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Monday, June 5, 2017

WHY SODOM FELL (Blogging Genesis 19:1-28)


Then Abraham said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?”
And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. (Genesis 18:32 - 19:1)

Like his uncle Abraham, Lot was spiritually sensitive enough to recognize a pair of angels in human form, walking along in the Bronze Age, so he paid his respects and offered them hospitality for the night.    But the angels, if you recall from chapter 18, weren’t in town to rest.  They were charged with assessing the sinfulness of the population by seeing if there were  10 righteous men in Sodom.  So far, they’d met one.  So they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square,” because the central city square was an ideal vantage point for observing the citizenry.

But Lot wouldn’t hear of angels sleeping outside when he had a warm home.  He convinced them to come to his house, where he hurriedly put together a grand dinner.  He didn’t have time to wait for the bread to rise, so it was served unleavened.  Still, it was probably a good meal.

As the evening wore down and the family started preparing for bed, a crowd assembled outside Lot’s house. According to verse 4, the crowd was representative of the men of Sodom, including all ages and neighborhoods, and since neighborhoods were included, all socioeconomic classes were represented.  For the angels’ purposes, this was an awfully convenient chance to assess the moral qualities of the city's populace as a whole.  Convenient.   Awful.

The men --- all ages, areas, and classes --- had seen the angels, and they wanted to rape them (verse 5).

No.  You need to let that point marinate for a moment.

The culture of the city, across every male demographic, was so totally and violently perverted that their unanimous response to overnight guests was gang-rape. 

The angels had seen all they needed to see.  They didn’t have to wait until morning and search the city for 10 good men.  There weren’t 10 good men.  The whole town was as bad as they’d thought.  God’s death warrant was in effective.

Lot was a righteous man; he really was, so he faced the mob and tried to protect his angelic guests. But, genuinely good people can be wrong and short-sighted about the depth and complexity of the brokenness around them.  Sometimes good, God-fearing folks get so focused on the one sin that others commit they can’t see the other sins they are enabling and normalizing. 

Homosexuality is a sin, but it's not the only sin. Righteous Lot thought that homosexuality was the only sin in Sodom.  If  only men didn’t want to have sex with men, then everything would be alright.  That’s why Lot, the legit most righteous man in the valley, begged the gang of rapists to assault his daughters instead.  He even lied to sweeten the deal, claiming that his daughters were still virgins (Genesis 19:8).

Fortunately for the young women, the angels intervened.  They blinded the would-be attackers and told Lot to get anybody he liked out of town, because this place was done.

“Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place!” (Genesis 19:12)

But no one else would come.  Even Lot’s sons-in-law laughed at the frenzied old man when he told them a story about angels and “God” destroying the greatest city in the valley (verse 14). 
 Image result for "there is no hell"
Cause when you’ve normalized sin,  talk of judgment sound crazy.

At dawn, Lot, his wife, and their 2 soon-to-be-widowed daughters fled.  As the sun rose  they reached the city of Zoar.  Once inside the walls,  the sky grew dark and bright at the same time.  The ground and air shook with shock waves. Sodom, Gomorrah, and the cities of the valley were dying. 

That was their home. Those were their friends, their in-laws for God’s sake.  She had to see if anything was left.  So she looked over the wall, and in a wave of heat, she was gone, her flesh burned away.  The ashes were salty in her husband’s open, screaming mouth (Genesis 19:26).

Far away, Abraham knew that the angels had not found 10 good men.

 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace (Genesis 19: 27, 28).

How many people are left in your community, congregation, or home who don’t think sin is O.K.?  How many are left who don’t think THEIR sin is O.K.?   What sins have we normalized for ourselves, both old and young, all the people from every quarter

Unlike Lot and his fellow Sodomites, we have the New Testament, in which Peter assures us that Lot was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:2).  And if we believe his assessment of Lot, we must also accept Peter’s assessment of us. 

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)
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We know the grace of God more perfectly than Lot did because we have the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lot was a righteous man, but his righteousness was imperfect and short-sighted.   Jesus is perfectly righteous in every way, and Jesus told us to be better than the self-righteous religious group of the day.

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)

Jesus who, unlike Lot, was perfectly righteous said we should stop normalizing sin.

Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

Jesus said we should stop first stop normalizing OUR sins.

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

Sodom fell because there weren't 10 people who looked at their own sin honestly enough to change themselves so they could change their culture.  Because there weren't 10 righteous men?  Nah, actually, Sodom was destroyed for lack of 10 REPENTANT men.

Like those old school preacher say, “I wish I could get 10 people to believe!”
---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

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