Friday, April 7
“Then the Lord said, ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know’” (Gen 18:20-21).
The destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19:1-28) is often regarded as proof of God’s anger against homosexuals. In the Bible, however, Sodom does not appear to be understood in this way. “Sodom” is mentioned in 47 verses; most commonly (in 21 verses) it is used as an example of total destruction brought by divine wrath, with nothing specifically said about the reason for Sodom’s destruction (for example, Deut 29:23; Matt 11:24; Luke 10:12). But Ezekiel 16:49-50 is quite specific: “This is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were proud, had plenty to eat, and enjoyed peace and prosperity; but she didn’t help the poor and the needy. They became haughty and did detestable things in front of me, and I turned away from them as soon as I saw it.”
The Lord’s word to Abraham concerning Sodom and Gomorrah in today’s passage supports Ezekiel’s charge. The Hebrew word rendered “outcry” is za’aqah (sometimes spelled tsa’aqah). It is typically used for the cry of the oppressed for help: indeed, in the CEB, this word is translated “cries of injustice.” For example, in Exodus 22:21-24, our devotional passage for Monday, the Lord says of the ger, the widow, and the orphan, “I will surely heed their cry [Hebrew tsa’aqah].”
The lesson of the Sodom story is not that God is moved to uncontrollable anger at the thought of men having sex with other men. God’s anger is poured out on the inhospitable: on those who respond to the stranger and the needy, not with compassion, but with contempt—even violence and abuse. That is why Sodom was destroyed.
Prayer: O God, give us ears to hear, and hearts to repent of our own inhospitality. We pray in the name of Jesus, who freely gave his hospitality to all, even sinners, Amen.