Posts Tagged ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’

Part 1 – Genesis 14 – BUZZ LIKEYOU TO THE RESCUE!

Buzz LikeYou to the Rescue!

My grandson hits the ground running in the morning. He will come in at 5am while I am having my quietime and startle me by saying “Pa, you be Zurg!” and thrust into my hands an action figure with horns, piercing eyes and cape. My grandson plays the part of BUZZ LIKEYOU (I think the name is supposed to be Buzz Lightyear, but I kind of like the idea of Buzz having the name “Likeyou” so I have given up trying to correct this – imagine an action figure that actually likes you). Of course Buzz doesn’t have horns. I am always cast as the bad guy, THE EVIL EMPEROR ZURG. Zurg has the fire power of a small army attached to his arm but it makes no difference. I am always defeated by Buzz Likeyou who likes everyone except the evil emporer Zurg. I suppose that’s a good thing, but not at 5am. “Zion Brave”, I say, “go back to bed until the sun comes up at least.” He goes in to our bedroom and Nanny tells him stories of Bible heroes or he goes back to sleep beside her until it gets light.

IN GENESIS 14:1-24 WAR BREAKS OUT! This is the first war mentioned in the Bible and Lot is in the middle of it. Now there’s an interesting name. Lot by name and he wanted a lot by nature. He’s the nephew of Abram and he’s camped near Sodom and Gomorrah with his family, a lot of livestock, lot’s of servants – the lot (I know. I couldn’t help it. Who names their child “Lot”?). Anyway, that’s the reason he get’s caught up in the battle (not because of his name but because of his position. Position myself beside Sodom and Gomorrah’s kind of wickedness and I am inviting unnecessary trouble.)

It all looks good and the land is fertile and lush, but you don’t want to be in Sodom when Kedorlaomer comes (the evil emporer Zurg). You see SODOM IS A VASSAL CITY (servant city) of King Kedorlaomer. They have probably been forced by their suzerain overlord, Kedorlaomer, to pay tribute money (usually 10%. Tithing to kings was common in the ancient world), and they have refused and rebelled. Even evil people rebel against tithing.

King Kedorlaomer decides to assert his authority and brings his army to lay waste to the city and bring it back under his control. Genesis 14:10 (NLT) says, “as the army of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into the tar pits,” (I presume that means their chariots got stuck or swallowed by these tar pits. What a way to go! Was it hot tar? Uggh. Maybe they just fell into these pits in order to hide), “while the rest escaped into the mountains. The victorious invaders then plundered Sodom and Gomorrah and headed for home, taking with them all the spoils of war and the food supplies. They also captured Lot-Abram’s nephew who lived in Sodom-and carried off everything he owned.” (Genesis 14:11-12 NLT)They took the lot. Lot was left with nothing. There are consequences to choosing to get too close to wickedness. Slavery! Wickedness always enslaves.

NOW “BUZZ LIKEYOU” COMES TO THE RESCUE! Abram is no wimp. He quickly mobilizes “318 trained men who had been born into his household.” (Genesis 14:14). The fact that they were trained means that Abram was always prepared for battle. I need to have that kind of readiness in the spiritual battles I face as a Christian – A PREPAREDNESS – ahead of time for what I may face.

It also shows how many people were in Abram’s entourage. He catches up with Kedorlaomer’s army at Dan, divides up his men and attacks during the night. Kedorlaomer’s army don’t know what hit them and they run for their lives. Abram recovers all the goods that had been taken, and brings back his nephew Lot with his possessions and all the women and other captives.

How does this apply to me Lord?

BE PREPARED SPIRITUALLY, because the battles will come.

BE ALERT TO THE OPPORTUNITIES around me to help someone who needs my help, especially if they need to be set free from the slavery of their old life, and find freedom to live by serving Christ. The truth is we will be serving something or someone. I choose to serve Christ and my God who created me and has the best plan for my life.

BE ALIGNED WITH THE RIGHT KIND OF PEOPLE. Abram aligned himself with people who could help when things got tough. He even trained them. I went to a prayer meeting this morning with about 40 other people. I choose to align myself with God’s warriors in prayer.

BE RESPONSIBLE for others in terms of care. Abram didn’t have to help, but he did. When someone is enslaved by their sin, drugs, immorality, we have a responsibility to help them.

