Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 134

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Abraham continued...

‘Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?’

Within this handful of words, we see just how well Abraham knew God. Abraham knew God was just, Abraham knew God was righteous, and Abraham knew God was merciful. Abraham understood the nature of God, and within this question we see this truth highlighted.

It is a grace and a blessing to understand and know the multidimensionality of God. Often times we get into trouble because we begin to perceive God as one dimensional. Whether all love, all justice, all mercy, all righteousness, whenever we isolate one of God’s many attributes and disregard all the rest, we are in essence, fashioning our own god.

Yes, God is love, but he is also righteous. Yes God is just, but He is also merciful. When He chooses to show more mercy than judgment is entirely up to Him.

Jonah 3:10, “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way, and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.”

God had thoroughly made up His mind in regards to Nineveh. He had spoken, and had said He would bring a disaster upon the city, but the citizenry of Nineveh did something that stirred the heart of God and stilled His hand of judgment…they repented.

The citizenry of Nineveh, from the king on down turned from their evil way, and God relented from the disaster that He said He would bring upon them.

It is because of the repentance that God chose to withhold judgment; it was not because God decided to give Nineveh a pass. This is something we must understand clearly, because many today still live under the misconception that God will withhold judgment simply because we tell Him to.

When God sees repentance, His heart is stirred, and He is quick to forgive, and relent. Notice, the people of Nineveh didn’t just say they were sorry, they didn’t just admit to wrongdoing, they turned from their evil way. This is true repentance…turning from one’s evil way and walking the path of righteousness.

Romans 2:4, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

Man either despises the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, or He sees them as the tools by which God draws and leads him to repentance. If we see them as the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, then action is required on our part, namely the act of carrying out the repentance to which we were led.

If we read this passage carefully, we see that the goodness of God leads us to repentance, but it cannot impose or force repentance upon us. Repentance is something we as individuals must practice. It is something we as individuals initiate and it is something God honors whenever we do it.

Not only do we see the friendship and close bond Abraham had with God, not only do we see how intimately Abraham knew God, we also come to understand Abraham’s heart from the prayer he prayed.

You can tell allot about a man by how he prays for others, and how he intercedes on behalf of others. Abraham was a man whose heart beat for the lost. Though he did not know them personally, though he disliked Sodom enough to live far from it, Abraham still came before God and prayed on their behalf, asking the Lord to spare the righteous of the city.

Abraham was safe. He was far from Sodom, in his own tents, being tended to by his servants, and living his life. Abraham had no vested interest. He had not invested in Sodom’s real estate, he hadn’t put up apartment buildings he was hoping to sell, there was no hidden agenda, or external motivation for Abraham to intercede on behalf of Sodom, than his righteous, loving heart.

Upon hearing the news that Sodom would be judged, Abraham could have reacted very differently than how he did react. He could have shrugged his shoulders and asked, ‘what is it to me?’ he could have nodded his head in approval and said, ‘good, that’s what they deserve!’, but instead, Abraham came before the Lord asking Him to relent in His judgment.

Even in regards to Lot, Abraham could have been less understanding than he was. He could have readily used one of the standby clichés we so often use, like ‘he made his bed, now he’s got to sleep in it,’ but instead his heart broke for the righteous, and he began to plead with God.

Abraham loved, therefore he interceded. Abraham loved, therefore he took the time to come before God, and agonize over individuals he didn’t even know.

I doubt very much this was Abraham’s first prayer on behalf of Lot, or even the righteous in Sodom, because when one loves, they persist in the love they possess without reservation or thought of giving up.

A heart that loves is never disinterested, cold, distant, or unaffected by the plight or even judgment of others. A heart that loves is always interceding, it is always pleading with God for mercy and restoration.

Even when God gives a difficult message, even when He speaks judgment upon an individual or a nation, we cannot revel in this, but in our quiet time, in our prayer time, we must come before Him and do as Abraham did, interceding in love for those whom God has counted worthy of judgment. We must pray for repentance, we must pray for restoration, we must pray for grace and mercy, because that is what a loving heart does.

Yes, we preach the truth unashamedly, we proclaim that which God has commanded us to proclaim, but love still compels us to come before Him with supplication and petition, to stand in the gap and intercede.

Love like Abraham, and love will compel you to pray for the lost and the dying. Love like Abraham and you too will petition God to spare the righteous wherever, and however many they might be.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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