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Thursday, September 10, 2015
We both enjoy the sight of freshly baled hay in a vibrant green field. FYI, did you know they are outlawing the big round bales of hay and do you know why? (See below in resource section.)
(Click on photo for larger view)
"Lessons From Sodom"
Note: This is the third in our current series of four messages in which we are considering a most disturbing scene in the Bible, the destruction of Sodom. In writing to the Corinthians Paul wrote concerning the events of Old Testament history that "these things happened as examples for us" (1 Corinthians 10:6). Although Genesis 19 is not encouraging in the sense we normally use the word, it is very thought- provoking and instructive. Furthermore, a foundational verse for those of us who have a high view of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16 which states, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness."
We hold to the inspired, inerrant, reliable view of the Bible and firmly believe we have here in Genesis 19 a record of an actual historical event. Archaeology has confirmed that these cities existed.* However, to many in the modern world this is just a meaningless, fictitious story and very politically incorrect. Tragically, as disbelief and cultural accommodation has crept into the church, there are more and more professing "people of faith" who see this as fiction or some type of illustrative lesson rather than an historical record.
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"Getting Comfortable In Sodom"
"And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city" (Genesis 19:16).
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
A while back I was discussing cultural affairs with an individual who endorses the liberal/progressive idealogical agenda. Whatever new wave of godless idiocy is introduced he will eventually be in favor of it as long as it becomes liberal dogma. However we were discussing one of the newer expressions of perversity and he admitted that he just didn't know what to make of it. However eventually he will be accepting of it due to his rejection of the foundational authority of Biblical truth. A New Testament verse that describes such a person is found in Ephesians 4:14: "tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine".
Periodically in this series we have observed the tendency for the slide into immorality to be incremental. By "incremental" we're speaking of small steps, although the steps are turning more into a downhill free fall all the time!
This doesn't happen all at once, but with repetitive exposure, what once shocked our senses and offended our ears or even broke our hearts becomes tolerated, then acceptable and eventually celebrated.
The next step is that the once shocking, abnormal behavior even becomes preferable and the behavior that had been normal may very well be touted as abnormal!
Lot's story is very instructive here. He was Abraham's nephew. Following the dispute between Lot's herdsmen and Abraham's herdsmen regarding whose animals grazing where Abraham graciously gave Lot the choice .
Lot made a critical choice when he chose the more lush grazing land in the valley for his flocks (Genesis 13:10). This led him to pitch his tent near Sodom (Genesis 13:12). Even at that time the Scripture gives this indictment: "Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord" (Genesis 13:13). Yet Lot did well and in time he married, had two daughters, and eventually his house was in Sodom (Genesis 19).
Lot, now residing in Sodom with his family, had grown accustomed to the ways of the native people. After all, he was the alien, so adjustments do come. Let's be careful wherever we reside that we are able to differentiate culture from sinful behavior. God's appointed time of judgment had come upon the Sodomites due to their deviant, sinful behavior but, in answer to his Uncle Abraham's fervent prayers, Lot and his family would be spared.
But it was painstakingly hard for Lot to leave. As destruction of the city loomed it was time to leave. "And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city" (Genesis 19:16). Consider the telling words in the daily text, "he lingered" (NIV) "he hesitated" (NASV) "kept procrastinating" (Voice) "dallied" (CJB). Matthew Henry's commentary notes, "Lot lingered; he trifled. Thus many who are under convictions about their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, defer that needful work."
Lot had grown very comfortable in Sodom. Had he grown so accustomed to the wickedness that it dulled his spiritual senses and he no longer saw sin for what it was? Just consider his depraved offer in our first message to offer his own daughters up to the lustful residents of Sodom who were demanding to have his angelic guests. It would seem that one concession led to another which led to yet another until any remnant of spiritual convictions no longer mattered to him. His prosperity and prominence at the city gate had prevailed over his piety.