Galatians 6:1 (NLT) says “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” 

BE STRATEGIC. Abram planned the rescue of Lot. If we are going to rescue those who are lost and don’t know Christ, then we need a strategy.

BE INVOLVED PERSONALLY. Not just train people and send them out with a plan, but be involved personally.

BE GENEROUS. Abram returned everyone and everything to Sodom that was taken. He didn’t have to. He was generous and unselfish towards non-Christians

Micah 6:8 (NLT) puts it this way “… the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  

What happens next is intriguing but it will have to wait for another time.

God bless you Church as you are prepared, alert, aligned, strategic, responsible, involved and generous.

Pastor Ross

PART 4 – GENESIS 19:1-38 – JUST CAUSE! GAME OVER!

Just Cause! No Chances Left!

Genesis 19 reads like a VIDEO GAME. It opens with a powerful weapon in the arsenal – Abraham’s prayer (Genesis 18:23-32) which provides firecover throughout the story. The two angels that come into town are the heroes on a RESCUE MISSION from HIGH COMMAND called “JUST CAUSE”.

Here’s how it plays out for SODOM AND GOMORRAH. The two angels are not hired by THE AGENCY but they are on a MISSION FROM GOD. And they are here to RESCUE Lot and his family and DESTROY the city. Along the way they will BLIND a marauding mob, and then they will DESTROY Sodom with firepower that can only be described as volcanic. In the EXPLOSIVE BEDLAM that takes place, the question is “WILL LOT AND HIS FAMILY ESCAPE?”

The angels are doing their thing and the whole town is IGNITING like an errupting fuel dump, DETONATING everything around them as the city is TORCHED and panic is the order of the day. 

If this was a video game of “JUST CAUSE” these angels would be racking up the POINTS as an enormous amount of devastation obliterates everything in sight. The official orders are “civilian casualties are regrettable but sanctioned. In fact neuk the whole town!” (my translation) as hot lead (fire and brimstone) rains down on Sodom. This is not DIGITAL CHAOS but the real deal. And the judgment of God is NO VIDEO GAME!

9/11 for Sodom and Gomorrah! A Terrorist attack? No! A terrifying example of the judgment of God. Jude 1:7 (NLT) says “Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.” 

EARTHQUAKE, VOLCANIC ERUPTION, SULPHURIC GASES, ASHES, UPHEAVAL, DESTRUCTION, CATASTROPHE!

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 

Why would a loving God rain down fire and burning sulphur from the sky on SODOM? Perhaps a better question is “Why does He NOT rain down fire and burning sulphur on SYDNEY?” Or any city for that matter? I would. Turn a few politicians and anyone else who I feel deserves it into PILLARS OF SALT! If God was FAIR according to our standards we wouldn’t be here. Lot’s wife pits herself against God’s ABSOLUTE JUSTICE and loses. PILLAR OF SALT! GAME OVER!

Why did the angels go to all the trouble of bringing them out of Sodom if Lot’s wife was going to become a pillar of salt? Lot’s wife runs out of chances! ONLY ONE LIFE in this game. Hebrews 9:27 (NLT) says “…each person is destined to DIE ONCE and after that comes JUDGMENT” 

Jesus said in Luke 17:32-33 (NLT) “Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” It seems Lot’s wife was trying to cling onto her old way of life in Sodom, lagging behind. IT ONLY TOOK A SPLIT SECOND! MINERALISED! GAME OVER! NO MORE CHANCES!

When Jesus speaks of His return He says in Luke 17:28-30 (NLT) that “the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business-eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building-until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”  

God bless you Church as you trust in Christ who like angels of old also came on a mission from God to rescue us from Judgment.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that everyone who BELIEVES IN HIM will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to SAVE THE WORLD through Him. “There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has ALREADY BEEN JUDGED for not believing in God’s One and only Son.” 

Pastor Ross

Part 2 – Genesis 19:1-38 – SAVED BUT STUPID!

Close Call!

How amazing was the news story of the 15-month-old boy who survived the train accident in May this year.

