Yesterday we looked at some of the many sins of the ancient city of Sodom. Because the account in Genesis only mentions the sin of homosexuality we immediately conclude that this was the reason God destroyed it and the other cities of the plain of the lower Jordan valley adjacent to the Dead Sea. Yet Ezekiel tells us that there were other reasons as well as the one with which we are most familiar. We have already looked at these three sins.
- Sodom fell because of pride.
- God says that Sodom had an excess of food.
- They were afflicted with prosperous ease – idleness.
Today we will look at the remainder of the sins the prophet listed and accused his own people of having committed, calling them a sister of Sodom. (Ezekiel 16).
The next thing God accused the people of Sodom of was that they lacked love for the poor and needy. “Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
Along with idleness they lacked compassion for the poor and needy around them. When one’s mind is filled only with thoughts of self and selfish ease, there no willingness to think of others.
People who are arrogant compare themselves to others. They feel that if they “made it” – others can and should do the same – “They could do better if they really wanted to.” Such an attitude fosters neglect of those less fortunate.
Sodom was an environment where much material wealth accumulated. They had the ability to help but had no interest in doing so. Because there was so much self-interest, they did not seek to relieve the anguish of the poor.
The Lord’s will for His people is revealing. He has always intended for His people to show love for one another.
“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18).
How does this play out in a practical sense besides refraining from vengeance and not bearing a grudge? Earlier in this same chapter He had commanded them…
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10).
Christians are instructed how to plan to provide for the needs of those less fortunate…
Such love toward others is not optional. We will face any failure or refusal to love others in judgment. Jesus depicts the judgment scene this way…
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40).
In these verses, nothing is said about helping the poor only occasionally, but working IN ORDER TO BE ABLE to help others. The indication of these scriptures is that helping the unfortunate is a WAY OF LIFE for the Christian.
God said that the Sodomites were haughty. Haughtiness is related to pride. Defined: “disdainfully proud; snobbish; scornfully arrogant; supercilious:” (dictionary.com). Sounds a lot like a whole lot of movie, entertainment and sports stars as well as politicians and maybe even a few preachers thrown in. In fact, no one class of people have an exclusive claim to haughtiness.
When people are proud, they will by virtue of that fact, look down on others. When people look down on others, the next step is to think of ways to use them for one’s own pleasure, enrichment or advantage. This is oppression.
This is the essence of all kinds of sexual aberration including homosexuality – using another person for one’s own pleasure or to show one’s superiority. Whether it is homosexuality, fornication, prostitution, or any other sexual aberration, it all has as the underlying rationale the pleasure of one at the expense of the other.
God’s purpose for the sexual relationship, aside from the obvious intent of procreation, is the sharing of love – true love – that enhances the life of the other person. Sexual fulfillment is to be realized in the sharing and mutual respect of equal partners in marriage. It is also an expression of the kind of shared life that is characteristic of the Godhead.
Sodom practiced abominations. Definition: anything abominable; anything greatly disliked or abhorred. a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, (dictionary.com)
Is this is the “sin” we know best in relation to the cities of the plain? It certainly would seem so. Repeatedly God warned about sexual sin, describing all kinds of deviant behavior as an abomination to Him. He specifically says of homosexuality that it is an abomination.
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22).
This chapter in Leviticus is devoted to various sexual sins. Toward the end of the chapter He gives them this stern warning…
“But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.” (Leviticus 18:26-28).
This sin seems to be a “culmination” of the others mentioned in Ezekiel 16. Whatever it was, God had an extreme hatred and disgust of that which was contrary to His will. Whether it is or not, all these sins were against them and the Lord destroyed them.
We must remember that the lesson in Ezekiel 16 was for God’s wayward people, the nation of Judah who had forsaken Him for the idols of the nations with all their attendant sins. God described the real reason for their condition in Ezekiel 16:30.
“How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute…”
Every sin is but a symptom of a deeper problem – a heart problem. The cure for this kind of “heart disease”?
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.” (Joel 2:12-13).