Most of us know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, how they were a people filled with sexual immorality, and most commonly associated with homosexuality.
Well, their infamous destruction isn’t all that it seemed to be.
We tend to believe that God rained down fire and ash on the city because of some licentious behavior, but in fact, it may have been for a different reason.
Look at Genesis 18:19
“19 For I have chosen him (Abraham), that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
The Lord is calling on Abraham to lead in “keeping the way of the Lord”.
What is that? Verse 18 says, “by doing righteousness and justice.”
Here is a look at what the book of Isaiah credits the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah to be:
“16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 18 Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:”
They were a people of injustice. They weren’t merely a sexual immoral people, but a Godless city of pain and social repression.
What we typically think of when we read this story is how unfair that it is that God would destroy a people just because of their sexual orientation. That is not what He did.
We tend to take that even a step further and find it unfair that God would judge anyone, and therefore rebuke all of His judgement.
But think about what judgement actually is. Think about what justice actually is. There is no mercy without it.
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were suffering under oppression from a lack of justice in their city. Isaiah says that there was no justice for the fatherless or widows (Isaiah 1:17).
You see the picture of how God’s intervention would be saving and wonderful to some, and awful to others.
But the cool thing about this story is how Abraham views it earlier in chapter 18. There he makes an argument with God that since He is a just God, then would He destroy the city if there were fifty righteous people in it? God replies: No.
Abraham then proceeds to reduce that number of righteous people – testing his luck with God – all the way down to ten people. To which God replies: No. I will not destroy the city if there ten righteous people in it.
Abraham is essentially asking God if someone else’s righteousness is able to save someone else’s wickedness. To which God replies: Yes.
What Abraham never gets to is asking God if one righteous person could spare the punishment for many people. To which God would have replied: Yes.
The problem with Sodom and Gomorrah is that there were none in the city that were righteous; no not one (Romans 3:12).
The gospel is justice for all of us. God is coming to save the oppressed and judge the oppressor. We are both.
Our sin holds us torment and we need a savior. Our sin makes us tormentors and we need to be taken captive.
God’s mercy comes radically from His justice.
One righteous man can save not only the city, but the hearts of all peoples, of all nations, for all times if we just believe in Him.
Thank you, Jesus.