Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great. Because their sin is so grievous,
I. SODOM'S SINFULNESS. Her sins were committed amidst an unbounded flush of prosperity; they were committed amidst scenes of much natural loveliness, Nature being outraged before the eye of her most beautiful forms: and they were committed not only in opposition to Nature's silent, but to God's spoken, warnings.
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord. The promise to Abraham included -
(1) understanding of God's acts;
(2) that he should become a mighty nation;
(3) that he should be ancestor of the promised Seed;
(4) that he himself should be a blessing to others.
Of these points two at least are not confined to him personally, but belong to all who will. To know what God doeth a man must be taught of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14; cf. Isaiah 7:12). There is a wide difference between seeing an event, or even foreseeing it, and understanding God's lessons therein. To be able in everything to mark the love, and care, and wisdom of God; to walk with him as a child, accepting what he sends not merely as inevitable, but as loving; to learn lessons from all that happens, and through the works of his hands to see our Father's face - this is peace, and this is what the wisdom of this world cannot teach (Matthew 11:25; 1 Corinthians 1:20, 21). Again, Abraham was to be not merely the ancestor of a nation, but the father of a spiritual family by influence and example (Matthew 3:9; Galatians 3:7). In this his calling is that of every Christian (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 5:13, 14). Text connects the godly rule of a family with both these blessings. Christianity is not to be a selfish, but a diffusive thing (Matthew 5:15; Matthew 13:83); and the influence must needs begin at home (cf. Numbers 10:29; Acts 1:8), among those whom God has placed with us.
I. THINGS NEEDFUL FOR THIS WORK.
1. Care for his own soul. If that is not cared for a man cannot desire the spiritual good of others. He may desire and try to train his children and household in honesty and prudence; to make them good members of society, successful, respected; and may cultivate all kindly feelings; but not till he realizes eternity will he really aim at training others for eternity. Might say that only one who has found peace can fully perform this work. A man aroused with desire that his family should be saved. But he cannot press the full truth as it is in Jesus.
2. Love for the souls of others. Christians are sometimes so wrapped up in care for their own souls as to have few thoughts for the state of others. Perhaps from a lengthened conflict the mind has been too much turned upon its own state. But this is not the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:24). It is not a close following of him. It tells of a halting in the "work of faith" (2 Corinthians 5:13, 14; cf. Romans 10:1).
3. Desire to advance the kingdom of Christ. When a man has this he sees in every one a soul for which Christ died (cf. John 4:35), and those with whom he is closely connected must chiefly call forth this feeling.
II. THE MANNER OF THE WORK. Family worship; acknowledgment of God as ruling in the household; his will a regulating principle and bond of union. Let this be a reality, not a form. Let the sacrificial work of Christ be ever put forward in instruction and in prayer. Personal example - constantly aiming at a holy life. To pray in the family and yet to be evidently making no effort to live in the spirit of the prayer is to do positive evil; encouraging the belief that God may be worshipped with words, without deeds; and tending to separate religion from daily life. Prayer in private for each member - children, servants, &c.; and watchfulness to deal with each as God shall give opportunity (Proverbs 15:23). Let prayer always accompany such efforts. - M.
Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous. I.
The vale of Sodom was a region blooming and smiling in all the riches of nature; ON EVERY HAND THERE WAS SOMETHING TO RAISE THE THOUGHTS TO THE CREATOR. But amidst all this, what was man? His wickedness was so aggravated and extreme, that the region itself was doomed to perish with its inhabitants. Sin still infects the fair field of nature, and it is this which spoils the beauty of the scene. If all the sin in the world could become a visible thing, it would blast and overpower in our view all the beauty of nature. The sin of Sodom was so aggravated that its cry went up to heaven, and the righteous Governor was obliged to manifest Himself.
II. It is impossible not to be struck with THE CALMNESS AND QUIETNESS WITH WHICH THE WORK OF VENGEANCE PROCEEDED. Three persons came on a friendly visit to Abraham. They accepted his hospitality; spoke with him on a matter of complacent interest — the renewed assurance of his posterity. Then "the men rose up from thence and looked toward Sodom." We are left in the dark as to one circumstance here. Only two of the persons went on to Sodom, leaving Abraham to converse with the Almighty. The third disappears from our view — unless he was a manifestation of the Divine Being Himself, and the same that Abraham conversed with in that solemn character.
