Today we pick up from where we left off last week on our expository journey through the Epistle of Jude. Today we will examine Jude's third lessons from history concerning the certain judgment of apostates - Sodom and Gomorrah! This is a part of my verse by verse exposition through the Epistle of Jude for our church plant in Denmark - Kristuskirken.
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day- 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1-7)
God has given one example of judgment on apostate Jews, and one example of judgment on apostate demons, now He gives one example of judgment on apostate Gentiles in Sodom and Gomorrah:
Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 7)
Jesus used Sodom and Gomorrah as a means of rebuke against the the unrepentant:
Then he [Jesus] began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you." (Matthew 11:20-24)
Yes, that was our friend Jesus, the God of the New Testament (as well as the Old)! That was a blistering and terrifying rebuke. When the Creator of the universe gives these warnings we must pay diligent attention. It always amazes me how the "red letter Christians" are nowhere to be found when verses like these appear.
Another issue concerning the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is that their major crimes were reported by Ezekiel who said that:
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. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)
Homosexuals are often referred to as sodomites which is a lasting reminder of the relentless sexual perversion and immorality that was going on in that city. The sobering message for us is that perversion on this level is normally the natural extension of an affluent self centered society that abandons God - a downward spiral we see in Romans 1:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:21-32)
There is the downward spiral of rejecting God. First we see that they know God but will not honor Him or give thanks; then their thoughts and hearts grow more hard and rebellious; idolatry follows; God's restraining grace is then lifted and sexual perversion follows; their total depravity now finds full, wicked, unrestrained rebellion; people are no longer ashamed of their perversion (as Lot witnessed in Sodom); and finally they give moral approval to such behavior. This should sound familiar! And don't let social scientists give you false assurance that homosexual behavior is acceptable. There is an enormous tract of scorched earth in the Middle East that says otherwise!
The ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah have been discovered southeast of the Dead Sea. The modern names are Bab edh-Dhra, thought to be Sodom, and Numeira, thought to be Gomorrah. Both places were destroyed at the same time by an enormous conflagration. The destruction debris was about three feet thick. What brought about this awful calamity? Startling discoveries in the cemetery at Bab edh-Dhra revealed the cause. Archaeologists found that buildings used to bury the dead were burned by a fire that started on the roof.
What would cause every structure in the cemetery to be destroyed in this way? The answer to the mystery is found in the Bible:
“Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens” (Genesis 19:24).
Jude, like Jesus, uses Sodom and Gomorrah as a terrifying warning to those apostates who are unrepentantly wreaking havoc in the church. All that is left of those two cities is one giant scorch mark!
To be continued two weeks from now . . .
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The Briefing 06-29-17
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