The Church of God is an innumerable host. Through the ages God reserves for Himself the seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal, nor kissed the Antichrist. And for ten righteous He will save a city and a kingdom. How else will you explain the rising of the sun each morning, the dawning of each new day, the years rolling by, and that all things continue as they were? If you were God, would you put up one minute longer with the bold and widespread evil that you meet everywhere you go?
When we say that the Church is an innumerable host we are speaking, as Scripture also does on this point, relatively and from the point of view of man. God knows exactly how many are in that Church; and Christ, the Good Shepherd knows every sheep by name. With Him it is not an innumerable host but a precious flock in which the care and need of every sheep is fully known and completely His concern. And relatively, He Himself declared, she is a little flock, a handful in comparison with the host of unbelievers that are her avowed enemy. Yet it is a tremendously large Church that God has designed, and that will come to manifestation in the day of Christ. So great she is that no man can possibly count all, her members. God is not forced to settle for a handful that “accept” His Son. He is not through the ages striving to get as big a church as He can; and He will not have to settle for a little bungalow whereas His desire was to build a great mansion. It will be a mansion. It will be a vast kingdom. It will be a perfect body with an exact number of members, all “handpicked,” all eternally chosen by God so that it is complete and beautiful in every detail.
At any given moment in time He has therefore His seven thousand who have been kept faithful by Him. These are not seven thousand that managed to resist the devil successfully, made God’s cause a success, and came forward to assist His faltering cause. Unto Elijah, when he became a despondent reformer after Jezebel threatened him with death, God said that He had left Himself seven thousand who remained faithful. The Almighty, Who needs no man, and upon Whom all the faithful depend for their faithfulness, reminded the despondent prophet that He reserves, that He keeps faithful, and that is why the number is seven thousand. This is an exact number, and although it must not be taken literally it must be taken as a testimony that God has determined a perfect and complete Church, and that this church is safe and sure because it is the church of the Almighty. Even here, however, seven thousand is a relatively small number in comparison with those who do bow the knee before Mammon and seek the things below. There were, if you please, four hundred and fifty Baal prophets in the land and four hundred prophets of the groves. That makes almost one thousand prophets and gives a little idea of how many were sinfully served by these false prophets.
But the point is that, because of the presence of these members of His Church upon this earth, God still upholds it in its present form, sends His rain and sunshine, seedtime and harvest, winter and summer follow in their proper order, and the day of judgment is not yet upon us. Does not Paul in Romans 8:28 say that all things work together for good to those that love God? And they work together only because God is working through and with them. There is a master plan behind all that happens. There is an extremely detailed counsel of God that is being executed by every drop of rain and flake of snow, by every virus and disease germ, by every event in history, yea by every creature, material and spiritual, solid, liquid, and gaseous, visible and invisible, large and small. And all this is for those that love God. The good that all these things serve is the good that God’s love has designed for those that love Him: the everlasting fellowship of God’s covenant in the new Jerusalem, when the tabernacle of God is with men and we know God in that we know by experience the blessedness of His love and grace, and thus have everlasting life. All is designed to bring us there. All is good because it serves that purpose. And nothing hinders, nothing delays, nothing even threatens our arrival in that glory because the Almighty is in it all, designed it all in inscrutable wisdom and executes flawlessly His eternal counsel. We may therefore be assured that all things will continue as they were until God has used them to bring His Church into that life in His kingdom. When He is through using them as means and tools to bring us there, He will discard them; and the wicked He will cast into everlasting punishment. He is not, as Peter declares, slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness. He is willing—and He is never frustrated in that or in any other desire that He has—that all of us, to whom in Christ He is longsuffering, should enter into that glory. He will not destroy the world, or a city or a country, until this purpose of His is reached. Sin develops. Men become bold in their wickedness. Created in the image of God they behave more basely than the beasts of the field. But He waits, and meanwhile uses them, until He has worked all the things necessary for His people, who are affected by these things, to bring them into that blessedness of His covenant.
