Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight is study #12 of Genesis, chapter 18 and we are reading Genesis 18:23-26:
And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And JEHOVAH said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
Here, we see that Abraham is making intercession because he knows that his nephew Lot is living in the city of Sodom. Remember how the Bible described Lot in 2Peter 2:6-8:
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
It is obvious that Abraham was concerned about Lot and he knew that his nephew was a child of God. Abraham had spent a lot of time and he could see that Lot loved the Lord and the Word of God and he was a righteous man. That is the reason for the intercession Abraham is making to these three men who are God. He is asking if God would destroy the righteous with the wicked. Abraham brought up the number “50” and there will be a “countdown” in numbers, which we will talk about in the next study.
At this time, the emphasis is on the righteous and Abraham made a true statement in Genesis 18:25:
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
It is like Abraham is speaking God’s own words back to Him because He is stating principals found in the Word of God. It would be far from God to destroy the righteous with the wicked and, therefore, God is under obligation to not destroy the righteous along with the wicked when He comes to bring a judgment for sin. We have seen the judgment on the world in the days of Noah and it was a judgment for wickedness because men were doing violence and the thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually. And God followed this principal in dealing with Noah who had found grace in His sight. The point needs to be made that a man does not become righteous based upon the person’s own good works. As a matter of fact, that is a sure way to be condemned and found unrighteous in the sight of God. Righteousness can only be attained through the righteous work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Book of Romans tells us that by the obedience of one many were made righteous. Through Christ’s obedience in taking on the sins of His elect people and dying for those sins, we have imputed righteousness and that is how a man can become righteous. It has nothing to do with our own righteousness, as far as keeping the Law of God, because the Bible tells us that none are righteous. That would include Noah and Abraham and it would refer to Lot’s “righteous soul.” Lot was made righteous by the obedience of one, just like everyone else that God made righteous through Christ’s atonement at the foundation of the world.
So, we must distinguish this when God comes in judgment against sin. The destruction of the flood was because of sin. The destruction of Sodom was because God had said, “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” In the previous verse, we read, “Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous.” It was judgment for sin, so we must distinguish judgment for sin from events like God sending a hurricane or earthquake which can kill anyone. God is the one who sends catastrophes, as the Bible tells us that He creates “evil,” meaning things that are evil due to their destructive nature. These types of events could kill a “righteous soul,” an elect child of God, but God did not send a hurricane to Sodom. He did not send an earthquake or a local flood as judgment for sin. These things are just a result of the general corruption that came upon the creation and we have these types of catastrophes that happen, but we should not think that these things are judgments because judgments for sin cannot kill a righteous individual. I would not dare to say that everyone that dies in these types of calamities are non-elect. But when God wrote the Bible, He determined to bring judgment for sin to serve as examples. We read this in 2Peter, chapter 2 and it is also found in the Epistle of Jude. It says in Jude 1:7:
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Twice we read of the destruction of Sodom that it was an example, and this is why the Lord Jesus referred to the flood and the destruction of Sodom as figures of His coming at the end of the world. Just to remind us, let us look at Matthew 24:37:
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
What would be another way we could word this verse? The days of Noah were an example of the days of the coming of the Son of man. It is stated the same way concerning the destruction of Sodom in Luke 17:28-30:
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
So, God is giving indicators all over the Bible. It is an example of eternal vengeance and it will be like the coming of the Son of man at the time of the end of the world. We are in that time right now and these things have served as types and figures to help us learn about God’s end-time judgment program on the churches and then on the world.
You see, that is why God was judging sin in the days of Noah and He was judging sin in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. And when He judges sin, He will not destroy the righteous with the wicked. Far be it for God to destroy a righteous man when He brings judgment for sin. He already laid the sins of His elect on Christ and Christ already experienced judgment on behalf of His elect. Christ experienced the judgment for Noah and his family and for Lot, so how could God destroy the righteous with the wicked when He is bringing judgment for sin? The sins of the wicked were not cast upon Christ and paid for, so it cannot be that the righteous are destroyed with the wicked. Abraham was aware of this and He beseeched the Lord and reminded Him that it cannot be that He would destroy a righteous man along with the wicked.
