Jesus and Sodom:
In the Bible we find the story where God decided to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sins. The story is dramatic and all the people in four (five) cities are eventually destroyed.
The Bible tells us that God let it rain fire and brimstone from the sky.
And I'm reading from Genesis 19:24-25: «Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.»
So this is a very dramatic event. Not since the great flood had God intervened in such a way.
Jesus later confirmed that this story from Genesis was true and He used it as an example on how things would end up in the world right before His second coming.
He said: «Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.» (Luk.17:28-30)
Because the story of Sodom is compared to the time we are living today it's become very popular for Christians to try and explain the sin of Sodom. What sin did arouse God's wrath in such a way? The most popular theory is sodomy or homosexuality. In the US there are large groups who thinks that the increase of gay people is the main reason God had to destroy the cities back then and judge the planet now. You can see them standing with posters and demonstrating many different places. Many feel that it's their duty to warn against this specific group in order to save man from ending up in hell.
Some Americans have gone so far to even claim that the legislation of gay marriage was why God is allowing disasters and violence to hit the land.
I think that bringing up being gay as main sin and reason for the destruction of Sodom, is a huge mistake. And it might even prevent us from discovering the real causes and the mentality that leads to their destruction. The reason is related to all of us and is to be an example to all of us, gay or not. There is a larger picture here and the Bible is going to give us all our main clues. Jesus made Sodom an example and used the story as a warning in His speech and didn't direct his speech to a specific group but to everyone. So if you think you are not copying the behavior of Sodom by not being gay, you can end up very mistaken.
Peter explains: «And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; « (2.Pet.2:7)
The similarity of Sodom with our days is not the technological development. Airplanes, trains, computers, Tv etc. All the things that we have that they didn't have. But the similarities are in the mentality and behavior. And we are going to look at several of those similarities.
GOD SAVED SODOM
But first of all; let's talk about when God saved Sodom and Gomorrah.
Yes, he did. That's right, a lot of people don't know that God once saved Sodom. Not just Sodom but all the cities on the plane. He did this while it was still very much corrupt. And this is part of the larger picture. So we need to start here to find the truth of what happened to Sodom. «But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.» (Gen.13:13)
Spite of this the nephew of Abraham, Lot, settled in the city. Because of the wealth and status of Sodom, along with its unsympathetic behavior, it was the target of envy and strife. The Bible tells little about the influence of Sodom over other nations, but we do know that the other great kingdoms at that time were in Egypt and in the area of Mesopotamia. And Sodom was in the middle of these kingdoms and so it had to mean that all the cities of the plain were in the center for travelers between the great kingdoms of those days. There was a lot of trade going on between Egypt and the kingdoms of Mesopotamia. And considering the wealth of Sodom, it's a big possibility that they had an influence on both trade and travelers. But what caused the war that came upon Sodom or what motives influenced the four kings in Mesopotamia to go to war with the five kings on the plane, I don't know. But because they were a link between them and Egypt it's likely the kings of these cities had greatly provoked the kings in Mesopotamia in some way.
Abraham was told prior to this great war of their wickedness. Maybe they didn't always treat the travelers from Mesopotamia very well and the news of their behavior was taken back to the kings there. Or it could be related to them demanding money. Having unfriendly people making their trade routes unsafe or complicated would certainly be a reason to attack. I don't think they went too far just because they were barbaric, no one does, everyone has a reason for going to war. So we are told that four kings bring their army and in a joint effort goes to war against Sodom and her neighboring cities. They win the battle and it says: «And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.» (Gen.14:11)
Because Abraham's nephew Lot lived in the city the war also had an effect on him and his family. It says: «And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.» (Gen.14:12) When Abraham found out about this he brought 318 men and went after them. It seem like another David versus Goliath when considering how few men Abraham brought to win over the powerful kings of the east. But Abraham didn't go without God's help, and so spite of bad odds he gains victory in battle. Abraham knew very well who he needed to thank for the victory. We can read i Genesis that the first thing he does after the victory is to pay tithe to the priest in Jerusalem. (Gen.14:18- 20)
«And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.»
So, God saved all of the wealth and the people of Sodom that had been taken captives. And God did this for the sake of Lot and Abraham. Meaning if Lot had not lived among them they would not have been saved. From now on the wealth and prosperity of Sodom was due to God's faithful men living among them.
So they owed their lives, that they now weren't going to end up as slaves, that their women and children wouldn’t be sold, their family members safety and their money, to God and his faithful servants Abraham and Lot.
This is a big similarity to the time right before Christ second coming. Many who refuse God or to live after His law are unaware that they and their possessions so far have been preserved and saved because there is a child of God among them on the plane, train, in their neighborhood or in the city. Although there are many disasters and problems there would have been even more if God’s children weren’t among them. In Revelation we learn that there is four angels holding the four winds from blowing over the earth, and we are told that these angels are placed there for the sake of God's children. (Rev.7:1) In the Bible wind and strife or war is synonymous. That means God claim to have for a long time held back the worst problems, the biggest and worst wars that could have taken place in the past, but will eventually let go at a specific time. Just like with Sodom, there is a time when God will stop protecting good among the bad and instead separate His faithful from the ungodly and let destruction come.
Many in the west doesn't understand that much of the wealth we now have is the direct result of our countries once being built up by many God-fearing people who had God's blessings. But today moral isn't what it was, the faith is gone with the majority of the people and we are no longer any more righteous or moral then other countries who are in a worse economical state then us. God is no longer our hope or the one we give thanks to.
Because of freedom of speech and religious practice – God's people have had a chance to grow and live happy in the west. But the moment that change and God's people will be persecuted for worshiping God and obeying Him, God's judgment will come as surly as it has in other nations and places where God's people have been persecuted. The west will only stand as long as it continues protecting the rights of God's people.
