Sodom, along with its sister city Gomorrah and three others were thriving, beautiful and heavily populated locations in 1700 BC. Indeed they were, according to Biblical accounts – as beautiful as Eden itself.
In its day – Sodom was the place to be – the place to get on – to advance – and, perhaps above all, to enjoy yourself. There was food in abundance, wine flowed freely [Sodom was famous for its wines], entertainment could be found on every street, work was easy and free time abundant.
Sodom was also proud of its liberal and relaxed way of seeing and doing things. In Sodom there was no real restraint, no moral code – mostly you do could do as you liked, no one would judge you, no one would bat an eyelid. What a great place to live! Naturally as its reputation spread its population continued to grow.
Yet underneath the surface something was wrong. It was some time later in world history that God, through the Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel, put his finger on the real issues for Sodom, its King and inhabitants –
“Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.”
Sodom was represented by its King – Bera. God was represented by his friend and lover Abraham – who lived outside the city. Lot, Abrahams nephew, having been dazzled by the attraction of The City of Sodom – decided it was a great place to live – but, tragically, he was to pay a heavy price for his decision.
The story of the interaction between these men is recorded for all to explore and it is not my intention to follow it in detail here. One issue however has, I believe, a burning relevance for the Church today – and that is the interaction [or lack of it] between Abraham – God’s man and Bera – Sodom’s King.
Please keep in mind that these men are representative [I am talking on a spiritual level] of their city, culture, philosophy and worldview.
As we know the time came when Bera [as well as the population of Sodom] – were saved from captivity by Abraham. As a “thank you” gift Bera offered Abraham the spoils of war – a vast fortune. Think of how much good could have been done by that money. How many evangelistic campaigns he could afford, how many churches he could have built – but he turned it all down!
“I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap … I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’”
I believe there is a principal at stake here we would do well to note – especially if we look for a day of renewal in the Church.
From churches built by Tobacco Barons and Slave Traders in past generations to Evangelistic Campaigns financed by highly questionable business men in our own day – we need to beware and avoid the King of Sodom. He is still alive and well among us! He might even come to church now and again! We do not need his riches or reward – we need true friends of God! Men and women who, like Abraham look to God alone and trust his promise –
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”