I woke up thinking about Abraham and his intercession again. I mentioned in the last post that I thought Abraham could have pleaded with God to spare the city if even one righteous man could be found. (Well, God’s Angels did find Lot and rescued him but they didn’t spare the city for him.) But the fact is that Abraham pleaded and pleaded with God and he only went so far as to plead for the sake of ten innocent men. Why didn’t he go all the way down to one?
Whenever ten are gathered…
I haven’t studied Judaism for a while, but I seem to remember that a minimum of ten men were required before certain services could take place. And that’s ten men, not men and women. I think in Orthodox Judaism the requirements are still much the same and you can probably find out more about that on the web. I think it’s an intriguing notion that Abraham stopped pleading at ten men because any less than that would be an insufficient number for certain forms of religious service, the same kind of service that the Lord would require of His people when He sent Moses to Pharoah. (See my earlier post, Freedom, slavery and the difference between them.) Perhaps it’s similar to what Christ was referring to when He said:
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”(Matthew 18:20)
So Christ is present among them if two or three are present, two or three also being the number of witnesses required to give testimony in cases of law.
Ten who were lost…
The ten who were not found made me think of another ten in Scripture: the Ten Lost Tribes. You remember how Solomon started out so wonderfully but then he became rather full of himself. Well, his son was even worse. Then many in the United Kingdom didn’t feel so united anymore; they rebelled and broke away, settling and establishing their kingdom north of the land of Judah, calling themselves Israel. They didn’t vanish as much as they intermarried with the Gentiles, turning their backs on the worship of God in the Temple in Jerusalem, setting up sanctuaries on the high places for the worship of Ba’al.
Hatred was strong between the tribes that stayed put and the tribes that broke away. It’s the same old story: the Hebrews settle among the pagans and instead of remaining faithful to God, they turn away from Him and begin to follow the ways of the surrounding peoples. The land would later be known as Samaria and the blood of the ten rebellious tribes would be mingled with theirs, their descendants known as the Samaritans. God sent prophets to bring them back, but they refused to listen. They thoroughly rejected the warnings of the prophets and accepted as Holy Scripture only the Five Books of Moses, the Torah.
Every time Jesus traveled from Galilee down to Jerusalem, He would have had to pass through Samaria or travel well out of His way to avoid it. I think one of my favorite scenes in the New Testament has to be the one where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. (See John 4.) I can feel the tension she feels in the presence of this Jewish stranger. If only she knew in Whose Presence she really was!
The Good Shepherd has come seeking the ten who were sought for but not found, and, finding them, is taking them home.