The Sin of Sodom—Not What You Think


We are continuing our daily meditations learning how God changed the heart of Abraham to mold him to be a man of faith. After the Lord and the two angels had eaten lunch with Abraham (see yesterday’s meditation), the two angels departed for Sodom, and the LORD brought forth from Abraham’s lips a prayer of intercession for Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33). God has given the land to Abraham and his seed (Genesis 15:18-21), and for that cause, the LORD began telling Abraham what He must do concerning Sodom and the reasons for His action. The thought uppermost on the Lord's mind was the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and their serious sin before God.

20Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”


What caused the outcry and why do you think their sin was so grievous to the Lord? The prophet Ezekiel gives us what grieved the heart of God to the point of judgment:


49“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen" (Ezekiel 16:49-50).


There were six things in Ezekiel’s history lesson about the state of Sodom when it was destroyed:


1) The Arrogance of the People. What is it to be arrogant? Roget’s College Thesaurus gives this definition of the word: to be haughty, self-important, prideful and insolent. It means to portray the illusion of being better than someone else. We must be careful before God, whatever the country you live in, of saying such things as “we live in the best country in the world.”


2) They were Overfed. They had an abundance of everything they needed and had become overfed, and probably overweight.

3) They were Unconcerned. Unconcerned about what, we may ask? This lack of concern for others is a state of mind. To be unconcerned is to think of the world as it related to them. There was no thought that maybe their riches were for more than themselves. Those who are rich in this world’s material goods have a responsibility toward others that do not have enough. This attitude of the heart is what led to the fourth sin of Sodom.


4) They Did Not Help the Poor and Needy. If they did look at the needs of those around them, they took no action. This indifference to the needs of others was the sin of the Rich Man in Luke 16 shown in his lack of care for Lazarus, the beggar at his gate. Those of Sodom and Gomorrah took no action to help and come alongside those who had little and were needy.


5) They had a Haughty Attitude Towards Others. There was a lack of true humility and grace in the people. They had contempt and scorn for others not like themselves.


6) They did Detestable Things Before God. Their immoral lifestyle was only one part of their detestable sin before God. The worst was that they corrupted others and sought to persuade them to take part in doing the same things they did. Scripture tells us that sex between two men is displeasing to the Lord (Leviticus 18:22). Our humanistic culture tells us it is wrong to find fault with other people’s lifestyle choices. However, this is not a personal interpretation or opinion; the Scripture states clearly how this was viewed by God in this passage: “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable (Leviticus 18:22). The name Sodom provides the primary word (sodomy) for sins outside normal sexuality. But if we imagine the crimes of these cities only in sexual terms, we will miss the depth of their depravity. We see further on in Genesis 19:5 that the motives of all the men of the town were to rape the two angels that came to the town square before Lot invited them into his home. Can you imagine a more detestable response to messengers sent by God? Furthermore, the men of the town physically threatened Lot when he would not release the two men into their hands.

So what was the outcry that had reached the ears of the Lord? It was not just the one sin of sodomy; it was the many sins against the poor and needy of the area, and the fear by many mothers in the whole region that their children would be corrupted by the sins of Sodom. The sinfulness of the people spread like an epidemic to the point where it would have been fatal to let it continue. In God’s judgment, we also see His mercy. Commentator R. Kent Hughes says,


“The Hebrew word for "outcry" is used in Scripture to describe the cries of the oppressed and brutalized. It was used for the cry of the oppressed widow or orphan (Exodus 22:22, 23), the cry of the oppressed servant (Deuteronomy 24:15), and the cries of the Israelites in Egypt (Exodus 2:23; 3:7, 9). Jeremiah used the phrase to refer to the scream of terror by an individual or city when attacked (Jeremiah 18:22; 20:16; 25:36). Such an outcry is the miserable wail of the oppressed and brutalized.”[1]


No wonder the Lord said that the sin of Sodom is grievous. If this was the sin of Sodom in God’s view, how similar is the state of the world today in your opinion? Lord have mercy!

Taken from the more complete study found in the series on Abraham. Go to All Studies, scroll down to The Faith of Abraham, and click on study 6. Abraham and Sodom

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis, Beginning and Blessing, Published by Crossway Books, Page 263.