May 6, 2020, 12:48 PM
“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” (Habakkuk 1:13)
Whilst persistent prayer is a recommended medium for achieving results in one’s Christian life - if we do not give up immediately when results are not forthcoming - we will observe that sometimes the answer can be a blunt ‘no’ and no amount of persistence is likely to alter or influence the outcome.
Abraham pleads for Sodom and Gomorrah
The state of waywardness in Sodom and Gomorrah had gone out of hand. People were living anyhow; sin was rampant and it had become “so grievous” and degrading by any standard. The outcry against total disregard for God and righteous living in these twin cities had reached God’s ears and He was greatly displeased.
Prior to administering punishment however, God had thought it necessary to put Abraham in the picture. “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (Genesis 18:17) When Abraham became privy to God’s plan, he sought to plead with Him for clemency - but to no avail. Abraham put his case this way. “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of the earth do right?” (verse 23)
In the end, fifty righteous people could not be found, -not even ten. So Abraham could not stay God’s hand from seeing His plan through. Because of the chronic wickedness in the land “the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah from out of the heavens.” (Genesis 19:24)
David pleads for mercy
One evening king David was taking some fresh air on his rooftop when he saw a lady having her bath. She was “very beautiful.” One thing led to another and David committed adultery with her and the woman conceived. The lady, Bathsheba by name was married to Uriah, the Hittite, so to silence him, David arranged for him to be killed in the frontline.
God, who is omniscient, sent His prophet Nathan to rebuke David and he admitted his crime. “I have sinned against the Lord.” (Numbers 12:13) Nathan declared; “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born of you will die.” (verse 14)
The child became very ill and David pleaded with God so that he would not die. “He fasted and went into his house and spent nights lying on the ground … and he refused -- to get up -- and would not eat any food …” (verse 17) However on the seventh day the child died. Fearing that David would do something desperate nobody dared to tell him about the death of the child. He suspected it however from the way they were whispering among themselves, “… for he had believed that while the child was alive, if he fasted and wept, ‘the Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.” (verse 22)
Some of our actions warrant God’s mercy, others don’t – particularly when they do not honour Him. In the face of stubbornness and wickedness, it is impossible for God to bend and be merciful to us because our actions do not bring credit to His name. God’s justice is not governed by favouritism. (James 2:1) We are all equal in His eyes.
David realised the degree of his offence but thought God would be merciful nevertheless. He wrote in Psalm 51, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are proved right when You speak and justified when You judge.” (verse 4)
What God delights in, is not sacrifice and burnt offerings but “a broken spirit and a contrite heart.” How much we are truly sorry determines God’s reaction to our plea.
Whilst God’s decision may seem harsh coming from a merciful God, He is justified in all that He does. “For what son is not disciplined by his father.” (Hebrews 12:7b)