It all took place in a split second but for the grandmother who looked away for just a moment from the pram she was pushing, it must have seemed like eternity. When she turned back, the pram was rolling off the platform at Tooronga station (Sydney, Australia). The pram fell onto the tracks into the path of an oncoming train.

I have grandsons and I can’t imagine how that grandmother was feeling – the SICK FEELING OF DREAD as this transpired before her and there was nothing she could do. When they pulled the baby from under the train, everyone thought that it was a MIRACLE he was alive. A few scratches and that was it. Talk about a CLOSE CALL. Some say the grandmother should have been more careful. Easy for us to say.

Have you read Genesis 19 lately? Talk about a CLOSE CALL! By the absolute merciful grace of God Lot and his immediate family is saved when Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. It is a MIRACLE they survive at all.

Lot is told to gather his family and bring them out of the city before the angels destroy it. Here’s an opportunity to OBEY GOD AND BE SAVED. He speaks to his sons-in-law and they think he’s joking. As you would. You try telling your family that you’ve been told by two angels that they are about to destroy Sydney and they need to leave everything, and take the Pacific highway out of town. Lord, if such a time comes, would You mind telling them personally? They’ll think I’m mad.

Nevertheless I find it strange that few people today take the message of judgment seriously. Sometimes in the seconds remaining between life and death, they are laughing that hell exists rather than acting on what God has said about salvation. STUPID!

It took all night for Lot to try to convince his family and when morning dawns, the angels are on Lot’s case to leave or be “SWEPT AWAY in the punishment of the city” (Genesis 19:15).

Even then there was EQUIVOCATION. They gave Lot opportunity to take the initiative and leave. Lot HESITATES and the angels have to seize the hands of his family in order to DRAG them outside the city. SAVED BUT STUPID!

Even when they are outside the city one angel saysESCAPE FOR YOUR LIFE! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”

CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS! But Lot says to them, “Oh no, my lords! What is going on here? He asks to flee to Zoar instead. This isn’t time to come up with a new plan? Sometimes I am just plain stupid. I want to come up with an ALTERNATIVE SUGGESTION to what God says in His Word, when I just need to be QUICK TO OBEY. By the grace of God the angels don’t strike Lot down as an example to the others. 

2 Corinthians 6:2 (NLT) says, “Indeed, the “RIGHT TIME” IS NOW. TODAY is the day of salvation.” DON’T PUT IT OFF!

It gives me a whole NEW APPRECIATION of what it means to be SAVED BY GRACE (Ephesians 2:8-9). NONE OF US deserve it.

God bless you as you seek to see things through the eyes of the Cross and gain a true picture of what it means to be saved by grace. “Lord, help me to be QUICK TO OBEY AND SLOW IN BEING STUPID”.

Pastor Ross

 

Part 8 – Genesis 18:16-33 – THE GAVEL, THE CROSS AND THE TALIBAN!

The Cross and the Gavel

I am all too ready to say that the TALIBAN deserve God’s judgment without really thinking twice. I tend to think of them in the same way that I think about SODOM AND GOMORRAH. But did Sodom and Gomorrah really deserve to be judged? Does the Taliban? If I knew that a large city governed by the Taliban was about to be bombed to the ground, am I really willing to INTERCEDE on behalf of those who may be genuinely seeking God in the hope that perhaps some could come to know Christ and be saved?

When I look at this passage I notice that the people of Sodom have already seen God at work. For instance they have been DELIVERED MIRACULOUSLY from Chedorlaomer by Abraham back in Genesis 14.

The king of Sodom is there when “Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High … blessed Abram with this blessing: ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.'” He hears about who God is, even if he didn’t know before. But that’s not enough.

Romans 1:18-20 lays it on the line. It says that “God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because He has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature. So they have NO EXCUSE FOR NOT KNOWING GOD.”

In Genesis 18:23 Abraham says to God, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked?” He presumes that God will sweep away the wicked, but will He also sweep away those who believe? Abraham recognises that God is just. WHEN YOU KNOW GOD, YOU KNOW HIS WAYS.

I am impressed with Abraham. He could have just asked for God to spare Lot, his nephew, but he bargains with God for anyone who may have an ounce of belief in Sodom to be spared. WHEN YOU KNOW GOD, YOU LOVE PEOPLE!

