Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sodom and the poor, part 1

Sexual sin was not the only sin of Sodom. When most Evangelicals think of Sodom and her sin, they think of sexual immorality. The Scriptures make it clear that the sexual sin of the city and its neighboring Gomorrah was very great (see Genesis 19). But according to God's prophet, Ezekiel, there was more that displeased a holy God than that particular sin. Ezekiel 16:49, 50 tells us, 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. Therefore I removed them when I saw it (NASB).
You could become homeless faster than you think
One heart attack, one accident, one brain chemical gone awry, one stroke could reduce us to ignominy and dependency on others. Remember that born again believers are meant to exist in community with a responsibility to help other needy believers including the poor and homeless of our society. In many ways, this stewardship of help has been relegated to the American government and perhaps the government of the country where you live.
Reach out the poor
The New Testament Church spoke often of helping the poor (Galatians 2:9-19; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15) . The Hebrew word for careless, shaquat means to "be at quiet, tranquil, to be at peace." The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament states, “The word careless in the Ezekiel text overlaps with the word 'security' (betah) which is a feeling of confidence." Sodom had its good times, the best of times. Again like many today, they had the attitude of "Come on; let's party!" There was plenty of apathy toward the poor and needy in the city of Sodom and her daughter cities(Please see Ezekiel 16:48 and Genesis 10:190).
Pleasure and the absence of pain were the ultimate objective of life for these cities. The outcome was ethical and psychological hedonism at its worst. Those who were not in the mainstream were taken advantage of or ignored.

Willful ignorance of the poor and needy
People in Sodom simply walked by the poor. The word Ezekiel uses in Ezekiel 16:49 for help, means literally, "to seize by the hand and set up again." In their insatiable lust and greed they did not reach out and lift up the sick, the afflicted and the poor. The word for poor means to find oneself oppressed, afflicted and wretched. The word "needy" connotes having no clothes, no land and no food.
A friend of mine who was from a nation which had no Christian roots said, "You Americans have to learn how to walk over those who sleep on the sidewalk." Sodom was like that.
Please bear with me. Which would interest you more, five ways to have a better sex life or five ways to help the mentally ill poor? If you are a pastor what is your budget for the poor, especially those who have mental illness? Do you support missionaries to the poor and mentally ill? Do you pray for them?
We are a small non-profit. I hear at the end of the year, non profit organizations asking for anywhere from five hundred thousand dollars to two million dollars to help them exist. We brought in twenty thousand dollars in donations. Why is this? True religion is helping others who cannot give you anything back. Heartfelt Ministries ministers to anyone who is need. We never turned anyone away.
I don't consider myself much of a fund raiser. So please pray for our non-profit ministry and enlist others to pray and give. Robyn and I will continue to help the afflicted, poor and sick.
Rev. Steve Bloem
P.S. We will speak more of this in Sodom and the Poor, Part 2.