Summary: Abraham, Pt. 6
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS SALT, NOT GOLD (GENESIS 19:1-26)
My good friend from Northern California while we were studying at the seminary was hopping mad when he heard people say that the 1989 earthquake was a sign of God’s displeasure at and judgment on San Francisco, also known as the homosexual capital of the world. When the 7.1 Richter scale earthquake hit San Francisco in the summer of 1989, people died, buildings shook and a bridge collapsed; however, a student wrote an article in the student newspaper declaring God’s judgment upon the homosexuals of San Francisco and California for the hedonistic people, sinful lifestyle and weird thinking that were part of the West Coast.
My friend, whose parents, siblings, nephews and nieces were in San Francisco, went ballistic. As the editor of the student newspaper, he wrote an editorial cautioning against rushing into judgment, extolling God’s love for sinners and reminding readers of the spiritual impact of Californian pastors like Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur and Chuck Smith, the quality education he received at Biola College, the effective ministries of parachurch groups like Campus Crusade and World Vision that were based there and godly Christians in California who attend the numerous churches there every week.
Indeed, the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 is a shocking passage to read and even tougher to teach and apply. Many Christians are uncomfortable with the content, the language and, especially, the ending of the text. Some others, unfortunately, have taken the text and the opportunity to gloat at the behavior, the condemnation and the destruction of homosexuals!
The situation in Sodom and Gomorrah is more complicated than merely a single issue. It is about the corruption of normal man and woman relationship (19:5), the outbreak of violence in people to people relationship (19:9) and the evil in fallen man’s heart toward God (19:13).
Earlier in Genesis 13, Lot foolishly chose a prosperous city for residence based on its busy surroundings, appealing landscape and fertile land but he ended up in a morally low society, a spiritually bankrupt place (Gen 13:10) and a politically dangerous situation. Abraham had to rescue his stubborn nephew when the kings of the east invaded Sodom (Gen 14:12). In Genesis 18, God promised Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom if even 10 righteous people were in it.
Why was Sodom and Gomorrah judged? How are we to respond to temptation in an immoral, irreligious and irreversible environment? What should we do when wrong is considered right, the spiritual climate is hopeless and when judgment is imminent?
Separate Yourself Before Sin Strikes
19:4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom--both young and old--surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” 9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. And they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. 10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. (Gen 19:4-11)
In the November 1987 Reader’s Digest, Betty Wein retells an old tale she heard from Elie Wiesel:
A just man comes to Sodom hoping to save the city. He pickets. What else can he do? He goes from street to street, marketplace to marketplace, shouting, “Men and women, repent. What you are doing is wrong. It will kill you; it will destroy you.”
They laugh, but he goes on shouting, until one day a child stops him. “Poor stranger, don’t you see it’s useless?”
“Yes,” the just man replies.
“Then why do you go on?” the child asks.
“I was convinced that I would change them. Now I go on shouting because I don’t want them to change me.” (Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching, Craig Brian Larson)
Were there 10 righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah (18:32), as Abraham had hoped? In the end Lot was the only righteous resident and closest to a normal person in Sodom.