Friday, September 4, 2009

The Sodomites of Jerusalem

"Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her. Though they say, 'As the Lord lives,' yet they swear falsely. O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they have felt no anguish; You have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent."
- Jeremiah 5:1-3

It's pretty easy to see that this prophecy would have won Jeremiah no friends in the seat of Judah. His hearers could not have failed to hear the remembrance of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 18, after God has told Abraham of His plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, Abraham is moved to intercede for them. Verses 23-26: "Then Abraham drew near and said, 'Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will You then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?' And the Lord said, 'If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake." The discussion winds down finally to ten righteous, for lack of whom Sodom is doomed. Apparently, Jerusalem also fails to count ten righteous, because it was indeed destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

In fact, in the New Testament, the hardness of Jewish hearts is decried as worse than those of Sodom. Jesus, speaking in Matthew 11:23-24, warns his hearers, "And ... will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you."

The word "sodomite" is thrown around as if its targets were the worst sinners imaginable, yet Scripture warns of a hardness of heart that God hates more than any sin attributed to the people of Sodom. I hate that easy judgmentalism! But I know that it is easier to point the finger than it is to examine one's own spiritual condition. May we heed the warning of Jesus Himself.

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