Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sending the Seventy, part 15: Sharing Sodom's Fate

But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city. (Luke 10:10-12 NASB)

Jesus had sent seventy disciples in pairs to all the towns and villages He intended to visit. Their job was to prepare the way for Him by preaching the Kingdom of God and healing. The sent-ones, on entering a town, were to search for a man of peace. When they went to a house, they were to offer a blessing of peace. If it was received, they would stay there, but if not, the blessing would return to them. They were to accept whatever hospitality came their way. In exchange, they would provide healing for all those who were sick. The healing would be  the key that opened the door for the gospel.  

If they and their blessing of peace were not received, they were to leave, as these verses describe. Not only would the town miss the blessing of healing and the Kingdom of God, but also there would be a judgment to come. "In that day" is a phrase often used in Scripture in reference to the Day of the Lord. This is a time of a two-fold outpouring from God. There will be both judgment for the "nations" (the "world" or unbelievers) and tremendous blessing for the people of God. To be perfectly clear, the "people of God" does not refer to how people describe themselves but to how God sees them. This is not a reference to those who simply profess God with their mouths, but those who honor them in their hearts and lives as well. People of God refers to those who have a relationship with the Almighty.

Sodom was one of two cities mentioned by angels who visited with Abraham and described it as "their sin is exceedingly great." The angels had come to destroy the city because of God's judgment of their wickedness. Abraham's famous intercession for the city followed, and God agreed not to destroy the city if ten righteous men could be found. There were not, however, ten righteous men and the angels removed Lot, Abraham's nephew who was living in Sodom, taking him by the hand and dragging him out before destruction proceeded. The town was completely destroyed. 

What was the sin that was so severe that it resulted in destruction? Despite the belief of many that the sin was sexual in nature, Scripture describes t differently. Exekiel 16: 49 outlines the sin of Sodom and it is very clear.

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus, they were haughty and committed abominations before Me."  Ezekiel 16:49-50 NASB

Did you get that? The root sins of Sodom were pride and greed. They had abundance and were so blessed that they had "careless ease". They didn't have to worry about provision because they were so wealthy, yet they would not help the poor and needy. They ignored the needs they saw around them and kept everything for themselves. Everything else that they did stemmed from their arrogance toward God.

God, who is incredibly generous with us, expects the same generosity of spirit toward those in need around us, and when we are not only arrogant but also selfish, we should not expect His blessing to rest upon us. The towns who rejected the sent-ones were in danger of a worse judgment than Sodom, which was completely destroyed. 

The lessons here are multiple. First, God does not always settle His accounts immediately. There would be a penalty for those towns that rejected Jesus, but it would come "in that day" and not immediately. It would appear to some that they were unscathed by their rejection of Christ. Second, our rejection of God's ways can have far-reaching implications, not only for ourselves and our families, but also for our communities. 

When our God dressed Himself in skin and came to live among us, He made it easy for us to understand Him and embrace Him, and yet many refused to receive Him. May we not be one of those. As we approach the natal celebration, let us welcome the Babe in the Manger and invite the Christ to dwell in our homes and our towns, allowing Him to have His way with us.
Here's the link to last night's post, a Christmas haiku. (This form of poetry is limited to seventeen syllables)
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