ACCORDING TO GOD’S RIGHTEOUS WAY
Abraham’s challenge to God was according to God’s righteous way (18:23-25). Abraham said to the Lord, “You are the Judge of all the earth. Shall You do this? This is not Your righteous way.” Proper intercession is neither according to God’s love nor according to His grace, but according to His righteousness. The strongest challenge to God is not to say to Him, “God, are You not a loving God?” If we say this, God might say, “Yes, I am a loving God, but to love is up to Me. When I feel happy, I love. But if I don’t feel happy, I don’t love. What’s wrong with My doing this?” We have nothing to say to this. We should say to God, “God, are You not the righteous One?” If we challenge God according to His righteousness, God would reply, “I certainly am righteous.” He would never say, “If I am happy, I shall be righteous, but if I am unhappy, I won’t be righteous.” What kind of a righteous God would this be? We must challenge God according to His righteousness because His righteousness binds Him more than His love and His grace do. God has no obligation to be loving or to show grace, but He is held responsible to be righteous. Nothing binds God as firmly as His righteousness. Every good intercessor knows that the way to bind God effectively is to challenge Him according to His righteousness. We should say, “Will the Judge of all the earth do such a thing?” And God will reply, “No, as the just One I would never do that. But you must show Me the proper number that will justify the city. If you show Me the justifying number, I’ll be justified and I’ll be righteous. I would never destroy that city.” Proper intercession never begs God according to His love but challenges Him according to His righteous way.
I believe that many in the Lord’s recovery will be brought into this kind of intercession. When God came down to visit Abraham on a human level, He was seeking one intercessor. Today God has come down to the human level once again, not to seek an individual but a corporate people. I believe that in not too long a time there will be a people on earth absolutely like Abraham, knowing the heart of God and making a challenging intercession in His presence. We may say to God, “Lord, don’t You know that You have promised us definitely in the New Testament to finish the good work that You have begun?” Abraham did not cry and plead with God to spare Sodom for Lot’s sake; he challenged Him. Likewise, we should not weep and beg but should challenge God. He does not want to hear our crying; He wants to hear our challenging intercession.
EXPRESSING GOD’S DESIRE
Abraham’s intercession echoed the desire of God’s heart concerning Lot. As he was interceding according to God’s heart, his intercession spontaneously expressed God’s desire. Proper intercession always expresses God’s desire. This is another principle of intercession. If our intercession is initiated by our seeing of God’s revelation in our intimate fellowship with Him, whatever we say to Him in our intercession will be the expression of His desire, the echo of His intention. True intercession is not to express our desire but God’s desire. It is not to seek anything according to our intention but to seek the fulfillment of God’s intention.
CARRYING OUT GOD’S WILL
Intercession must also carry out God’s will. Although God had a will to rescue Lot, without Abraham’s intercession God had no way to carry out His will. Proper intercession always paves the way for the accomplishing of God’s will. It lays the tracks for the heavenly locomotive. God desired to rescue Lot from Sodom, but He had to find a way to do this. Thus, He visited Abraham for the purpose that he might intercede on Lot‘s behalf. Abraham was intimately close to God’s heart, and God was able to open His heart to him. Immediately Abraham echoed back to God His heart’s desire in a challenging intercession. This intercession was the expression of God’s desire and the carrying out of His will.
There is the urgent need of this kind of challenging intercession in the church life today. All the messages that the Lord has been giving us are for the carrying out of His will. In this life-study we do not care for mere Bible teaching. We are concerned for the release of the present word of the Lord for His recovery. After reading this message, a strong echo will resound throughout the Lord’s recovery as many of the dear saints respond to His word and are brought into a full realization of genuine intercession. From now on, many of us will exercise our spirit to intercede for the church by challenging God according to His heart’s desire. We know that His heart’s desire is to save His people out of the wicked city, to rescue today’s Lot from the condition of condemnation. If we are so close to God, fellowshipping with Him in an intimate way, we shall be able to read His heart and echo His heart’s desire back to Him in a glorious intercession. In the next message we shall see that Abraham’s intercession was very effective. In 19:27-29 we see that Abraham was still with God’s heart. Abraham woke up early in the morning and looked at the city, being very concerned for Lot. In 19:29 we are told clearly that God remembered Abraham and “sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.” This effective intercession will more and more be realized and practiced among us in the church life.
UNTIL THE LORD HAS FINISHED HIS SPEAKING
This chapter does not end with Abraham’s speaking; it ends with God’s speaking. Verse 33 says, “And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had finished speaking to Abraham” (Heb.). The record here is the record of Abraham’s intercession. But it does not say that Abraham had finished his speaking; it says that the Lord had finished His speaking. Proper intercession is always God’s speaking. Apparently we are speaking; actually God is speaking in our speaking.
I like the verse which says that the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham. Many times in our prayers we say, “Amen,” after we have finished speaking. Our “Amen” means the same as good-bye. I can testify that hundreds of times I have said good-bye to the Lord in this way before He has finished speaking to me. I prayed for a certain length of time and then said, “Amen,” meaning good-bye. But deep in my spirit I sensed that God was saying, “What are you doing? I haven’t finished talking to you. Why don’t you stay for another few minutes?” Many of us have had this kind of experience. Our “Amen,” our good-bye, was too fast. We need to stay in the presence of God until He has finished His speaking to us. Our intercession must utter what God is speaking.
(Abraham—Called by God, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)