Studies in Genesis. Presentation 32. Judgement on Sodom Gen 19v 1-17. Presentation 32. Introduction.
Gen 19v 1-17
In the C19th , Horatio Bonar and Robert Murray McCheyne, two minister friends, were out for a walk on a Monday afternoon. One asked the other what subject he’d been preaching on the previous day. The reply given was, ‘On hell and the judgement of God’. To which the other friend replied, ‘Then I hope you did so with tears in your eyes’.
The subject of God’s judgement is not one that we should approach callously or lightly but with tears in our eyes.
It was previously pointed out that one of Abraham’s concerns was that God would judge unjustly. However, today there are some, who find it difficult to accept that God would judge anyone at all. We can easily become desensitised to the corruption around us. When superficially things ‘appear’ relatively peaceful we are tempted to say,
“God’s in his heaven; all’s right with the world.”
But all is not right!
People’s cries of injustice are still
making their way heavenward.
Can you hear those cries today? The cry of a terrified child being beaten by a drunken father; the cry of an old man being assaulted by a street gang; the cry of a teenage girl being raped in an abandoned car; the cry of the illegal immigrant exploited and imperilled by a gang boss; the cries of those who have been impoverished by con men , the despairing cry of the drug addict, who was sold his first fix in
the school playground.
These cries and many others are
heard and felt by God.
God had told Abraham that ‘the outcry in Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down to see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me’ Gen.18.21. Of course God knew what was going on but he was impressing upon Abraham that his judgments were not capricious or ill considered. He investigates thoroughly and as a result, there comes a time in the unfolding historical process, when the line God has drawn in the sand is crossed and God says, ‘enough is enough’.
This was such a time but what was it that made Sodom ripe for judgment?
It would be too simplistic to answer, ‘it was because of her sexual sins’.
They were symptomatic of something far, far deeper. Elsewhere scripture condemns Sodom for a variety of sins; her blatant indulgence in all kinds of iniquity, lying, adultery, pride, selfishness, inhospitality and injustice.
Read what Paul says in Rom.1:26-32.. These verses refer equally to the Sodom of Abraham’s day as well as of the Roman world of Paul’s day…
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and
worshipped and served created things rather
than the Creator—who is for ever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful
lusts. Even their women exchanged natural
relations for unnatural ones…
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.
They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent,
arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil;
they disobey their parents; they are senseless,
faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they
know God’s righteous decree that those
who do such things deserve death, they
not only continue to do these very things
but also approve of those who practise them”
Three times we read that ‘God gave them over’. When a society shows itself determined to suppress its knowledge of God then he in turn removes all moral restraints. When God lets slip the moral moorings of a society then she is sucked into the whirlpool of moral depravity, which will find expression in deviant sexual behaviour.
A pattern that can be found in the collapse
of Sodom, the fall of the Roman Empire and
many other imploded civilizations.
Is Western Civilization today on the verge
of such a collapse? Have we suppressed
our knowledge of God and have the moral
restraints been removed?
The media seems to reflect this moral depravity. And not only on the programmes that appear after the 9.00 pm. watershed. What of the political realm? The legislation of the land has been altered to protect the rights of homosexual couples. As our society seeks increasingly to legitimize homosexual practice remember, what God’s Word says about the society that God has given over: ‘they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them’ Rom.1.32.
Society is spiritually sick, when it
begins to approve of and promote
deviant sexual behaviour.
How does this affect the church? For many years the church has sought to offer pastoral support to those, who have fallen in the realm of sexual sin and to those, who are struggling with their own sexuality and has distinguished between homosexual orientation and practice.
We have rightly been opposed to homophobia and the sort of discrimination that seeks to do the practicing homosexual harm.
But a new pressure is being exerted today. We are not simply being asked to recognize that some people have adopted a way a life that involves same-sex relationships. We are being asked to
legitimize homosexual practice by calling
it wholesome and good – to give our stamp
of approval to what scripture says is an
evidence of a society under the judgement
Our task is not to give momentum to the runaway train of moral depravity but to raise our voices and warn of the dangers that lie ahead if the brakes are not applied.
It is easy to become desensitised to the corruption around us. This had been Lot’s experience. He began by camping near the city of Sodom, trading with her and initially aware of the danger of being influenced and contaminated by her. Then as he moved into the city his value system was gradually broken down. He addressed as ‘friends’ the Sodomites who wanted to indulge their sexual appetites with his angelic visitors.
It is hard to believe, that Lot was prepared to offer this sex crazed crowd gathered around his door his two unmarried daughters instead! The culture of the day required him to protect his guests at all costs but to offer them his daughters! What depths of depravity had he sunk to? It was left to the visitors to rescue the situation by striking the crowd
with blindness making the door inaccessible to them.
When told by his visitors of the impending judgment
on the cities of the plain, Lot did not want to leave
the city! He was blind both, to the spiritual reality of
the situation and, to his immanent physical danger!
How easily that can happen. Moral erosion takes
place by imperceptible degrees and the greater
our exposure to moral corruption the less it shocks
us – “Living in Sodom isn’t so bad!”
Was judgment on Sodom inevitable? No! God had given them a knowledge of himself but they had suppressed that knowledge. God had given them a conscience to approve their good behaviour and disapprove of their bad. They paid it no heed. God had already shown them mercy, when through the instrumentality of Abraham - they had been rescued from slavery. They had spurned that mercy. They must have heard the prophetic ministry of Mechizadek but had disregarded his instruction.
They had been exposed to the righteous life of Lot,
and even if his witness was less than decisive,
they disregarded it. They experienced the
chastening hand of God, when some of their
number had been blinded [19.11] but they were
not driven to their knees.
The people of Sodom were about to experience the judgment of God not because they did not know any better, they did! Nor was it the case that they needed more time to respond to God!
Peter, talking of God’s judgment says,
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his
promise, as some understand
slowness. He is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to
repentance.” 2 Pet.3.9ff
Many view God’s failure to act in judgement as a sign of his weakness or powerlessness. Like Lot’s prospective sons-in-law they laugh at the prospect of judgment and of answering to the Judge of all the earth. Has the church and nation become insensitive to the corruption around and within it? When God says, ‘enough is enough’, then he has drawn a line across people’s history and there is no time left to repent. With what urgency we need to act! With what holiness of life need we to live! With what commitment we need to engage in outreach. And all before the runaway train jumps the lines and we are confronted with a disaster of enormous magnitude.