I notice something else about Abraham. He doesn’t say, “How could a LOVING God send people to hell?” He says the opposite. In effect he says “How could a JUST God send people to hell?” He appeals, not to God’s love, but to HIS JUSTICE. WHEN YOU KNOW GOD, YOU KNOW THAT HE IS ABSOLUTELY FAIR concerning His decisions and His judgments are always just. It’s me who has the SKEWED VIEW of love and justice, not God.

Instead of asking how a LOVING GOD could send people to hell, perhaps I need to be asking how a JUST GOD could decide to SAVE anyone! I have sinned too and fall short of the mark (Romans 3:23).

Or an even better question would be how can I be so arrogant and sinful as to think that I am good enough to go to heaven?

Abraham persists in interceding for Sodom and it’s cities. This in fact is the FIRST INTERCESSORY PRAYER in the Bible. His prayer is HUMBLE and not PRESUMPTUOUS. He doesn’t demand in Jesus Name that Lot and his family be spared. He comes to God on the basis of HIS CHARACTER not on the basis of his own selfish desires and brings his prayer down in numbers until he says “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten (righteous people) are found there?”

Abraham gets down to 10 people before he stops interceding for them. And the Lord replies, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”

DID SODOM DESERVE JUDGMENT? Does the Taliban? Yes! But I am glad that it is God’s decision concerning when ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Justice and Love collide at the Cross. His love was expressed to me by making it possible to receive His forgiveness. His justice was there as He paid the penalty for sin on my behalf.

As I write this, I’m praying that you will believe in Christ and His work on the Cross for you and be saved.

God bless you Church as you intercede for those who do not know Christ as their Lord and Saviour today.

Pastor Ross

 

Part 7 – Genesis 18:16-33 – HOW COULD A LOVING GOD SEND PEOPLE TO HELL?

Chinese War Sword

In the early years of her life she witnessed horrific events as members of her family were beheaded in conflicts in China. Although she was only a little girl, MI LEE (not her real name) was forced to watch and still hallucinates about these terrible and barbaric events.

At 93, she can’t speak much now and her eyes are not the best, but her lovely face lights up when her daughter tells her that the Pastor is saying hello to her. This little old Chinese woman who attends my devotions faithfully served as an officer in the Salvation Army for most of her life, helping the poor and destitute and preaching the gospel.

WILLIAM BOOTH, the founder of the Salvation Army would have been proud of Mi Lee. Her faith in God and in her Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, is strong despite the evils perpetrated against her.

If 9/11 taught us anything, it is the presence of evil in this world. All of a sudden the world believed in evil, but people like William Booth and Mi Lee seek to hold back the tide of evil, to introduce the flavour of eternity into the world, and expose such evil to the light. To be salt and light. (See Matthew 5:13-16)

London had William Booth. Australia has Mi Lee. SODOM HAD A MAN CALLED LOT. They answer the question “HOW CAN A LOVING GOD SEND PEOPLE TO HELL?”

In Genesis 18, Sodom is about to be destroyed by God’s judgment, but God’s grace and love have given the people of Sodom every opportunity to repent. They have had the EXAMPLE AND LEADERSHIP OF LOT in their midst. Did Lot try to represent God to Sodom? I think he did.

I have heard messages about how Lot gave into the temptations of evil as he first LOOKED TOWARDS SODOM (Genesis 13:10), then WENT DOWN into the valley, by CHOOSING THE BEST LAND (Genesis 13:11) “then Lot MOVED HIS TENTS to a place near Sodom and SETTLED AMONG THE CITIES of the plain” even though “the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord” (Genesis 13:12 NLT). Then he began to LIVE IN SODOM itself (Genesis 14:12) and finally we find him “SITTING IN THE GATE” which indicates a place of authority in the city. He’s received a lot (excuse the pun) of criticism.

Lot is always spoken of as WORLDLY AND SELFISH but is he seeking to be an influence for good? Is he simply being salt and light in a tasteless and dark city (see Matthew 5:13-16)? It’s not enough to say he was wrong to mix with evil people. William Booth did and he made a difference. Jesus did and the Pharisees accused Him of doing the wrong thing too. Lord let me always be willing to be a positive influence for you with those around me who don’t know you.