One of the big mistakes that Sodom made after being saved out of the hands of the kings of Mesopotamia was to not recognize that their wealth now was a result that a God-fearing man lived among them. Instead of thanking God for their lives having been speared and use their new opportunity to get to know their Deliverer – they became worse then before. They didn't think their economical blessing had anything to do with God and felt no need to turn from their ways. They had gotten their life in return and they used it to do others ill. It was God who had saved them and restored their freedom and so any actions they now did could be indirectly be blamed on Gods mercy.
He was therefore in a position where He had to react.
Will the west still be in a blessed situation if they continue the path they are on today? Where the young people are spending their time with extreme violence and immorality through TV and computer games? The west is famous for their sexual immorality, just like Sodom once were. All sexual immorality, meaning trafficking, incest, sexual exploitation, sexual pressure, God's people fornicating with non-believers etc.
Jesus explain i Luke 17 that the destruction came suddenly upon the citizen of Sodom. Here is another great lesson for us today. We must acknowledge who we can thank for our peace and prosperity and not give us selves glory for our success.
Some think the west has wealth because they are such hard workers. But many have short working days and some only work five days a week. In most countries with poorer economy, people work from morning to late evenings, six-seven days a week and still have barely enough money for food and living expenses. It's not because the west have worked harder that we have more. It's not because we are more efficient or smarter then people in poorer countries. We have had prosperity because God has blessed and helped those countries that have preserved His moral and principles and protected God’s people from persecution. When we give this up, then the blessing that came with it will slowly be taken away. This is how it has been in all the examples that we find in Bible history.
Perhaps just like Sodom the world in the west are doing inhumane trade. Clothing, gold, diamonds, toys, food and everything we buy cheap has it's price. Many workers in other countries are treated poorly and used to make the rich richer. Many work for slave pay. Actually many slaves in Biblical times was certain to receive their food portion, but some of the factory workers today get such a small pay they can't afford to buy the needed food in order to stay in health and to care for their children. Many work under difficult circumstances and their life is very reduced just in order for people in the west to get more for less money. Can this sin and the complaints from these workers reach up to God? If so, then the west will soon have to answer to it's abuse of poor people.
Still the west is part of those countries that still offers man religious freedom and let His faithful live in peace without persecution. Like I said, when that change, the west will loose it's protection.
God saved Sodom and the other cities on the plain once because there was one righteous family among them. But spite this family still living among them later it didn't save them in the end. The first time all of Sodom was saved along with Lot. The next time God separates Lot from Sodom and save one and destroy the other.
So what happened between the time God saved Sodom and until He destroyed it?
This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge!
That's the next issue of our study.
Lot still lived among the residents of Sodom. And he had a certain status in the city, after all it was his uncle who had saved the people from captivity. And we also learn that Lot sat in the gate which was common back then for important people with positions. This is also where the judges sat in the old testament times to serve as judge. (Deut.22:24; 22:15; 21:19 and so on) But it was getting more and more visible that the moral of the people and the moral of Lot was in conflict. Peter writes: «And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)» (2.Pet.2:7-8)
Times are changing. It's no longer a good place for God's people to live and they are suffering. Lot’s way of life had provoked the inhabitants more and more. We don't know if Lot preached to them, but his life could have been a sermon in it's self. Sometimes we can feel condemned just by seeing someone doing something we know we should have done ourselves. Lot worshiped the true God and sought after His ways. For the inhabitants of Sodom this was a constant rebuke to their own lives and their own unwillingness to serve the God that had redeemed them. This is how the spirit of God works. For those who receive it, it brings life and happiness. But for those who oppose it's speech to their hearts it comes across as judgmental. The moment you resist the spirit it becomes an annoying rebuke that you want to rid yourself of.
The people of Sodom said to Lot: «This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! » (Gen.19:9)
This mentality is so common i today's society. If someone show God's moral by speech or by how they live they are very soon accused of being judgmental or an accuser. For those wishing to continue on the path they have started, which might be against God's council, it's annoying to meet people who try to do what God has advised us. We feel rebuked just seeing their face. And even worse if that person would dare to give a warning or advice! They would be accused of being the same as Lot «You are judgmental», «you are judging me» or you are so «full of critic» or «full of prejudice».
It is true that Jesus said: «and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again» and «For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged» (Matt.7:2)
But as always, and as the trend is, Christ words are used to support the sinner and not freedom from sin. All over the Bible we see exhortations, both in the old and the new testament. The exhortations are meant to save lives and to help the sinner. And this is the big difference. If a message feels bad it could still be for our own good.
If you feel that someone living more 'righteous' then you are annoying, then you should perhaps stop and think and find out why. If you are never able to receive guidance or hear a council without getting angry, then you might have something in common with the inhabitants of Sodom. And this is so very much the mentality of the world today and perhaps even the social acceptable mentality. But the Biblical mentality is something completely different. And it's this mentality we need to ask God to place inside us. A humble spirit is that which is open to the thought that we may be on a wrong course and open to admit to it and change it.
King David said: «Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.» (Psa.26:2)
King Solomon said: «A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.» (Pro.15:5) «He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.» (Pro.10:17) «Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.» (Pro.15:10) «He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.» (Pro.15:32)
The first king of Israel, Saul, lost his right to the kingdom when he repeatedly refused reproof and council. Instead of humbling himself, he got angry at the messengers. Although the sins of King David was also very bad God saved His kingdom because he listen to reproof.
It was a great misunderstanding of the people of Sodom to think that Lot's instruction and reproof would hinder their quality of life and happiness. The truth was, that if they had listen to his advice and turned with grief from their ways, they would have saved their lives. The people of Nineveh got their death sentence and was notified that the city was going to be destroyed. But when they regretted their ways and sought God's mercy, God changed His plans. But the people of Sodom didn't do this, they just got even more angry with Lot and viewed him as a killjoy that ruined their life. Their destiny was unchangeable when they decided to silence Lot by force and God had to intervene supernaturally to save him from their violent hands.
