The Lord looked at me and said, “Shall I hide from you what I am about to do?”And I said, “What are you about to do?” He said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah, London and St. Louis, Moscow and Sydney, and all cities of the world, is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me.”
And he did. And he saw that the outcry was true. And he decreed punishment.
And I drew near to the Lord and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous who are in the world. Will you then sweep away the world and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put to death the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous in the world, I will spare it for their sake.”
I answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I am who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty are lacking. Will you destroy the whole world for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
Again I spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.”
Then I said, “Oh let the Lord not be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.”
I said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.”
Then I said, “Oh let the Lord not be angry, and I will speak again this but once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
But ten righteous people were not found in the world.
And I too was found among the unrighteous. So I took my place among them to await the fire and brimstone.
And suddenly I heard a new voice above me. It was saying to the Lord, “If you find one righteous man in the world, will you spare it?” And the Lord answered, “If I find one righteous man in the world, and that man is willing to stand in the place of all the unrighteous men in the world, and suffer the penalty all the unrighteous deserve, then I will spare it.”
And the voice said, “Behold, here am I.”
And there was silence in heaven. And the sun stood still in the sky. And the world ceased its spinning. And all creation ground to a halt.
And there was felt, all around the world, the heat from falling fire. And there was smelled, all around the world, the burning of brimstone. And there was heard, all round the world, the boom of a pounding hammer. And there resounded, all around the world, the cry of a righteous man who prayed for an unrighteous world. And, finally, three words from that voice echoed down the streets of Sodom and the alleys of Gomorrah and the skyscrapers of New York City and the fields of Iowa.
The voice said, “It is finished.”
And the Lord looked down from heaven and said, “I have laid on the one righteous man the iniquity of the world. I made him who knew no sin to be sin so that in him you might become my righteousness.
I spare you. I forgive you. I love you.”
Romans 3:10, “None is righteous; no, not one.” Romans 5:18, “One act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”
What we need in our fragmented world, full of hurting people, is the love of Jesus Christ, who welcomes home sinners with a grace that knows no bounds. My book Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, is packed with reflections that go that extra mile of grace. Again and again, they present the Christ who is crucified and risen for you. Please take a moment to check it out here. You may also be interested in my collections of hymns and poetry entitled, The Infant Priest, which you can purchase here. Both books are also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing (also on Kindle). Thank you for your prayers and support!