The Truth We Would Rather Avoid
There are a number of things in life we would rather not think about: Dying, Living without someone we love, getting older, making a living will, going to the Dentist. For me, I would rather not think about being put into a CAT scan machine or being in some confined place for more than a couple of minutes.
If we compared our lists there would certainly be some agreement between those lists. But one thing we would all agree should be on our list would be the Day of Judgment. The idea of having our lives laid bare and our thoughts and motives made known is not too exciting. And the thought of God’s eternal wrath burning against the ungodly is not a thought we want to dwell on either. But it is something we MUST think about.
In our text this morning we see the events leading up to the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a sordid affair that you and I would rather skip past it and deal with more pleasant subjects. However, if God didn’t want us to think about these issues He wouldn’t have had it recorded as part of His Word. So work with me as we try to see what God wants us to know.
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT WILL COME
If you remember, in the last chapter the Lord and the two angels said that they had come down to see for themselves if things were as bad in Sodom as they had heard. The angels arrive in the city and meet Lot. They are perfectly willing to stay in the city square overnight. Lot insists that they must stay with him. This may have been because of the oriental custom of extending hospitality to strangers or it could have been because Lot knew what might happen if they stayed in the city square. It is a similar situation to someone saying that they wanted to sleep in certain areas of some of our metropolitan areas.
What happens next turns our stomachs. Lot and his guests have dinner and then “all the men of the city from every part” came to Lot’s home. I don’t doubt that the record contains hyperbole. But the point is clear: this was not some gang of degenerate men. This was the general make-up of the entire community. These men wanted to engage in homosexual acts with these men. They wanted to rape them!
This one incident is enough. This was all the angels needed to convince them that the charges were true and Sodom was deserving of destruction. Things were so bad that the only way to bring healing was to remove these cancerous towns.
It is a mistake to conclude that the sole reason Sodom was judged was their rampant homosexuality. This was just one of the evidences of the perverse nature of the society. There were other charges,
EZEK 16:49-50“‘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. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.
Notice the things mentioned in this indictment
- arrogance . . . they felt they knew better than God
- indulgent . . . .they lived their lives on the basis of their impulses
- indifferent . . . . they were unconcerned about each other, God, decency
- they did detestable things
The prophet Isaiah in his indictment against Jerusalem says,
ISA. 3:9 [of Jerusalem] they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it.
Added to the indictment is a lack of shame in Sodom. They sinned willfully, joyfully, and with no sense of remorse at all. The had become hard and calloused. No one could tell them that what they were doing was wrong. They were not ashamed . . . they took pride in their open-mindedness!
Notice that even the one righteous man . . . Lot, offers his daughters to this mob. Yes, Lot may have been working to protect his guests. He may have been hoping that they men would be uninterested. He may have hoped that someone would see the barbarity of what was taking place. But he still offered his daughters! What was he thinking? How could he even suggest such a thing as this? How could he think that such an offer could be a righteous act? This always happens. As the society becomes more perverse even the righteous lower their standards.
Can you see that these people deserved God’s judgment? If so, do you see that our society is very similar to the society of Sodom? Let me state the case,
- Just this week Chuck Colson reported that colleges across the country are starting courses in so-called “porn studies”. Classes on pornography are offered at NYU, Northwestern, Colombia and several other schools. They watch pornography day after day. Porn stars are popular lecturers on college campuses.
- Extra marital and premarital sex is glorified on afternoon soap operas and prime time television
- Focus on the Family reports that during the 98-99 television season there were 25 openly homosexual characters on shows. This shows that there is an attempt to “normalize” this behavior. Meanwhile any talk of being “delivered” from homosexuality is silenced and persecuted.
- Shows like Jerry Springer and others glorify sickness and depravity.
- Lobbyists work to get special protection for those who engage in perversion while punishing those who have a Bible in school.
It seems to me that in light of these passages this chapter on Sodom and Gomorrah. should be of special interest to us. If God would not tolerate this behavior from these ancient cities why do we think God would approve now? James Boice makes things very plain,
Are you thinking that perhaps somehow, in spite of all that is said in the Bible about God’s wrath against sin and the certainty of judgment, everything will nevertheless turn out all right for sinners? Are you thinking that perhaps some how judgment will not come? If so, look toward Sodom! Learn that judgment is certain, that the unsaved are in great danger and that the task of bringing the gospel to them is of the utmost and overriding importance.
If that is said to Christians, what must be said of the certainty of judgment to you who are as yet unsaved? Abraham, Lot, and other believers may not want to believe in judgment, though they know better. but you do not even know better. You have not the faintest idea how offensive your sin is in the sight of the thrice holy God. You have not the slightest measure of his infinite and dreadful wrath. You are like Lot’s sons-in-law, who thought he was joking when he repeated the angel’swords about the impending destruction. Take a look at Sodom. Can you not se there that judgment is certain, that the wrath of God must fall? If you cannot, it is because you will not. [Boice, p. 635, 636]
GOD’S JUDGMENT WILL COME SUDDENLY
These angels arrived on one day and before the next day had fully begun the town was destroyed. One moment a new day was beginning as normal, the next day life was destroyed. One minute men were getting ready for work, women were getting laundry ready, people were enjoying their breakfast. The next minute the town had been destroyed beyond recognition. We read that the destruction was complete. “The Lord overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities–and also the vegetation in the land.” No one was left.
