we are to be in the world, not of the world. We are to be in the city of Boston would not allow the City of Boston into us, not allow the City of Boston to shape our worldview, to shape our values, to shape our idea of God, of gender, of sexuality, of what matters in life. Instead, we are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds with the word of God. This is Romans 12:1-2, "I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God," which is a spiritual worship. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you made discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Don't be conformed to this world, in particular, what it says we can do with our bodies, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, with the word of God. Let the word of God shape what you do with your bodies, because your body is a sacrifice. Today, we're going to walk through the text, the narrative. It's a long text, but I will draw out five lessons or five signs of conformity to the world. As we read the text and look at these signs, we need to be asking ourselves, where am I conforming to the world? The first sign of conformity to the world is you have the same goals as the world. The second is there's a tolerance of sin. The third is you have no spiritual authority. Fourth is a hesitation to sacrifice, and the fifth is the desire to keep a little sin, just a little sin. Would you look at the text with me in Genesis 19:1-3. "The two angels," these are the two angels that came with Yahweh, with Jesus in bodily form in chapter 18. These 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 and said, "My Lords, please turn aside to your servants house and spend the night 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." "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." First thing we see is Lot is sitting at the gate of Sodom. By this time, he is one of the leading citizens of the city. The first sign of conformity to the world is you have the same goals as the world. Who is Lot? Lot is the nephew of Abraham. They were living in the Ur of the Chaldeans, a pagan nation, a pagan city, and God calls Abraham, speaks to Abraham, and said, "Abraham, you are mine. I love you. I'm going to bless you. I'm going to bless those who are with you. I'm going to give you a great name and a great nation will come of you. And from your son, there will be salvation to all the world." Lot hears this call and says, you know what? I want to be blessed as well. Goes with Abraham to Canaan, the land of Canaan. He paused in Haran, goes to the land of Canaan, and he lives with father Abraham. He is blessed with Abraham, so much so, they had flocks and they had herds and he needed more land, more real estate to feed them. So, he chooses the green pastures, the fertile valley right next to Sodom and Gomorrah. The story of Lot is the typical story of an immigrant boy, who grows up in poverty and then makes it big in the city. It's a story of rags to riches, poverty to power. At this point in the story, he's a chief magistrate in the city, sitting at the gate. They're making decisions influencing the politics of the city. However, he went to Sodom with one goal. He went to Sodom for the same reason other people went to Sodom. He went to Sodom for the same reason most people come to Boston. He came to make a career for himself. He came to make money. He came to enrich himself, not reach the city for God. He had a monetary mindset, not a missionary mindset. He didn't think about reaching people for God. He didn't think about making an altar to God. He didn't think about the word of God, influencing his neighbors to believe in God. No, he just wanted to make money. Chapter 13, he was drawn towards Sodom. He pitches his tent outside of the city. Chapter 14, we see that he is now in the city owns real estate within the city. By chapter 19, he's one of the most influential people in the city, but when it comes time to stand up for righteousness and stand against evil, because he has been thoroughly compromised, nobody listens to him, and his witness is ineffective. Like uncle Abraham, in the text, we see that Lot, too, was a hospitable man. Meets these angels, wants to bring them into his house. Same words are used. The fact that he bowed before them, the fact that he wanted to wash their feet, the fact that he created a great feast for them. Later on, we see in the text, he's doing this, not just because he's hospitable, he's doing this because he knows how corrupt the men of Sodom are. He's trying to protect these angels, these men from the men of Sodom. It would be as if you see angels descend upon Methadone Mile, and they plan on camping out Methadone Mile, and you say, "No, no, no, no, no. We know what happens here at night. No, you are coming with me." That's what's going on. That's why he pleads with them. He was hoping that they would spend the night and then slip out quietly in the morning. Why? Because of verse four. "Before they laid down," so they have this feast, then, "before they laid down the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man surrounded the house." The text tells us that they were entirely corrupt. All of the men from young to old. So, you have nasty old men and you have prepubescent boys, who most likely were doing what the old men had taught them. The old men most likely molested through acts of pedophilia with the boys to allow them to live like this, to teach them to live like this. Sodom here shows us what the world looks like without God a city, where you're not safe to walk around at night, or else you might get raped. Genesis 19:5, "And they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them." Not that we may get to know them. It's a euphemism for, we want to have sex with them. "Bring them out so that we can, all of us from young to old, "rape these men, this fresh meat. We're going to rape them. We're going to gang rape them, Lot. Bring them out." We see the first sign of conformity to the world. Your goals are the same as everybody else and they begin to think that you are just like them and therefore your witness isn't powerful. Then sign two of conformity in the world is a tolerance of sin. A tolerance of sin. First of all, you need to know Lot, just by his connection to Abraham, does become a believer. He becomes a Christian. How do we know this? We know this from 2 Peter 2:4-8, where Peter, the apostle Peter calls him a righteous man twice, "Where if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment. If he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, the herald of righteousness with seven others when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes. He condemned them to extinction making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly." He rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the central conduct of the wicked. For as that righteous man lived among them day after day. He was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard. His soul was tormented because of the sensuality in the evil of the city. His witness meant nothing. Jesus Christ told his disciples, "Hey, go into a town, go into a village and preach the gospel there. If people get saved, tremendous. If they don't get saved, if no one responds to the preaching of the gospel, you walk out of that city, you dust off your sandals of that city and you keep going." Instead, Lot, first of all, he didn't preach the gospel. He didn't preach God's word. And second of all, he was fine living there. His soul was vexed, but not enough to leave the prosperity, to leave the status, to leave the influence, to leave the money. Here we see that he tries to fight back a little bit. Verse six, Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. He calls them his brothers. You're my brothers, you're my friends. He's known them for over a decade and he knows what goes on in the city. And he says, do not act so wickedly. What is this wicked, what they were about to do? Were the intentions of the heart? Yes. On what grounds? On what grounds is this wicked? Just because Lot said so? That's why they pushed back. They were like, who are you? You've lived there for over a decade. You're the mayor of the town and you've never said anything prior to this moment, who are you? But what he does next is just unbelievably, and it shows us how far he's gone in tolerating sin, and he has. He's tolerated the sin. Most likely, he had the mindset of honestly, who am I to tell them that this is wrong? Love is love. They're adults, consenting adults. They can do whatever they want. I have my own faith, that's my private faith. I'm not going to tell them that what they believe is actually evil. So, he comes up with a plan, verse eight, "Behold, I have two daughters," This is just disgusting. "I have two daughters who have not known any man. They're virgins. Let me bring them out to you and do to them as you please, only do nothing to these men for they have come under the shelter of my roof." You want to rape angels, let's not do that. Instead, here's my virgin daughters, raped them instead. That's what's happening. In his mind, hospitality was more sacred than the chastity of his daughters who, by the way, are also under his roof, who, by the way, also deserve his protection for him. This is where a tolerance of sin warps your worldview so much, where you get to the point where your moral compass is just so way off that you have no idea what is good and what is evil. Yeah, he had a sacred obligation to hospitality, but he had a sacred obligation to protecting his daughters. Why didn't he say, hey guys, let's not rape anybody. Let's not do that. Let's not rape angels, let's not rape my daughters. He doesn't do that. And we see the incredible contrast between Abraham, the patriarch and Lot here, who does not have the backbone, the spine to say, I am responsible for my ... I'm responsible for my own walk with God to submit to his authority. I'm responsible for my wife. I'm responsible for the faith of my daughters. By God's grace, I have four daughters. And my job as a father is to pastor them in the faith, to raise them up in the Lord, to teach them to fear the Lord and love the Lord, to pastor them, to protect them, to protect them. I will protect them. I will protect them to the death, and I will teach them to protect their selves. I will teach them to fight and I will teach them to shoot pepper spray and a gun. Why? Because I know there are people in the world that wants to destroy them. That's my job. As a father, I am to protect. We see Abraham who has a son, Isaac, and he cares so much for Isaac's faith and Isaac's family, that he doesn't let Isaac get married to a woman of Canaan. He said, "I don't want you to marry this woman." That's why he waits until age 40 to allow Isaac to get married. He would say, no, no, no. You're going to marry a godly woman. He sends a servant to go find a godly woman and Rebecca, and they finally they get married. Lot could not be bothered to do that. Not only did he not protect his daughters, but he allowed them to marry, to be engaged to Sodom men, men of Sodom who wanted nothing to do with God. We see, in Lot, a very pathetic man. Verse nine, "But they said, "Stand back." And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn and he has become the judge. Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Then he pressed hard against the man, Lot, and drew near to break the door down." What's fascinating is, even the most viciously, evil of people are highly sensitive to judgment. They feel like he's judging them for ... They called this thing that they were about to do wicked. Don't do this wicked thing. They called it fun. He calls it wicked. What they're saying is, who are you to judge us? Honestly, who was he to judge them? He's lived a decade in the city, has never raised a word about the wickedness of the city. Who are you to judge us? Only God can judge us, and God will. All Lot is proposing is they not rape his guests, but they take offense at the implication that he's morally superior. That's how far gone the society is. Verse 10, "But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door, and they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great so that they wore themselves out by groping for the door." Now we see that the angels, that these people aren't just regular people. They are angels. They have supernatural powers. They blind these people to show how blind they were spiritually, now they're blind physically, and even blinded physically, what are they doing? They're still driven by their lust, groping for the door. It just show that it's like a zombie apocalypse where these people are so far gone in following the lusts of their hearts, the lust of their flesh, that even being blinded doesn't stop them from trying to do what they had in mind. Verse 12, "Then the men said to Lot, "Have you," the men, the angels, "have you anyone else here, sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city? Bring them out of the place for we are about to destroy this place because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord and the Lord has sent us to destroy it." In the previous chapter, God, knowing the weakness of the city still extends mercy to them by sending the angels down. The angels are messengers. They're messengers that unless you turn from sin, you will be punished. And instead of listening to the messengers, they try to rape the messengers, and now it's beyond doubt Sodom has to be destroyed. So, sign number two of conformity to the world's a tolerance to sin. We see that Lot just lived there and he tolerated sin, tolerated his own sin, tolerate the sin of his wife, of his daughters, of these people. Sign number three of conformity to the world is you have no spiritual authority, especially with those who know you best. When you speak on matters of spiritual things, matters about morality, matters from the word of God, do people listen to you or do they mock? Do they joke? Genesis 19:14, "So, lot went out and said to his sons-in-law who were to marry his daughters, "Up. Get out of this place for the Lord is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. They thought he was joking. Because this is the first this time they'd ever heard him speak seriously, soberly on matters of spiritual things. They think he's joking. The Lord is going to destroy this place and they think he is joking, impending judgment. Lot, sleep it off. We'll talk about it in the morning. He has zero spiritual influence over the men that he was going to allow to marry his daughter. Zero spiritual influence. Compare that with Abraham, compare Lot's spiritual influence and Abraham's spiritual influence. God goes to Abraham and says, "Abraham, I'm going to make a covenant with you. The sign of the covenant is going to be circumcision. So, you need to circumcise yourself at age 90 plus, and you need it to circumcise the other 318 men in your household." So, he gets that word from the Lord, circumcises himself, and goes to the men in his household and says, "Gentlemen, I have a word from God." "Oh yeah, what's that word, Abraham?" "God said that he loves us and that we are to love him back, and the way that we're going to do that is circumcising ourselves." "Oh, Abraham, what does circumcision entail? And he shows, and the 318 men do it. They do it. The spiritual authority of this man who led by example, how do you get spiritual authority? How do you grow in spiritual authority? By submitting to the authority of God. The more you submit your life, the more you submit the pattern of your life to the authority of God, the more authority you have to speak to others, that this is the way of God, this is the will of God. Lot has no spiritual authority because he didn't obey God, he didn't submit himself to God. This is why the other men are like, who are you to judge us? You're just like us, bro. You're the mayor of the town. You've allowed this to happen. He has no spiritual authority over these sons. By the way, the sons-in-law, why should they listen to him? He had just offered these guys' fiances to a gang of rapist. Of course, they're not going to listen to him. He's accommodated his lifestyle to life of Sodom. Sign number four of conformity to the world is a hesitation of sacrifice. To follow the Lord, you are the sacrifice. Jesus Christ tells us, if you are to follow me, you need to take up your cross daily and follow me. So, we are to say yes to Jesus. By saying yes to Jesus, there are things that we have to turn our back on. Genesis 19:15, "As morning dawned," first of all, he waited all night. The angels told them, judgment is coming, flee now. He waits all night. Oh, we need to get rest. We need to wake up, have a nice breakfast, little protein to be ready to run from the judgment. And he waits. It shows that he has no desire to leave his flocks and his herds and his real estate and his influence. He lingers. "As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your daughters who are here, lest you be swept away the punishment of the city," but he lingered. But he lingered. I wonder if there's areas of life where you know exactly what God's will is, and you're lingering in sin because you know it's a sacrifice to leave sin. Lot is saved. He's saved. He's barely saved. He's one of those people who's saved, but he's not happy about it. It's like the guy who gets saved freshman year in college, like the summer before freshman year in college. He's like, ah, why'd you save me now? God save me when I'm 26 and I want to get married and start a family, save me then. That's when I'm going to go and find a nice Christian girl in church. But until then, I don't want to be saved. Lot's that guy. He's not happy about it. And he's lingering, lingering and sin, because to say no to sin, to say no to the comfort of a sinful lifestyle, man, that's painful. He lingered. So, the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, and the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. Lingered, he was so attached to Sodom. Wouldn't leave. With destruction looming, it just comes down to the angels pulling him out, physically pulling him out. Why? Because he didn't want to make the sacrifice of losing everything he had been working for. Why did he hesitate? In the words of Jesus, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Sign number five of conformity to the world is desire to keep a little sin, just a little sin. "As they brought them out, one said, "Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley, escape to the hills lest you be swept away." And Lot said to them, "Oh no, my Lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life, but I can not escape to the hills lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there, is it not a little one? And my life will be saved." He said to them, "Behold, I grant you this favor also that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly for, I can do nothing until you arrive. Therefore, the name of that city was Zoar." This is just absurd. They're physically pulling him out and they say, "Go into the hills, go live in the woods, away from this perverse people and perverse cities and towns." And he says, "Oh no, oh no, no, thank you." And he says, "I can't live out in the woods in the hills. I'm a city boy. I need access to a Starbucks. I need a walkability rating of at least 9.1." I need museums, I'm a man of culture. No, I cannot go. I want to go to a city, a little city." "Yeah, the city was supposed to get over thrown just what the others, but have mercy on this little ... It's a little city." God's like, get out of Vegas. And he's like, can I go to Reno instead? They don't have big strip, but they have little strip clubs. Can I go there? That's what's going on here. You see just the absurdity of a man, disaster is looming, judgment is coming, and he's bickering and bartering with the angels who've come to save him. At the most dangerous moment of his life, he's still thinking about worldly comfort. It's like a Christian saying, God, okay, you've saved me, all right I'll go to church. I'll go to church once in a while or I'll go to church on a Sunday, but the rest of the week is mine. I'll tithe, I'll give you 10%, but I get to do whatever I want with the other 90. You can't call me generosity. Okay, I'll read my Bible once in a while, but I just need to keep a little ... The things you call us to, sexual purity, to not even be named among you, to not look at a person lustfully with your eyes. God, you're being extreme. I need a little sin, just a little sin. That's what's going on. Verse 23, "The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar, then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities and all the valley and all the inhabitants of the cities and what grew on the ground." The instrument of the structure in here is probably an earthquake that then releases the heat, and the gas is especially a sulfur that were in the ground. But the narrative combines the ultimate cause was the Lord, but the instrumental cause that was burning sulfur by heat from below, or maybe lightning from above and the word for Lord here is Yahweh. It's the same word that's used for when there was three men that came to Abraham, two angels and Yahweh in human form, Jesus. This is Jesus judging Sodom and Gomorrah. I wonder if that changes your view of Jesus. A lot of people think of Jesus like Mr. Rogers, really nice. He's here to help you in life. He'll give you a good word of advice. He'll bless you when you ask for it, he will heal you when you ask for it, but he never tells you no, and he certainly won't judge. Oh, that's starkly different from the Jesus of scripture who does judge and will judge. He does judge here with the sword and he will judge with a flaming sword when he comes back. In the middle, while we're alive, we still have hope. Hope to turn from sin and to turn to him. That's what was going on with the angel saying, don't look back, don't look back. You need to turn from that city, turn from everything you love that was sinful in that city and that's what repentance is. When we talk about repentance, it's not just saying, Jesus, I'm sorry. Repentance is actually leaving your sin. Stop sinning. I trust in Jesus. I repent of sin. I leave the sin. Lot did that. His wife didn't. In verse 26, "But Lot's wife behind him look back and she became a pillar of salt." We don't know much this woman. We know that Lot married her. We're not sure the timeline when. Scripture says when he left Ur