Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great. Because their sin is so grievous,
(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.
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.
I. 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."
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.
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.
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.
(T. H. Leale.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
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