By Their Sin, They Are Known

Genesis 18:16–33, Luke 13:1–5

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is often used as an object lesson regarding the result of select sins. In today’s passage, we don’t address those sins, for they aren’t really the subject of today’s section in Genesis.

What do you think of God and Abraham in this story? God debated whether to tell Abraham about the impending judgment of Sodom. God chose to inform Abraham. The reasoning probably had a lot to do with Abraham having family (Lot) in Sodom. What we should draw from this passage is that Abraham didn’t question the righteousness of God’s inquiry. In other words, Abraham knew bad stuff was happening in Sodom. Abraham did ask what the threshold was for enough righteous people needed to prevent destruction. Abraham believed that there had to be one. Note that God didn’t push back on Abraham, either. Abraham was very humble in his approach but kept asking until he was satisfied.

There is something else to take into consideration. The gods of the area were not known for their self-control. The gods were expected to destroy anything and everything of a village, let’s say if one person offended them. In that context, Abraham gives us a picture of God that is different from the other gods that Abraham would have been familiar with.

This same motif comes into play when Jesus talks about those who died at the Tower of Siloam. There is not some mean-hearted god who waits for a person (or people) to sin and then destroy them. That is not God at all! For some who brought this up to Jesus there were those that felt that those Galileans were the worst of sinners (for various political reasons), so deserved what they got. Jesus’ point was that everyone needs to repent, not just some people.

1) The litany about righteous men in Sodom (or the lack thereof) can be heard in our culture, our churches, our families. How many people does it take for a family, church, or culture to be “okay” and not be condemned by those around it? How often have you condemned a group of people based on the behavior of one person?

2) We often measure suffering. There are 2 basic measures. If the sufferer is Christian, there is a comparison of suffering to being attacked by the Adversary. If the sufferer is not Christian, there is a comparison of suffering to their lack of repentance or the amount of sin in their life. Have you done any of these comparisons? What makes either of these comparisons dangerous?