of the Chaldeans, it's clear that Abraham had a wife, Sarah. Lot's wife isn't mentioned, most likely, it's because he wasn't yet married. She's not named here just like her daughters aren't named, because she most likely doesn't deserve to be named, to be remembered. Most likely she's not a believer and she was just a woman of Sodom. Most likely he married her only because she was good looking. He didn't care about her character. He didn't care if she was a believer, he didn't care if she submitted her life, God, and she looks back. They weren't supposed to simply flee for their lives, they were supposed to leave the city behind, drop their pasts with any desire to touch it. Again, and she's looking back, not just out of curiosity, but out of longing, and she gets judged, not for looking, but for longing, for wistfully wishing for what must be left behind. She loved the city. She loved the people of the city. Most likely her relatives, most likely her dad and her granddad and her uncles and her brothers were in this insatiable crowd of rapists. But it was just fun. It's okay. It was our lifestyle. That's fine. She longed to be back there. She felt more comfortable in that town without God than with God outside the town. Her identification with Sodom, her unwillingness to leave the place explains the behavior of her daughters in the next episode. Young men, single men, Proverbs 31:30 is for you, "Charm is deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." When trying to decide whom to marry, the number one priority isn't physical beauty. The number one priority is she love God, that she fear God, will she submit to God in his word? Husbands, this is our job, is to ourselves, grow in the fear of the Lord and teach our wives. Lead our wives in fearing God and loving him. Single ladies, that's what you need to be focusing on, cultivating fear of the Lord. That's to be praised. I remember when I was figuring out whom to marry back in the day, coming up on year 15 of our university in this next week. I just knew. I knew this is just basic wisdom. I knew that daughters are influenced by mothers. I wanted to marry a woman, and if God gave us daughters, I wanted my daughters to be like her. By God's grace, we have four daughters. Praise God. They love God, most of them, three of them, definitely. The fourth, I'm not sure she's a little degenerate. She takes more after me than after her mom, but we're working on her. We're working on her. But that's how you need to be thinking about marriage in terms of generations and faith and legacy, etc. Genesis 19:27-28, "And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord and he looked down towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley. He looked, and behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace." Chapter proceeding this one, Abraham beg God, prayed to God, interceding on behalf of Sodom, please, God, save it. And God chose not to. God chose to save Lot and his two daughters. He didn't the city, poured out judgment upon the city. And we, as children of God, need to be like Abraham. And when we see judgment poured out on people who deserve it, we have to say, God is good, and because God is good, he is just. A lot of people push back and say, I can't believe in a God that would punish and a God who meets out justice like this. Really? Really? God doesn't punish evil, then God is not good, and if he's not good, he's not worthy of being worshiped. The reason hell exists and the reason judging exists is because God is good and because God is loving. Here, we need to take a little excursus. I'm done with my five signs, by the way. So, if you're like, oh, are we still on sign number five? I'm done with those. Little excursus here. Question, why did God punish Sodom and Gomorrah? Why did he do it? Why did he do it? Well, the three major prophets, they comment on Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel 16:49-50, "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom. She and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor in needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me, so I removed them when I saw it." A lot of liberal theologians will look at this text and they look at Sodom and Gomorrah and say, Sodom and Gomorrah got punished because of their inhospitality. I push back, like in hospitality, they want to rape the angels. They want to rape the guests. That's isn't hospitality, so that's just wrong. Then they go to this text and they're like, hey, it's because they weren't generous to the poor. That's the main reason. No, that's a secondary reason. They were generous to the poor because they lived for themselves. They lived for themselves, why? Because they were selfish? Why were they selfish? Because they were full of pride. And those are the bookends in this text. Yeah, they had food. They were prosperous, etc. They didn't care for the poor, But it was because of pride. A pride that says, I am my own. I get to do whatever I want with my life. I am God of my own life. There is no God over me. That's the pride. The pride that says, if I accumulate enough power, enough money, I can do whatever I want against those who are weaker or not as rich. It's a pride that's proud of itself. It's a pride that has hashtags and parades and flags by sin. The hypersexuality sexual sin, it's an outworking of the pride, the pride that says, I am God. I don't need anyone to tell me what to do and how to live. Isaiah 3:8-9 says, "For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence, for the look on their faces bears witness against them." They proclaim their sin, like Sodom, they do not hide it. Woe to them for they have brought evil on themselves. Proud of the sin. That's the issue. When society, openly practices sinful sexual behavior and actually promotes it and actually says, this is good, promotes any kind of sexuality that you can think of. That shows a society that's away from God. Scripture teaches clearly that the only sexual activity that God allows is between one man and one woman in heterosexual marriage making a covenant for life. Fornication is a sin, adultery is a sin, pedophilia is a sin, homosexuality is a sin. And when a society openly practices and accepts specifically homosexuality, it's a sign that God has given that society over to degrading passions, and it's the final stages of corruption with judgment looming. Look at Romans 1:26 and 27. "For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions for their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature. And the men likewise gave up natural relations with women were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves due penalty of their error." Christian, does this text, does this teaching make you feel uncomfortable? If so, perhaps you've grown too comfortable with the sin around you, and perhaps you are conformed to it. If you're not a Christian, let's just reason together real quick. Is it okay to gang rape angels? I think we can all agree, it's not okay. Is it okay to gang rape humans? I think we can all agree, it's not okay. Is it okay to gang rape an individual? No. Is it okay to rape an individual? No, it's not okay. Is it okay to allow your daughter's be gang raped by a hoard of men. Is that okay? No, no, no, no. Why? Because we are not animals. We're not animals. We're created in the image of God, and that God, the creator of the universe tells us what is okay and what isn't okay. For the same reason, you can't just say, oh, what matters is consent? As long as there's consent, then that's okay. No, there's no consent from God. And if there isn't a consent from God, then it is sin. We as Christians, we need to know that God of the universe has authority over our life.. the other thing I will mention about this text is, it shows us like the end, the most egregious end of the spectrum of sexual sin. But Where does it start? Where does it start? It starts in the heart. And Jesus said, whoever looks upon another human being with lustful intent in their heart has already committed sexual sin. Yeah, this has to do with every single one of us. Dear Christian, do you entertain sinful sexual thoughts in your heart? Do you look at porn? Sex ed in public schools, they teach you, this is healthy. Enjoy yourself. No, it's wrong, and it's sinful, and it grows, and it continues to grow. A ship in the water is perfectly right. Water in the ship is not. What this is saying is a Christian is in the world, but we can not be of the world. We can't let the world in. We can't let Sodom in. Jeremiah 23 also comments on this text, "But in the prophets of Jerusalem, I've seen a horrible thing." He's talking to prophets. He's talking to the teachers of the people of God. "I've seen a horrible thing. They commit adultery and walk in lies. They strengthen the hands of evil doors so that no one turns from his evil. All of them have become like Sodom to me and its inhabitants like Gomorrah. He's talking to believers who have pastors, who themselves, and not just entertain, they commit sexual sin and they strengthen the hands of those who do it. This is most of the churches in our city, in our very Sodom esque city, where priests and pastors get up, and instead of a cross, they got a rainbow flag outside, and they said, love is love however you define it, as long as it's consensual for now, and as long as with an adult for now. We'll see where that goes. God calls it out. And then he calls it out because these people haven't submitted their lives to the authority of God's word. Genesis 19:29. "So, it was, when God destroyed the cities and the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived." A lot of people say, if God is like this, if God is a judge like this, I can't believe in a God like that. And what a warped logic that is. No, you should be saying, if God is like this, God is judge and I deserve his judgment. I need to run to him. I need to believe in him. I need to ask for mercy and for forgiveness to be saved. We're given the impression here that Lot was saved only thanks to Abraham's intercession. What's most fascinating about this account is that Lot is a Christian, and how absolutely unimpressive of a Christian he is. He's the worst I can ... I think I can say this. He's the worst Christian who's ever lived. The absolute worst. He's the guy, like he is the guy in heaven who's as close to hell as possible. He's that guy. He's there and he's like, I have no idea why I'm here. He's probably doesn't even want to be there, and he's only there because God chose to save him because of Abraham's pleading. Yes, he was a man of faith, kind of, yes, he saw how wicked the City of Sodom was. His soul was vexed, but not vexed enough to leave. He sought to protect his guests from the evil, but he wanted to do it in a very evil way, a more evil way. And we see that Lot, the problem with law is just how half-hearted he was. Knew the truth, but never lived it out. Tried to straddle the fence between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the evil one, and that's the most uncomfortable seat in the house. We see no determination. Abraham was a patriarch. He took responsibility for himself. When he sinned, he repented. Yes, he committed sin. He had a child out of wedlock. He committed a sin, but