We have an additional two stories from the new testament which show us how important it is for us to have an open mind when we hear reproof, even if it makes our stomach hurt. To of the biggest speakers in those days, Peter and Stephen, was both direct in their speech about the sin of their listeners. I both stories we are told that their reproof 'were as cuts to the heart". In other words, it wasn't easy for the listeners to hear about their sin and the call for repentance. Both groups was accused of having murdered Jesus. Peters listeners chose to humble themselves and repent and said: «Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?» (Act.2:37) This brought them to salvation. Stephens listeners also felt the sting in their heart but chose to call their rage divine and took Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death. This action ended up leading them to their own doom. Their probation as a people was over. «When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. ...Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him» (Acts.7:54 & 57-58)
We see this many places in the Bible and the story of Nineveh is one of them. The city was going to be destroyed but because they listened to the reproof from God they were saved. Their evil conduct had to have been really bad at the time as God had planned to supernaturally destroy it like He had with Sodom. But once they received reproof God changed His mind. This means that if the inhabitants of Sodom, spite all their evil conduct, if they had listened to reproof, they would have been spared. And so Sodom didn’t get destroyed because of their evil conducts but because they had refused to be guided and directed by the Spirit of God. At that point there is nothing more God can do to help them. It’s the end of the path of anyone. The moment we no longer want to be guided by the Spirit or listen to reproof we place ourselves beyond saving. And this is a sin anyone can commit. The sin leads to the close of probation sometimes for a people, other times for an induvidual. Jesus confirms this when He speaks of Sodom:
«And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.» (Matt.11:23-24)
The city of Capernaum was religious and their everyday sins cannot be compared to those of Sodom except one big one. The great sin of Capernaum is that they refused to be guided and corrected by the light given to them. And then Jesus reveals that if Sodom had allowed themselves to be preached to, they would have been saved. And so again we see God would have willingly even forgiven the men of Sodom if they had only listen to reproof. And so Sodom were destroyed not because of their sin but because they would not receive Gods call for repentance and His forgiving mercy. The men of Sodom didn’t feel there was anything wrong with their conduct and didn’t seek pardon for it. And so Sodom’s greatest sin was to not listen to God’s messengers, for it was this one final sin that closed the door of probation for them forever.
The Bible tells us that the Bible is sharp: «For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.» (Heb.4:12)
It cannot be avoided to notice that God's method in reaching people isn't to condone their sin but to call them to repentance. Repeatedly the same message is given both in the old and the new testament: «turn ye».
“Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” (Eze 18:27 )
“Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Eze 18:31 -32)
Full of grief Jesus said: «O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.» (Matt.23:37-38) Again we see the very reason Jesus said the Jewish nation would be abandoned; that they wouldn’t listen to those that was sent to them.
We cannot fail to see the seriousness in Christ message. “Your house is left unto you desolate”. In the new testament vi learn about Jesus: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Heb 13:8) God will try to reach us, to lecture us through His holy spirit or through people He has chosen. We have to expect messenges of warning and a call for repentance to sound among the children of God also today. This shows how important it is to not have the same mentality as the people of Sodom, but dare to be open and investigate if you have been deceived to think badly about the good and tempted to think good about the bad.
The desire for recognition, popularity and praise, and fear of being an outcast is what influence us to accept a path that doesn't lead to life.
But if we ever feel a calling to reproof a sister or brother in faith we need to be aware that if we don't have a sincere deep love for the person we are confronting, then our message will not be received. Some fearful might receive it only to leave it again later when they feel safe.
If we speak by the guidance of the holy spirit, are we sure to see results? Many preachers make the mistake of thinking that if they receive resistance or rebellion because of the message then they have done something wrong. And that could be true. But not even Jesus, love manifested in flesh, was received by everyone He preached to. Someone went as far as calling him a deceiver of Satan. Stephen was also a humble man who spoke by the Holy Ghost. But this didn't mean he wouldn't receive resistance.
«This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge!» the people said with contempt. First lesson for us here, is to not reject counsel and especially not in the end times. The attitude of the world is that we should be allowed to do whatever we want and not be criticized for our personal choices. This attitude is something we cannot be inspired by.
The Sin of Sodom
There are several scriptures that tells us what the sin of Sodom was.
One of their sins was to sin openly and wanting their sin to be accepted and recognized as something normal. «The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.» (Isa.3:9)
Many instantly think, gay people, and then they are happy with pointing finger on that specifically. But this sin is what many of us do. If we don't want to give up a sin then we want it to be recognized as something else. If we call it with another word so that we don't have to feel ashamed of continuing in it, then it’s been sort of “white-washed”. If sin isn't regarded as sin anymore then we can keep it right? No, it's a self deception.
This verse from Isaiah show us that the people of Sodom had fought for their right to sin. They wanted their sin to be acknowledged as something acceptable and even good.
But why would God want anyone to hide their sins? Why would it be a problem that it wasn’t hidden? Many studies show us that sin is contagious. The more recognized sinning is, the more widespread it becomes. One example of society choosing to not speak of a certain sin in order to prevent copy-cats are in cases of suicide. It has been an ethnic rule for media in many countries to not mention suicide when it has been committed. For it has been know for a long time that just mentioning and talking open about someone committing suicide makes the suicide polls rise.
A world that denies that a Biblical sin is really a sin, will want to remove the feel of ’shame’ from the conduct. This again leads to more people coming forth and being open and this again leads to masses copying the sinful behavior.
