July 6, 2015

Looking Back to Sodom

Lot's wife has been on my mind lately. I am not sure why, but perhaps it has to do with the recent Supreme Court decision stating that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states now. Something about this decision reminds me of the story from Genesis where Lot is rescued by God before He destroys the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. If we read the account recorded by Moses, we learn that Lot, Abraham's nephew, was a righteous man. Lot had separated from Abraham because the land couldn't sustain the growing flocks and herds that belonged to each man. Lot chose the portion of land that bordered these two cities, the whole of the Jordan plain, because it was well-watered and it looked like the Garden of the Lord (Gen. 13).

Lot and his family chose to live in this beautiful region, whereas Abraham and Sarah took their herds and moved to the land of Canaan. Genesis 14 begins the story of Lot, who is rescued by Abraham after invaders carry him off along with all the remaining people and possessions from in and around the city of Sodom. This is also the story where Abraham meets Melchizedek, King of Salem, and later in chapter 19, we read about the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah due to their excessive wickedness and sin.

It is in verse 26 of Chapter 19 where we read about Lot's wife looking back at the burning city and it says, "she became a pillar of salt." I have always found this curious in how a person becomes a pillar of salt. The words tells us that fire from heaven rained down and burned up the cities. I spent some time today reading Matthew Henry's Commentary on these chapters, and I must say, that I find his words of encouragement to be hearty and strengthening. I understand that there are some who find his commentary to be flawed, or at the least, lacking merit, yet I cannot agree with those views because his reproof is always to encourage the believer to righteous living to faithful obedience to the Word of God. His comments may not always be welcomed, but they are far from egregious to those that seek righteous living along with Godly wisdom. I digress...

Henry's commentary on this verse,
Verse 26 This also is written for our admonition. Our Saviour refers to it (Lu. 17:32 ), Remember Lot’s wife. As by the example of Sodom the wicked are warned to turn from their wickedness, so by the example of Lot’s wife the righteous are warned not to turn from their righteousness. See Eze. 3:18, Eze. 3:20 . We have here,I. The sin of Lot’s wife: She looked back from behind him. This seemed a small thing, but we are sure, by the punishment of it, that it was a great sin, and exceedingly sinful. 1. She disobeyed an express command, and so sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, which ruined us all. 2. Unbelief was at the bottom of it; she questioned whether Sodom would be destroyed, and thought she might still have been safe in it. 3. She looked back upon her neighbours whom she had left behind with more concern than was fit, now that their day of grace was over, and divine justice was glorifying itself in their ruin. See Isa. 66:24. Probably she hankered after her house and goods in Sodom, and was loth to leave them. Christ intimates this to be her sin (Lu. 17:31, Lu. 17:32 ); she too much regarded her stuff. 5. Her looking back evinced an inclination to go back; and therefore our Saviour uses it as a warning against apostasy from our Christian profession. We have all renounced the world and the flesh, and have set our faces heaven-ward; we are in the plain, upon our probation; and it is at our peril if we return into the interests we profess to have abandoned. Drawing back is to perdition, and looking back is towards it. Let us therefore fear, Heb. 4:1 .II. The punishment of Lot’s wife for this sin. She was struck dead in the place; yet her body did not fall down, but stood fixed and erect like a pillar, or monument, not liable to waste nor decay, as human bodies exposed to the air are, but metamorphosed into a metallic substance which would last perpetually. Come, behold the goodness and severity of God (Rom. 11:22 ), towards Lot, who went forward, goodness; towards his wife, who looked back, severity. Though she was nearly related to a righteous man, though better than her neighbours, and though a monument of distinguishing mercy in her deliverance out of Sodom, yet God did not cone at her disobedience; for great privileges will not secure us from the wrath of God if we do not carefully and faithfully improve them. This pillar of salt should season us. Since it is such a dangerous thing to look back, let us always press forward, Phil. 3:13, Phil. 3:14 .
My favorite part of this commentary is this statement, "she too much regarded her stuff." How so, how so, how so! Is this not the case with Christian's today? How much regard do we have for our "things," our comforts, and our lifestyle? How often do we sacrifice our relationship with the Lord in favor of our relationship with ungodly and unholy pursuits?

Gill's Exposition of this section reads similarly. Gill tells us that Lot's wife as called Adith or Irith, and that she was a native of Sodom. In a likewise manner, Gill says "we are directed to remember this wonderful case by our Lord himself, (Luke 17:32); and it should be an instruction to us not to look back nor turn back from the profession of the true religion we have made, but to follow Christ, and abide by his truths and ordinances." In short, we are strongly exhorted to not forget or forsake our first love, the Lord Jesus Christ, for any job, any house, any relation, or any dream or desire. We must agree with Paul who said, "For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2 NLT).

Why is this passage of scripture haunting me today?

