For whatever reason, I chose to read out of Genesis 18 this morning – the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The chapter begins with God appearing before Abraham by the oaks of Mamre (this could be a whole talking point by itself. For surely, the only way God could appear before man was to be in the form of the pre-incarnate Christ. I love when Jesus shows up on earth long before his birth through Mary!). Then the chapter moves to the foretelling of the birth of Isaac in vv9-15, followed by the LORD and the two men who accompany him leaving for Sodom and Gomorrah. Finally, in vv17-21 ESV, we come to this incredibly interesting conversation that the LORD is having with himself:
17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 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.” 20 Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
and the LORD then proceeds to tell Abraham his plans for Sodom and Gomorrah, which induces Abraham’s multiple requests for mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah’s behalf.
There are so many points regarding the friendship between God and Abraham, and the high esteem God held in Abraham that I encourage you to ponder what this means about how God loves and thinks of you as a friend, and how He wants to share life with you. But today, that is not what caught my attention. Today, the words of v20 just grabbed me and the implications and parallels to Revelation just ran amok in my brain.
First, I want to start off by pointing out that there was an outcry coming from within Sodom and Gomorrah – not a Jewish nation, obviously not a Christian one, but a pagan one – and God heard it. So often we think of the Old Testament and believe the Israelites were the only ones that mattered to God; this verse alone is one of many that proves that God cared for and immensely loved the peoples of other nations. He came to the rescue of those He heard crying out, He came to rescue the pagans who did not know or love Him – and He came to wreak vengeance upon their assaulters. He is a God who loves each person desperately, who will come to their rescue and seek vengeance for their sake, whether they know Him or not. His greatest desire is for a relationship with them, but whether they love Him back or not, His love for them is infallible and unwavering. That is why we as Christians are charged with promoting and working for social justice; we are to act like Christ, to love like Christ, and to take up the cause of the helpless, the broken, the orphan and the widow like Christ. Do you care for the defenseless? Do you support the broken, the helpless? I pray that 2016 is the year that God pours His love for the broken into His people and the we rise up with action and show the world who God is as we uphold His cause.
Even as I study the history of old and learn of God’s character through who He was, I am reminded that He is the same then, now, and forevermore. The incredible vision of John the Revelator out of Revelation 6:10 ESV shows us that God is still a God of rescue, and still a God of vengeance:
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
I don’t know if this is right or not, but I wonder if the souls of the martyrs are under the alter because they sacrificed their lives willingly for God? What are your thoughts on that? I would have to research it, but it certainly is a beautiful parallel. These souls stood firm in their testimony about God in the face of pure evil – knowing they would be murdered, possibly tortured, and their families may face the same. They put God above all else, and now they are under the altar, crying out to God for vengeance on their behalf. And He hears them, and He answers them. He gives them peace and tells them to wait a little longer until the number is complete; get this – because when He wreaks vengeance, it will be for every single person wrongfully murdered or persecuted in His name. It will be horrific. It will be vengeance that will literally end the world as we know it so that Christ can establish peace on this earth. I LOVE the vision out of Daniel 7:9-10 ESV that says,
9 “As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
10 A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.”
The day is coming when the Ancient of Days will take His seat and the books will be opened. Every sin, every wrong, every cry for justice will be met in the fullest measure of the highest law. He is a God of justice and He hears the cries of the oppressed and the assaulted from the smallest child that has been abused, to the horrific war crimes that we have no clue about. He is the Ancient of Days. If there is someone in your life that has wronged you – maybe a stranger, maybe a family member – know this: that person will not go free. In this life there may never be justice, but Beloved One of God, you are a child of the King and He will wreak vengeance for your sake. Take the peace that only He can give, and hear the words, “rest a little longer,” for the day is coming when no person, save His children, will escape the wrath of the Ancient of Days. Amen.