One example is the fight for LGBT rights. For most people, it was just a fight to hinder them from having to hide and feel shame because of their sexual preferences. However, the result is something completely different. Trying to make gay-lifestyle appear in harmony with the ’straight path’ have inspired a large part of heterosexuals into experimenting with bisexuality. And homosexuality is in fact increasing. Sexuality preferences are contagious because must people when presented with new graphic sexual content can feel sexual arousing which then again leads to change in sexual patterns and thinking. This has nothing to do with being born «that way». The more time you spend thinking on, reading, watching or studying a sexual act, the more it will change you. The “numbers” reveal the truth of what happens when ’shame’ is removed from this Biblical claimed sin:
«During 2001-2009, 92.1 percent of U.S. high school students said they were only sexually interested in the opposite sex. In 2015 (the last year for which we have data), 86.5 percent did, a 6 percent decrease, or 900,000 kids. Ten years ago 5.1 percent (or 800,000) said they were sexually interested in their own sex; in 2015, 1.5 million (an additional 704,000 more) said so – an increase of 84.2 percent. And where 2.6 percent of kids in the 2001-2009 survey said they were unsure of their sexual identity, 4 percent made the same report in 2015 – an increase of 53 percent. As far as what they reported doing, the same surveys found that 51.9 percent said they had only had sex with the opposite sex. In 2015, that had dropped 13 percent – to 45 percent. Before, 5.7 percent reported having had homosexual sex – by 2015 it had increased 43 percent, to 8.1 percent. Whereas teenagers who had only reported heterosexual sex outnumbered those with homosexual experience about 10:1, in 2015 they only outnumbered those with homosexual experience less than 6:1!
The same thing is happening across the West. For instance, in Great Britain in 1991, 91 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they were “exclusively straight” (and only 4 percent “ever had homosexual sex”); by 2015 only 46 percent said the same (and 23 percent said they had experienced gay sex).
Pre-teens and teens are the battle ground. And these current developments portend a much more homosexual future.» ( http://ktfnews.com/homosexuality-exploding-among-u-s-teens/ )
It is not just this part of sexuality that is increasing by not «hiding the sin». By making porn available for everyone 24 hours a day the majority of the people in the west are frequently violating the seventh commandment. Sex is no longer considered an act within marriage, peoples sexuality is fronted on every part of society. Most people have multiple partners before getting married. And a shocking 40 % of westerners commit adultery against their partners also after marriage. Music videos, movies, sex therapists, all telling people that to free your sexuality is good and healthy. They have all together taken part in completely turning around the morality of the western society in only 60 years.
«The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.» (Isa.3:9)
When God gives this statement it’s not because He permits sin if it’s done in hiding. It’s because if someone wants to stray away from the straight path, God don’t want them to drag everyone else with them. And so it's beneficial with ’shame’ around sin in order to prevent a society from going out of control. When sin is openly accepted as the norm, people are on a train going towards a cliff and there is no stopping it. And so God speaks of people not hiding their sins as a great warning sign of where the nation is heading. And that is what happened to Sodom. If God had not destroyed it when He did their ways would have spread all over the world as we see it does today and all the violence that comes with it. For sexual corruption doesn’t just lead to a moment of happiness. All the advertisement media gives saying that you should go after your lust in order to be happy and to consider every sexual feeling natural, has opened up a marked for a large trafficking industry. When people met face to face with the victims their conscious are pushed aside so they can feel that moment of satisfaction. Weather its exploited people online or real encounters.
While pedophilia is still regarded as shameful in the west, many countries have removed this tabu. It works the same way. The moment it is considered acceptable it also becomes more widespread and normal and we end up with even more victims and heartbreak. All biblical sin, when committed, effects other people in a bad way. That is why God calls it a sin in the first place.
In many countries it’s now acceptable and normal for grown men to marry and rape very young girls. But just because something has been accepted by society doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to God. And so man can fight for the sexual liberation all they want but in the end God decides what is right and what is wrong. And no government or crowd can protect the proud transgressor on that day.
We know that the city of Sodom was in Canaan and they were most likely Canaanites. God reveals what many of the sexual sins of the Canaanites was and homosexuality was just one of many.
«And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.» (Lev 20:23 )
«All these things» is mentioned in the previous verses and I will list some of the sexual sins here:
- An adulterer who has sex with someone who isn’t their spouse.
- A man who has sex with his brothers wife
- A man who has sex with his fathers wife
- A man who has sex with his uncles wife.
- A man who has sex with his aunt (Mother or fathers sister)
- A man who has sex with his sister or half-sister
- Someone who has sex with animals
- A man who has sex with both the mother and the daughter.
- A man who has sex with another man.
As we can see, it’s not just homosexuality that was a problem. Also incest and adultery.
The many gay-protesters from different churches might have missed out on that some of their own conduct is considered equal with homosexuality. Yes it’s categorized as the same sin to have sex with another of the same gender and cheating on your spouse. Being gay is not a greater sin of the two, God has made them equal in the law with the same sentence. It’s therefore unfortunate that only one of these are known as the sin of Sodom. Where are all the Christians with large signs outside the house of a man who has cheated on his wife saying God hates him and that he is going to hell? Of course this act is not the solution no matter what the sin is, the point being made is that Christians have been very unbalanced when it comes to these topics.
The sin of Sodom II
Let's look at another scripture revealing Sodoms sins:
«I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.» (Jer 23:14)
Here we see again the same problem. To “strengthen also the hands of evildoers”. When we make something acceptable in order to “protect” the wrongdoer from feeling “condemned” and “shame” we in fact strengthen their influence and position. I’m sure the prophets of Jerusalem meant well when they did this, but the result was corruption. The most popular preachers today are those that instead of telling someone to turn from their “wickedness” they tell them that they can be who ever they want without being judged by God.
Notice here in the next scripture when the Lord Himself tells us the very reason why He destroyed the inhabitants of Sodom, He doesn't focus of homosexuality but on sins even we as Christians commit today. «Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.» (Ezek.16:49-50)
So think about that «this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom». The description does fit many Christians today. And God keeps comparing Sodom to God’s people in a fallen state several times.