he took responsibility for this, and he repented, he turned to God. He took responsibility for his wife, for teaching his children how to follow God. He was a patriarch. And that's what a patriarch does, sacrifices himself for the benefit of his beloved. Beloved wife, beloved children, beloved city, beloved church. That's what a patriarch does. Lot is not a patriarch. Lot is a soytriarch. He does not have the spine, the backbone to say, "God, this is your word. Whatever the sacrifice is, I'm going to follow it." Doesn't take responsibility for himself, for his wife, for his daughters. If Abraham is the father of the faithful, Lot is the father of all who are barely saved. Scarcely saved. So, friend, are you saved, first of all, do you trust in Jesus Christ? Did you repent of sin? And are you surely saved or scarcely saved? Lot was saved by the skin of his teeth hesitating as he's being dragged out of Sodom by force as death reigns on the city. And what a sad sight. You see Lot dickering with the angels just moments before the death of his neighborhood of his neighbors, in the judgment of his wife. Yeah. He was saved. His wife wasn't. His daughters weren't, his neighbors weren't, his friends weren't. He called these men brothers. They all end up in hell because he had no influence. And he had no influence because he himself didn't really believe, not enough to actually obey. Would things have ended differently if he moved quickly, if he had done precisely as he was told, if he had showed the proper deference to the angels, if he exhibited proper fear of the judgment that is to come, if he had set an example for his wife and his daughters, of strong faith, of prompt obedience? Perhaps his wife wouldn't have looked back. Perhaps his daughters wouldn't have raped him as we read in the text after. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 talks about these different levels. Yeah, everyone's saved by grace through faith, but what do we do with that salvation? There's different levels of the faith. Verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 3, "For no one can lay foundation other than that, which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Building a metaphor, Jesus is the foundation. Now, if anyone builds on the foundation of gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, this right here is the materials of a building, and he's saying, Jesus is the foundation, what materials are you using to build the house of your faith? Do you give God the absolute best that you have, the gold silver, precious stones, or the leftovers? That's the wood, hay, and the straw. "Each one's work will become manifest for the day, the day of judgment will disclose it because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone is built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." Question, dear Christian is, what materials are you building with? The best of what you got or the leftovers of what you have, and I wonder if St. Paul had lot in mind with verse 14, "Save, but only as through fire." It's possibly pulled out of the rubbish heap just in the Nick of time, but you'll end up singed, stripped of everything, traumatized by the severe discipline of the law of the Lord. It's tragic, and what's more tragic is that he lost his family. The same idea's in Amos, Amos 4:11. I overthrew some of you as, when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you are, as a brand plucked out of the burning yet you did not return to me declares the Lord. Brand plucked out, it's a stick that's so near to the fire. It's charred, but not reduced to ashes just yet because you got pulled out. Lot lived a comfortable life for a long time. Green grass, fat cattle, position of influence. Even when Kings came from the north and took him captive and uncle Abraham saved him, and he goes back to Saddam. After a while, he becomes like the men of Sodom. Lot is the father of all the people whose righteous souls are vexed, but they do nothing about the vexation, and lots of luscious green pastures are laid to waste. And the entire valley five cities turned into one of the most arid lifeless deserts in all of the earth. That's where a life of compromise ends, but that's not really the ending, the ending is even more hopeless. Genesis 19:30, "Now, Lot went out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar, so he lived in a cave with his two daughters. He asked the angels, can I go to Zoar, goes to Zoar, and now he's afraid to live here. They don't know why. Most likely it's because people of Zoar knew that because of lot and the God of LOt destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. We don't know why he leaves, he goes to live in a cave. The question is, why didn't he go back to his uncle? Why didn't go back to uncle Abraham? The only answer that comes to mind is pride. He didn't want to go back to his uncle with nothing. Uncle, I need your help again. So, he goes and he lives in a cave with his daughters. Then we see one of the most sorted tales of deceit and incest in the scriptures. Verse 31, "And the firstborn said to the younger, "Our father's old and there's not a man on earth to come into us after the manner of all the earth. Come let us make our father drink wine and we will lie with him that we may preserve offspring from our father." "So, they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she laid down or when she arose. The next day, the firstborn said to the younger "Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also, then you go in and lie with him that we may preserve offspring from our father." So, they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him," and he did not know when she laid down or when she arose, thus, both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father." The first born bore a son and called his name, Moab. He's the father of Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called him Ben-ammi, he's the father of Ammonites to this day." The daughters aren't named most likely, because this is an act of censure on the narrative's part. They don't deserve to be remembered. You can take a family out of Sodom, but we see here that you can't take Sodom out of a family, out of Lot, out of his daughters. They had absorbed the ethics of Sodom. He did not shield his daughters from a godless worldview, where they were sexualized at a young age. He didn't shield them from that, and then with their perversed mind, they concoct this plan, to his credit, he would not have said yes to this plan unless he was intoxicated. That's why they got him drunk. To his discredit, bro, why are you getting blackout drunk with your daughters? Why are you getting blackout drunk to begin with? I remember in high school, everybody knew, probably every public high school they have this family, where it's like, the family is like, my kids are going to party, they should do under my supervision. I'm going to open up my house and buy the keg. I had people in my high school like that. My parents would never do that. I had a curfew at 9:30. Praise God. Apparently this was a thing. Apparently this was normal, they're like, let's do it tonight. They do it. Then the next night they're like, let's do it again. And he's like, okay. Apparently, this was part of the whole culture of that city. The substance abuse, where you get so intoxicated that you lose complete control of yourself, get blackout drunk and do the things that your flesh completely wants to do. There's a connection between this. There's a connection between intoxication and debauchery, sexual debauchery. There's a connection, where people drink so much, they want to do these simple things, but they know their conscience is not allowing them to do it so they drink enough to mute the conscience, and that's what's going on here. Totally passive in this affair, just like usual, pathetic, pathetic waste of life. Man, the guy who had offered his daughters to a gang of rapists now, unbeknownst to him impregnates them himself. He was not good to his daughters. You think they forgot that moment where he offered them up. They did not. He was not good to his daughters because he didn't want the best for his daughters. Fathers, you got to be good to your daughters. By being good to your daughters means wanting the best for them, which is to love the Lord, walk in the ways of the Lord, to care for them to care about the chastity of their sexuality, to care about their virginity. That's that's our job, gentlemen. And daughters, be grateful when your dad tells you put on more clothes. Be grateful when your dad buys you pepper spray, and be grateful when your dad teaches you to shoot and fight, a little jujitsu, a little boxing, be grateful. Say thank you, dad. Thank you. The other thing that you just got to see from this text is that sin grows. It does. It's restless. It's ever reaching for more. It's never satisfied with mere in your life. It wants to damage the lives of everyone around you. We see a Lot, he chose to go down to the valley. He kept going down and down and down and down until we see him at last with two pregnant daughters living in a cave and his wife as a widower, having watched his wife die of divine judgment, finds himself in poverty with two sons, whom he had sired by his own daughters and his sons don't know whether to call him grandpa or daddy. Pathetic, pathetic ending to the story. It starts out with a flock so large, needed more real estate, ends up as a Lord of a hole in the rock on a dirt floor, destitute, disgraced, pathetic shadow of a man he had once been. Scripture says, God will not be mocked, whatever you sow, that you shall reap. Are you sowing to the flesh or are you sowing to the spirit? Satan's too clever to show you everything that happens when you sin. A thought is sowed, a deed is reaped, and you sow further deeds and you reap habits, and you sow habits and you reap a character, reap a pattern of life and attitude. Augustan said that sin becomes the punishment of sin. When you want sin, when you pursue sin, God gives you up to that sin and you reap even more sin. The warning of the text is be afraid of sin. The greatest thing to fear in sinning, isn't just what happens immediately after you sin. The greatest fear is that you get put on a trajectory that pulls you away from God. So, we ought to run from sin and we ought to mortify sin. We are to make war against a sin. From Abraham, who walked with God and obedience, would come most of what is lastingly good and lovely in this world. From lot would come to pagan deprave nations who would appear and then a few centuries later disappear. Some of the wives of Solomon lead him astray. They were Ammonite women. Their religion was so debauched that Deuteronomy 23:3 says, "No Ammonite or mole by may enter the assembly of the Lord even to the 10th generation." None of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever. So, where's Jesus in this text, in this hopeless texts, the story of a hopeless man, an antihero, where is Jesus Christ? Well, it's fascinating that one of his daughters, the nation led to the Moabites, can't even enter the house of God, the house of worship. The Moabites, that's how wicked they were. God said, you can't even go to church. Until we hear a story of another