[Continued from TRUSTING THROUGH THE IMPOSSIBLE. This part reflects on, biblically, Genesis 18:16-33 and Luke 16:19-31, and historically, our American history.]
Having finished their meal the three men thank Abraham for his hospitality, bid him farewell (for now), and depart his company. They head toward Sodom – a very wicked city. Seeing them off, Abraham walks with them part of the way.
On their way, the LORD wonders, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? [He is the one I have chosen to] become a great and mighty nation, [through whom all nations (peoples) of the earth will be blessed]” (Genesis 18:18-19).
The LORD is not so pleased with Sodom and Gomorrah – their sin is “exceedingly grave” (Genesis 18:20). And the LORD shares with Abraham His plans to destroy those wicked cities, wherein no righteousness dwells.
(At another time, during the days of Noah, God saw even then “that the wickedness of man was great on the earth.” [See GOD’S DESIRE FOR ALL PEOPLES] It was like that since mankind yielded to the deceptive snares of the evil one in the Garden of Eden – Genesis 3; 6:5-6. How it so grieved the LORD that He had made man.)
Abraham pleads with the LORD, on behalf of those cities, knowing that his nephew Lot resides in Sodom (See RECOVERING ETERNAL VALUES), finally concluding, “What if ten righteous are found there?”
“I will not destroy it [if I find] ten righteous [in that city],” the LORD says.
Having finished their conversation, the LORD departs and Abraham returns to his home.
Our time machine now rushes us on to the New Testament era, where we see Jesus, God’s blessing for all nations.
We find Jesus confronting the Pharisees, who see wealth as proof of a person’s righteousness. (See Luke 16:14-15.) Jesus startles them, however, with the account of a poor beggar named Lazarus, and a rich man at whose gate Lazarus lay, covered with sores. (This is not the same Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead in John chapter eleven.)
In time, both die. Lazarus is “carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). The rich man, being in torment in Hades, cries out to Abraham to send Lazarus to quench his thirst. (That rich man would not care for Lazarus in life, now he wants Lazarus to care for him in death!) But to no avail, it’s too late. A great chasm fixed, it’s impossible after physical death to cross over from heaven to hell, or hell to heaven.
That being the case, therefore, the rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his house and warn his brothers that they make sure they don’t come to this dreadful place.
But, “They have Moses and the prophets,” Abraham says (see Luke 16:2830). “If they will not listen to [the warnings of] Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”
Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had shown the same desire for people to turn to God. He was “going through all the cities and villages… [He saw the multitude = “huge number of people”] … distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” He then declared to His disciples (and to us), “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…” (Matthew 9:35-36.)
We are now swept into the 17th Century, to Colonial America; God expands His story to the West.
We meet William Bradford, one of the 100 Pilgrims crowding the tiny Mayflower reaching the New
Later, Bradford writes, they came seeking "a better and easier place of living.” Continuing, “[their children] were being drawn away by evil examples into extravagance and dangerous courses [in Holland]“ He also writes of “The great hope, and for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world."
But, since the beginning of time, evil forces are also on the move, humanist teachings and doctrines creeping in, immoral and ungodly ideals replacing the biblical – sins such as that of Sodom and Gomorrah, the fallacy of riches (greed) …condoned. A scant hundred years after William Bradford and the Pilgrims commit to living for God and by His ways, their descendants are in need of a revival.
And during the 1730s and ‘40s a movement of God’s Holy Spirit, through evangelist George Whitefield, sparks a great awakening, revitalizing Christianity in the American colonies. He challenges the already-church members to re-think their rituals, piety, and self-awareness – as Jesus challenged the Pharisees of His day. And a part of this revival includes Jonathan Edwards preaching repentance to these very Mayflower descendants.
Nor has the bent to sin changed any since then. In twenty-first-century America (as indeed elsewhere), our Christian heritage is barely visible. The sinners not only sin blatantly, but also try to convince us that sin is the right way and we all should be sinning. And we in the church, though perhaps our sin is not so blatant, are just as much in need of revival as the church members of Jonathan Edwards's day.
Jesus' plea to His people remains yet today to, “Beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest [field]” (Matthew 9:38.), to preach His message of warning to all peoples of the earth, and of the hope for restoration, which is Christ Jesus, Himself, the blessing for all pepoles. (See 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.)
As the apostle Peter has written, “The Lord is not slow about His promise … but is patient toward [all, giving ample warning], not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
The further reading consider The Great Awakening: A History of the Revival of Religion in the Time of Edwards and Whitefield