We tend to think of spiritual warfare only from the perspective of the Satanic realm warring against believers, as dramatized in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. But God also battles, both against sin and to win lost souls from Satan’s domain. For example: Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me…” (Genesis 18:20-21).
What is the outcry? Who is crying out against the cities? The victims of their sin and crime? The outcry may have also come from Abraham, in his prayers, and from Lot himself, living in the city.
…[God] rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)… (2 Peter 2:7-8).
We might assume that Lot, who chose to live in that evil place, must have serious issues in his spiritual life, in his relationship with God. Yet Lot knows right and wrong very clearly. He is tormented by what’s going on. He must be crying out to God for some remedy—interceding for these people, his neighbors—every day. And he is called righteous, three times! Just as Abraham is called righteous, in Hebrews 11. Both of these righteous people are interceding for loved ones—and for the community as a whole. In his bargaining with God (Genesis 18), Abraham is praying not only for Lot, but seeking mercy for all the souls in that community.
Like Abraham and Lot, we have been called by God, through Christ. And, like them, we have been invited into the conversation with God about what’s happening in our world. We must pray for the people we love, and we must pray for the people we don’t love. These days especially, we tend to think judgmental thoughts about many people. But Abraham doesn’t do that; he pleads for the souls of those people. Abraham isn’t their judge, and he knows it. He is their intercessor.
In his pleading for the people of Sodom, Abraham asks the rhetorical question: “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). Yes! God will do right and judge rightly, in Abraham’s day and in ours. With a spiritual battle raging around us these days, we don’t judge; we intercede.
Be bold in your talking to God about people. Consistent. Persistent. This is your calling.
Rev. Brent Juliot serves as contributing editor of Faith & Fellowship magazine and is Pastor of Living Hope Church in Menomonie, Wisconsin.