Sermon for July 3, 2022

Like Sodom and Gomorrah

Romans 9:25-33

Romans 9:25–33 (NIV): 25 As he says in Hosea:

         “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;

         and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”

26 and,

         “In the very place where it was said to them,

         ‘You are not my people,’

         there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ”

27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:

         “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,

         only the remnant will be saved.

      28 For the Lord will carry out

         his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

29 It is just as Isaiah said previously:

         “Unless the Lord Almighty

         had left us descendants,

         we would have become like Sodom,

         we would have been like Gomorrah.”

30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:

         “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble

         and a rock that makes them fall,

         and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

The key to understanding these verses is to understand Sodom and Gomorrah.  When a person hears the names “Sodom” and Gomorrah, we all know what comes to mind.  However, I want you to see that Genesis 18 and the opening of Genesis 19 are comparisons on the hospitality that both Abraham and Lot show towards a few God sent men to their communities.  Their actions are the same.  However, you need to pay attention to the narrative to notice things you have overlooked.

  1. Sodom and Gomorrah was the land chosen by Lot as it was the “better land”, however, it was outside of the Promised Land. 
    1. Genesis 10:19 (NIV): 19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha.
    1. The wording “toward Sodom, Gomorrah” is NOT past Sodom and Gomorrah or at Sodom and Gomorrah.  Genesis is consistent at using the word “at” or “בְּ-“
    1. Genesis 13:8–13 (NIV): 8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.

  • Now we see Lot not living in a tent anymore, he is living in the city.
    • Genesis 19:1–3 (NIV): 19 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.

  1. While Lot has these two men in his house, Abraham is still arguing his case about Sodom.
    1. Genesis 18:20–25 (NIV): 20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

I, Pastor Chad, want you to focus on verses 20 and 21.  There is not one mention of what is about to befall Lot and the two visitors.  We focus so much on angry mob outside Lot’s house and what they want to do to the visitors that we miss the reason for God’s judgement.  The event in question had not happened yet to reveal some very angry issues along the line of forceful rape.

  1. Ezekiel 16:48–50 (NIV): 48 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. 49 “ ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.
  2. Lot was a resident alien in war torn area.
    1. He was from Ur and settled in Haran, notice the Rivers!
  1. Genesis 19:9 (NIV): 9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.
  1. Genesis 14:10–16 (NIV): 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

13 A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

  1. Abraham had fought to rescue these cities before.
    1. Lot was taken away as plunder, meaning, he did not fight for the King of Sodom, but was likely a slave, not a soldier.  Lot is considered some of the “goods”.

The ideas of Sodom and Gomorrah go beyond the sexual element in the story.  It’s far deeper than that.  Insomuch, Genesis 19 is talking about the abuse of power.  Peter says as much in II Peter 4 when speaking about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Peter states that God condemned Sodom and Gomorrah to be an example and for what reasons.

a.  2 Peter 2:10–19 (NIV): 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.

13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

Jesus talks about Sodom and Gomorrah in Matthew chapters 10 and 11.  In chapter 10 he speaks about hospitality given when his disciples enter a town compared to the hospitality of Sodom and Gomorrah.  In chapter 11 Jesus speaks about how miracles done in those cities would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah but not so for the cities in his time on earth. 

So, what does this have to do with Romans 9? Well…everything!

  • Paul uses Isaiah and Hosea to prove a point.
    • Sodom and Gomorrah were outside the Land of Promise.
    • God was still looking out for those people too.
    • This is pre-Israel as either the 12 Tribes or existing as a nation.
    • In Abraham’s bartering, God directly states that doing what is right (just) is important, even for those who outside the Covenant that God makes with Abraham. 
    • Paul makes that argument that this is the principle that the Jew should pay attention to.  God was not just the God of Abraham, but the entire world and that the reason for the Covenant was given to Abraham was it was his lineage a Savior would come and save EVERYONE, not just those who call themselves descendants of Abraham.
    • Lot was saved outside of the covenant because of his righteousness and yes, I know that he offered his virgin daughter to be raped to calm the angry crowd, but it was a different culture than today.  Daughters were considered currency, a way for a father to make money.  He would have needed to reimburse his sons-in-law for the dowry that they had already paid for Lot’s daughters.
      • Genesis 19:12–14 (NKJV): 12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place! 13 For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.

In Romans 9, Paul makes the argument that it isn’t about the promise given to Abraham, but the idea that God has always been a just God.  That even when Abraham was being chosen to have lasting generations after years of barrenness between him and Sarah, but the intent of that promise was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth!  So, the Jews refuted that Jesus fulfilled anything and continue to focus on their inheritance as being God’s chosen, Israel.  Paul states that everyone is God’s chosen and that the only reason Abraham and Jacob were chosen was not for them to be a great worldly nation that governed the world, but they would be the people that would bless the world.  It was their ancestral lineage that the Savior of the World would come!  Therefore, there was the possibility of righteousness outside the land of Israel.  Remember, righteousness by definition, means doing what is right in the eyes of God.  So, my question is this, did people outside of Israel’s territory love God, love their neighbor, and love themselves?  The answer is YES!

Jeremiah 31:29–34 (NIV): 29 “In those days people will no longer say,

         ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,

         and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

30 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.

      31 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,

         “when I will make a new covenant

         with the people of Israel

         and with the people of Judah.

      32 It will not be like the covenant

         I made with their ancestors

         when I took them by the hand

         to lead them out of Egypt,

         because they broke my covenant,

         though I was a husband to them,”

           declares the LORD.

      33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel

         after that time,” declares the LORD.

         “I will put my law in their minds

         and write it on their hearts.

         I will be their God,

         and they will be my people.

      34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,

         or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’

         because they will all know me,

         from the least of them to the greatest,”

           declares the LORD.

         “For I will forgive their wickedness

         and will remember their sins no more.”

Now some of you may be familiar about Sodom and Gomorrah being spoke about in Jude.  The context of that argument is often misunderstood. 

Jude 1:6-7 (NIV) And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

Sarkos heteras is more literally translated as ‘other flesh’ and translated perversion in NIV and unnatural lusts in RSV. What might this mean? First, note that it is a strange construction if the primary referent is homosexuality – that is not pursuing other flesh. Secondly, note that Sodom and Gomorrah sinned ‘in a similar’ as angels who did not keep their own station.  This is referring to Genesis 6 and 19, where powerful “giants” who kill and war against God are the product of this unnatural union.

Do you see the connection?  Paul in Romans uses the example of Sodom and Gomorrah in a manner that is common in throughout the Bible.  The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were celebrating injustice, oppressing the poor, doing abominable things, and did not extend hospitality to “others”, the alien.  To love God means to love your neighbor.  That means the Jew must love the Gentile and the Gentile must love the Jew.  That means the Sodomite must love the Urite Lot.  That means the Sodomite must love and show hospitality to the two visitors.  Do you see what Paul is saying?  Paul says it this way in another place:

Galatians 3:26–29 (NIV): 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

So, what does it mean to be like Sodom and Gomorrah?  It’s not as much about homosexuality than it is about injustice, oppression, hate, selfishness, pride, gluttony, and arrogance!

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