The Relentless Political Pressure of The Sodomite Age
Charles Dickens penned one of the most profound insights and time-tested evaluations of the human condition in his classic work, A Tale of Two Cities, when he began: “It was the best of times it was the worst of times”.
We too sense this same condition in our present generation, pulling and pressing us until we feel that we shall surely come to pieces due to so many voices and vices demanding entrance to our house of faith. Dickens’ title also reminds us that we too are faced with the tale of two cities, two men, two generations, two religious houses which must make up their collective minds in light of God’s unchanging Word.
One segment of the church began pitching its political tent in the direction of the verdant valley of vice some time ago via scriptural compromise and humanistic accommodation; fuelled by the tar and pitch of philosophy and the promise of a prosperous political future; all in the name of “love”; while at the same time the other camp, within Christendom, striving to stay true to God’s eternally settled revelation, is facing accusations of being hateful, bigoted, and unchristian for calling our present age to a full return to fidelity and submission to a loving Creator-Father-God; the two men—Abraham and Lot—the two cities, Sodom and Salvation—the two choices, life or death.
LOT’S RECEPTION OF THE ANGELS
As the nineteenth chapter of Genesis opens we find Lot, still ignorant of the impending judgment of God decreed against his city, being met by angelic agents of God arriving in Sodom as the sun is setting; both literally and figuratively.
And there came two angels to Sodom in the evening; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and stay all night, and wash your feet, and you shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, No; but we will spend the night in the street. And he insisted strongly; and they went in to him, and entered into his house; and he made them a meal, and baked unleavened bread, and they did eat – Genesis 19:1-3.
According to both Scriptural and historical witness, one of the sins which characterized Sodom at this time was the abuse of strangers. The Prophet Ezekiel, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, bore this witness:
Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw fit - Ezekiel 16:49-50.
There are many modern apologists for Sodom who attempt to make this passage the sum total of her sins, wishing to deflect attention away from the clear historic record of the Genesis account. However, one does not need to do away with one passage for the sake of another. The account of Lot’s concern in Genesis 19 is supported by the New Testament exhortation of the apostles Peter and Jude who urged Christians to shun the immorality of ancient Sodom who pursued “strange flesh” (2 Peter 2:6-9 and Jude 7). When one vice is present, others closely follow if self-justification is the goal. Self-centeredness, which breeds indulgence of every kind, is one of the defining characteristics of our modern age (America and other prosperous cultures as well), and our cities are most inhospitable; characterized by the same sins listed in Genesis, Ezekiel, and the New Testament. One cannot hide behind Ezekiel to argue with Moses!
But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called to Lot, and said to him, Where are the men which came in to you this night? Bring them out to us, that we may know them - Genesis 19:4-5.
We do not need to belabour the point that even the most basic understanding of biblical texts and language can explain that the men of Sodom present that night were calling for the exposure and abuse of Lot’s angelic visitors using the very same Hebrew used in describing the marital relationship which existed between Adam and Eve where we are told that “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived…” (Genesis 4:1).
Faced with this unthinkable ultimatum, Lot is moved to respond to his neighbours by defending his heavenly guests.
And Lot went out at the door to them, and shut the door after him, and said, I pray you, brethren, do not do so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, please let me bring them out to you, and do to them as is good in your eyes: only to these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof - Genesis 19:6-8.
Lot’s willingness to sacrifice the innocence and virtue of his own daughters speaks of his disregard for his own flesh and blood and the warping effect of Sodom upon his judgment. No doubt this contributes to the future conduct of his daughters, whose stunted view of their post-Sodom world would lead to the horrific, incestuous acts which would perpetuate fraternal and spiritual antagonism against Israel for generations. We should pay close attention to the following statement:
And they said, Stand back. And they said again, this one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will act as a judge:now will we deal worse with you, than with them. And they pressed hard upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door - Genesis 19:9.
The Sodomites already comprehended Lot’s true identity and position in their community; but now the sojourner and stranger has become an unwelcome judge! Scripture testifies repeatedly that the church is a body of “strangers and pilgrims” who are looking for “a city whose maker and builder is God”. As we strive to maintain a consistent witness amongst those in need of the Gospel, we are called upon (as were the early saints and apostles before us) to call a man or culture to “forsake those vain things” of their gods and customs in favour of the perfect Gospel of Christ. Throughout the generations we have sadly discovered, as Lot did, that the city in which we sojourn has no inclination to “turn from their weak and beggarly traditions” and way of life, and instead turn “ugly”. From the morning “news” programs, trendy talk shows adorned with the ornaments of popular entertainers and social commentators, to overt legal action predicated upon an illogical equivocation with civil rights movements of yesteryear, the citizens of “New Sodom” are coming near to “breaking the door” of the house of refuge while threatening to “deal worse with you”, thereby ensuring that any other sojourners of Sodom are sufficiently intimidated into silence.
In this hostile environment, only God’s direct intervention, which we have already been experiencing whether we recognize it or not, can save us.
But the men put forth their hands, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they struck the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they became weary trying to find the door - Genesis 19:10-11.
The restraining virtue of the presence of God’s Spirit has held this level of violence (political or otherwise) at bay to this point in our cultures. The Words of our LORD Jesus continue to resound in truth of the predicted state of affairs just prior to His glorious return to earth; “As it was in the days of Lot”… Whether the warning proves applicable for the entire globe in this hour, or simply for our modern “cities of the plain”, remains to be seen. What cannot be ignored is that we need the presence, power, and wisdom of The Holy Spirit like never before.
