This week’s Tanakh gives a powerful message of the love and mercy of God. As you may recall, God states that there is a great outcry against Sodom and Gomorra. He has also told Abram that he will not destroy the city if he finds ten righteous men in the city.
The angels proceed into the city, where Lot finds them. It is important that we look at Lot. When we last saw Lot, he had decided to live in the area around Sodom and Gomorra and indeed had been captured when these cities were attacked. This weeks reading, we find Lot living in the city, with his daughters promised to men of the city. Such is the power of evil. When we choose to stay close to it, it slowly drags us in.
Lot, though, is still imbued with the values of Abram. Hospitality is very important to him, and he insists that the angels stay with him. The angels, after some resistance agree. The men of the city come to Lot, insisting that he turn the men over to them for the purposes of sex. Lot refuses, and showing the importance of hospitality offers his daughters instead. The men refuse this offer, and try to take Lot, but the angels strike them blind.
Now a quick aside. Sadly the heresiarch, John Spong and others tell us that the main sin of Sodom and Gomorra was the lack of hospitality, and that homosexuality was not the problem. They tell us that the only reason that the Bible condemns homosexuals is because the Jewish culture was anti-homosexual. We should point out that it was God’s commandment which shaped the Jews, not some prior bias. God is Lord of all, and he could have chosen any homosexual culture he wanted to be the ancestors of Messiah. There were plenty to choose from in Canaan.
Back to the story. Remember, that God told Abram there was a great cry against these people. God, when we refuse to obey him, lets us stew in our own juices so to speak. We are told in the New Testament, that homosexuality is the result of idolatry. We also know they left off hospitality. There were probably many other sins against Sodom and Gomorra, and when a people or person refuses to turn to God, then God allows that sin to reign over those people. This is exactly what happened to Sodom and Gomorra, and in time is what happened to the Canaanites. These are the only two societies so completely condemned in the Torah. Societies so evil, that they had to be destroyed lest they contaminate other peoples, and as we recall, the Canaanites were not completely destroyed and led the people of Israel astray!
The Angels warn Lot of what is to happen, and tell him to gather his family. He goes to his sons-in-Laws, and they think he is joking. Evil has no comprehension of judgment. Wicked men turn things into a joke and reap the consequences. Giving up on his sons-in- laws, Lot returns to the house, and appears befuddled. This is the only place in the Bible in which I can recall that God forces someone to be saved. The angels take Lot and his wife and daughters by the hands and lead them out of the city, and command them to run for the mountains, so as to be safe. Lot again pleads with the angels, the mountain is too far, could he not go to Segot, and God in his mercy permits it. But our story is not done. The angels command him and his family to run, and not turn back, but Lot’s wife cannot resist. She looks back and is transformed into a column of salt. God requires obedience. He covers us with the blood of Jesus for our salvation, but Jesus must be our Lord as well as our saviour, or all bets are off. Lot and the daughters are safe, but his wife is gone. They arrive safely at the village, but Lot seemingly has learned his lesson. He realizes how evil these people are and leaves for a mountain. His daughters in a fit of desperation ply him with wine to get him drunk so they can have children, showing their desperation (it was the sons who took care of the mothers) and their contaminating. In the congregation, it was asked yesterday, why Lot didn’t go back to Abram. I had never thought about it. I suppose that maybe Lot was ashamed to go back. It is certain that Abram would have taken him back in and probably found husbands for the daughters.
We have then the story of Sodom and Gomorra. God judged them and found them wanting. He remembered Abram and his promises, and for Abram’s sake rescued Lot from the destruction to come. He virtually forces Lot to leave the city, for the sake of Abram. What a gracious God. He wants each of us to be saved as well. Are we willing? If you are ready to accept Jesus, send me an email and we will talk, or give me a call.
Mar Michael Abportus, O.S.L.