50 “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.
50 “And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.”
Why do we stay in sin once we have gotten there? Why do we keep on sinning? Pleasure is certainly part of the answer, but pleasure is such a temporary thing. Pleasure comes and is gone, and like an addict, we keep pushing and pushing our sins to try to gain more of the same satisfaction we had when we first got into that sin. After a while, sin has become habit, habit become behavior, and behavior become a way of thinking and feeling. At that point, regardless of the physical or spiritual dangers of our sins, we still persist in them, seemingly unaware that there is any other way to live. But what is it like in Sodom? Why would we even want to live there?
Today’s verses give us a clue about what Sodom was like in the days of Lot. Abram’s nephew had chosen the plain of Jordan because he though it looked well-watered and fruitful, and yet he ignored one thing that was known about the area.
12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.
13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.
Lot could have turned back, chosen another place, but he stayed in or near Sodom. Why? On the surface, Sodom looked pretty good. They had “fullness of food” – literally they were satisfied with their bread. There was no famine there, not like when Abram and Lot had been compelled to leave the area before. (Genesis 12:10) Sodom also had plenty of leasure time – “abundance of idleness” is the euphemism. Who wouldn’t want to live a life of idleness and plenty?
Ah, but there’s more! You see, the people of Sodom were also arrogant, proud and greedy. They committed “abomination before the LORD” and refused to help the poor and needy. And as we ought to remember from Genesis chapter 19, the men of Sodom were also violent and sexually perverse. Didn’t Lot weigh the costs while living there? Didn’t he see the dangers? We might think he didn’t see the dangers, but there is another story about Lot and Sodom that many people forget.
While Lot was living in Sodom, four neighboring kings attacked the cities of the plain of Jordan, including Sodom. The cowardly kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and the attackers captured the cities.
11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.
12 They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
Abram put together a small force, defeated the attackers and brought back all the captives, including Lot and his goods. Then out came the king of Sodom (You remember: the one who ran away)and said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” (Genesis 14:21) Abram refused such terms and kept only what goods his small troop needed. And guess where Lot went after that? Back to Sodom!
That’s how sin is in our lives. We’re so caught up in our pleasures and idleness that we fail to see our pride and greed. Even when our sin becomes dangerous to us and our family, we still persist in our sinfulness. Perhaps it is just habit, but you can be certain that the greatest part of it is pride. We don’t want to admit we’re wrong, that anything bad might come of our actions, that we have wronged anyone else. We refuse to see the consequences of our sins, and even when given the opportunity to escape from our sins, we still go right back to them. Instead of following the example of a Godly friend or mentor, we go right back to Sodom.
Before we have gone too far, before the surface beauty of Sodom overwhelms us, we ought to take a step back from our lives and examine ourselves. Are we fat and lazy like the Sodomites? Are we proud of our accomplishment? Do we place ourselves above others? Do we ignore the plight of the poor and the oppressed? Are we living in Sodom?
The good news is this:
60 “Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
61 “Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you receive your older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you.
62 “And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
63 “that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,” says the Lord GOD.
God forgives, that is the simple truth. God has given us a way out of our Sodom, and we should take that path. When He points out to us our own sinfulness and pride, rather than hiding back inside the city walls, we need to follow Him back to Canaan, to Bethel – the “house of God.” Let Christ be your shelter, let Christ satisfy your hunger, let the glory of Christ be your pride, let Christ guide your hand to execute righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. Instead of living in Sodom, let Sodom be a byword in your mouth for all the sinfulness of your life. And let Christ Jesus be a byword for your salvation.
Heavenly Father, Righteous Lord, how great is Your mercy toward those who fear You! How glorious Your reward to those who love You! Thank You, Gracious Lord, for Your Word and your law, that hold up for us a mirror of our sins, so we see ourselves as You do. Thank You, too, for Your precious Son, Jesus, who is a mirror for who we ought to be. Break me, mold me, shape me to be more like You, Lord God. Hosanna! Amen.