And the men said to Lot, have you here any besides? son in law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whatever you have in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them has grown great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD has sent us to destroy it. And Lot went out, and spoke to his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that was joking to his sons in law - Genesis 19:12-14.
It is tragic indeed that at the very moment of truth Lot finds that the ones he is attempting to rescue turn upon him in mocking unbelief due to his compromising lifestyle within the walls of the doomed city. We too must not “love the world, nor the things in it” (1 John 2:15), including our ecclesiastical tax exempt status or even harsher consequences which may very well begin to press against our houses (churches, ministries, careers) in the very near future. Many compromises will be made if tax laws are changed, especially if congregations are faced with the loss of new multi-million dollar cathedrals and seeker sensitive sodomite sanctuaries. Justifications and logical contortions will abound in an attempt to justify the compromise in the name of human compassion and politically correct conformity; ensuring their place in the gates of the city. The saving Gospel of Christ will have no power at this point, since our audience will see us as “joking” when we weakly declare that the whole thing is going up in smoke!
And when the morning arose, then the angels hurried Lot, saying, Arise, take your wife, and your two daughters, which are here lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city. 16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful to him: and they brought him forth, and set him outside the city… - Genesis 19:15.
I am reminded just now of the passage in the Book of Jude which states,
And of some have compassion, making a distinction: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment defiled by the flesh – verses 22 23.
These verses seem to describe the very scene of deliverance of Lot and his family.
Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground - Genesis 19:24-25.
Remember, when Lot and his dysfunctional, double-minded family were rescued, the house they had taken refuge in went up in smoke along with the rest of the city. Pastors and parishioners alike must not fall victim to the backward glancing of Lot’s wife (against which our LORD warned us in Luke 17:32) due to our divided devotion and inordinate affection for this present age.
Knowing Our Place, Taking Our Stand
Having briefly examined the plight of Lot and his family, we must now invest additional lines to the redemptive position of our great patriarch, Abraham, within this tragic narrative.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, behol, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt - Genesis 19:27-29.
We could digress to show his generous spirit when he gave the first choice of land to Lot following the contention between their herdsman and Lot’s subsequent choice to “pitch his tent towards Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). This free-will decision would eventually bear bitter fruit for Lot and his family, but Abraham respected the decision of his nephew and allowed him to depart, much like the actions of the father of the prodigal son in Luke chapter 15.
We could also show how Abraham was swift to take up arms to liberate Lot (along with his new neighbours) in the war of the kings of the valley in Genesis 14. The passage clearly states that Lot and his house were caught up in the military battle and eventual “kidnapping” of the valley dwellers. This attack was not due to Lot’s actions, and therefore Abraham and his 318 warriors were vindicated in their right of rescue. We can take encouragement ourselves in this regard, knowing that any one of us would rise up to rescue a friend or loved one who was taken away against their will, by some hostile party or spiritual force. We should also note that after the successful deliverance, Abraham was careful to not take any personal gain or profit from the campaign. When met by Melchizedek he was quick to give God the glory for his victory via the tithe, while subsequently refusing to take so much as a shoelace from the sodomite sovereign, thereby maintaining the appropriate distinction between himself and the wicked king.
However, the principal purpose of this article is to emphasise Abraham’s position during the final outpouring of God’s righteous judgment on the doomed “cities of the plain”. Where do we find Abraham in the crucial moment of truth? We find him in Genesis 18 engaging the LORD God in his famous intercessory negotiation. Though he took up arms to rescue Lot and his house as recorded in chapter 13.
As Abraham did then, we must now take our stand in the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying earnestly for those dwelling in the modern metroplexes of the valley. The scriptures remind us that, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16), and that The Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). We need to do our ministry in our tent, in the presence of our LORD, and not sitting in the gates of Sodom where both our witness and house will be lost. We are not to call fire down on those who are living in opposition to God’s Word and Heart, but to rather be interceding down to the last man as we continue to look for the perfect “city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
About The Author
JEFFREY L. WHITTAKER grew up in Niles, Michigan USA and is a 1981 graduate of Niles High School after which he attended Western Michigan and Indiana Universities at South Bend as music, theatre and communications major. From 1983 to 1985 he travelled in music ministry with The Spurrlows , ministering throughout the United States and appearing on Christian Television. In 1989 he graduated Summa Cum Laude from North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, Minnesota while working for the Billy Graham Association. In 1994 he and his family returned to Niles to lead the Michiana Christian Embassy after six years of pastoral ministry at the Assembly of God in Luck, Wisconsin. JLW’s calling has led him to 16 countries, ranging from Haiti to China, as a revivalist and crusade speaker, where he and the people witnessed the power of God demonstrated through the preaching of the incorruptible Word. He has also been published in several domestic and overseas magazines as well as on the internet. Jeff served the Assemblies of God as a Michigan District Presbyter for 5 years and in several other capacities, before severing his links with his denomination based on their perceived passive endorsement of false teachers and false teachings. He is an adjunct Professor at South Western Michigan College and is the co-sponsor of the Alpha Kappa Omega campus Bible fellowship. Jeff has been married to Doreen for 28 years. They have five children and one grandson
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