"The One Who is Judging All the Earth"

July 14, 2011

In the account of Abraham’s intercession for Sodom (Gen. 18:16-33) and the subsequent judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (19:1-29), God’s work of judgment through agents is clear. Genesis 18:1-15 shows that the Lord appeared to Abraham with two other men. After two of the group departed (18:22), Abraham interceded with the Third (18:23-32), the Lord, “the One who is judging all the earth” (18:25, my translation).

The two who left were angels (19:1). Later in Sodom, they supernaturally turned away the attempt of the men of the city to molest Lot (19:9-11). They made clear their mission as emissaries of the Lord both explicitly (“the Lord has sent us to destroy it,” 19:13) and by stating that the Lord was the One who was about to destroy the city.

The subsequent account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, however, makes no mention of the activity of the angels in destroying those cities (19:24-29). It states that the Lord who appeared to Abraham destroyed them by raining “brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (19:24). This verse shows that the One who destroyed those cities was the preincarnate Christ, and that He did so as the agent of Another, the Lord who was in heaven.

Verse 24 also shows that the righteous Judge of all the earth with whom Abraham interceded (18:25) was the preincarnate Christ. Genesis 18-19, therefore, presents that His divine working as the Lord, the righteous Judge who spares and destroys (18:23-32), was yet as the minister of God’s judgment. This passage that presents the deity of the preincarnate Christ and presents Him as the Lord, the righteous judicial agent of Yahweh, testifies, therefore, to the importance of His judicial agency with reference to His being the Lord. Moreover, in view of the abundant use of κύριος in Genesis (in the LXX) to present God as the Judge,[1] its use in Genesis 18-19 in explicit connection with an emphatic use of the verb κρίνω to speak of work of the preincarnate Christ establishes an important judicial significance for its subsequent reference to Him as κύριος.[2]

Many later Old Testament references to this account further support viewing this passage as an important one.[3] In addition, the New Testament writers’ extensive use of Genesis 18 and 19 (three quotations, twenty-nine allusions and verbal parallels, UBS3) further validates the assessment of these chapters as important to the teaching of the New Testament. Of particular significance are the several New Testament references to the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah that show that this is an important account for understanding apostolic teaching concerning Christ as God’s judicial agent.[4]

Genesis 18-19 shows Christ’s rendering judgment for God. Because Genesis 3:15 prophesied of His future work of judgment, Scripture begins with testimony about Christ’s judging for God both in history and in the future.

 


[1] Genesis in the LXX repeatedly speaks of κύριος or κύριος ὁ θεός as the One who warned of judgment or rendered judgment (2:16-17; 3:1, 8-24; 4:4-16; 5:29; 6:3, 5, 8, 12, 22; 7:1, 4-5, 16; 8:21; 9:12; 11:5-6, 8-9; 12:3; 15:14; 18:17, 19-20, 22, 25-26, 33; 19:13, 14-16, 20, 24-27, 29; 20:18; 38:7).

[2]ὁ κρίνων πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν (“the one who is judging all the earth,” my translation); the present participle here stresses the ongoing nature of His judging. For data showing the nearly universal use of κύριος in the LXX to speak of God as the Judge, see my article, Interpreting the Word “Lord” in the NT.

[3] Deuteronomy 29:23; Isaiah 1:9; 13:19; Jeremiah 23:14-15; 49:18; 50:40; Lamentations 4:6; Ezekiel 16:49-50; Amos 4:11; Zephaniah 2:9.

[4] Matthew 10:15; 11:24; Luke 10:12; 17:29, 32; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 1:7.

Rajesh

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