It’s clear from this verse that their unwillingness to show compassion for the poor and needy, the broken spirited and depressed, was something God saw as a serious crime. Usually it’s the children who have been neglected by their parents that comes back to haunt society with their problems. Everything goes in circles. In the verse we just looked at we see that they are condemned also for what they “didn’t do” as well as for the bad things they did do. For if we close our eyes and don’t help those who need us, that lack of compassion is still considered an action that actually has consequences on others and society.
In the story of Sodom and Gomorrahs destruction there is also two stories on how important and highly God value hospitality. And then especially towards strangers. The first story is about how Abraham noticed three strangers not far away from where he lives.
«And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.» (Gen.18:3-5) Now these three turned out to be the Lord and two angels.
It doesn't say Abraham understood who the men was when they were at a distance. But the first thought of Abraham was to invite them and give them rest and food. Because he ran to meet them Abraham received a blessing and also got the opportunity to pray on behalf of the cities that were to be destroyed shortly after.
The other story about hospitality is an even more important indication. This time we plainly see that Lot didn't know whom he was dealing with. «And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.» (Gen.19:1-3)
Because Lot sat at the gate we can assume he also looked after other strangers who came to town knowing what the people in the city was capable of doing and that it wasn't safe to stay in the streets. We first learn that they refused Lot's offer. Here Lot is tested. Was his care for these strangers real or was it superficially? Did he try to do the right thing but still use the first opportunity he got to get away from his duty? If he had the angels might not have come to his home. Lot could have chosen the easiest way out and thought he was without guilt if something were to happened to them. But Lot's love for the strangers was sincere. He could not accept or risk anything happening to them. It says «he pressed upon them greatly». Lot would not take no for an answer. In the same way as Abraham, Lot was richly blessed for his choice. Lot was saved from the mob that gathered around his house but also was saved out from the city with his wife and daughters. For when Lot hesitated with leaving it was his turn to be persuaded. The angels took them by the hands, refused to let go of them until they had taken them out of the city. «And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.» (Gen.19:16)
Lot didn't have to show the strangers that came in to the city hospitality. He could have felt it was dangerous for his daughters to take them inside the house. He could have let fear and suspiciousness stop him from showing these strangers compassion.
The state of the world before Christ second coming will be similar to the time Sodom was destroyed. We can read about unstable people hurting others. Because of this we are reluctant to invite strangers to our homes. But Lot did this at a time were wickedness was great. The worldly thought is that we are only to take care of ourselves and that it's not sensible to bring strangers in our homes. But God showed in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah that he especially bless those who chose love even if the world is filled with hatred. That he will protect us if we do this and that it will be to our blessing. Over and over again God tells us to care for the strangers among us. The widowers, the fatherless, the poor and the strangers.
Among the first disciples to see Jesus after he was resurrected was two who walked with grief along the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They received two tests before they got the great blessing of seeing the resurrected savior. The first was for them to be humble enough to receive reproof and being taught by a stranger. The first thing the stranger said to them after hearing them speak of their sorrow tied to Christ crucifixion was: «Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken...» (Luke 24:25) Then it says he started to teach them from scripture: «And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.» (Luke.24:27) Most of the disciples know who each other was. And these two was undoubtedly good acquaintances with the twelve apostles whom they later went to visit. They could have thought: «Who is he, we haven't seen him before, why should he teach us?» Instead of doing that they received what the stranger taught them and didn't take offense of the little reproof. But Jesus but them to another test. It says: «And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.» (Luk.24:28) Han pretended he was continuing on his way, he didn't invite himself to their home. Neither did he give them any hint of their christian duty. But they wanted to spend more time with the stranger and also show him hospitality. They noticed that it was late and thought he needed something to eat and a place to sleep. Just like Lot persuaded the strangers, so did they: «But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.» (Luk.24:29-31) The biggest blessing came from their decision to care for the stranger, they got to see the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes. They were so happy that they couldn't wait or rest until the next day, but ran as fast as they could back to Jerusalem to tell what they had seen.
Many of us would perhaps have been offended by receiving instruction from a stranger. Many would feel relief seeing the stranger showing sign of continuing his journey so we wouldn't feel the burden of inviting him to our home. But we may have lost many blessings by not showing hospitality to strangers: «Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.» (Heb.13:2)
Jesus said that this hospitality wasn't about inviting your own friends and acquaintances. It's not this type of hospitality we are rewarded for: « For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?» (Matt.5:46-47)
And he said: «Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.» (Luke.14:12-14)
God wants us to show love to those we do not know and this principle is found many places in the bible. Our bad treatment of the stranger is placed in the same category as neglecting to help the fatherless and the widows. A stranger can be someone new moving into our neighborhood or who are traveling. It most certainly is fugitives and immigrants coming to our country.
In the Torah it says: «Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. « (Exo.22:21)
«If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.» (Jer.7:6-7)
However it's important that when we seek to follow God's advice that we don't do it with a heavy heart but out of love for the one we are helping. It's love that will get us to «persuade» a person when he hesitate receiving our help. Only love can push away fear. «There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.» (1. Joh. 4:18)
I think we can all agree that the people in Sodom didn't know how to treat visitors with hospitality. In stead they had plans to group pressure them, to discriminate them and treat them with lesser value then themselves.
It's hard to not think of the fugitives that comes to the different countries in the world. How do we treat the strangers that comes «within our gates»? Do we treat them poorly or with lesser value? Do we not see to their needs? Do we make them feel unwelcome and unsafe? God is not on the side of anyone hating on refugees coming to seek our help: «Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.» (Exo.23:9)
«And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.» (Lev.25:35)
The stranger is mentioned as someone we should show kindness towards like we would a widow or a fatherless: «When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.» (Deu.24:19)
In fact if they oppressed the stranger the children of Israel might loose their land: « If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.» (Jer.7:6-7)
He also said: «do no violence to the stranger» (Jer.22:3) And when Juda was about to loose their land God said this was indeed one of the reasons: «The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.» (Eze.22:29)
How do we see the stranger that comes to our country, our cities? Do we hate them in our heart or do good to them? The Bible is clear that our own blessings depend on our willingness to love and treat them kindly. «But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.» (Lev.19:34)
But what do the people say? They say they will hurt us or try take over our land. Shall we listen to any excuses to treat those who come to us like dogs? We cannot judge the stranger beforehand just because he is a stranger. Our duties are written in God's law and we are promised blessings if we keep them. Then that is what we need to do and if we fear, come to the Lord with these fears.