This is what it must have been like at Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the atomic bombs were dropped during World War II. They had no time to prepare. Destruction was sudden and complete. After World War II we realized (at least for awhile) how fragile life was. We realized that with one order, one push of a button, we could be destroyed instantly.
Jesus gave this warning,
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. [Matthew 24:36-41,]
We are most foolish if we live our lives feeling that there will always be time to get right with God. We do not know when God will say “Enough” but when He does, time will have run out. It is easy for us to feel secure and invincible. And it is certainly true that God’s sweeping judgment on the earth may not come in our lifetime. But . . . when we die we will face God’s judgment as well. We cannot escape this judgment. We do not know when we will be called to our eternal reward or punishment. God’s judgment will be swift and will catch most people completely off guard. What about you?
THE WORST SIN OF ALL IS UNBELIEF
In the Luke 10:8-15 the warnings are much more stern,
When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
“Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.
The point that Jesus is making is this: Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty and judged for their guilt. But Korazin and Bethsaida were much more culpable because they had more information. They had the evidence of the miracles of Jesus. Jesus says if Sodom saw the miracles that these towns had seen, they would have repented. The unbelief of Korazin and Bethsaida is worse than the depravity of Sodom!
All sin is not the same. There are degrees of punishment. All sin leads to condemnation but some sins lead to a greater condemnation. Jesus would remind us that it is a mistake to read this passage in Genesis 19 and simply come away condemning homosexuality. Yes, it is a sinful practice. No matter what the world says, no matter how much lobbying and exposure is given to the issue, it’s wrong and God hates it. But . . . we can sit in our ivory towers and point our fingers and still miss the greater sin . . . the sin of unbelief. As horrible as perversion is . . . unbelief is worse!
Let’s take this one step further. Consider what we have that Sodom, Korazin and Bethsaida did not have:
- The Word of God. We have a record of the miracles of Jesus and the teachings of Jesus as well as all the teaching of the disciples.
- The Death and Resurrection of Christ. When Jesus spoke to these cities he had not shown His great love by His death on the cross. He had not proved His status as God by His resurrection.
- The everyday ministry of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit was present in those days but not in the lives of every believer.
- The church. We have a history of faith to learn from.
- Christian Study Resources. In those days people gathered to hear God’s Word read from a scroll and they were rare and treasured. Today we can go into almost any mall or bookstore and obtain Christian instruction (of course, we can also find a lot of error too).
- Christian Media. Today you can hear the gospel on the radio, on television, on tapes, on video. Again, some of the teaching is false teaching . . . but the truth is much more available.
If Korazin and Bethsaida were to be judged more strictly because of their unbelief . . . . what about us? We look at the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah and shudder at the fierce judgment. But the Bible is clear . . . that judgment is not to be compared with the judgment that awaits those who turn from the evidence of the Gospel and persist in their unbelief.
I pray that this uncomfortable message will have several different effects on you.
First, I hope it leads you to make your faith sure. Do not delay in trusting Christ! Do not continue to assume that there will always be time. You don’t know that. You are gambling with your life and eternal destiny.
You may feel that your life is hopeless. You may think that there is nothing that can be done to help you. But you are wrong. It doesn’t matter what your sin, you can find cleansing and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Christ died in your place. He bore the judgment that you deserve. He offers you a new beginning. He offers to cleanse you and to lead you. But you must respond. There is no greater sin than to refuse the gift that God offers in Christ. There is no higher act of defiance than to spurn the offer of salvation.
If you have not placed your faith in Jesus Christ, if you have not trusted Him to free you from judgment, do so today. You are playing a dangerous game. It is like playing chicken with a train! The stakes are higher than you can comprehend. Like Lot’s family you have been given the opportunity to be saved. Will you follow or will you turn back? Will you place your trust in Christ or will you trust your own efforts and the ways of the world? What you choose will make an eternal difference.
Second, I hope it will encourage you to share the gospel with others. We do not have forever to share the gospel with family and friends. There is an urgency that we must recognize. Our society continues to disintegrate . . . how much longer do we have until the Lord says, “ENOUGH!” At that time it will be too late. We must use the time He has mercifully granted us. It is essential that we see clearly the truth of a coming judgment.
It is easy to ignore it. It’s easy to relegate it to something that is far in the future. But we dare not do this. We must see and hear the story of Sodom clearly. Judgment is around the corner. We dare not delay in alerting our family and friends. Use any means possible to point family and friends to Christ. Buy them a book, give them your testimony, bring them to church, give them a printed sermon, introduce them to our radio broadcast, somehow point them to the truth of the gospel. The matter is urgent.
Third, I hope you see the current society with the eyes of faith. Understand that what we call freedom of expression and freedom of choice . . . is often considered an abomination to the Lord. We need to see that even though “everyone is doing it” they are doing so to their everlasting destruction. We must stand firm. We must be determined to remain holy in a world that has embraced all things vile. As society becomes more corrupt it is natural to lower the standard for holiness. We must resist this!
Do not compromise with evil! Say no to objectionable material. Stay away from things that drag you down. Repent of sin that you have rationalized. Be ruthless in your pursuit of holiness for your own life.
Finally, I hope this chapter drives you to prayer. We must pray for our country, our family, our friends. We must pray for the children, the media, the government. We must examine our own hearts and lives before the Lord. We need His strength and guidance to resist the world’s corruption. We need His wisdom to recognize when we are being deceived. We need His Spirit to work in the hearts of those around us.
You see, none of us likes to think about the idea of judgment. But, it is better to think about it, and make the necessary changes than to ignore it and then be forced to face it unprepared.