By Clarence R. Johnson
Let us devote ourselves to godliness and moral uprightness and do what we can to persuade others to do likewise.
God rebuked the nation of Judah: “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fulness of food, and abundance of idleness; 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 fit” (Ezek. 16:49-50). Let us look at Sodom’s (and Judah’s) sins more closely.
Pride. God had extended many blessings to Sodom. It compared with Eden (Gen. 13:10-11). In the well-watered plain of the Jordan River, it was an ideal area for cattle ranching. Nearby asphalt pits made it an excellent site for industry (Gen. 14:10). But the residents were not responsible for any of these blessings. They had much to be thankful for, but nothing to be haughty about.
Materialism. The people of Sodom grew fat and lazy, and God was not pleased. When Israel later behaved in similar fashion, God strongly rebuked them as well (Amos 6:1, 4-6).
Selfishness. The folks of Sodom were not concerned with the problems of those less fortunate. With all their abundance, and all their spare time, they did not strengthen the hands of the needy.
Abomination. By this term, the prophet is referring to the sin recorded in Genesis 19:4-7. Two angels visited Lot and spent the night in his home. “Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.’ So Lot went out to them through the door way, shut the door behind him, and said,
‘Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly.’” Because of its association with the city of Sodom, homosexual activity is called sodomy. The events in Genesis 19 show God’s attitude toward sexual perversion even before the giving of the Law of Moses. That law spelled out clearly, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” (Lev. 18:22). New Testament passages show that God’s attitude toward sexual perversion has not changed. Paul writes of their “uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, do dishonor their bodies among themselves . . . For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in them- selves the penalty of their error which was due” (Rom. 1:24-27).
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 tells us that those who persist in such will have no part in God’s kingdom. But it also tells us that one can be washed and sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus if he will repent and cease to practice such abominations.
No Sense of Shame. Isaiah, rebuking the house of Judah, tells of another of Sodom’s sins: “The look on their countenance witnesses against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to their soul! For they have brought evil upon themselves. . . . Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him” (Isa. 3:9, 11). The people of Sodom were not only sexually perverts, but they paraded their sin openly. They expressed no sense of shame or guilt.
Sodom and the cities around her were destroyed by fire from heaven (Gen. 19:24). Israel imitated Sodom’s sins and was taken into Assyrian exile. Judah followed suit, and was exiled in Babylon. Undoubtedly, there are at least three lessons here for America. (1) We have a greater opportunity than those in Sodom, thus we stand to be judged more severely than they (Matt. 11:23-24). We have opportunity to know God’s ultimate revelation of himself in Christ, and of his will in the New Testament Scriptures. (2) God is still able to destroy the wicked and deliver the just (2 Pet. 2:7-9). (3) The influence of ten righteous people could have spared Sodom (Gen. 19:15-17). Enough righteous people, setting proper examples and using their influence to the glory of God may yet avert the judgment that otherwise must surely come upon our nation. Let us devote ourselves to godliness and moral uprightness and do what we can to persuade others to do likewise. God help us in our effort.