Friday, November 14, 2008

The Sins Of Sodom

Raphael (Raffaello), Lot Flees from Sodom
OK, with a title like that I am sure that you are expecting a diatribe against homosexuality. Nope. Not going to happen - well, not a diatribe anyway. And frankly, this post really isn't even about homosexuality. So you can breathe a sigh of relief.

WHEW!

As many of you may know, I try my best to read through the Bible each year. (Not that I think that makes me super holy or anything, it is just some background information for what I am about to write.) I have been reading in the prophets now for quite a few weeks and at the present time I am reading in the prophecies of Ezekiel.

Reading through the prophets is a very scary thing to me, because each time I do I hear echoed in the charges brought against the people of Israel charges that could be legitimately brought against America. History has shown us how the Lord executed his vengeance against Israel with the conquests of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. It was truly a terrible time to be in Israel. Because God is just, I cannot help but believe that we face similar judgments. I have said this recently, and I believe it to be as true now as when I said it before.

Now before you turn me off, thinking that this is going to be another doom-and-gloom "thus saith the Lord" sort of message, please hear this encouragement. Throughout the prophets God tells His people that they can avert the coming judgment by repentance. So please keep that in mind as you read.

Anyway, as I was reading I came across a passage that compared Israel's sins to the sins of Sodom, and then it named the sins that brought about Sodom's judgment.

I'll bet you think you know what at least one of them was, don't you?

You'd probably be surprised to find that you are wrong. I was.

Ezekiel 16:48-50 says:

"As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you (Judah) and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it. "

Surprised? I'll admit that I was.

Sodom's greatest sins were as follows:

1.) They were arrogant
2.) They had abundant food and careless ease, but they did not help the poor and needy

The interesting thing is that the perversion of Sodom was not listed in the charges leveled against her - it was an outcome of her other sins.

I doubt that many could effectively argue that America is not guilty of these very sins, and the very tragic thing is that they are just as prevalent in the church as they are outside of it.

How many people inside or outside of the church truly believes that our military forces could be beaten by anyone in the world? Why is that? Is it because of our ingenuity? Perhaps we feel that way because of our technology. We certainly have some of the coolest weapons at our disposal. Maybe we even believe that we are morally superior to anyone that we would fight.

I hate to be the one to break the news, but the truth of the matter is that confidence in any one of these things is pure arrogance.

Do we really believe that our economy could collapse to the point that we would no longer be able to buy bread let alone a new iPod? Why? Because of our manufacturing greatness? Maybe we'll lean on that Yankee ingenuity again. Because it has never happened before? And there is good old fashioned hard work, grit, and determination too, right?

ARROGANCE.

Reliance on ANYTHING other than God's providence is pure unadulterated arrogance.

America is a nation of a great abundance of food (as my waistline can verify.) Can anyone deny it? I have heard reports that enough of our grain is eaten by rats every year to feed the whole world. Yet there are people within our nation that do not have enough to eat - and there are people the world over who are starving to death. With such abundance how is it possible that there are starving people? This very fact is a testimony against our nation.

Who has more leisure than Americans? Is there another people as over-entertained as we are? We feel entitled to entertainment in America. How much time is wasted every day on entertainment? How much time do we spend on YouTube, Facebook, or MySpace? How much time do we spend watching TV? How much time do we spend watching movies?

If you want a good idea to the answer to those questions consider these. How much of our time during the day is spent getting to know our neighbors? How much of our time is spent interacting with other people? (I'm not talking about grunting at your cashier at the grocery store - I'm talking about engaging with another human on a personal level.) How much time do we even spend truly interacting with our immediate families? (Once again, screaming at your kids for inconveniencing you and griping at your spouse about how they are not meeting your needs is NOT what I am talking about here.) Is there any time spent on personal growth and intellectual pursuit? (Computer Solitaire doesn't count.) How much time is left over for worship? How much of our time is truly dedicated to work?

Because we are overly content we are oblivious to the very real problems that exist all around us. Because we are overly entertained we can't be bothered to do anything about the problems that we somehow do become aware of. We are like morphine addicts drugged with food and pleasure - utterly useless.

What is the result? We don't care for the poor and needy. Sure there are some generous people. I'm not denying that. I will, however, question just how generous we really are. How many people do you know that really and truly give even 10% of their income to help those less fortunate than themselves?

Let's take it even further. How many people do you know that give 10% of their TIME to help those less fortunate than themselves? I daresay that the numbers are abysmally low on both counts.

If even 10% of our population gave either 10% of their time or money do you think that we would find the same situation in the world? Would the ghettos be getting bigger or smaller? I know we'll never eradicate poverty. Some people refuse to leave it. Some are too broken to live any other way. But how many could be helped if we truly put an effort towards ending it?

There is another outcome too. Our arrogant, contented, distractedness leads us to become haughty towards God which leads us into abomination.

Once again, even a casual observer of our culture would have to agree that this is the case in America. The perversion of our people has accelerated since the 1960s. Sexual sin so saturates our culture that even Christians don't complain when it is boldly portrayed in the shows that they watch or on the billboards that they see. Our nation brazenly murders millions of its children every year. More and more God is being forced out of the public life. Our attitudes say so clearly that we don't believe that we need anyone's (especially God's) help to succeed. We'll do it on our own thanks to our own power and ingenuity. Our culture has turned more and more to other gods - false religions and non-religions.

What was God's response to Sodom? It wasn't nice.

What is the proper response from us? Repentance. We have to begin to compare our lives and our culture to the template of righteousness found in the Bible. And when we become aware of an area where things don't match God's Word, we need to cut off that excess just as a tailor would who is cutting out cloth to make a suit. I pray that our nation will heed these warnings and repent before it is too late.

2 comments:

A friend said...

Keep your mind and hands and energies occupied with those tasks that please the Lord, (like helping others less fortunate, honoring your marriage and family commitments, doing an honest day's work to earn your daily bread, participating in work and praise in God's house, taking care of 'God's temple' - your body - by eating healthy foods and getting adequate sleep and exercise, etc) and there is little time left to get yourself in trouble.

Mamma was right - idle hands ARE the Devil's playthings...

BTW...congrats on the 10K mark!

Jonathan said...

Thanks!

You are so right. 24 hours is such a short amount of time, and yet it is so easy to waste it. It is our most precious resource, and we waste it as if it were nothing. If we are to be held accountable for every idle word, how much more will we be held to account for each idle moment? I am so guilty!