In that light we must also see Lot in Sodom, and Abraham praying for ten righteous in that godless city. Having told Abraham again, and Sarah personally; that they would bring forth Isaac through whom would come Him Who would bring true, spiritual laughter to all God’s people, the Angel of the Lord also informed Abraham of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities, and above all Sodom, were steeped in sexual perversity. It was not the “normal” driving passion of the flesh of the natural man that resulted in adultery and fornication in their simplest forms and what we might even call natural forms. But as the Apostle Paul reveals in Romans 1:26, “for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” We live in such a desperately wicked world—and this spills over into the church-world, sad to say—that the homosexual is rated less evil than the adulterer or fornicator who takes another man’s wife or defiles a virgin. Such are called sick; and we are cautioned not to call such sinful. Such, we are told, may be considered for offices in the church; and each must be allowed to do his thing. All this in spite of the fact that Paul presents this as baser, more vile, more despicable in God’s sight than adultery and fornication in their natural forms. Even Lot, a spiritually weak man, reveals his revulsion about such matters when he presents to the men of the city his daughters for them to commit what he considered the lesser sin. And it was not simply because these were strangers whom he must befriend. It was not simply that he would protect those who came to his home. He realized the awfulness of the sin, how revolting it is to God Who made man for other purposes and designed man’s body for other reasons and purposes.
That, the sin was not only great but practiced on an almost unbelievably large scale, is evident in that we read in Genesis 19:4 that “The men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round about, both old and young, all the people from every quarter.” Yes, the young—and we may believe from the earliest ages of their ability to do so—were there with the old. Here we have not sin in that private bedroom, secluded spot in a dark comer, behind walls that hide from view, sin that one is—at least in years gone. By ashamed to have others know that one practices. There is such an awful boldness of sin here. They come like a herd of animals that know no shame before men, wear no clothes, seek no privacy, and are driven by nothing more than beastly passion. Lot knows all about this. He had seen it all before. He dared, however, to try to bring up his daughters in that kind of environment; and were it not for the fact that Scripture says that he vexed his righteous soul, you would never guess it, except perhaps for the fact that he does here try to spare these “strangers” this vile treatment. And Abraham knew about it, and his thoughts often went forth to Lot in that wicked city. He had entertained angels unawares in his kindness and awareness of his calling before God. But his concern for this brother is Christ, this relative of his, he has not forgotten either. We must entertain strangers, but by all means we must pray for our brothers in Christ. And Abraham does.
Being told that God is through using Sodom, and is come to destroy them for their sins, Abraham begins to pray for fifty righteous in the city. He took in this quite an optimistic position not only but reveals that he was deeply concerned about Lot. He had to come down to only ten, in five steps, and further he dares not go being sure in his soul now that there were not more than ten. Whether he actually rested assured now that the city would be spared because there were ten righteous in it or not; we are not told. It is to be doubted that he had that confidence, for we read in Genesis 19:27 that Abraham got up early in the morning to look and see whether the city were standing.
For the sake of His Church God would spare the city; and that is comforting to know, for judgment is coming upon this land of ours, and upon our cities because of their sins, some of which rival and surpass the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. They had not the filthy magazines of today or the means to produce them. They had not the immoral TV programs and movies which are condoned by governmental regulations. Pornography is defended and presented as art. Scenes not to be seen by children, nor by anyone because they simply. excite and incite to leaving the natural use of the sexual powers God has given man to burn for the flesh, are shown without shame, and posed for without qualms. Plastic devices for such sins which Sodom could not make are a million dollar business, all without governmental restraints or objections. With Sodom it was “young and old”; and in our land it is those in high offices over us as well as those of low social standing.
But the day will soon be here when there are not ten righteous on this earth; and most of the innumerable host are already in the glory of heaven. The God of this innumerable host, the God of this exact number of the figurative seven thousand, this Good Shepherd who knows each sheep, loves each one of these sheep. And when He will not spare the city and country because there are not the figurative ten righteous in them, He will perform another work. He will rescue that one, or those two or three, before He comes in the fire of His judgment. For ten righteous He will spare the city. The one righteous He will deliver out of that city before His wrath falls upon it. And this He will do because His wrath fell once on His Son for all the sins of that one, and because by His death and obedience He has made that one to be righteous. He makes us to be righteous; and He saves us for the sake of His righteous Son.