Lot's moral values were wretchedly twisted. He had lost the power of moral persuasion and later in the chapter we see this twisted condition in his wife and daughters as well. Genesis 19 is one of the saddest chapters in the Bible, showing man's pathetic condition in apostasy. Tomorrow we will examine how Lot's wife's body remained as a pillar of salt, a lasting monument of rebellion toward a holy God and an illustration used by Jesus. Then later in the chapter the sordid account involving his daughters followed their departure to safety.
I don't want to get comfortable in "Sodom". I don't want to linger when God directs me to leave. I don't want to cling to that which God tells me, "Let go". Two great commands in the New Testament state: "Flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (1 Timothy 6:11). "Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).
Rather than lingering like Lot, let us be among those who have "fled to take hold of the hope offered to us" (Hebrews 6:18).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, I pray that You will guard my heart so that I am not lured into reckless desires that originate from worldly thinking and godless behavior. I know, in my heart, that these worldly desires lead to ruin and destruction as they gradually lead me to abandon godly principles and holy living. May godless trends and philosophies be evident to me as I reject the enemy's plan to gradually dull my senses to what is falsely called knowledge and the enlightenment of our age. May I always pursue righteousness through a vibrant faith in You, through Christ Jesus, my Lord and my Master regardless of the consequences. Amen.
Matthew Henry's Commentary Note: "Lot was good, but there was not one more of the same character in the city. All the people of Sodom were very wicked and vile. Care was therefore taken for saving Lot and his family. Lot lingered; he trifled. Thus many who are under convictions about their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, defer that needful work. The salvation of the most righteous men is of God's mercy, not by their own merit. We are saved by grace. God's power also must be acknowledged in bringing souls out of a sinful state. If God had not been merciful to us, our lingering had been our ruin. Lot must flee for his life. He must not hanker after Sodom. Such commands as these are given to those who, through grace, are delivered out of a sinful state and condition. Return not to sin and Satan. Rest not in self and the world. Reach toward Christ and heaven, for that is escaping to the mountain, short of which we must not stop. Concerning this destruction, observe that it is a revelation of the wrath of God against sin and sinners of all ages. Let us learn from hence the evil of sin, and its hurtful nature; it leads to ruin."
A final set of scenes from our ride Monday on the York Heritage Rail Trail in York County PA.
A creative use for an old tire along the York Heritage Rail Trail
Proof that I made it to the Mason-Dixon line (Pennsylvania/ Maryland state border) on Monday. Since the grade for our 16 miles wearied Brooksyne she stayed in New Freedom but I was determined to make it all the way to the border.
These large paintings on a building in Glen Rock prompted a bit of nostalgia. Remember the three major gum brands at the time: Doublemint (often featuring commercials with twins), Spearmint and Juicy Fruit!
All along the trail we passed interesting old farmhouses. For many generations occupants of this house had good views of loud trains passing by (see tracks in foreground). The house is still occupied but instead of trains the residents see bikers and walkers.
I, Brooksyne, was intrigued with this old barn. The western side of the barn appears to have sunk into the ground though it was likely built with this design. I could easily envision a huge mound of straw outside the loft of this barn and a hanging rope so the farm workers and children could swing out of the loft and into the straw. Perhaps they had a harvest party every year in the fall!
I had lots of fun playing with these goats who were grazing next to a stream. When I prepared to leave they wanted to jump the fence and go along with me. That would have been quite a sight: me on the bike with two goats trailing behind. The farmer might have something to say about that!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"I Am Resolved" Video Dailey and Vincent
"Preacher Tell Me Like It Is" Video Greater Vision
"Preach the Word" Video Gold City
York Heritage Rail Trail
* "The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah"
Why round bales have been outlawed: Our farming friend Galen told us the reason right after we moved to Lancaster County in 2001, "The cows aren't getting a square meal!" You can find this farming chuckle along with many other, funny and otherwise, at this site.
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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