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 [the Lord] said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. — Genesis 18:32
In October of 1892, John Hyde sailed to India as a missionary. His early years in that country were marked by persecution, and there were few conversions. Longing to see the hand of God move, Hyde began interceding for India. So compelling was his call to prayer that by 1899, he was spending entire nights face down before God. In a letter home he wrote: “Have felt led to pray for others this winter as never before. I never before knew what it was to work all day and then pray all night. In college or at parties at home, I used to keep such hours for myself, or for pleasure. Can I not do as much for God and souls?”
In 1908, at a convention for missionaries, John Hyde felt led to pray what seemed an impossible request: that during the coming year in India one soul would be saved every day — 365 people converted, baptized, and publicly confessing Jesus. Impossible — yet it happened! By the next year, Hyde had prayed more than four hundred people into God’s kingdom, and when the convention assembled again, he doubled his goal to two souls a day. Eight hundred conversions were recorded that year, and still the missionary showed an unquenchable passion for the lost.
At the 1910 convention, those around Hyde marveled at his faith as they witnessed his supplications, “Give me souls, oh God, or I die!” Before the meetings ended, John Hyde revealed that he again was doubling his goal for the coming year. As the year progressed, if on any day four people were not converted, Hyde said at night there was such a weight on his heart that he could not eat or sleep until he had prayed through to victory. The number of new converts continually grew.
When his health began to fail, doctors warned Hyde that unless he got complete rest he would be dead in six months. Still he could not cease from his travail for sinners. And “Praying Hyde,” as he had come to be known, lived for nearly two more years — long enough to see revival sweep through India. Only eternity will reveal how many souls were born again through the prayers of this one man!
Intercession is defined as “holy, believing, persevering prayer whereby someone pleads with God on behalf of another or others who desperately need God’s intervention.” We find a Biblical example of intercessory prayer in today’s text. Because of Abraham’s intercession for the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, God did not allow destruction to transpire until Lot and as many as would accompany him had escaped.
An intercessor must have a personal relationship with God that is strong and deep — close enough to learn the “secrets” that are shared between those with an intimate connection. Notice that God said about Abraham, “I know him . . .” (Genesis 18:19). The implication was, “He is my intimate friend.” Can God say that about us?
Remember, it isn’t a question of whether individuals deserve God’s mercy, but is a question of how greatly they need it. Intercessors must have compassionate hearts and a deep concern for the salvation of the lost.
Are we passing along the blessing of intercession by praying earnestly for others?
The three heavenly visitors introduced in the first part of chapter 18 had come to make a firsthand inspection of the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. If it proved to be as bad as reported, destruction would follow. In verses 16-22, having concluded their meal, the guests took their leave and started toward Sodom to make their investigation. Abraham, as a courteous host, accompanied them.
The question asked in verses 17-18, which apparently the Lord addressed to Himself, is answered in verse 19. The Lord referenced the unique relationship He shared with this man He had chosen to be the father of “a great and mighty nation.” He had confidence in Abraham because He knew Abraham would teach his children to promote justice (often translated as righteousness, meaning “adherence to proper standards”).
The word cry in verse 20 was not an expression of sorrow or a plea for mercy, but rather a demand for punishment because of sin. The people of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were exceedingly wicked (see Genesis 13:13), engaging in perverted sexual practices. The words sodomy and sodomize are taken from this ancient city’s name.
Verses 23-33 describe Abraham’s intercession for the city. He based his request upon the mercy of God rather than His justice. Beginning with the number fifty, the patriarch inquired whether the Lord would spare Sodom for that many righteous. When God agreed, Abraham reduced the number by increments until he received assurance that if there were just ten righteous in the city, God would spare it from judgment.
Chapter 19 begins with a description of the angels’ visit to Lot’s home in Sodom. Verses 1-14 depict the awful vileness of the sexually perverted inhabitants of the city. The angels told Lot to take his family and flee, but Lot’s sons-in-law rejected his warning of coming destruction, seemingly viewing it as a joke.
Verses 16-29 tell of Lot’s departure from Sodom at the urging of the angelic visitors, and the judgment of fire and brimstone which rained down upon the evil city. Lot’s wife ignored the divine warning not to look back, and became a pillar of salt.
The concluding verses of chapter 19 relate how Lot and his two daughters fled to a cave in the mountains near the city of Zoar, and the immoral but successful scheme of the two women to ensure children.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The early history of the chosen race
10. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
a. The visitation of Abraham
(2) The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah foretold (18:16-21)
(3) The intercession of Abraham (18:22-33)
b. The visitation of Sodom (19:1-38)
(1) The immorality noted (19:1-11)
(2) The warning of Lot to flee (19:12-22)
(3) The destruction of the cities (19:23-29)
(4) The progeny of Lot and his daughters (19:30-38)
Never underestimate the power of intercessory prayer. It can move the hand of God!