Collect of the Week (Proper 12-C)
O Lord, let Your merciful ears be attentive to the prayers of Your servants, and by Your Word and Spirit teach us how to pray that our petitions may be pleasing before You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Genesis 18:20-33 (OT Reading for Proper 12-C)
20 Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether1 according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know." 22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" 26 And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
27 Abraham answered and said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." 29 Again he spoke to him and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it." 30 Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there." 31 He said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it." 32 Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it." 33 And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
In the name of T Jesus.
The LORD had spoken judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah—and for good reason. He had condemned their behavior by His Word, and He was ready to bring his promised wrath upon them for continuing in their sin.
But with all the boldness and confidence of a child who knows that, behind the rough exterior, his father is merciful, Abraham pleads with the LORD to spare them. Abraham begins his pleading with a request that seems to be safe. Surely, he begins, there must be some in the city who remain righteous in the faith. And so he begins his pleading: “Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?” Abraham’s suspicions are confirmed. The Father is merciful, and for the sake of fifty who are righteous, the LORD will not destroy the wicked.
As the story goes, Abraham continues to be bold in his requests, depending on the mercy of the LORD, and pleading on behalf of those who would be righteous in the faith. Fifity becomes forty-five, and forty-five becomes forty, and then thirty, and then twenty, until finally, Abraham pleads that for the sake of ten who are righteous in the faith, the LORD would not bring down His wrath.
Unfortunately, there are not even ten. Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. But Abraham was confirmed in His faith, and the LORD was shown once again to be merciful. Abraham pleaded to the LORD on behalf of those who were righteous in the faith, and the LORD promised to relent. Oh that there would have been any who were righteous in the faith among the people of Sodom and Gomorrah!
Of course, there is one who is greater even than Abraham, for the Scripture tells us that we have one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. He gave Himself as a ransom for all, and His blood cries out to the Father to have mercy on all who would be found righteous in the faith. And praise be to God, when the Father looks down, he sees the hearts of those who the Holy Spirit has called to faith by the Gospel, and He relents in bringing judgment upon them. The Father sees those who have been gathered into the Church through the waters of Baptism, and He sees upon them the very righteousness of His Son. He looks down upon those who were blessed to be enlightened to trust in the sacrifice of the son, and like Abraham, the LORD credits their faith as righteousness.
And so we continue to plead, with all boldness and confidence, that the LORD would look upon the hearts of man, and see the number of hearts who are righteous in the faith added to each day. With love for our neighbors we plead that the Holy Spirit would extend the Father’s reign, and convert the hearts of those who, like Sodom and Gomorrah, have thus far been living in sin. And we hope, that because we know our Father to be merciful, that in fact, He would send the Gospel among us, and through us, to extend His kingdom, so that many would be spared of His wrath.
Abraham was bold, and served as a mediator. But there is one who is greater than even he. His name is Jesus, and his blood cries out for all, to believe, and to be granted life eternal. In the name of T Jesus. Amen.
O Lord, spare us who live in this world of wickedness, for Jesus’ sake. Amen (TLSB, p. 43).