Saturday, August 18, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 23 - Judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 5th August 2007 in Newton Life. GRIIS combined the preaching of Newton Life for 29th July and 5th Aug because they had memorial service for the Late Rev Amin Tjung on 29th July.

Genesis 19:1-26

God has imparted the principle of justice to mankind through general revelation. But it is special revelation that shows that God is the Judge of the whole world and He will judge right. Abraham had a very deep understanding of the doctrine of God when he made this declaration.

Abraham recognized that although Sodom and Gomorrah were very sinful, there must be some righteous people inside. He had a big heart to pray for them. Abraham himself saved the king of Sodom once when his nephew Lot was captured by Sodom’s enemies. This time he interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah because Lot lived there.

Gen.18:33 said that when the Lord finished speaking to Abraham, He left. When the number of righteous persons needed to spare the cities went down to 10, God was done speaking with Abraham. This is the limit of Abraham’s prayer of intercession. We can pray but eventually it is God’s will that will be done. What God has decided in His sovereignty cannot be changed.

But is there a righteous person in Sodom and Gomorrah? There is one, Lot. The epistle of Peter says that Lot was a righteous person who often grieved over the sin of the wicked around him. In the midst of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot is the minority among the minority. But why did Lot keep staying there? On one hand, Lot tried to keep his righteousness but on the other hand he wanted to earn more money in the midst of the unrighteous people. This describes the situation of many Christians. Many Christians want to keep the basic principles of righteousness but still want to reap benefit among the sinful generation. In this way, they try to get much enjoyment of the world as possible, while securing the promise of heaven.

When Lot saw the messengers of God, he immediately invited them to his house to dine and spend the night. He was kind to strangers and messengers of God. This kind of hospitality is very rare today. If we never welcome others and share good things with other people, we will live a very selfish life. The book of Hebrews said that some people entertain angels without realizing it.

But the two travelers said they wanted to stay in the street instead. It is because they wanted to observe the sinful lifestyles of the city in the open square. But by Lot’s insistence, they consented to spend the night in Lot’s house. After that, many people surrounded Lot’s house and asked him to surrender the guests. This mob wanted to fulfil their lust on these two men.

When he heard that demand, Lot answered, “Don’t do this wicked thing. If you really want to do this, I still have two daughters who are still virgin. Do whatever you want to do with them.” In one aspect, Lot was successful in bringing up his daughters because in such a sinful city he could still declare that his daughters were still virgins. Today, how many brides are still virgin before marriage?

But the mob were not interested in Lot’s daughters, whether virgin or not. They wanted the men and kept pressuring Lot. At this point the angels reached out and pulled Lot back into the house. This situation is very similar to the big picture of reality. The wrath of God is coming. On one hand, the people who know the plan of God are trapped in the small house. On the other hand, the people outside still have no idea what God was about to do and still think they can do whatever they want.

The angels asked Lot to bring everyone Lot knew to leave the place immediately. This is an urgent command. But people inside the house are not taking it seriously. Lot is still hesitant. The sons-in-law, who were betrothed to Lot’s daughters, still thought that Lot was joking. This is a horrifying situation. Sometimes people still laugh when listening to a serious preaching. A person who treats true as false and takes solemn matters as a joke will plunge himself in horrifying situation. God is very displeased with such attitude. We need to see what is holy, real and solemn and have proper attitude to respond to them.

Those who can only talk light stuffs will be very ill-prepared to respond properly when serious time comes because they will take lightly the coming crisis. In another word, they have very insensitive sense of crisis. If a person knows that he is walking at the edge of the cliff, he will be very cautious. This attitude will preserve you when crisis comes. Christian believes in the providence of God but He will preserve those who would preserve themselves by remaining in the love of God. And God will give us the peace that surpasses all understanding in times of trouble.

Although Lot had brought up his daughters well, but they were pledged to marry men who are not believers. This is very pitiful. Often parents compromise on this matter because time has come for their children to get married. And many people are raised in Christian family with good teaching, but life outside church and family is different matter. This is a great irony. We should not ignore long term implication of our choices just because of the allurement of worldly riches or what we can gain in short term. We should not search for gold by digging every inch, but are careless what happen to our children. We should not ignore spiritual loss and only take care of material riches.

