What causes a people or society to fall? There has been speculation for ages. Historians, philosophers, and sociologists have all weighed in on some of the world’s great dynasties and speculated as to their ultimate demise. But maybe one of our greatest hints is found in the Bible.
Consider Sodom and Gomorrah. While they may not represent political dynasties the names of these two cities has become synonymous with corrupt behavior. Anyone who knows the biblical story knows that these cities are destroyed by God because of their unrighteousness. Sodom is first mentioned in Genesis 10-but most prominently shows up in Genesis 13. In v.13 the writer says, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” In Genesis 18 Abraham tries to intercede on behalf of the people of Sodom-God tells him that if he can find even ten righteous men then He will spare the city from destruction. But there are not even ten. And in Genesis 19 God rains down sulphur and fire on these two cities and all of their inhabitants in judgment. It is often noted that the primary sin of this city was homosexuality-or at least blatant sexual immorality. But is that truly what lies at the foundation of God’s wrath towards this city? We have to look elsewhere in the Bible to find the answer.
We have to turn to the prophets to ascertain a better answer. In Ezekiel 16 we find the foundational elements that led to the demise of Sodom. In Ezekiel 16:49 we read this, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” Notice the progression: pride, excess, and ease. A whole people were labeled with these characteristics. Pride is thinking too highly of yourself. Excess is holding on to too much of yourself. And ease is freeing yourself from all constraint-such as labor or pain. This led to thinking too little about the less fortunate among them. And it led to what we read in Genesis 18-19. This sinful cocktail led to total debauchery expressed through sexual immorality-and to God’s righteous judgment.
There has to be some careful consideration here-both personally and as a people. How do I rank in light of these foundational sins? What is my opinion of myself? Am I a hoarder or a giver? Do I worship at the table of comfort and ease? What is my attitude towards the poor and needy? Do my lusts act as a mirror regarding these things? What about us as a nation? Or any nation? What is our corporate attitude in these areas? Are you and I in danger of a great fall? Is our country? Let us run to the grace of the gospel.