18:23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
18:24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
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 do right?
18:26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake.
18:27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold mow, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
18:28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
18:29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.
18:30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
18:31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.
18:32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.
18:33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
a. For decades I have heard the above Scripture quoted and used to defend the opinion that God was not going to judge America for it’s wickedness. The logic used was this: There are millions of righteous in America because of the Christians in this nation, and if Sodom would have been spared for ten righteous, then America surely will be spared because of the millions of Christians [righteous] in America. There is no question that Sodom would have been spared if ten righteous had been found, but does that same standard automatically transfer to present day America? I think not, and I believe the following study will prove me right.
b. Contrast the above standard found in Genesis 18:23-33 where ten righteousness would save the whole city with the standard in Ezekiel 14:12-21. In Ezekiel the LORD is telling Ezekiel that when Jerusalem is judged by God, only the righteousness of the individual would save that individual, even if those people were Noah, Daniel, and Job. It would not save anybody else.
1). Ezekiel 14:12-21 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,
14:13 Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grieviously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread threreof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:
14:14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls, by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.
14:15 If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts:
14:16 Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the LORD God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.
14:17 Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it:
14:18 Though these three men were in it, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.
14:19 Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:
14:20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the LORD God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.
14:21 For thus saith the LORD God; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?
a). We can see clearly that there are differences of standards between Sodom and Jerusalem. In Sodom ten righteous would have spared the whole city from judgment. In Jerusalem, during Ezekiel’s day even if Noah, Daniel, and Job would have been there, only their own individual righteousness would have delivered their own selves, not even family members. The differences in the standards are because of the different amounts of light or revelation given to the two communities. Israel was given much more light than Sodom.
c. This principle is clearly revealed in the ministry of Jesus. When Jesus moved his headquarters to Capernaum in Matthew 4:13-16, the result was the people saw great light.
1). Matthew 4:13-16 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
4:16 The people which sat in darkness waw great light; and them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
d. Later on in his ministry, Jesus condemned the three main cities in this area, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum because of the spiritual light shown to them and yet they still would not repent. Jesus said that the judgment upon Sodom would be less severe than for these cities because Sodom received less light.
1). Mathew 11:20-24 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
11:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were don in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
11:22 But I say unto you, I shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
11:24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
2). This principle is also mentioned in Luke 12:47, 48.
e. In respect to Ezekiel 14:12-21, some would propose that if Ezekiel had interceded for Jerusalem like Abraham had for Sodom, God would have spared Jerusalem. This is not the case because about 6 years previous God had told Jeremiah not to pray for Jerusalem because he would not hear him.
1). Jeremiah 11:11-14 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
11:12 Then shall the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
11:13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to burn incense unto Baal.
11:14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time they cry unto me for their trouble.
2). I am not for a minute saying that God will not hear our prayers or that we should not pray for our nation. By all means we should pray.
f. The argument that God will not judge America because of the tens of millions of Christians [righteous] in the United States is not applicable because this is a standard for a community that has received little light, such as Sodom. The only thing that needs to be determined is if America has received more light than Sodom & Gomorrah, or Israel, or the cities around the sea of Galilee. In answer to this question I want to cite a Supreme Court case from 1892, The Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S.
1). “This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation…There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people… in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, it was decided that, ‘Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law…not Christianity with an established church…but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.’ And in The People v. Ruggles, Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, said: ‘The people of this State, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice…We are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors [other religions].’ And in the famous case of Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, this Court…observed: ‘It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law…’ These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”
g. If anything, the fact that there are tens of millions of Christians in the United States and our culture has continued to decay in spite of us being here shows our disobedience and our failure to be “the salt of the earth” that Jesus was speaking of in Matthew 5:13.