Speculating Safely


Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from the Scripture

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Genesis 18.32-33 The he said “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the Lord went His way, when He had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

What if? I know, that’s sometimes a very leading question, isn’t it? Or at the least, it can lend itself to less than useful speculation. But what prompts me there is a statement made by J. C. Ryle on this passage. What if?

Just hold that thought.

The first thing I want to notice in this section is just how astoundingly merciful God is. Sodom and Gomorrah are wicked places. The very epitome of wicked. They are the proverbial picture of irredeemable evil. But notice how willing God is to spare the whole lot for the sake of just a very few. Abraham’s bargaining begins with a mere fifty, given at least thousands. Fifty. Barely above four dozen. And God is so willing to wait.

I cringe at how more like James and John I am, justifying myself in lobbying for fire from on high for lots less wickedness than this. And a lot less willing to spare the many for the few.

Fifty drops to forty five. Forty five shrinks to forty, then thirty, a mere twenty, and lastly ten. And God doesn’t flinch. “For the sake of ten” He says, “I will not destroy it.” God is so much more merciful and willing to be entreated than we ever give Him credit for. I confess that the very thought of it makes me want to run outside and tell the world “He’s still willing!”

Only ten.

Now back to Ryle. In a little tract of Ryle’s on prayer, the first Bishop of Liverpool makes this comment: “God didn’t cease answering, until Abraham stopped asking.” Oh let that sink into your heart beloved. God didn’t stop answering, until Abraham had ceased praying.

Could it be? Could it be that James was goading us to consider the very same dynamic when he wrote: “You do not have because you do not ask”? (James 4.2)

I wonder just how little of God’s presence we enjoy, because we simply do not ask. How many souls we do not get to share the Gospel with, because we do not ask? How few conversions we get to participate in because we do not ask? How few answers to prayer because plain and simple, we aren’t praying very much. We aren’t asking very largely for the Kingdom. We aren’t seeking the face of the King with a sense that He is more willing to show mercy and grace than we ever imagined.

I want to ponder that “what if?” for a while. I want to let my heart soak in the thought that God might do great and marvelous things, if only we would ask more. That revival would break out in our churches, and thus our land. That marriages would be saved, children soundly converted, the Gospel restored in power to our most visible pulpits, racism drummed from our churches, worldliness barred from our hearts, joy flowing freely from one Christian to another in the power and presence of the Spirit, and Christ placarded before the nations in all of His saving wonder.

What if?

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