Moabite, a Moabitess, in the book of Ruth, Ruth was a Moabite, and Ruth meets Yahweh, meets Jesus Christ. When Ruth's husband dies, she goes with her mother-in-law back to Jerusalem. She serves here, she cares for her, and she meets Boaz, a godly man, and they get married, and God blesses their wedding, and they have children. God blesses their child so much so that Ruth becomes the great, great, great grandmother of Jesus Christ, that God takes this bloodline, this wicked ancestor's bloodline that comes from a wicked pathetic man, barely saved, and God brings Jesus Christ out of that. Then Jesus Christ lives the perfect life, goes to the cross and bears the fire and brimstone, the wrath of God, the judgment of God on the cross in order to be able to offer us forgiveness. He bought himself the justice of God so that when we repent of sin, we can be forgiven, even a pathetic sinful man like Lot, he could be forgiven because of the justification by grace through faith because of the work of Christ in the cross. So, if there's hope for that guy, there's hope for every single one of us. Turn from sin and turn to Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior, and then by grace through faith, by the power of the Spirit, let us follow Jesus so we don't end up like this man. And close of this, Luke 17:28-33, the words of Jesus Christ, "Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom and fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all, so will it be on the day when the son of man is revealed." "On that day, let the one who is on the house top with his goods in the house not come down to take them away, and likewise, let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot's wife, whoever seeks to preserve his life, will lose it. And whoever loses his life, will keep it." Let us pray. Lord, Jesus, we thank you for your grace and we thank you for this text, the sordid story of sin to teach us to never grow comfortable with sin. We thank you, Jesus, that because of your sacrifice in the cross, whatever we've done, no matter how perverse, no matter how wicked, you're willing to forgive and extend mercy if we just turn from sin and turn to you. By the part of the spirit, make us a people go who can to war against our sin on a daily basis against our pride. We humble ourselves before you, and we ask for grace, and we pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

May 23, 2021

Caught Off-guard 

Audio Transcript: This media has been made available by Mosaic Boston Church. If you'd like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston and our neighborhood churches, or donate to this ministry, please visit mosaicboston.com. Good morning. Welcome to Mosaic Church. My name is Jan, one of the pastors here at Mosaic, along with Pastor Shane and Pastor Andy. If you're new or visiting, we're so glad you're here. We'd love to connect with you. We do that through the connection card in the worship guide or the one you can get virtually online on our website or in our app. If you submit that, we'll get in touch with you over the course of the week. Would you please pray with me over the preaching of God's holy word? Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are a good father, that you take people who are rebels, reprobate, and you regenerate us and make us children. You adopt us into your family by grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, we thank you that you lived a perfect life. You offered that perfect life as a sacrifice on our behalf. You absorbed the wrath of God, judgment that we deserve for our sin. You did that to intercede for us, to be an advocate for us, to reconcile us with God the Father. We pray, Holy Spirit, for those of us who are regenerated, that you today show us areas in our life where our faith needs to grow, where it needs to be strengthened. Continue to expose self-deception where perhaps we say we believe, and we do not. I pray for those who are not yet Christians. I pray today, make the seriousness of the judgment, the looming judgment... Make it a reality today. The gravity... Make it a reality today, and draw them to yourself. Give them the gift of repentance. Bless our time in the holy scriptures. Lord, we love you. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen. We're going through a sermon series that we are calling Jesus in Genesis, where we're looking at Genesis through the lens of the gospel because that's the way you're supposed to interpret all of scripture. You interpret all of scripture with the revelation of Jesus Christ. The title of the sermon today is Caught Off Guard. You are who you are. The true you is when you are caught off guard, when something happens that you are not expecting, when you are cut off on the highway on Route 90, or you're cut off. You're coming from 93 on Storrow. You're in the left lane. Because you are a good human being, you're going to merge into Storrow, and you're going to wait your place in line. You're going to wait. At the very last moment, someone, just out of nowhere, comes in, cuts you off. You got to hit the brakes. Then they're driving slowly in front of you the whole time. They got New York plates. That's the worst. How do you react? How do you react when someone steps on your foot? How do you react when you step on your kid's Lego? How do you react when you need your iPad to preach your sermon, and you wake up, and your iPad that you plugged in at night, it's unplugged because your kid unplugged it? You're at 12%, and you got to preach two services. What are you going to do then? You're caught off guard. What's going to happen? The iPad turns off, and Pastor Jan has to go off the notes. Oh, that's dangerous. What's going to happen then? When people are caught on a hot mike or on a hidden camera, that's who they really are. That's what they really think. I had a professor in college. I took a business course my first semester. The day of our final exam, we finished the final exam. We passed it in. He got up, and he says, "That was not your final exam. Your final exam, you will take when you have graduated, and you have to make decisions of consequence. That's the real exam." Someone once said, "Your reputation is what you do when everyone is looking, and your character is what you do when no one sees." That's what we see in chapter 18 of Genesis. What we see is the God who has called Abram to Himself has then since changed his name. He's converted this pagan, this Gentile, and He made him one of His own, made him a child, gave him the gift of faith, and promised him, "I'm going to give you a son." Abraham believes. He believes. Decades go by. He believes. There were times when he wavered in his faith, but God continues to strengthen his faith. God continues to come, and God continues to bless him. In our text today, we see that God catches Abraham off guard. In the text last week, He gave him the sign of the covenant, which was circumcision, but that was just an outward sign to show that God demands an inward reality of the circumcision of our heart. God today comes in order to test Abraham. Is your heart circumcised? Do you truly love God? Do you truly love people? That love is really exposed when you least expect it. In our text today, God comes and catches Abraham off guard, catches Sarah off guard. Then we see Abraham is involved in the intercession between judgment and mercy with Sodom and Gomorrah. I'm going to do what we did last week. We're going to just walk through the text. It's a lengthy text. I do have three points. Point number one is God tests Abraham's love. Point two is God tests Sarah's faith. Point three is God tests Abraham's love again. The first test of love is a test of sacrifice toward people. The second test of love is a test of love for the souls of the people around him. Do you love people physically? Do you love people spiritually? Point number one is God tests Abraham's love. Verse 1, chapter 18, "And the LORD," all caps. That's Yahweh. "The Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day." We know it's the Lord. We know Abraham is by the oaks of Mamre. This is the place near Hebron where, ultimately, Sarah and Abraham are eventually buried. We see that in the heat of the day, he's sitting at the door of his tent. This is a siesta. If you're from another culture, you understand what a siesta is. A siesta is when you work, and then it's really hot out. Then you have lunch with some winesky. Then you take a nap. You take a napsky. Winesky, napsky in the middle of daysky. I think we should appropriate that in the United States. I think that would be wonderful. That's what's going on. They would wake up at sunrise, work until it gets really hot, stop working. Then he's just resting by the tent. He's enjoying his nap, noonday nap. Genesis 18:2, "He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him." People, physical. Just said that the Lord appeared to him, and now it says three people. Keep that in mind. We're not sure he recognizes that these men are supernatural in any way. He just sees them as men, as regular people. Most likely, assumed that they were poor because there's no word of a caravan. There's no word of camels. He sees these three people coming out of the desert in a place where the heat of the day could be 120, 125 just in the shade. He sees three travelers. They're weary. They're thirsty. They're hungry coming off the desert. They're coming in at the most inopportune time when he's taking a nap. The whole week, over the whole week, when is the best time to take a nap? When is the best nap? Sunday afternoon. That's my vote. Sunday afternoon, Sunday afternoon. There's just something about it, especially if golf is on. You turn on the golf game after lunch, Sunday afternoon. You're taking a nap. Then the doorbell rings. There's three strangers that you have never seen. What is your reaction? That's what's going on. What we see is that this is clearly a test, whether Abraham has grown in his faith to not just think about himself, to not just think about his own needs. Every single parent, what you want to do is you want to train up your child to get to the point where the child realizes that they are not the point of the universe, that the parents don't exist for the child, and that the child needs to think about other people, et cetera, et cetera. That's what's happening here. God has blessed Abraham, has blessed him spiritually, has blessed him monetarily. Now He sends him a pop quiz. Are you going to sacrifice for others even at the most inopportune time? Who are these three men? We learn in chapter 19, verse 1, that two of them were angels. Genesis 19:1, "The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom." You've got these men who are actually angels. They look like regular people. Scripture teaches us, sometimes you meet a person, and it's a real human being, and sometimes it's an angel. Two of them, we know, are angels. One of them, we know, we've been told is the Lord. If two of them are angels, then one of them has to be the Lord because it says the Lord appeared to them in 18:1. The Lord here is Yahweh. It's the Lord that comes in physical form. This is yet another theophany. It's the appearance of God in the text. It could be argued that it's a Christophany. It could be argued that this is Christ in anticipation of the incarnation. It's Jesus that appears before Abraham, flanked with two angels. They're standing there. They're just standing, and they're waiting. In that Near Eastern culture, to stand before someone's tent means that you're knocking on the door. You want to see if the people are going to welcome you in and show you hospitality. Look at 18:2 thorough 6. "When he saw them, he ran from the tent door." By the way, he's 99. He's running. Later on in the text, he's kneeling. He's cooking. 