2 Peter 2:6-9 (NLT) says “…God also rescued Lot out of Sodom BECAUSE HE WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, LOT WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day….” Maybe Lot means well by bringing up his family in this evil city. Not sure I’d want my children brought up in Sodom and Gomorrah. Sydney is bad enough! But perhaps he has good intentions as a leader in the city.

But despite any possible efforts of Lot, now their evil has reached the point of no return and JUDGMENT IS IMMINENT. An outcry for justice, perhaps from those who were oppressed in Sodom, has risen to God and the only appropriate response is about to take place.

DID SODOM DESERVE JUDGMENT? Oh Yes! And as a matter of fact I do too! It’s only by God’s grace that I am saved.

God bless you Church as you are instruments of God’s grace giving lost people with whom you interact everyday the opportunity to repent and give their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mi Lee didn’t turn away from God when life was overwhelmingly assaulted by the forces of evil. She didn’t bring her beliefs down to the level of her circumstances. She reached out to Christ and lifted her circumstances up to the level of her beliefs. As a consequence she has made a difference in the world and showed the love of Christ to those around her with unmet physical, spiritual and emotional needs. She still does. Help me to make a difference such as this, Lord.

Pastor Ross

Part 6 – Genesis 18:16-33 – CRASHED AND BURNED!

Crash and Burn!

CRASHED AND BURNED!

All my computer files from the last 10 years gone! No full back-ups so no way of retrieving it all. It seems I have lived the last 10 years on the ASSUMPTION that computers last forever, just keep adding data to them. Not so! Happened to me once before and I was devastated. This time I was not about to go into emotional meltdown over a computer. I PRAYED and by grace God helped a friend of mine retrieve a sizeable amount of data – 100 GB – whatever that means. SAVED!

CRASHED AND BURNED! Without a back-up plan! And only a REMNANT SAVED due to the PRAYER OF ABRAHAM. No, I’m not talking about computers anymore. I’m talking about SODOM and it’s cities. I’m talking about JUDGMENT and the JUSTICE of God. You know, the kind of judgment that the Bible talks about when we reject God. When we think we can leave God out of our lives on the assumption that we are living a pretty GOOD LIFE and besides “HOW CAN A LOVING GOD SEND PEOPLE TO HELL?” That kind of ASSUMPTION! And not even a back-up plan. DEVASTATING! Predictable but devastating.

In Genesis 18:17 God is about to re-establish His covenant promises with Abraham and also remove Sodom and Gomorrah from the face of the earth. Surprisingly He says “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” (NLT). Why does God share His plan with Abraham? I think it was because Abraham responded to the Lord appropriately with BELIEF, SACRIFICE AND SERVICE. Those who get to know God will begin to KNOW HIS WILL.

When God’s messengers turn up in Sodom, the men of Sodom didn’t treat their guests with anything but ABUSE. Their eyes were BLINDED to the truth. Sodom was more concerned with fulfilling their own lustful desires in the moment. Abraham on the other hand was a man who would THINK GENERATIONALLY and raise a family who would stem the tide of evil in the world by “doing what is right and just” (Genesis 18:19).

God has already said to Abraham “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” (Genesis 12:1-3), and He is about to give Abraham a graphic example of what that meant ultimately for those who reject the ways of the Lord. The WAGES OF SIN really is…. Romans 6:23.

Ezekiel 33:11 (NLT) says, “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. …Why should you die?”

In Genesis 18:22 there is still HOPE for Sodom as Abraham stands in the gap. God’s righteousness as well as His justice walked towards Sodom that day while His grace conversed with Abraham.

If Abraham was to do what is right and just, then he would need to know how to INTERCEDE for the people who were lost spiritually.

Ominously Genesis 18:22 says, “The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham.”

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

Did Sodom deserve judgment? Yes! And as a matter of fact I do too! It’s only by God’s grace that I am saved.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says “God saved you by His grace WHEN YOU BELIEVED. And you CAN’T TAKE CREDIT for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

God bless you Church as God lingers with you to speak of grace and as He relentlessly walks towards to fulfilling all His promises.

CRASH AND BURN! No way of retrieving what is lost! It seems I can live my life with false assumptions which have devastating consequences, or like the data on my computer I can be SAVED BY GRACE.

Pastor Ross