I am not sure, as I stated before, but I believe it is because of what I am witnessing in culture, and the eeriness of resemblance is so striking. Henry remarks that the wickedness of Sodom was much more than sensual sins, it was the willful and flagrant way the men of Sodom conducted their immorality -- they didn't hide it -- and they encouraged others to join in with them. Is this not the case today? Please understand that while I do not hate anyone, and I am not homophobic at all, it is clear that men and women who practice homosexuality do so with freedom in our culture today. This was not so 20 years ago, but now, not only has the sin of homosexuality become acceptable by many outside the church, more sadly is the fact that it has become acceptable within the church. This is in direct contradiction to the Word of God. This truth is what seems to set my heart on edge, not just today, but for the past several weeks as I watched the TV news, social media, and even Christian's that I know, take rainbow pride in championing a lifestyle that goes against the very core belief of Christianity. How can this be? How can a Christian believe that homosexuality is not a sin? I think it is ignorance, and an unwillingness to let go of the comforts of cultural conformity for the straight and narrow confines of God's word. I am sorry to say that, but I cannot think it is anything else. Yes, I know that those that believe in freedom of love will say that it is wrong to prohibit love between same sexes. Furthermore, it is wrong to deny same-sex unions to adopt and raise children. Moreover, it is wrong to allow same sex marriages so that couples, regardless of their relationship can benefit from the legal standing that leads to civil, health, and death rights.

The problem that I have with this whole issue is that the only people who choose to see this issue rightly are those that are choosing the truth of God's word over personal opinion. These people are saying that God's word says it is so, and therefore, they must also agree with His judgement and ruling on the matter. For those that do not wish to stand on the side of God's word, but prefer instead to pick and choose verses and context that suits their personal opinions, I offer a word of caution. Paul says "What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:1). Thus, we must remember that if we want God to be for us, we must choose to be for Him. We must obey His word, and stand on His side of the matter. It is not good enough to wish for God to be for us while we choose to hold fast to opinions that are not in alignment with His Word.

Enough Said.

I know I may end up with comments regarding my views, and that is okay by me. I hold to what the Word says because I believe God is right on all matters concerning life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (quoting our founding fathers views). Yes, the Lord does know what is best, and His justice, righteousness, and holiness will not be satiated by those who choose only to see Him as love, all approving, and always forgiving. Our God is a consuming fire, and let us not forget that it was He who chose to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, for their exceeding wickedness and their flagrant odor regarding their sins. Sin has a penalty, and that penalty is death and eternal separation from God. No whitewashing, no hiding, and no cultural interpretation will change the fact that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. There is no one who does righteous, no one. The sinner needs a savior, and that savior is the Lord Jesus Christ. But one cannot accept the free gift of salvation, yet remain in habitual sin. This is the Lord's call to us to remember Lot's wife. You must turn from your sin, repent, and side with God on such matters. You cannot sin, and hope that grace will abound.

I am thinking about this whole mess today, not so much because I want to get into an argument, but rather because I see people in the church taking sides and siding with Satan on this matter. The Word of God is true (John 17:17b), and thus it is profitable for every day life. The Word of God (Logos) came in the flesh in order to liberate us from the penalty of sin and death. Yet, to receive this freedom, we must choose to obey God, and that means to accept His word, to agree with it, and to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us all manner of wisdom for Godly living. The problem is that for many people, they choose a smattering of faith mixed with a smidgen of Word, and believe that the rest is includes a good does of common sense and earthly or human wisdom. This is not how it is meant to be nor is it the recipe for successful living. No, this type of approach leads to a watered down faith and a conformity to the world and culture that runs counter to God's commandments. There can be one-way only, and that way must be through the cross of Jesus, through the WORD made flesh. There is no other way, no other way. We must stand for the Word of God, and not stand for the world. We are to love those who live in the world, for certain, but not to condone their pagan beliefs.

I read something yesterday that said in essence that it is wrong to expect non-believers to act like believers or that it is wrong to expect pagans to hold anything but pagan views. I thought, "Yes, I agree." Sinners behave like sinners. Saints should behave like saints. Unfortunately, most saints behave like sinners, and most sinners see this as hypocrisy. Furthermore, culture says it is wrong for believers to behave like believers because in doing so they pass judgement on those who do not practice the same beliefs. It is one of those "damned if you do/don't scenarios." If we accept culture's judgement on believers, then we must be willing to allow them to say that we are hypocrites and fools. However,  if Christians would start to act like Christians, and that means to clearly stand against everything that is contrary to God's Word, well then, at least the shoe would fit. The world would see us as true rather than false, and for that, we would be persecuted for what we believe is right according to the Word of God. Yes, whatever persecution falls on us would be honorable. I mean, the persecution we would suffer would bring glory to God. Yes, if Christians stood against the world and refused to allow any watered down theology to be taught in the church, then God would be glorified through our obedience and faithfulness to His commands. Oh, I digress...

Come Lord Jesus! come!

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