Justice and Righteousness (Genesis 18-19)
Many will argue that we are basically good. Genesis 18-19 challenge that basic premise. Sodom is by any objective measure a wicked city. So, how should a just and righteous God respond to the wickedness of Sodom? And how should He respond to us, for whilst we may not be as wicked as the residents of Sodom in Abraham’s time, we are nonetheless far from perfect.
The Lord had promised,
Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” (Gen 18:18-19).
But what is “right” and what is “just”? What should be our primary determinant of what is “right” and “just” when there is disagreement between what the law says, what social mores propose, and what the Bible states?
Abraham negotiates with the Lord to not destroy Sodom on the basis that:
- It is not right to destroy the righteous with the wicked, or to treat the righteous and the wicked the same (v25)
- The character of God is to do “right”, and to be merciful. (v25)
So, what of these premises? Should the righteous and the unrighteous be treated the same? That is, all forgiven, OR all punished? Or should only the unrighteous be punished, and the righteous be forgiven?
The Gospel of the Lord Jesus provides us with a surprising answer.