Many Christians talk about the sins of Sodom as homosexuality and hate on them while they themselves do the crimes of the citizen of Sodom. Ready to meet the stranger with anger, denying him bread and water and hating on him. Perhaps the devil have been clever to get people to think that the sin of Sodom was that the people was gay and so they miss all these other aspect of the story that actually involves our very own sins. And so we don't turn away from them.
The citizens of Sodom did not treat the strangers among them kindly, that was one of their traits. Remember that. They wanted to force the angels disguised as travelers to join them in their lifestyle. Some think they wanted to rape them. There are many forms of violence and submission, but there are many other ways to do the same which isn't as evident. And those ways are committed often today towards strangers. Discrimination, bullying, isolation are all ways to use psychological violence to rule over another human being.
Well you can say this isn't the same thing, but Jesus said it was: «Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire» (Matt.5:21-22)
What does the word «raca» mean? The greek word rhaka is of caldeen origin and it means 'worthless' or 'empty one'. Do we treat someone like they are worthless, do we show them with our actions? Jesus says this is violence. We know many victims of bullying have their life completely ruined. They are so afflicted that they cannot live a full life.
But the law also says rape is murder. «But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter...» (Deu.22:25-26) And we know, just like with bullying victims, rape victims struggle their hole life. Therefore it is great thing that the Bible in fact recognize both as 'taking someones life' even though they are still alive. This is a comfort for these victims, God has seen them and their struggles and He view their transgressors as killers. Therefore let us not be found to treat anyone worthless by either word or actions, even if that someone is a stranger that comes to sojourn with us.
Religious pressure and false prophets.
Another mentality that are revealed in the story of Sodom is their need to force their way of life and philosophy on other people.
In the Bible and the New Testament we learn that Christians can't force their conviction on others, even though they represent the truth. Jesus explained to John and Jacob that this was not of God's spirit: «And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.» (Luke 9:54-55)
The gospel is a message of peace that people have to receive willingly. It's the very condition of salvation. Not one person will be found saved in heaven against their will. Unfortunately during the middle ages people were forced to convert by a large christian church. But this was never Gods attention.
For the citizen of Sodom it wasn't enough to condemn Lot for his choices. Now they had reached a point where they were willing to force him to do what they wanted him to. The citizens wanted Lot to send out his guests so that they could do as they pleased with them. Lot could have done as they said out of fear or in order to fit in and win the respect of the people. Or to save his own life. But for Lot the principles was more important. His guests was under his protection and he would, even though it placed both him and the family in danger, not surrender the strangers into their hands. And he knew he was risking their wrath by refusing to do it. Notice how they didn’t say they would hurt Lot to begin with, they only wanted him to hand over his guests.
Group pressure is common also today. Through media, advertising and the society as a hole, we are constantly pushed away from God's principles and towards the worlds political correctness. For many the pressure is just to big. And in fear for loss of recognition, income and becoming a reject we give up little principles day by day. Often our conscience search for a good reason to give up that one principle so we don't so easily feel condemned by the whisper of the spirit.
Many feel they have no choice and that in some case one not only have to, but should, sacrifice biblical principles to adjust to society and to secure the future of the family.
Lot didn't do this even in the most trying time. He chose to set both his family and hope of recognition aside in order to save his guests. I'm not going to debate weather it was right or not of him to try and sacrifice his daughters ( it wasn’t!!:) ). He should have cried for God's help rather suggesting that. But nevertheless, God rewarded Lot's courage and saved both him and his daughters. Because God loved the girls more then their father did.
Sometimes we will feel like David in a Goliath-looking-society and constantly feel pressure towards the worldly acceptable. This is when we need to remember that David won this battle because he fought with God, someone more powerful then any earthly system. And we can win this battle too. But first we need to dare to stand on God's side.
The other type of pressure we are subjected to today is perhaps the most difficult to handle. The Bible call it a seduction. It's one thing when we are subjected to group pressure and we have to resist our need to be accepted. Another situation is when the group pressure is touching a secret need or lust within us. This is when it turns into a seduction. A seduction is happening when we feel our lust tingle. When we think that something good, or a reward will come, by doing what we lust after. And we are fooled to think that if we can't have what we lust after we can't ever be happy. It is this deceptions the residents of Sodom followed and lived by, they felt they had to follow their lusts in order to be happy. But what for them seemed like the spark of life was really death and destruction.
This is how Eve was tricked in the garden of Eden. The fruit looked delicious and she was seduced to think eating it would give her life and joy, that she would be as great as God with everything that followed. Even though she had been warned that this wasn't the case. The fruit looked so good that for a moment she wished that the words of the serpent was true and so she was seduced to go against her conscience. It's important that we get to know ourselves and understand how we function and think, our emotions, so that we can see the difference between the word of God and a seduction. We need to use our heads, evaluate a situation, and not let feelings by our only guide.
When Peter writes about Sodom in his letter he also first talks about false prophets (Remember in the other verse God also compared the citizens of Sodom with the false prophets in Jerusalem) : «But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. » (2.Pet.2:1-2 Read the whole chapter if you can.)
How is it that these false doctrines are so easily brought in among us? Because we often want what sparks our lust to be good and true. In this way we can fool ourselves to think that what leads to death is going to give us life.