III. Notice WHAT VALUE THE LORD MUST SET ON THE RIGHTEOUS, when for the sake of ten such men He would have spared Sodom. Only one righteous man dwelt in Sodom, and he was saved.
IV. THE PRECISE MANNER OF THE FEARFUL CATASTROPHE IS BEYOND OUR CONJECTURE. It would seem that an earthquake either accompanied or followed it, but the "fire from heaven" is intimated as the grand chief agent of the destruction. The people of Sodom had no time for speculations; there was just time for terror and conscience and despair. Yet our Lord says there is a still greater guilt, a more awful destruction even than theirs. The man that lives and dies rejecting Him had better have been exposed to the rain of fire and brimstone and gone down in the gulf of the vale of Siddim.
Notice FIRST THE WORDS OF GOD WHICH INTRODUCE THIS HISTORY. "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great," &c. Behind this human manner of speaking what a lesson if; here! The judgments of God from time to time overtake guilty nations and guilty men; but, huge and overwhelming catastrophes as these often are, there is nothing hasty, blind, precipitate about them. He is evermore the same God who, when the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah waxed great, is described as going down to see and inquire whether they had "done altogether according to the cry of it."
II. In God's assurance to Abraham that if there are fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, or even ten righteous men found in the city He will not destroy it, we may recognize a very important law of His government of the world: this, namely, — THAT IT IS NOT THE PRESENCE OF EVIL BUT THE ABSENCE OF GOOD WHICH BRINGS THE LONG-SUFFERING OF GOD TO AN END. However corrupt any fellowship of men may he, however far gone in evil, yet so long as there is a sound, healthy kernel in it of righteous men, that is, of men who love and fear God and will witness for God, there is always hope.
III. This promise of God, "I will not destroy it for ten's sake," SHOWS US WHAT RIGHTEOUS MEN, LOVERS AND DOERS OF THE TRUTH, ARE. They are as the lightning conductors, drawing aside the fiery bolts of His vengeance, which would else have long since scorched, shattered, and consumed a guilty world. Oftentimes, it may be, they are little accounted of among men, being indeed the hidden ones of God crying in their secret places for the things which are done against the words of God's lips. The world may pass them, may know nothing of them, yet it is for their sakes that the world is endured and continues unto this day,
IV. Does not this remind us of one duty on behalf of others which we might effectually fulfil if a larger measure of grace dwelt in our hearts? — I MEAN THE DUTY OF PRAYER AND INTERCESSION FOR OTHERS. Prayer for others is never lost, is never in vain; often by it we may draw down blessing upon others, but always and without fail it will return in blessing on ourselves.
II. SODOM'S WARNINGS. One was given by the entrance of Lot within its gates; another was given by the advent of Chedorlaomer and the invaders from the east. Abraham and Melchizedek cast their sublime and awful shadows from the King's Dale southward upon Gomorrah's walls; but the sinners within felt not the hallowing sense of their presence, trembled not at the steps of their majesty.
III. SODOM'S INTERCESSOR. Abraham's prayer shows —
1. The confidence that existed between himself and God.
2. It shows God's personal knowledge of evil.
3. It shows God's reluctance to punish.
4. It gives proof of the tremendous guilt of Sodom.
IV. This terrible catastrophe lies in A BYE-PATH OF THE DIVINE PROCEDURE; it did not relate immediately to the general course of the patriarchal dispensation; and yet what an awful "aside" did the fall of these cities utter. It must have struck Abraham with a new sense of the evil of sin and of the holiness and justice of God.
()I. THEY ARE PRECEDED BY A LONG HISTORY OF WICKEDNESS.
