Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sodom and the Poor, Part 2

Isaiah, a prophet to the nation of Judah, rebuked them for desiring the nearness of God even to the point of fasting, but sadly neglected God's standard of righteousness. Isaiah in chapter fifty eight begins with, the LORDs call, "Cry loudly, do not hold back, raise your voice like a trumpet and declare to my people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1, NASB).
The Jewish people were very close to God's cascading judgments rolling over their heads because of their sins against the poor. Part of Isaiah's message includes, "Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh" (Isaiah 58:6) ? We should not deceive ourselves thinking that America has no real poor in it. The church of Jesus Christ should not only help the poor in the United States but believer's in other countries. (Please read 2 Corinthians 8).

Sodom did not have a covenantal relationship with God like Israel.

However, both were judged because of their failing to help the poor and the needy. The more light that Israel, in the north and Judah in the south, were given the more severely were they judged in regards the poor. Our Lord Jesus teaches us in the New Testament about sinning against God's special revelation. In Matthew 10, Christ is ordering the disciples to preach the gospel to Israel. He then tells them, if they are rejected, Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city .

Sodom was a well organized society. It was financially well off.

One of the reasons for this was it was located in the valley of Jordan and was rich in well irrigated land which would make for a booming economy. This prosperity created arrogance and a hardening of the heart toward the poor and needy. According to John Calvin, "Sodom’s sin was not merely her notorious lusts but the secret spring of them, pride flowing from fullness of bread, caused by fertile soil producing idleness" (Calvin's commentary, Volume 12, The Book of Ezekiel).
The Economy, the Economy and don't forget, the Economy

At this time in the United States and many times before, the issue that concerns Americans the most is whether or not we have a good economy. I am thankful I am an American and I am aware that I have benefited financially more than many my brothers and sisters in other nations. However, there are many in this country and others who think that they are self made men or women and should be congratulated for their God given intelligence and health. "Give the glory to God' for whatever you have achieved.
In the part 1 Ezekiel text, the word arrogance in the Hebrew has its origins in a word that denotes, "excellency, majesty, pride and swelling." Sodom and her sister city-states felt that they should be congratulated for all the prosperity that had come to them.

The fact is that any of us are a mere paycheck away from poverty and homelessness. At age 29, when hit by a severe clinical depression, I could not sleep, I could not eat and I could not work. I was a college graduate but I had to go to a government agency to get food stamps and Medicaid. All of our savings were spent on medical expenses and daily living. My wife, Robyn, and our three children (at the time) had to live in a basement of a relative’s house. (Please see our book Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It.
Please see our donation now page if you desire to give a gift to the poor. When you give let us know that it is for the "poverty fund" and it will only be spent on the poor and none to salary or printing costs, etc.