Monday, April 18, 2011

Genesis 19:12-26

Good morning, all! We’ve been looking at the story of Lot and his family and at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is truly a time when we see the wrath of God. I receive a daily devotional from LifeWay (Beth Moore’s publishing house), and this morning’s, interestingly enough, talks about the wrath of God. It says that if we were to look up the texts referring to wrath, anger, or the severity of God in a concordance, we would find “more references to these than to His love, graciousness of tenderness.” We cannot truly understand the love of God apart from His holy character, which requires an action against everything evil. Or, as my pastor says, “You’ve got to understand the bad news so you can appreciate the good news.”

One of the things we look forward to, as Christians, is the fact that the LORD will set everything right at His Second Coming. We will see his justice fully carried out and we will marvel along with the angels. If you read through the book of Revelation, you’ll find choruses praising God for His justice:

“Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.” (Rev: 15:3)

“You are just in these judgements, you who are and who were, the Holy One.” (Rev 16:4)

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments.” (Rev. 19:1-2)

We rightly long to see His final victory over sin, and a restoration of His righteousness throughout. In Isaiah 60: 19-21, the prophet is giving God’s Word to Jerusalem and telling of a day when all of the injustices suffered by the Jewish nation will be made right:

The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. Then all your people will be righteous and they will possess the land forever.

When studying this passage in Isaiah for Bible Study Fellowship yesterday, these verses jumped out at me, because they say that all your people will be righteous, in contrast to what we read in Isaiah 59 and in Romans 3:10-18 that affirms NONE are righteous. I can’t wait for a day when all, including me, will be fully righteous and God’s right order is restored. In the meantime, in our current passage in Genesis, in order to show that He is holy and means business, God judges the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, by raining down “burning sulfur.” Abraham, looking down on the site sees “dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.” (vs. 28)

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are purported to be at the south end of the Dead Sea. Where that land was originally described as “well watered, like the garden of the LORD,” in Gen 13:10, now, in chapter 19, it’s a smoking wasteland. Jon Courson describes it as looking like “the aftermath of an atomic bomb... totally, completely, and awesomely arid.”

God means business. In his second letter, Peters writes, “ must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3:3-7)

This is hard to read. It’s the kind of message that makes people uncomfortable. But surely we must be grateful that we have a God who says what He means and means what He says. His character remains true, and the LORD of the earth will do right! I’m thankful for the last verse in today’s passage:

So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived. (vs. 29)
God remembered Abraham and His promise to rescue the righteous. That is truly our hope!!!

Off I go!

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