99 years old, I think he's on a Tom Brady pliability diet. Avocado ice cream, that's what's going on. What's going on in the text? He has responded to the test. He's running to them. In that culture, men don't run. You only run when there's a lion chasing you. That's what the Proverb says. You don't go off for a jog. He's running. He's kneeling. To meet them, he bows down to the earth and said, "O Lord." Calls him Lord, Adon. It's not Yahweh. Yahweh is in caps. This is just Adon. It's a term of respect and honor. "'If I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that, you may pass on, since you have come to your servant.' They said, 'Do as you have said.' Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, 'Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it and make cakes.'" We see what Abraham... He welcomes them, arms wide open. "Quick. Come in. Please rest, refresh. I'm going to give you a morsel of bread." By morsel of bread, he goes to his wife, Sarah. He promised them a meal, and he can't really bake, so he goes to Sarah. He says, "Please help. Please help." Six seahs of flour... You're talking about, two gallons of flour is one seah. You got six gallons. That's a lot of bread. Here, Abraham is presented as the consummate host. He is willing to be inconvenienced. The morsel of bread turns into a sumptuous banquet. Verse 7, "Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds, and milk, and the calf that he had prepared and set it before them. He stood by them under the tree while they ate." The phrase, hurried, is used three times in verses 6 and 7. He just wants the absolute best for them. This is a lavish meal. Have you ever had fresh meat? I'm not talking about Whole Foods or Star Market. Definitely not talking about Stop & Shop, definitely not. One time in my life, I had fresh, fresh. It's completely different. It's completely different. I had a conversation recently with someone. This is an ice-breaker. He said, "What's the best meal you have ever had in your life?" Do you have that one meal in your mind? What's the absolute best meal that you have ever had? My answer immediately was my wedding, my wedding. My wife's from Ukraine. She grew up Ukrainian Baptist. My family is from Estonia and was Russian speaking. I grew up Russian Baptist at a Russian Baptist church. There are two things at Russian Baptist weddings that you do not do. You do not drink, and you do not dance. Why are Russian Baptists against sex? Because it might lead to dancing. No, no. At my wedding, there's no dancing, and there's no alcohol. What's the only thing left? It's food. That's the only vice that's allowed, sin of gluttony. At my wedding, it was in a Russian restaurant in Philadelphia. It was a seven-course meal. Bring the first course, like salads, and salmon, and mushroom with cheese over caviar on pancakes. Oh my. Second course, third course... By the third course, my American friends were tapping out. My Russian friends knew. They knew. They had fasted days before. They dieted before this just to make sure there's extra room. The fifth, the sixth, the seven course... It's all meat. It's all incredible. That's my favorite. This is what Abraham does. He brings out the best. No expense spared, full stop. He just gives them everything he has, lavish meal. These three people, strangers... Treats them as if they were God Himself. That's really the lesson here for us. Abraham, will you treat these people like the image-bearers of God? Will you show them hospitality as if they were me? Will you do this? This is a tremendous lesson for each one of us, that we are to grow in hospitality. That's part of growing the Christian life, is to grow in hospitality. This text is applied later in Hebrews 13, where it says, "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." He's alluding to the text in Genesis 18. Abraham had no idea. Unawares, he wasn't aware that he was entertaining angels as he was caring for people, feeding people, giving people refreshment. We are to not neglect hospitality to whom? To our friends? To fellow believers? No. Hospitality is to strangers. Fellowship is with believers. When you invite Christians over to your house, that's fellowship. When you invite non-Christians over, strangers over to your house, that is hospitality. We are to show hospitality, not neglect it. We see this example of godly hospitality and the reward that comes with it, which is a divine word from God. This is an important lesson for each one of us. Where we live in a city, especially transient city, where this is just... A lot of people are strangers. Especially after this past year and a half, now there's a temptation to look at people not just as strangers but as threats to your health. Here, for Abraham, God is saying, "You treated people as if they were God Himself." That's what God is calling us to. God loves to reward the hospitable. He will come Himself into the home with a blessing. Revelation 3:20 talks about Jesus standing outside of a church. He says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me." Is this even a category in your mind? I should be thinking about inviting strangers over to my home and give them delicious food, really, really good food. It takes sacrifice. It takes financial sacrifice. It takes time sacrifice. It takes emotional energy sacrifice. This is one of the things that we are called to do. This is part of how we fulfill the mission of God here in the city. We invite people into our homes, open up our lives, and bless them. This also is one of the ways, the demarcators of a Christian, when it comes to the judgment. Matthew 25:35, Jesus says, "I was hungry. You gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me." That's what he says to the Christian. The Christian says, "When did we ever do that?" He said, "You did that to the stranger. You did that to the hungry. You did that to those in need. It was as if you did that for me." 1 Peter 4:9, "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." Oh, that's interesting. Why does he use the word, grumbling, in the context of hospitality? Because it takes work, especially when people show up unannounced. I don't know. It doesn't really happen in the United States, but in other countries, people do that all the time. They show up to your house, ringing the doorbell. What do you got to eat? I'm not saying, do that. I'm saying if someone does that, welcome them in, just not in my house. Just kidding. Just kidding. This should be part and parcel of our walk with the Lord. The second application of this text where then the Lord reveals that it's Yahweh, it's Jesus, with two angels, and He gives Abraham a promise, it shows that God did come this time around to strengthen Abraham's faith and also, Sarah's. This is a text I'll read before point two. Romans 4:18 through 22. "In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, 'So shall your offspring be.' He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness.” Part of why God keeps coming to Abraham and keeps coming to Sarah, to strengthen his faith. Part of why God delayed and kept delaying is to strengthen his faith. God wants his children to grow in both maturity and health. He does that through tests. Point two is God tests Sarah's faith. Here, we see that God is concerned not just with Abraham's faith but also, with Sarah's. Before Isaac comes, the promised child, He wants to make sure that both Sarah and Abraham believe and God does everything that's needed to expose disbelief, to expose self-deception. He does that in this text where God brings in Sarah. Verse 9, "They said to him, 'Where is Sarah, your wife?'" This is fascinating because first of all, this was against protocol of Near Eastern cultures because a visitor would not ask for the host's wife unless the host first brought her up. He says, "Where is Sarah?" What's interesting here about this text is, how did these strangers know her name and not just her birth name, Sarai, but her new birth name, her name that was given to her by God, Sarah? That's what happened last chapter. This is really fascinating. Here, what's happening is Jesus is tipping his hand. He's showing, revealing to both Abraham and Sarah who these people are, that this isn't just a stranger. Where is Sarah, your wife? He, Abraham, said, "She is in the tent." The Lord said, again, Yahweh, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” Now there's absolutely no doubt about who this is and whose presence they are that they realized, "This is the word of God." This is God Himself speaking truth to them. There were disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection. They're walking. They're walking. They're really sad. Jesus comes in, and He hasn't revealed Himself to them. The resurrection of Christ is with them. He's like, "What are you guys so sad about?" Then for two hours, they have a Bible study, which He tells them from the holy scriptures that he was to die, he was to be buried, as prophesied, and he was to be raised to new life. It wasn't until he goes into the house. It says that He took bread, and He broke it. It wasn't until that moment where they finally realized who this was. Here, because he did something that was familiar to them, and that awakened and opened up their eyes. Here, the same thing is happening. This is exactly what Jesus is doing in the text to Abraham and Sarah. He's revealing to them that this is the same God that's revealed Himself over, and over, and over to Abraham, that next time this year, there's a due date. In a year, Sarah, you're going to have a baby. Abraham, at this time, is 99. We see that Sarah is in her '80s. "Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him." She's eavesdropping. "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, 'After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?' The Lord said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh and say, "Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?" Is something too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time, I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.' But Sarah denied it, saying, 'I did not laugh,' for she was afraid. He said, 'But you did laugh.'" That's how the text ends. Whenever a text ends like that, that abruptly, God has the last word, you guys say, "What is going on? There's something that's going on." What's going on is that Abraham, number one, did not lead his wife in growing faith, or he tried to and she would not be led. One of those is going on. She laughs at the promise of God. Basically, she's laughing at the word of God. She doesn't do it publicly like Abraham did in the previous chapter. Previous chapter, Abraham is just... He's overwhelmed with the absurdity of all. You're going to give me a kid at 99, and you're asking a 99-year-old to circumcise himself, and 318 other grown men, and my son. He's just laughing. This is absurd. He does it out loud because what he's saying is Abraham laughing is, "God, I don't get it. I don't get what you're doing. I don't get your plan. Help me understand." God does. God deals with him gently. Abraham stands under the word of God. God, help me understand the word of God. Here, Sarah does not because she laughs cynically to herself. She presents herself as a believer in the word of God. Deep inside, she has doubts. God goes to Abraham, and He says, "Abraham, why did your wife, Sarah... Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child now that I'm old?'" God holds Abraham responsible for Sarah's laughter and not believing. What's going on here? Either Abraham tried to lead his wife, and she wouldn't be led in believing the word of God, or he didn't even try, and God holds him responsible here. Then God still does work with Sarah. God says, "Why did she laugh?" reiterates His promise. She says, "I did not laugh," but He responds to her, "Oh, you did. You did laugh." What God here is doing is He's exposing not just her cynical questioning of the word of God, but He's also exposing her self-deception. This is the difference between Sarah and Abraham. Abraham stood under the word of God. Sarah is standing over the word of God. "Oh, Jesus, that's what you're saying? Yes, I don't believe you because 80-something-year-old women do not have children." She doesn't believe in the promise. She questions. She laughs at the word of God and stands over. I have my own opinion, God. Thanks so much. Now this is really relevant for each one of us. Where there are places in the holy scriptures where you are not standing under the word of God, you're standing over it in judgment, or you're saying, "I know that's in the Bible, but that's Paul. That's not Jesus. I know that's in the Bible, but I just don't believe that section. I believe all that stuff about grace, and forgiveness, and God is love." "I don't believe any of the judgment stuff, or the moral teaching, or that God expects me to live a life of righteousness, or order in the family, or no sex before marriage, or that marriage is between one man, and one woman, and one covenant, one lifetime, or that in marriage, that there are roles that the husband is the head servant, that he is to lead his wife, and love her as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her, and wives is to submit in everything to their husbands as to the Lord." You look at those texts. Deep inside, you're like, "Yes, I know that's what God said. I got my own opinions. I got my own theories. I don't think that's what God meant, et cetera, et cetera." That's what's going on here. The cynical laughter... It's the same thing that Eve struggled with in the garden, where Satan comes to her and said, "Did God really say?" All of a sudden, Eve is standing over the word of God instead of standing under the word of God and being transformed by it. Still, even this interaction where God comes and He exposes sin in Sarah's heart of cynicism, she's been mocking God and His word in deception. What He's doing is grace. I want to deepen your faith, and I'm going to do that by removing sin from your heart. We see that it worked. Hebrews 11:11 through 12, "By faith, Sarah herself received power to conceive." God needed her to believe. He comes, and he deals with her, deals with her doubts, removes her sin, gives her the gift of faith. "By faith, Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore, from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of the heaven, as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore." We see here, again, a God who is strengthening the faith of his children: Abraham, Sarah. He strengthens their faith by putting them in difficult situations. You got to ask. It's been over two decades since the initial promise of God to Abraham, "I'm going to give you and Sarah a child." Why did God wait this long? Why does He wait until they're in their almost 100 and in their 90s? Why does He do that? Number one, to get all the glory because if it wasn't for God, then none of this would have happened. God gets all the glory. He loves doing that. Number two is to make them stronger. To make their faith stronger, He puts them in difficult situations. I'm a dad of four daughters. Bless my heart, as they say in the South. I'm a dad of four daughters. My job is not to keep my girls happy 100% of the time. I could easily do that. We'll just eat sugar all day, sugar, ice cream, Twinkies. I would buy an ice cream truck. That would be our vehicle. We'll just drive around with clown music. It would be tremendous. That's what we would do. That would be extremely disservice to their whole life. Just jack up their health and make them people who all they want is sugar and good times, et cetera, et cetera. My job as a dad is to make their life as hard as possible. That's my job. I'm a Russian dad. That's what we do. I got my girls deadlifting and squatting already, aged 12 and 9. We're going to do long division for fun, just for fun. We're going to do math. Come home from school. We're going to make it fun. We're going to make it fun. That's my job. You are going to know two languages. Why? Because pliability of the mind. You go back and forth. You understand different people, different cultures, et cetera. You're going to play instruments. You're going to do hard things. You're going to play sports. You're going to study theology. We're going to do hard things. Why? Because I want to make you stronger. You need to be strong to succeed in this world. I want them to be great ministers of the kingdom of God. That's why. This is what's happening here. God is a good father. He puts Abraham and Sarah in these situations where they get stronger. He tests Sarah's faith. Sarah, by God's grace... Her faith is strengthened. Abraham's love has been tested, his service to physical needs to people. Then God tests Abraham's love to the spiritual needs of people. Abraham cared for people's physical needs, the first section. Now does he care for their souls? Cared for their bodies. Now does he care for their souls? God has a conversation here with Abraham. This is a fourth conversation God has, extended conversation with Abraham. On the three previous occasions, it had to do with Abraham individually. You, your family, your child, your promise, the blessing, et cetera. Here, this is a different conversation. It's a conversation about total strangers to Abraham. In this lengthy conversation, Abraham reveals himself as the true, righteous man of God that he was. Verse 16, "Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. Abraham went with them to set them on their way. The Lord said, Yahweh, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?'" Clearly, He's not hiding it because He's saying it out loud in the presence of Abraham. "Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him. For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him." God says, "I've chosen him. I've chosen to pour my love out on him. I've chosen him as a friend. I've chosen him, by God's grace, to walk in a way of righteousness, keep the way of Lord." That's the Hebrew word, derekh. It's a path worn by constant walking. I've chosen him by grace. He is to walk a path of righteousness to do righteousness that's conformity to God's will and to do justice that's conformity to God's character. You just see this incredible grace, that God invites Abraham into this conversation. God says, "I'm about to make a decision. Am I going to pour out my judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah right now? What do you think, Abraham?" Welcomes him as a friend into the conversation. Abraham was a friend of God. 2 Chronicles 20, verse 5 through 7 is the prayer of Jehoshaphat who, "stood in the assembly of Judah and in Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, 'O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?'" James 2:23. "And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness,' and he was called a friend of God." Isaiah 41:8, "But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend." God chooses this guy, saves him, and makes him a friend, and has a conversation with him about the destiny of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 18:20 through 21, "Then the Lord said, 'Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 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.'” He's saying, "I've heard the outcry," cry of distress because of the sin of the wickedness of the city. Their sin is very grave. All sin, any and every sin, separates us from God and deserves spiritual and physical death, any and every sin, but not any and every sin has the same degree. Not every sin is the same in terms of gravity. God waits, and he waits, and he waits for a people, for people and for cities, for groups of people. He waits for them to repent. There comes a time because of the gravity of sin just grow and grows, and it gets worse, and more heinous, and more wicked, that it just gets to the point where these people are not going to repent. God's judgment comes. We see this idea in Genesis 15:16, where God says the people of Israel... They're going to be held in captivity for 400 years in Egypt. Then I'm going to bring them out, and I'm going to give them a land of the Canaanites and the Amorites, but not yet, because Genesis 15:16, "They shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” God is patient, and He's forbearing. He wants to forgive. He's loving. He's gracious, and He gives time. He gives time, and he gives time. There comes point of no return, a point of punishment, as has come with Sodom here. God hears the outcry from a land, from a people against the sin. When we see the sin and evil, even in our nation, what kind of cry must be going up from the United States today is a result of flood of immorality, a flood of greed, unbridled lust, passion for obscenity, lurid, salacious attitudes that permeate public, private lives. God hears it all. He's still waiting. He's waiting. He's waiting. He's waiting for people to repent, but judgment is looming. God here has a conversation with Abraham. What are we going to do? Verse 22, "The men turned from there and went toward Sodom." They're going to scope out what's going on, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. What happens with these angels? That's chapter 19. We'll read that next week. What happens is they go down to Lot's house. Lot sees them, welcomes them into his house. Then all the men of that town surrounded Lot's house. He said, "Bring the angels out so that we can know them." He's going to rape these angels. That's how grave their sin has become. That's how perverse this culture has become. The angels are going down. Still, Abraham stood before the Lord. Here, what we see is God standing. Abraham is standing before him in the same way that Jesus stood before Abraham before he went into his fellowship. It's as if they were knocking here. Abraham is... As if he's knocking, he said, "God, let's have a conversation about what's happening." God here initiates this. He gives him an opportunity to intercede for this city. Abraham does. He knows God to be a gracious, loving, merciful God, a God that doesn't take pleasure in the death of a wicked person. Yet He's a God of perfect holiness and perfect justice. What is to happen to the city? Verse 23, "Then Abraham drew near to the Lord and said, 'Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are 50 righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the 50 righteous who are in it? 