“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy...” Ezekiel 16:49
I’ve been going over the stories of the Old Testament recently, and once again, it’s been enlightening.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was really intriguing. I always look at the Old Testament (or Hebrew Scriptures) through the lens of Jesus. After all, there’s no God hiding behind Jesus - so, the God of the Hebrew Scriptures is, in fact, Jesus.
Outside of the mental gymnastics of reconciling an all loving - always forgiving - merciful God with burning sulfur, destruction, and death - there’s definitely some revealing about how we live and relate to God within this text.
There’s not a lot of details that are given about these cities prior to the destruction. There’s a few references to the leaders earlier in the scriptures, but there’s not much about the people.
The story goes (major paraphrase):
There’s a declaration of destruction by some angels to Abraham before they enter the city, an argument from Abraham to God about the injustice of destroying the righteous along with the unrighteous, the story of Lot saving the angels from some serious backside pain (hence the term: sodomy), the rescue of Lot from the cities, and the wife turned-to-salt episode. Super short summary - the whole story is here: Genesis 18-19
One observation: God had already determined to destroy these cities before the angels were harassed. That incident was just a reinforcement of what God already knew. In fact, it was the town’s total disregard of God in the first place that put the town in danger. To them, there was no God. They replaced the God of love with the god of themselves.
When a person becomes their own “God” - or “King” - everything becomes subjective (think - “eye of the beholder”). It’s funny, because our postmodern age is totally based on subjectivity. The phrase “everything is relative” is a perfect example of our current bent towards subjectivity.
Now - that’s a lot of big words that simply mean - in a rudimentary way: Your truth is fine with you, my truth is fine with me. But they’re not the same. And that’s ok. And even where our truth contradicts one another - that’s ok - because my “world” is different than your “world.” I choose to believe my own rules about life - irregardless of what you believe - and I won't bother you if you don't bother me.
But that’s humanity. That’s been going on for all ages. It should be no surprise to hear statements like that.
I believe we have more in common than we think we do. I believe we’re all in the same boat - and this bent towards subjectivity - in a roundabout way - proves it.
I guess, what I’m trying to say, is that left to our own devices - WE ARE the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. We may not act out in the sexually deviant way that the story with the angels portrays (raping strangers...ummm - no) - BUT - we are often arrogant (prideful), overfed, and unconcerned. And many of us don’t help the poor and the needy at all.
In other words - the “sin” of Sodom is my sin too. I can often have total disregard to God. I usurp His throne every day so that I may be the “God of my own world.” I have more food than I know what to do with - on most days. And I waste a lot of it. I’m often unconcerned with people other than myself. I cry out to God for things like “happiness” and “material possessions” that I don’t have without a thought to the person that really needs help. And - I tell myself that I am poor because I compare myself with others - when the really poor (those on the streets, or in other countries - those without the basic necessities of life, like food - etc.) aren’t even given a passing thought.
Jesus said, “Whatever you do unto the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do unto me.” He mentions these things: feeding the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, clothing those that need clothes, visiting the sick and in prison. These are things the people of Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t do at all - and look at the result. If you read the story in Matthew - the result for those that don’t do anything is similar. Lake-of-fire kind of stuff.
What we do matters. Our actual actions - matter.
By the way - these are not theologically “correct” ideas. This isn't about doctrine. These are concrete things that people can actually do. There’s no believing the “right” things in His statement. You do these things - or you don’t. As one wonderful writer expressed: Love does!
But - I confess - I often don’t. My behaviors might not be on par with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah - but my “sin” is the same.
I’d be lying if I told you otherwise.
What if - how we loved the least of these - was, in reality - how much we really loved God?
By the way - this is not a surprise to God: who we are. I think His desire is that we’d start noticing Him and slowly surrender the throne back to Him. There are plenty of scriptures that point to this idea - Proverbs 3:5 and Hebrews 12:1-2 are two that come straight to my mind. And His march towards the cross (foreshadowed in the Garden of Eden story - the beginning) is further evidence.
I’m not trying to browbeat myself - or others - with a “sin” talk.
I do want to take a sober look at the truth about myself.
Adam and Even - in the garden story - covered themselves and blamed the person next to them about their own behavior. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. We’ve been blaming everyone - but ourselves - since the very beginning.
I’m more wanting to admit/hold up a sign saying “I am the problem”. I’m the problem as much as anyone else.
"...all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" Isaiah 64:6
I want to break the “Adam and Eve” cycle.
God provided a covering in that Adam and Eve story. An atonement - death to an animal - that was made into clothing. Death to life.
And He does the same for us - as the Lamb of God: "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27)
We are accepted, loved, and valued by God due to His actions. It is finished.
But I’m still in the midst of this rebellion. I still fight God.
I do want to live in the good works that God created me for, but I have this annoying propensity to act as if I’m my own God.
It’s no wonder that the people of God were named Israel: he wrestles/struggles with God.
What a daily riddle and mystery that we live in! So fascinating. May we know the freedom of surrendering "our" throne to the One who truly knows us best...
Have a great day!