Abraham's Missionary Heart

Genesis 18

I have preached on Jonah and Joseph who were early foreign missionaries. Jonah did not go willingly but as it says in the children's’ song about God’s hornets, “God made him willing to go.” Joseph too had no desire to become a foreign missionary to Egypt, but God arranged the circumstances and he accepted them as God’s permissive will.

Abraham also left the land of his fathers and traveled to a foreign country. Like Jonah, God commanded him to go, but unlike Jonah, he went willingly. Joseph was chained and taken by force, but Abraham had a missionary heart. We see this best in Genesis 18.

The LORD (Jehovah) and two other “men” appeared to Abraham and preached the gospel. The gospel is God’s good news but in Abraham and Sarah’s mind, this news was too good to be true! (17:17;18:10-15).

In 18:16, Abraham accompanies the LORD and [other] “men” as they turn towards Sodom (compare 13:12-13). Abraham might have wondered if they were going to tell Lot that he and Sarah would have a special son, but we soon learn that they have no such intention. In fact, Lot is not even mentioned. Now let us read Genesis 18:17-22: And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous. I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

It’s all about the renowned wickedness of Sodom and God’s coming judgment. That was the kind of gospel Jonah would have loved to preach, but Abraham’s reaction reveals his missionary heart. Read verses 22-33. Abraham knows his nephew Lot like few others. Lot was a righteous man in an evil environment (II Peter 2:6-9: And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.

Abraham apparently hoped that Lot would have a good influence on the people of Sodom. God’s plan has always been that all should hear the gospel and have an opportunity to repent and believe and be saved.

What we can learn from this passage:
• All evil will be eventually judged by God. There is no escaping!
• God gave his only Son to die for the sins of all men and women. He yearns for the salvation of sinners.
• God delights is those who have his missionary heart.
• Abraham apparently hoped that Lot had that kind of heart.
• When our children leave home to get married or start a life on their own, we also hope that they have our hearts desires. We don’t want our efforts and teaching to fall on deaf ears.
• John wrote that he had no greater joy than to hear that his [spiritual] children walked in truth.
• Where the wickedness of man is great, the believer must have a close walk with God.
• We should never underestimate the attractiveness of sin and power of Satan to tempt us.
• Fellowship with other believers is the best situation.
• Our personal relationship with God is of greatest importance.
• God listens to our prayers if we have a missionary heart. He didn’t chide Abraham for bargaining!

Ralph V Harvey