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 it from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” He says, "God, you're just. I know you are. I'm appealing to you as a God of justice. I know that some people deserve wickedness, but if there are 50 people who are righteous, would you not spare the city?" What's fascinating here is two things. He cares about the city. He cares about the unrighteous. The theology is mostly correct here. The theology is God will not punish the righteous for the sins of the wicked. That's his theology. In the long term, that's true. In the long term, God will not punish the righteous for the sins of the unrighteous. In the supreme case of Jesus Christ, the only righteous person who has ever lived, he got the punishment that the unrighteous, that the wicked, deserved. God then corrects that later. What's fascinating is Abraham knows who's in Sodom. Who is he here interceding for? It's not Sodom and Gomorrah. It's Sodom. Who lives in Sodom? His nephew, Lot. Lot, with his wife and their two daughters. What's fascinating here is Abraham doesn't say, "God, take the righteous people out of the city." He's interceding for the unrighteous as well. God, give us some more time. God, perhaps these people will repent. This is the beauty of what's going on, that Abraham understood the grace that he received. He understood that he himself was chosen by grace, by the grace of God. He himself was from a family of idolaters and pagans. He himself was disobedient to God when God said, "Go from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan." He went halfway to Haran. He himself sinned against God, against his wife, in order to save his own skin, prostitutes her out to Pharaoh, therefore, jeopardizing his marriage. He himself sinned when he committed adultery with Hagar in order to have a child. He knows he's a sinner. He knows he's wicked. Still, the God of the universe is welcoming him into a relationship with himself. What Abraham is saying, "God, you gave me grace. Would you not give them grace?" You see him continuing to have this conversation with the Lord. You see his audacity, his chutzpah even, as he's continuing to intercede. In verse 26, he continues. God says, "If I find 50, I won't destroy the city." Verse 26, "The Lord said, 'If I find at Sodom 50 righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.'" Then Abraham starts doing math. He's like, "50. Why did I start off with 50?" There's Abraham. There's his wife. There's two daughters. Now he's continuing the conversation. "Abraham answered and said, 'Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose 5 of the 50 righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for the lack of five?' And he said, 'I will not destroy it if I find 45 there.' Again, he spoke to him and said, 'Suppose 40 are found there.' He answered, 'For the sake of 40, I will not do it.' Then he said, 'Oh, let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose 30 are found there.' He answered, 'I will not do it, if I find 30.'" He started with 50. He was going down by five's. Then he's like, "This is going to take too long." Now he starts going down by 10s. It's like reverse haggling. If you ever been to market in a different country... I remember in Ukraine, I went to this market where whatever the price is, the sticker price, if it's 100 gryvna, whatever it is, you got to come up... Then your first bid is five. It's five gryvna. I'm going to give you five. The goal is to meet halfway. This is like reverse haggling with God as he's interceding. He's 30, gets it down to 30. "He said, 'Oh, let the Lord not get be angry. I will speak. Suppose 30 are found there.' He answered, 'I will not do it, if I find 30.' 'Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose 20 are found there.' He answered, 'For the sake of 20, I will not destroy it.' Then he said, 'Oh, let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose 10 are found there.' He answered, 'For the sake of 10, I will not destroy it.' And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place." God starts the conversation, and He ends the conversation. God had already decided what he's going to do. Abraham intercedes. He tries to intercede. Why do we stop at 10? As one theologian said, Abraham has reached the limit of the ability of righteous individual to outweigh the cumulative evil of the community. 10 persons constitute the minimum effective social entity. Abraham's righteousness here is seen in that he, unlike Jonah, doesn't want the judgment of the city. Remember, Jonah preaches the gospel to Nineveh. He sits back and waits for God to pour out His wrath on the city. Here Abraham intercedes for the city. He has care for them. He wants mercy for them in the same way that he has received. Did Sodom get mercy? They did not. They did not. Perhaps part of the reason that angels went down to the city is to give them one more chance, one more chance to repent. They did not. There came a point where there was no more opportunity for repentance. The application here goes two ways. Number one, if you are not yet a Christian, judgment is looming over you. Either you pay the penalty for your sin in a place called hell for all of eternity, or you trust in Jesus. Repent of your sin. Repent of your pride, self-reliance, self-deception. Put your trust in Him. Then the penalty for your sin is poured out on Christ. The other lesson here for us as a church, as believers, is for whom are you interceding? Do you intercede for the city? Do you pray specifically for the Spirit of God to be poured out upon the city, upon this region in general, but then also, specifically, are there specific people for whom you are praying on a daily basis? God, save my neighbor. God, save my colleagues. God, save my roommate. God, save this city. Draw many to yourself. Give me opportunities to share the gospel, to share the good news of Jesus Christ. I wonder if that's not more pressing on our heart. I wonder if the reason why that isn't more pressing on our heart is because we don't really believe in the reality of the judgment that it to come. I wonder if that's the reason. It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pray effectively for lost souls if you're not convinced that lostness, apart from Jesus, will ultimately result in literal eternal punishment. A few years ago, John Maclean, the journalist in Scotland, wrote an article on the subject of hell. It was published in the Glasgow Harold of all places. He ends the article in these words. He says, "I've never doubted in the reality of such a place, the hell of deep and lasting darkness, but I've never thought of it in popular terms, as a nasty boiler room run by little men in red tights." "Hell is ultimately a negative, place of nothing but anguish. This is a place without God and without anything of God, without light, without warmth, without friendship, and without peace. No racks, no pintures, no claws, only the fires of an awakened conscience, the burning thirst of a frustrated ego. The wicked ones of history, they will be there. The killers and the exploiters... They will be there. Libertines and gossips, rapists, and drunkards... They will be there. Those whose gods were sex, or money, or ambition, or power... They will be there." "Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians... If only their faith was religiosity who had nothing for eternity but denominational adherence, they will be there. In the darkest, thickest corner are all the nice ministers. The benevolent bishops who told people that it was heaven for all and that love was all that mattered, but there is only one way of escape. By flight to Christ in faith in His finished work, living in His service but never looking to such toils for my salvation, but there is the final paradox." "To believe in this latter end of all things, and to live, and walk in a world that must one day melt in fervent heat, to walk among the living dead with my bright smile and polite talk, and never to challenge, never to warn when we have seen our God and His righteousness, when we have seen the wickedness of humanity. We know that the end must come, but the one who knows the heart of God has the heart of God. It's not the heart of God that the wicked should perish, that they would turn, and repent, and find salvation." What Abraham does here is foreshadowing of the great intercessor, the great advocate, and that of Jesus Christ. When Yahweh comes incarnate again, and he comes in, takes on flesh, and lives a perfect life, which he then offers as a sacrifice for us, he bears the wrath of God on our behalf. He experiences hell upon our behalf so that we wouldn't have to. On the cross of Jesus Christ, the holiness of God and His love... They coincide. We see the wrath of God being poured out for our lawbreaking. We see a God who's willing to absorb that same wrath on our behalf. This is the beauty of the gospel, that God remains just and the justifier at the same time. He's just because the law that was broken was punished. The punishment was met. There's forgiveness because He bore that in Himself. Jesus is the great advocate. He's the great interceder. He's the one that does it for us. If you're not in Christ, repent of sin and turn to him. Judgment is looming. Either your sins will be punished in you or in Christ. Just repent and believe. I'll send with these verses. Jesus is our great advocate. 1 John 2:1, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 Timothy 2:5, "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." John 8:34, "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died, more than that, who was raised, who is at right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." Hebrews 8:25, "Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." Let's pray. Lord Jesus, what a wonderful text. We thank you for meeting Abraham. We thank you for calling him to yourself, but thank you for strengthening his faith. I pray you do that with each one of us. Give us the gift of faith, and give us robustness of faith where you continue to strengthen us. Make us a people who understand that you are holy, and that you are loving, and that there is evil in our hearts as there is evil in the world. The only remedy for that is the cross of Jesus Christ. Make us a people who walk daily, basking in your glory, thankful for your grace. Then also, make us a people who care for those who are not yet believers, to care for their physical needs, yes, but more importantly, their spiritual needs, care for their souls. I pray, Lord, pour out your spirit upon us to make us a force, to share the gospel with many, proclaim the gospel, warn that judgment is coming. There is a way of escape, and that's only found in Jesus Christ. Jesus, we love you. We pray this in your name. Amen.