DENTON, Texas, May 29, 2012 — In Genesis 18, Abraham has a conversation with God in which he pleads on behalf of a city called Sodom. Abraham’s connection to the town is that his nephew, Lot, lives there. Abraham’s justified fear is that God is about to destroy Sodom and everyone in it because of a prevailing wickedness (see Gen. 19 for a taste of the town’s widespread sexual perversion).
So Abraham asks whether God would destroy Sodom if there were fifty righteous people living there. God says he would spare Sodom if fifty good people were among its inhabitants. Less than confident fifty can be found, Abraham asks whether God would spare Sodom if it contained forty-five righteous souls. God says he would.
Sodom’s reputation must have reached Abraham’s ears, and he feels compelled to try to get the number even lower. He asks whether the Lord would spare Sodom for the sake of forty godly citizens. Yes. What about thirty? Yes. Twenty? Yes. Even as few as … ten? Yes, God would spare Sodom for the sake of ten, should they be found. Notice, God does not insist that the righteous have to outnumber the wicked. God does not even insist that the number of good has to equal the number of evil. God would have spared a host of people for a tiny minority of just ten.
As the story unfolds, only four make it out of Sodom alive, including Lot, his wife, and their two daughters (though Lot’s wife soon perishes when she looks back in the direction of Sodom, disregarding God’s warning). Think of it. It would have taken only six more people, combined with Lot’s family, to spare the entire city from death by fire and brimstone. Military might could not have saved Sodom. Enthusiastic patriotism could not have saved Sodom. But righteousness on the part of only six more people could have saved Sodom. Sadly, the six did not exist.
Solomon wrote, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). The United States has been here over 200 years, in which time God has blessed us to a historically unprecedented level. To our shame and hurt, many Americans have turned skeptical, unthankful, materialistic and selfish.
We have seen God removed from the public classroom, hedonism glorified, the Bible vilified, and the culture gone adrift. At one time, stigma was attached to divorce, adultery, and out-of-wedlock pregnancy — things which are now so accepted as to be the new norm. Surely the blood of countless aborted American children calls to God, as did the blood of Abel (cf. Gen. 4:10).
More bizarre is the frenzied rush to embrace a gay agenda, indicating a country in confusion. We once thought certain behavior should be “in the closet.” Then we decided it should be “out of the closet,” and that those who disliked the change should now keep their views “in the closet” or face the wrath of intolerant progressivism. We are on the verge of allowing homosexuals to recast the very concept of marriage in their own image. Many see no harm there. Then again, many Israelites thought the golden calf was the way to go (Exod. 32), but it turned out to be a bad idea.
There is something about a godless mindset that craves approval from people who disagree with it. Where approval is not earned, it is sought by force via legislation or court decision. Where acceptance does not have the force of law, it is gained by intimidation, by belittling or mischaracterizing whomever gets in the way.
Unlike ancient Sodom, America still stands. Why? It is not due to our military prowess. It is not because of our highly touted diversity. And it is not because of our increasingly intolerable tolerance of everyone, no matter how aberrant their behavior. America stands because God allows her to stand (cf. Dan. 4:25; John 19:11). And it may be that God allows her to stand because of the Christians who are still here.
Jesus said his followers are the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). If Sodom is any indication, the number of righteous in the land may be a huge factor in God’s determining a country’s fate. Will the United States continue for 500 years? Will it end tomorrow? It may hinge on the Lord’s church (a sobering thought). There seems to come a time when a people’s sins are so numerous God considers them to be full, or complete (cf. Gen. 15:16), after which that people is destined to ruin. It falls on our shoulders to be the preserving influence for righteousness, which, in turn, will lift up this nation. Is there a ratio of saints to sinners in America that, even now, God is keeping his eye on? For the sake of soul and country, we need to fall on the right side of that equation.
Weylan Deaver earned a B.A. degree (Bible/Philosophy) from Freed-Hardeman University, and an M.B.S. degree from the Bear Valley Bible Institute. He serves on the distance learning faculty of Tennessee Bible College and is a minister for the church of Christ. He and his wife have four homeschooled children. Find him on Twitter @wdeaver.
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