The heart of Abraham

Abraham had just received the assurance that he would have a son in his old age. His joy was not just that he would have a son to fill the empty spaces of his life with Sarah. It was also the assurance that this son pointed to the coming of a greater Son who would bring forgiveness, life, and salvation for all humanity. It was God’s promise.The heart of Abraham

Abraham had just received the assurance that he would have a son in his old age. His joy was not just that he would have a son to fill the empty spaces of his life with Sarah. It was also the assurance that this son pointed to the coming of a greater Son who would bring forgiveness, life, and salvation for all humanity. It was God’s promise.

Abraham’s heart was filled with peace and joy, but God also pointed Abraham to the judgment that would come on the cities in the valley. Abraham’s heart broke with the news of such judgment, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 19:23).

Made bold by the promise of a Savior, he bargained with God. If there are 50 righteous in the city, will you destroy the city? Then with respect and deep humility he asked again and again. For 45? 40? 30? 20? 10? “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it,” the Lord said.

We live in a world of believers and unbelievers. Daily we interact with those who are righteous by faith in Christ as well as with the unrighteous—those without any understanding of Christ and perhaps even animosity toward him and his followers.

Abraham came to mind as I thought about the direction of the world in which we live. He had a deep concern for the believers—the righteous—who lived among the unrighteous. He knew that before God he was as unrighteous as anyone else, including all those who lived in the cities facing judgment. But he also knew that God had credited his faith to him as righteousness. God declared him righteous by faith in the promise of God. Outside that promise, all were unrighteous.

So Abraham prayed for them. Yes, first he prayed that the righteous be protected from the judgment to come. But consider that his prayer was also for the unrighteous. The unrighteous would be spared for the sake of the righteous. Therefore, they would still have time to know God’s promise of righteousness through the Messiah.

Are we looking at the cities in the valley today? What do we do in a world that turns away from the Lord of grace and his will? Pray with the heart of Abraham. Like him, our prayers first consider God’s people. Protect them from difficulty and from any judgment God has in store for those who reject him. Also like Abraham, we pray for all others as we do in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We plead for God to lead people to repentance and entrance into his kingdom like the thief on the cross.

But we also realize that our society’s laws allow us all to live together—righteous and unrighteous—safely and in tranquility, in spite of our differences. Those laws, however, do not make right what is contrary to God’s will, even if the highest courts claim so—abortion and distortion of marriage included. We have the example of the disciples arrested in Jerusalem for proclaiming Christ crucified for sinners. Another example is Daniel who continued to pray to and worship his Lord knowing the dire consequences of his action.

The hearts of Abraham, Daniel, and the disciples were centered on the promise of forgiveness and life eternal through Jesus the Messiah. Our hearts should be as well. Everything else is rubbish, as Paul reminded the Philippians (3:8). Such hearts then pray for all others and treat them with respect and dignity.

Lord, give me a heart like Abraham.

 

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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015

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