In Genesis chapter 18, there is an interesting exchange between God and Abraham. The Lord appeared to Abraham to promise that Sarah would have a son, and He also told Abraham that He was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We read, “Abraham came near and said, ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?’…So the LORD said, ‘If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.” (Genesis 18:23-24, 26 NASB). Abraham ventured to speak to God to find the answer to this question: how many righteous people will it take for God to spare the city? God revealed to Abraham that He would not destroy the city if just ten righteous people were living there.
Sodom was reduced to ashes. There were not even ten righteous people in the entire place.
But something that is very interesting to me is that God said if there were ten righteous people, He would not destroy the city on account of the ten righteous ones. What do we learn about the nature of God from that statement? We learn that God is merciful. We learn that He will punish, but that He does not long to punish. He will even look for seemingly small reasons to hold back His judgement.
What do we learn about God’s people from this account? Astonishingly, we learn that righteous people are a preservative in this world! The presence of righteous people can avert the wrath of God from being executed, even in an exceedingly wicked culture like Sodom. I believe this is one of the lessons we can learn from Christ when He said, “You are the salt of the earth…” (Matthew 5:13a NASB) Righteous people have a preserving effect on society just as salt preserves meat. Have you thought of yourself in this way? God may delay His judgement because of the way we live our lives. God may allow more time for us to reach out to the lost with the saving message of Jesus.
The way we live has a direct impact on the world around us! May we all walk in His righteousness. Perhaps God will see and reserve His righteous wrath.