First, let us take another look at the judgment of man in the world of Noah’s day. We talked about this a little bit, but let us turn to 1Peter, chapter 3 where we will see this Biblical principal. Again, Abraham is interceding on behalf of Lot and any other righteous man in the city of Sodom. It says in 1Peter 3:18-20:
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
The word translated as “sometime” would have been better translated as “aforetime,” meaning in a prior time. God was ready to destroy the world and He told Noah to build the ark, but then it tells us that He waited: “…the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.” Why did God wait? What did the Bible tell us about that ark, in Hebrews 11? It says in Hebrews 11:7:
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
The building of the ark was for the saving of Noah and his house. There is no way Noah and his family could have lived through the flood without entering into that ark, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, God waited for 120 years, from everything we can know in the Bible, while the ark was being prepared. The ark was being built, board by board, and God waited, fully intending to destroy all the wicked of the world because the thoughts of man were only evil continually. But God could not destroy the righteous with the wicked, so He must first deliver the righteous and, therefore, God waited. He waited “longsuffering,” as He put up with the sins of men all the while He waited. Year followed year, historically, for 120 years and then God said, “And yet seven days,” and He would bring the flood. Noah and his family entered the ark and the Lord shut him in. God shut the door of the ark and only then did He rain down the torrential downpour to destroy all the wicked of the earth. Everyone outside the ark was wicked – there were none righteous. They were all in their sins with no Saviour and God destroyed them. The Biblical principal that God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked was in full view for all to see.
In 2Peter, chapter 3, there is a discussion of the judgment of the first earth with a flood and the judgment of this present earth with fire (at the end of the world). Then we then read a very important statement that goes along with the Biblical principal that God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked.
It says in 2Peter 3:15:
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…
This was the case with what happened in the days of Noah. The Lord waited and was longsuffering as the ark was in preparation and that waiting was for the purpose of salvation for the elect. God had a plan to save a remnant out of the whole of the world of that day. And, yes, it was a very tiny remnant. There were only eight souls, but each soul is important to God, so God waited as the ark was constructed to be the vessel of delivery for the eight souls. Then He brought the judgment. In other words, God would not destroy the city of Sodom as long as there were some righteous within it.
As far as application to the end of the world…well, we need to be careful because this is the point where some people have gotten it all wrong because they do not understand what God did on May 21, 2011. They think that because the world is still here and operating, day by day, it is because God is still being longsuffering and patient with the people of the world. They would go to 2Peter 3:15 and they would say, “You see, the longsuffering of God still means salvation and because there is still salvation God will not destroy the world.” They are missing the mark and they fail to understand what God did on May 21, 2011. To understand what God did, let us look at a verse in James 5:7:
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
The husbandman is God. In the Gospel of John, it says that God the Father is the husbandman and the “precious fruit” are the elect. God has long patience for the precious fruit, which agrees with 2Peter 3:15 and we can account that the longsuffering of God is salvation. Yes – God waited, but He was waiting for periods of “rain” and in the New Testament era, there were only two periods of rain. There was the “early rain” that fell over the course of the church age for 1,955 years. And then there was the Latter Rain that fell during the little season of the second part of the Great Tribulation for 6,100 days from September 7, 1994 through May 21, 2011. The Latter Rain was the last rain that served to bring in the last of the fruit that was out there in the world. It was the fruit that would come in during the Feast of Ingathering at the time of the end of the world; it was the great multitude that came out of Great Tribulation. On May 21, 2011 the Latter Rain ended and, simultaneously, God ended His salvation program because He had saved the last soul whose name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That last sheep became born again and God completed His salvation program and both seasons of His rain. At that point in time, God ceased to be longsuffering any longer.
But what some individuals just do not understand is that when God shut the door of heaven, it was a spiritual act. We could not see when the door of heaven was open and we cannot see when the door of heaven was shut. It was just like when He shut the door of the ark 7,000 years earlier on the self-same equivalent day of “the seventeenth day of the second month.” When God closed the door, He ceased to longsuffering, even though it does not mean that there was immediate destruction of the world. But that does not mean that God is not pouring out His wrath in His furious anger to punish the unsaved inhabitants of the earth from May 21, 2011 until the last day. There is no salvation for anyone else in the world. That is a large part of the wrath of God toward the unsaved people of the earth.
We have to understand this to understand the principal that God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked. God first delivered all the righteous from the world of Noah’s day. He delivered all the righteous from the city of Sodom when He went to the city and caused Lot and his family to flee the city. Then He destroyed the city. He first saves all the elect and they find refuge in the “safe chamber” until the “indignation be overpast” and then He began to pour out His wrath by shutting the door to heaven.
We will discuss this further in our next Bible study.