In Genesis 18, Abraham is interceding in behalf of the righteous, and the result is that the wicked are to be spared in the process. In the Gospel, the wicked are spared as well, but through the condemnation of the Righteous One, Jesus Christ. In Genesis 18, the Lord is willing to spare the wicked by preserving the righteous. In the Gospel, He is willing to spare the wicked by judging the Righteous One in their place.
“Then Abraham drew near and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23).
This single preposition–“with”–leads me into deeper appreciation for the scandalous grace of the Gospel. Abraham thought his “with” was a shock, but the Gospel presents us with a far greater scandal, because that “with” becomes, in Jesus Christ, a “for”. At Calvary, the Righteous One is swept away for the wicked because the God of Abraham doesn’t merely justify the godly, but the ungodly (Romans 4:5)!
As Scripture unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that there isn’t even a single righteous man: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). Until the fullness of time, when Jesus Christ appears as that rarest of all rarities, the Enormous Exception–the Righteous One, and He is swept away by His Father’s judgment on the Cross, so that the wicked might be spared.
Thanks be to God that Abraham barely began to touch the outermost fringes of the true extent of His mercy and grace!