1. The shedding of innocent blood (Genesis 4:10; Job 16:18).
2. The peculiar sin of Sodom.
3. The oppression of the people of God.
4. Withholding the hire of the labourer (James 5:4).
II. THEY ARE MANIFESTLY RIGHTEOUS.
1. They proceed slowly.
2. They are only inflicted when the reasons of them have been made evident.
3. They are self-vindicating.
()We have to speak, then, of Sodom's sinfulness. Delicacy may seem to repel us from such a subject altogether, but there is a false as well as a true delicacy, which, by passing by sin in silence, gives it an amnesty, and suggests the thought of its repetition. Had the sin of Sodom been confined to that people, and had it been rooted out with the guilty cities, it would almost have been sacrilege against human nature to dig it up from the slush of the sea of death, and expose it to the world. But alas I it still exists even in Christian nations, and requires still to be denounced. Had there been but one prevalent evil practice in Sodom, there is something so disgusting, and at the same time comparatively so rare, in the sin which bears the name of the city, that it might have been as well, perhaps, to have passed it over in silence. But it is evident that the peculiar iniquity of Sodom was only the climax and consummation of the general depravity of the place. This is clear, both from the general principles of human nature, and from certain distinct declarations in the Word of God. We are told that "pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness," were the sins, or rather were sins producing the flagrant and fatal sin of Sodom; and no doubt along with these every species of excess and licentiousness abounded, so that the city formed, with the exception of Lot and his family, one blot on the face of the earth; and we can conceive of a visitor shuddering with horror, as, passing through it at eventide in haste, he in this street hears cries, faint and half-sincere, of "Father, force me not I" and in another, finds men and women staggering in their vomit; and in a third, hears men cursing Jehovah, and cursing Lot, and cursing Abraham; and in a fourth, sees obscene dances; and in a fifth, beholds many plunging into the fires of an idol-sacrifice. All this, and more than this, which dares not even be shadowed out in expression, might have been seen in this fearful city, running over as a great caldron of iniquity, and coming to a point in that sin for which its inhabitants are set forth for an example, "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." It added to the aggravation of these sins, that they were committed amidst an unbounded flush of prosperity; that they were committed amidst scenes of much natural loveliness, nature being outraged before the eye of her most beautiful forms; and that they were committed not only in opposition to nature's silent, but to God's uttered protest.
()Sodom itself stood not only in the alluvium of a river bed, but on a main highway for land carriage between Babylon and Egypt. The natural consequences of such a position followed fast. When Ezekiel in his analysis of its decline calls "fulness of bread," comes without toil to a population so favourably situated. Wealth flowed in. With wealth easily acquired came "abundance of idleness"; and with leisure and wealth came luxury, their daughter. Then followed pride, the insolence of the pampered; at last, self-indulgence and shameless licence. Possibly the time had not yet arrived for the cultivation of those adornments which lend dignity to wealth, and serve even to veil the deformity of dissolute manners; of letters, I mean, and of the arts. Possibly the race was not endowed by nature with such gifts. At any rate, we detect no signs of such a degree of culture or refinement as has always accompanied civilization among Aryan peoples. The early civilization of the Hamitic tribes seems to have been of a vulgar material type, and to have fallen a speedy prey to vice and corruption. How far that corruption had gone in the case of Sodom is only too apparent on the face of the narrative. Disgusting and unnatural lust has been the plague-spot of heathenism in other times, as well as of at least one Moslem race in our own. But it never carried itself with such effrontery, or showed its vileness so openly, as in the town which has given it a name. Wherever it has appeared, it has marked a stage of social degradation ripe for destruction. Four hundred years after Sodom, other Canaanite tribes in Palestine had become infected with it, till the land was ready, in the strong words of Leviticus, to "spue them out." Its prevalence in Greece when St. Paul wrote his letter to the Church of Rome showed how near Greece was to its fall. What it means in the case of the Turk, we are seeing to-day with our eyes. Unnatural vice fills the cup of iniquity to overflowing. It sends up a "cry" to heaven that the righteous Judge must answer.
PeopleAbraham, Mamre, Sarah
PlacesCanaan, Gomorrah, Sodom, Sodom and Gomorrah
TopicsCry, Evil, Exceeding, Exceedingly, Gomorrah, Gomor'rah, Grave, Grievous, Indeed, Outcry, Sin, Sodom, Verily
Outline1. The Lord appears to Abraham, who entertains angels.
9. Sarah is reproved for laughing at the promise of a son.
16. The destruction of Sodom is revealed to Abraham.
23. Abraham makes intercession for its inhabitants.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 18:20
5076 Abraham, life of
1511 Trinity, relationships in
4275 Sodom and Gomorrah
1095 God, patience of
5077 Abraham, character
4224 cities of the plain
6026 sin, judgment on
4113 angels, agents of judgment
7150 righteous, the
5076 Abraham, life of
6655 forgiveness, application
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