We can be given insight into God's plans.
We can find another valuable lesson in the story of the angel of the LORD visiting Abraham. The Lord had already planned to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But until now not one person knew of his plans. Abraham showed kindness and respect to the Lord. God says about Abraham: «Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.» (Gen.26:5) Abraham was a child of God. When the Lord was ready to destroy Sodom and visited Abraham He said: «And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do»? (Gen.18:17)
Even though God ask us to have confidence in Him He also want to help us handle the difficulties that lie ahead of us by giving us a forewarning. In that way we can recognize when it happens and know that nothing has happened that God didn't have control over and allowed and that we need not fear.
«Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.» (Amos.3:7)
This scripture show us that God want to prepare us on things that will happened in the future but also to whom He shares it with. It's important for us to listen to the prophets he has sent in the Bible but also in more modern times.
We are told that there will be many false prophets in the end time but that doesn't change that there will also be true God-sent ones. Just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus were willing to listen to a stranger that walked among them we must be willing to listen and evaluate a message or revelation that comes our way.
To be warned about a catastrophe and political decision that are about to happen is a blessing that will help us to cling to God when the storm comes. If God has foreseen the happening we can also know that what He tells us about the outcome is true too.
«Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.» (Isa.46:9-11)
There is another phenomena we find in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah that can be compared to our time. It's not without reason God chose to destroy the cities: «And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.» (Gen.18:21-22)
The cry of the cities was great, that means that many have suffered because of the behavior of the inhabitants and even complained to God or cried and complained so God have heard it and taken it seriously. The Lord then says he will do a final investigation to see if the complaint against the cities are entitled. And it proved to be correct.
It's important to understand the reason for God interference. It's here plainly told that He doesn't do it for just His own sake. It’s not because they have rejected Him that He wants to destroy them out of some act of revenge. But their evil conduct effects so many other people that the tears and screams have reached up to Him. People are crying for God to interfere. God would not tolerate any more viciousness from these cities. It doesn't say who the complaints came from. Lot was one of them. But perhaps also strangers that stopped by the cities on their journey. Or the surrounding cities effected by them. Perhaps from the children or victims of abuse. The point is this: Man themselves cried for God to stop the evil. And many forget this part when they criticize God for His actions.
Since the wickedness was in the cities it's reasonable to assume that a large part of the cry came from the city. This rise a small question. If only the lives of three people was spared then what happened to the many others who suffered the sins of Sodom in the city? Why were the others not spared? The cry was “great” and so many voices must have come with complaints.
Today there is also a large cry coming out of the earth. But often the complaints comes from people who themselves are unrighteous towards others. The children are often the most harmed in areas of conflict. It's often the children that are suffering for the wickedness and sin of the adults. But grown-ups are also effected. No one tolerate injustice done against them selves or their family but often accept it being done to others. Many even partake in causing misfortune towards other people while they at the same time wish the best for themselves and their own family and friends. Only God knows the people involved enough to judge. It's important to understand that unrighteous and bad people cry when evil strikes them too. They shed tears too, they feel pain and loss too. We cannot exclude that some of them who sent up this 'cry' from the city themselves were judged and died in the destruction.
Today critics of religion rise criticism against God. They view all the misery in the world and say: «How can there exist a good God when He allows these evil men to do all this damage». To them it is the solid evidence that there is no God or that if there was His neglect is the evidence that He isn't good when allowing all this misery.
The same critics wants us to reject the God of the Bible because of stories like Sodom and Gomorrah and other stories that show God destroying people and cities. They claim it proves God is a tyrant and not good. Atheistic pages are full of these accusations.
This is a bit like shooting themselves in the foot. If God is evil if He does something to stop the wickedness and judge man, and also is evil if He doesn't, then what is He supposed to do? If He judges He is painted as unfair and when He allows He is also described as unfair. But the Lord says about Himself: «And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth...» (Exo.34:6)
The Bible teaches us that God stops the wickedness when it's gone to far. And He will probably most likely continue to interfere and allow challenges and obstacles to come in evil peoples path. But the Bible also shows us how God sometimes allow evil because He first wants to try and convert the sinners. His main goal is not to destroy but to seek and save. This reflects His great love for the sinner. He knows the background of every evil-doer and how and why they ended up the way they did. This is also how it was in the old testament. This is why Abraham wasn't allowed to conquer Canaan for over 400 years. God wanted to do everything in His power to save them and help them turn from their ways before He allowed His people to come into the land and destroy the people living there. His first priority has always been to save first. When we see all the evil in the world today where God still haven't interfered we can also know that those taking part or effected by the group pressure is people God is still working on trying to save or change. Often the weed is standing alongside the wheat. In a city with much evil there can be people that God can reach midst them. This is why we don't see the same kind of destruction as the one that happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Not because they were worse, but because good and bad are both there. But at one point in time the door of mercy will shut also for the inhabitants of the planet earth. And they who complain and cry will die side by side with those who torture them when the earth is judged.
Other times God allow evil in order to judge. If He were to stop every evil-doer before they had done something wrong no one would no or understand the consequences of sin. And when judged them He would be questioned, as only God knew the future and no one else. But when we can see with our own eyes, we and the angels, the consequences of every bad decision and action we can understand the judgment and agree with it.
The wrongly attitude can sometimes be seen among Christians as well. Sometimes it seems like we want God to judge those who do us injustice but at the same time not judge us when we commit the injustice. We want forgiveness and mercy, but have none to give others. It's obvious that God cannot agree to these terms. Jesus asked us to forgive our transgressions the way He forgives our transgressions. And if He forgives us we should be able to forgive our neighbor.