Finally the angel commanded them to go because the fire of God is coming. Lot was still reluctant because he had too many things to leave behind. The things which we can earn but cannot keep and must eventually give up are not very valuable. There is no need to work so hard for them in the first place because we trap ourselves in that way. To escape we need to let go of them eventually. This is the situation with Lot. He made a lot of money but could not bring anything with him. As he kept waiting and waiting, the angels pulled him and his wife and children out.

What we gain is what God gives and what we lose is what He never gives us in the first place. God gives His blessings and He does not add sorrow to it. The more we accumulate what is not from God, the more bitter our life becomes. Paul said the love of money (not money) is the root of all evil. Many people will betray morality, integrity, friends and faith for love of money.

God is not against rich people. There are many men of faith who were rich, like David, Solomon, Job and Abraham. Their riches are from God. But blessings outside of God will create a lot of trouble. Lot was a righteous man but he did not love God. He sought after the enjoyment of the world more than the blessings of God.

After the angels grabbed them out of the cities, Lot was still not very willing to let go. He asked to go to a small city nearby, called Zoar, rather than going to the mountain. They stayed there to see everything destroyed in Sodom. Lot’s wife was disobedient (or probably not clear) as she looked back and saw that the fire had not come. She must have thought that the angels must be wrong. She looked back because she could not bear to lose all the hard-earned properties lost. God had commanded them to move forward but because of the accomplishment of the world, she looked back. The Bible says that Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt. So Lot left Sodom in a very sad state. His wife died and when he reached the small city, fire came. Everything was burned up in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Abraham declared that the Judge of the whole world would judge right. So God knows how to preserve the righteous in times of crisis. But Lot left with nothing behind. He was afraid to stay in Zoar because this city had the same type of people with the same kind of attitude, social structure, culture and tradition. Lot lived in Sodom many years and got used to it, but after God’s judgment come, he knew that the experiences of the secular world had not much meaning. In the end he went to the mountains. This is very ironical. Initially the angels have asked him to run to the mountains but he did not want to and requested to stay in Zoar.

Often we delay the command God gives to us and struggle to do things our own way first and with pride we say we want to help God. But God is sovereign. If we are disobedient, when we finally want to be used by God, He might not want to use us anymore. Some people think that they want to earn a lot of money first and serve God later. But this is often a lost case. What happen is that often times those who are successful in money making find it hard to stop and get trapped in material pursuit. Those who fail are too embarrassed to go back. And those who earn and are finally ready to serve are too old and have not much time left.

The things we fight so hard for ourselves we cannot keep for long. Old Lot had no house, no property, and became a caveman living in the mountain with his two daughters.

Do we demand of ourselves? Do we have a solemn attitude towards God’s Word? Do we have a solemn attitude in opposition to the Satan’s temptation? Rely on God to have victory and do not rely on your own intelligence.


At 3:20 AM, Blogger Abel N. said...

Hi Mejlina,
May God bless you on your pursue of new life in Aussie. Are you going to continue posting new sermons since you've moved to Aussie?

In one aspect, Lot was successful in bringing up his daughters because in such a sinful city he could still declare that his daughters were still virgins. Today, how many brides are still virgin before marriage?

The main problem is the dating system (instead of courship). In courship, prio to marriage, a woman submit to her father, thus protect her from having to submit to other men. A young man should get permission from her father to approach her. And he is responsibliity to the father until he hand her over in marriage. A young man could trick the young woman, but not the old man.

One interesting book on biblical courship:
Her Hand in Marriage

In all cases, the daughter's behaviour is the father's responsibility. When a young woman dressed un-modestly, it is the father's to blame.


At 12:19 PM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Thanks. Tentatively, will still try to post. Depends on how I juggle with study, work & various ministries.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Abel N. said...

Hi Mejlina,
Due to the possibility of irregular posting. You might want to encourage your readers to have email subscription to this blog with service like FeedBliz

I myself, have subscribed to this blog for a while using FeedBliz.



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