On this day it is believed that God rained down fire and brimstone and destroyed the cities of the plain, including Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s recorded in Genesis 19:24-25:
“Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.”
From this text, we see that the destruction was complete and catastrophic. When it comes to the destruction of Sodom, the issue that most point to as being the reason is the rampant and aggressive homosexuality. To ignore the role of this sin in its destruction is to ignore what the Bible records. However, through the prophet Ezekiel, God emphasized other things that were actually the source of Sodom’s problems.
“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.” (Ezekiel 16:49-50)
Notice that among the things listed – pride, idleness of time, not caring for the needy – homosexuality isn’t mentioned. At best, homosexuality is alluded to when He said they “committed abomination before Me.” It would seem that the sexual perversity prevalent in Sodom was a manifestation of their pride, abundance and apathy for the poor.
These were the source issues, and from that grew all these other abominable things. But we should not miss this point: the Creator was actually comparing the people of Sodom to His people, Israel. In fact, He tells them that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were not nearly as awful as the sins of His people. It would seem that as terrible, as vicious and as violent as the people of Sodom were, God’s people have the potential to be just as bad. In fact, in Matthew 11:23-24, Messiah said to those of His generation:
“And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of
judgment than for you.”
It would seem that, as vicious and disgusting as the people of Sodom were, God’s people are not exempt from disgusting behavior either. If we are not careful to listen to the voice of our Father and follow the example of the Messiah, we can be as guilty as those we like to point fingers at. When it comes to the world’s problems, believers tend to deflect responsibility off of us and onto the world. When there is a Hurricane Katrina, for instance, we point out the depravity of the city that bore the brunt of the storm, rather than considering that maybe God is trying to get our attention.
In 2 Chronicles 7, it doesn’t say, “If those people, who don’t know My Name,” but, “If My people, who are called by My Name…would turn from their wicked ways…I will forgive their sins and heal their land.” In other words, it’s not really up to the people of the world but rather God’s people in the world whether or not the land will be healed. Consider that today, as in the days of Noah, most people are too busy “eating, drinking and giving in marriage” to discern what God might be saying through catastrophe and calamity. If that is the case, who is He trying to arouse from their slumber? Is it the world or is it His people? Who is He trying to provoke to repentance? Is it the world or is it His people?
As we prepare to enter the season of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), a festival of joy and celebration, let us remember that it is incumbent upon us to approach Him with clean hands and a pure heart. We must abandon the mindset that the world’s ills are because of everyone else; we need to take responsibility for our own faults and humble ourselves before Him. We mustn’t allow His blessings upon us to dull us to the reality that others are hurting and in desperate need. Let’s not fall into the same snare as those spoken of in Ezekiel; those who were just as errant as the people of Sodom. Let us strive to always walk humbly before our God.