Genesis 19 gives us the details of the destructive event of Sodom and Gomorrah. Many people have traditionally believed that judgment came because of homosexuality, bad morals, and pure wickedness. I’m not saying this fruit wasn’t present, but we must place this story under a microscope and travel back in time to see HOW and WHERE these behaviors started. In order to do that, we must visit the Ancient Near East, or ANE.
Not only in Torah but also in the Ancient Near Eastern societies there were laws in place to take care of the strangers, widows, oppressed, and orphans. When a new king would take over the throne, his first act of business would be to free prisoners, pardon debts of the indebted, and bring justice to those who suffered injustice. Of course, most of the time this was a political dog and pony show where the king had ulterior motives to present himself as someone he actually wasn’t in order to win the hearts of his subjects. Sound familiar? It should because the tactics haven’t changed, and Republicans are no different than Democrats. Actually, both of these groups are the opposite wings on a bird of prey! Let me get back to the heart of this piece.
The concept of justice and righteousness isn’t a religious concept only found in Scripture. It has been around since the beginning of time, even in secular societies. Why is that? I propose to you that secular societies took it from the sons of God and modified it to become part of their culture. This is why there is criticism of the ANE. The argument is that Israel copied the nations in ways of doing things, but if we think logically, we can see that YHVH established his laws from the beginning of time. It was actually the nations that took these standards, twisting and changing them to their liking.
In chapter 19 of Genesis, we find a great example of how depraved a society can become when they are not in touch with reality nor the Creator of the Universe. I mentioned how and where earlier. Let’s look at those questions now. How in the world could a society get to the point where when strangers came to visit, they physically wanted to harm and violate them? Where does that kind of iniquity and wickedness come from? It starts as a small seed and develops into something huge over time. It doesn’t just happen overnight.
This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it. Ezekiel 16:49-50
These are the real reasons as to why destruction came to Sodom and Gomorrah. When we lose our ability to be hospitable to others, we lose our nation through judgment. Pride, excess of food, prosperous ease, and not helping the poor and needy all are rooted in not being hospitable. When we have all of our stuff and live so comfortably over time, we tend to become critical and insensitively judgmental to those around who aren’t at our status. We begin to look down on and become insensitive to others because they aren’t in the same class as we are.
I should actually say because they aren’t in the same caste as we are. Whether you agree with it or not the good ole U.S.A. does have a caste system. We had this in the small southern country town in Louisiana where I grew up. The “colored people” lived on the other side of the railroad tracks. They could come to our school, play sports with us, and come to town to spend their money, but their place was on the other side of the tracks. That’s where they belonged because they weren’t accepted on our side of the tracks. Even though we may not have something set up like India, we still have our own little caste system. It’s pretty much the same in all countries, so I’m not only trying to just pick on the U.S. It is very prevalent in Costa Rica as well. When a society becomes insensitive to people, it commits atrocities that is recorded in history books. Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of this.
In Genesis 14, Abraham helps the kings that are tied to Sodom and Gomorrah defeat another king. Melchizedek, a priest and king of YHVH, blesses Abraham, and Abraham gives Melchizedek one tenth. I’m sharing this because Sodom and Gomorrah had a witness in Melchizedek as to how they were to function in justice and righteousness. It is probably safe to assume that Sodom and Gomorrah actually at one time did acts of justice and righteousness and took care of the poor, widows, and orphans and were blessed because of it. Over time, blessings can cause complacency and turn on a people and nation. Just look at the U.S.; we’ve gone from being the light of the world to one of the most corrupt and morally decadent nations on the earth.
When did that begin to take place? I propose when the people of the U.S. became prideful, had excess of food, were full of prosperous ease, and began to NO LONGER CARE FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY. I’m not saying every person in the U.S is guilty of these things. There are still some good people out there practicing justice and righteousness, but we must not be taken by surprise when judgment comes to the nation just as it justly did to Sodom and Gomorrah.
My prayer is that we be found righteous like Lot and receive grace and mercy from YHVH. This is why practicing or doing deeds of justice and righteousness are so important. We have a lot of religious people who talk the talk but aren’t walking the walk.
I am asking this question for all of us to ponder. If James says that pure religion is taking care of widows and orphans, when was the last time we did something for a widow or orphan? I’m not trying to start trouble or criticizing those who haven’t. I just want to possibly show those who haven’t supported widows and orphans that there is more to “church” than just going to a building three times a week. That appeases our conscience but does not justify us when we stand before the Creator of the Universe to give an account of what we did and did’t do with what He blessed us.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to even be placed in the same situation in which Lot was placed. I think it’s time that we as believers get delivered from religion, and yes I am referring to the Hebrew Roots movement, also. Sadly, it is this writer’s opinion that our movement has become more religious, stagnant, and ineffective than most other religions out there. Why you ask? Because we aren’t doing the weightier matters of Torah: justice, faith, mercy, righteousness, and taking care of the poor, widows and orphans.
When we don’t do these things, we create an environment that breeds corruption and decomposition to the things of the Creator of the Universe. We eventually will get to the point where the whole earth will again be filled with violence, and it will not be destroyed with water but by fire. Again, I don’t want to be placed in that situation, so until then I will occupy and do what I can to honor my King by doing acts of justice and righteousness and being hospitable to those in which I come in contact. Why don’t you join me in this quest? I promise you it will bring purpose and meaning into your life like never before. Shalom and blessings.