November 05, 2019

Will Not the Judge . . . Do Right?

Genesis 18:20-25

“Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike.”

—  Genesis 18:25

Abraham pleads for Sodom, asking God not to destroy that corrupted city if some righteous people might still be there. And God says he will hold back if just ten are found. Abraham seems unsure at first, but he speaks out in faith, stating that surely God is just and would not destroy the righteous along with the wicked.

Abraham’s question is rhetorical: “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And, of course, God will. But God also listens to Abraham and assures him. Sadly, though, not even ten righteous people lived in Sodom—and yet, before disaster struck, God also rescued Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family members who were living there (Genesis 19:1-29).

Now, what about natural disasters and human calamities that take many lives? Are those about God’s judgment too? Jesus raised that question as he talked about people who had died when a tower collapsed: “Do you think they were more guilty than all the others” in that area? “I tell you, no!” Disasters like that are part of the brokenness of this world. But Jesus also warned his listeners: this doesn’t mean the people who survive a disaster are without sin. In fact, all of us need the Savior. (See Luke 13:1-5.)

In all kinds of situations in life, God calls us to recognize that we are sinners. We all need the Savior, Jesus, who died for our sake and rose again to make new life possible for us. “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26).

O God, thank you for your mercy and grace in the saving work of Christ. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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