A Look inside Sodom
The name of Sodom has become one of the most common proverbs of our world. When we would describe the worst kind of wickedness or when we think of Divine judgment, we use Sodom to illustrate it. Seemingly, most people are only aware of Sodom’s sins of sexual immorality and perversion. However a careful study, especially in the prophets, reveals a number of other sins that made Sodom the object of God’s wrath. Acquaintance with these underlying problem puts Sodom and her sister cities in much clearer focus for modern-day Christians.
Sodom was located in the lush Jordan valley probably just above the northern end of the Dead Sea. The plain of Jordan was well watered everywhere, before Jehovah destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of Jehovah, like the land of Egypt (Gen. 13:10). This fertile plain supported not only Sodom and Gomorrah but three other satellite cities, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar (Deut. 29:23). Two of these smaller cities fell into the same pattern of sin as their neighbors and were destroyed with them (Jer. 49:18).
In a stinging rebuke to his degenerate generation of Israelites, Ezekiel, the prophet declared they were greater sinners than the men of Sodom. Then he relates the catalog of Sodom’s sins.
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and prosperous ease was in her and in her daughters; 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 good” (Ezek. 16:49-50).
Pride went before their fall. It has well been said that pride is at the root of every sin man commits. Pride is one of the most respectable sins. It can be found in practically every situation of life. It often flourishes in congregations; pew and pulpit alike. Commonly, it is catered to and pampered. Yet to God, it is an abomination (Prov. 6:16-17; I John 2:15).
Fullness of Bread and Prosperous Ease were in Sodom. A modern term for this situation is affluence. Few generations since Noah have known the meaning of these words as well as we contemporary Americans. Rather than being sin, affluence is the incubator of sin. It provides a perfect environment in which sin can spawn and flourish. The KJV renders the second phrase, “abundance of idleness.” It is strange that God’s blessing of a fruitful land was abused to promote greed, pride, idleness and voluptuousness. No greater danger confronts our nation and the church today than fullness of bread and prosperous ease. Every civilization which survived long enough to reach this affluent state has fallen victim to its decaying influence. Persecution has never destroyed the church, but prosperity and ease have wrecked her time and again.
She did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. Selfishly indulging herself, Sodom neglected the poor. God did not overlook this heartless act. Despising self-discipline and catering to the fleshly appetites tends only to make them more insatiable. The poor have always been with us and always will be; perhaps they are God’s test of our character (Mk. 14:7).
The people of Sodom were haughty. This is defined, “Disdainfully or contemptuously proud.” It best describes the kind of action and conduct that grows out of a proud heart.
The abominations they committed are not specified by Ezekiel, but appearing in a catalog such as this, it would likely refer to some special sin especially hateful or detestable or to idolatry (See Is. 44:19 & 66:3). In view of the fact that no other verse mentions Sodom being guilty of idolatry, and in the light of the repeated mention of their gross sexual perversions, we would conclude that is what “abominations” here refers to. If the foregoing conclusion be correct, then it is a striking fact that another of Sodom’s ills was the lack of religion, even of a pagan sort. Even the most corrupt form of worship usually has some restraining power on at least some social evils and sins. Sodom showed no sign of restraint whatever.
Turning to Jeremiah 23:14, we discover yet three more sins of Sodom. Charging the false prophets of Jerusalem with having become like the men of Sodom, he gives three examples.
“In the prophets of Jerusalem also I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies and they strengthen the hands of evil-doers, so that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them become unto me as Sodom…”
Before they degenerated to the vilest form of perverse immorality, they had given themselves over to adultery. Those who set out on the path of fleshly lust seldom stop until they have plunged to the depths of degradation. An old Arab proverb says, “Passion is a tyrant which slays those whom it governs.” It is like fire, which once kindled can scarcely be quenched.
They walked in lies. Not an occasional lie in a moment of temptation, but a way of life marked by lying.
They strengthened the hand of evil-doers so that none did turn from his wickedness. In God’s sight, not only is the overt sinner guilty, but he who encourages his evil is held as an accessory to the fact. “He that justifieth the wicked and he that condemneth the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination unto Jehovah.” (Prov. 17:15).
Isaiah cried out against the sinners of his day saying “The show of their countenance doth witness against then; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not.” (3:9). Sodom’s citizens were brazen sinners. They had no shame. Their moral consciences no longer felt pain when abominations were committed or when others knew about it.
We could not close the record of her indictment without mentioning her awful sin of homosexuality. This is the import of the disgusting event recorded in Genesis 19:4-5.
“The men of Sodom…both young and old, all the people from every quarter…called unto Lot, and said unto him, where are the men that came in to thee?…bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” As Jude states, they gave themselves over to fornication and went after “strange flesh” (vs. 7).
Space does not allow the citing of present day parallels to those things we have seen inside Sodom. Really it is not needed, since anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear can note the similarities on every hand. The daily newspapers, the TV news, the entertainment shows, the rash of X-rated movies, filthy books and magazines, ad infinitum ad nauseum.
The tragedy of this story is that a handful of righteous people could have turned away the wrath of judgment from this sordid community. But ten righteousness souls could not be found (Gen.18:22). So long as there is a righteous remnant in our land, the justice of God will spare us. But woe be unto a sinful land if He does not find the “ten righteous souls.” We do not know what the minimum percentage of faithful people must be. This makes it all the more imperative that we be about our Father’s business, seeking and saving that which is lost. We must not deceive ourselves; should our society fill the cup of iniquity, the land will vomit us out as it did them (Lev. 18:24-25).
Sodom is an example of the punishment of eternal fire which awaits the wicked (Jude 7). She points out the certain judgment awaiting the wicked, especially the immoral and perverted. God delivered righteous Lot from the destruction poured out upon Sodom. So God can and will deliver His faithful ones whose righteous souls are vexed in the midst of a wicked and corrupt generation (II Pet. 2:8-9). Finally, the world must be made to realize that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for those who reject the blessed gospel of Jesus and the moral standards He has set forth for mankind (Matt. 10:15).
Fortify Your Faith