This is something we learn from the story of Sodom. When God finally decides to judge, His judgment is righteous and based on a thural investigation. “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.» Before God destroy anyone He will investigate. There are many verses in the Bible that speak of God investigating before judging. By it we know that Christ cannot come back to earth and judge the inhabitants before having done a thural investigation. In the book of Daniel we learn:
“ I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (Dan 7:9-10)
Here we see not only an investigation happening, but also that thousand upon thousands of witnesses takes part. God doesn’t judge in the darkness where no one can understand any of His actions, the case of man is handled in the open.
We can also know that He has tried to reach the people first. When God waits with the judgment it's because He stills wants to give that someone an opportunity to change. But when the cry has become to great God will stop it even if people are ready or not. This is what will happened right before Christ second coming. And although God desire was to save, He will at one point have to say: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. ” (Rev.22,11-12)
Peter writes that «when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing» (1.Pet.3:20) This means that God gave Noah an assignment that would take over a hundred years to be completed hoping that people would be forewarned and turn from their ways. The way we see God in the Bible it's easy to believe that He did all He could to turn people around in that time. He does the same for us today.
«The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.» (2.Pet.3:9-10)
When Jesus makes the parallel of the destruction of Sodom with the second coming of Christ He at the same time tells us to specifically remember one part of the story: «Remember Lot's wife.» (Luke 17:32)
Lot's wife was one of the four people that the angels took with them out of the city before it was destroyed. Still she ended up dying like the rest of the inhabitants of the city. It's written about her: «But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.» (Gen.19:26)
The image of a woman that turns her head watching with curiosity the destruction happening behind her is a standard way to depict her. Unfortunately it gives the impression that she was punished because she disobeyed and looked at the fire and brimstone, something that we will never have to be challenged with. And again we will have removed the lesson in the story away from who we are today. But we must learn from the story about her. The image of Lot's wife just being guilty of turning her head are ruining the warning in Christ message. We need to understand what really happened in order to learn from the story. There were no destruction of Sodom going on behind Lot's wife while she was running from the city. When talking with the angels that lead them out of the city Lot is told the following when he asks to flee to the city of Zoar: «Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.» (19:22) We are then told the following: «The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven» (19:23-24)
So the Bible actually tells us that God didn't destroy the cities BEFORE Lot had already arrived safely to the city of Zoar. So there was no fire and brimstone raining behind them while they were fleeing. So what was it that happened to Lot's wife? It only says about her: «But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.»
Jesus explains in His warning: «In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife.» (Luke.17:31-32)
It can seem like her sin wasn't curiosity but longing for what she left behind. Perhaps she chose to go back to get something of value and then was going to follow her husband later? « But his wife looked back» can also be a symbolic expression which can mean several things. In Christ speech it was placed together with returning to ones home or to place material things so highly that we are blinded of the danger we are in. Lot and his family had to leave everything they had worked for, means and material goods in order to follow God's command. Was the city really going to be destroyed? Lot hesitated when the angels told him he had to leave the city. If he left his home he might loose all his assets to the furious mob. They clearly didn't understand the seriousness of the situation. Perhaps because there had not been any complete destruction of any city that they had ever seen or heard of in their lifetime. Would God really destroy a whole city? We don't know what Lot's wife was thinking when they fled, if she had just looked back or if she was actually heading back to her home. The salt didn't come before the city had started to be destroyed and so she had to have turned into a salt after Lot and the daughters had entered Zoar and not while they were fleeing. Did she stop and stay? Did she refuse to go with them all the way? Or did she head back?
Christ warning have a direct reference to those who live when Jesus comes back. We must be prepared to leave everything we own in order to stand on God's side. House, home and material things cannot have such a place in our hearts that when faced with a warning we choose our earthly home. Would you leave everything you owned today if God asked you? Or are your identity tied to your things and the safety of a home more then it's tied to Christ? What would you choose in a critical situation? Would you believe God's warning or stayed and hoped it was a false message?
In Revelation Chapter 13 and 14 we are told that those who choose to stand on God's side in the last days will loose the right to «buy and sell». This means that not only do we loose the ability to buy what we need, but it can mean that we end up in depth and risking loosing everything we have. Do we have the guts to stand for the truth spite of this? Can we handle the loss?
Jesus said: «For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.» (Mat.6:21) And he said: «But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal» (Matt.6:20-21)
It's important to take what Christ said seriously about both our bonds to material things and about the time for His second coming. He says: “Remember Lot's wife.”
Paul tells us something about man in the end of time: «covetous» and «lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God» while «Having a form of godliness» (2.Tim.3:1-5)
The story about Lot's wife can be compared to those who chose the gospel and the faith of Christ but then look back on world desires and struggle to untie the bond to them and then end up going back. Many wander on the path while their eyes and heart are left in the world. For those struggling with these kind of temptations it's very important to pray for love for the truth and love for God. It's love, wherever our hearts is, that will determine or lead us in either one direction or the other.
When the earth will be destroyed.
The Bible tells us how judgment one day will strike the population of the earth. «For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.» (Luk.17:24-30)
The earth is full of lawlessness. God will not be overbearing for ever. He has set a time: « But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.» (Mar.13:32)
We are also given the following recommendation: «Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near» (Isaiah 55:6)
We need to daily turn to our Father in heaven and stand for that which is good and just. This is a decision we can make today. We can renew us, by God's grace, and get help to go on the right path.
God's promises and blessings to those who chose to follow Him is evident: «He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.» (Psalm.91)
We need to be awake and receive God's messengers and show hospitality to the stranger, but the end time church have been given message from Christ Himself. Jesus is standing outside the door knocking, outside the door of His own church. We need more the ever to let Christ completely into our hearts. «And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God ... Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.» (Rev.3:14 & 20-21)
For those who have had great light but still don't let Christ into their hearts. Who like Paul says: «having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...» Who refuse to be 'born again' and allow Christ to help us change so we can reflect His character. They who knew the truth but didn't walk in it's light. To them Jesus gives another reference to Sodom. He said: « And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.» (Matt.11:23-24)