The God who involves us

Text: Genesis 18-19:29
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been tracking along with Abraham as God reveals his character and
promises to him. God called Abram in the context of the tower of Babel – a project that showed just
how little humanity knew about who God is. They weren’t praising the one and only God who made
everything. Their “god(s)” were more like humans, with needs and requirements that could be
manipulated to enhance the reputation and prestige of people.

Having in a moment thrown their attempts into confusion, God chose to do something about the
lack of knowledge about who he is. He chose to enter into a relationship with Abram, promising to
make Abram’s name great, to bless him, to give him land and descendants, and ultimately to bless
the whole world through him. We today recognise that this last promise has been (and is being!)
fulilled through the coming of Jesus, God-incarnate, born into the family line of Abraham. He died
and rose again, so that all those who trust in God can be forgiven of their sins, and be with God
forever.

But if we are to trust in Jesus, in our God, to be saved, we need to first understand who God is.
Through all of his ups and downs, Abram (Abraham) was learning more about who God is. He learnt
that God cannot be thwarted. He learnt that God is powerful. He learnt that God’s promises were
entirely of grace; that all he had to do was to trust God. He learnt that God is Almighty; that nothing
is impossible for him. He learnt that God wants his people to be set apart as his own, that he wants
us to identify ourselves as his.

This weekend’s passage focusses on God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin. And
yet that incident is wrapped up in references to God talking with Abraham. God chose to let
Abraham in on his plan, because of the promises that he had made to Abraham. God wanted
Abraham to understand his way, so that Abraham and his descendants could themselves do what
is right and just.

In many ways, then, the story of Genesis 19 is a practical example of how God’s justice and mercy
work. It’s a demonstration of what it means to be righteous in a world that rejects God’s right to
judge.

The cities of the plain, where Lot lived, were a place where there was very little righteousness. Of
all those in Sodom, it seems that only one, Lot, was righteous. Not that he was perfect, but simply
that he trusted God. What was the sin that caused God to destroy them? Homosexuality was part of
it, but not all. This was a region where God was persona-non-grata, and where his right to judge
right from wrong was considered to be vulgar.

If one of the main concerns of Abraham’s story is his (and our!) discovering who God is, what does
this episode tell us about God, and what it means to follow him? Who do you most identify with?
The people of the plain? Lot? His wife? Abraham? What does it look like in practice to keep the way
of the Lord?Finally, how does this episode point us to Jesus?

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