Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Sin, The Outcry and the God who Comes Down

“Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” Genesis 18:20-21

An outcry so great and a sin so grievous – this potent combination draws God from His throne to “go down and see.”

Let’s just remind ourselves of what the sin so grievous was.

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”  Ezekiel 16:48-50

“…arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” This is God speaking. Ask any of us about the detestable things and not helping the poor doesn’t come instantly to mind.

Who made the outcry? That is what interests me.  You see, without the outcry being so great, the outcry about the sin so grievous, God would not have visited Abraham to involve him in what happened next. OK I admit He might have come down just for the meal and the baby talk, but one gets the impression that it was the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah that drew Him down.

The dictionary defines an outcry as “a strong and usually public expression of protest, indignation, or the like, a crying out or a loud clamour”. There doesn’t seem to be any obvious indignant protesters in the story.

Does it have to be a person? I’ve heard one or two speakers talk about guardian angels of specific towns or cities. Could it be an angel that cried out about Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin?

What about creation? The whole of creation was tied up with Adam and Eve and fell foul of the Fall and the curse that followed. Maybe nature was fed up of being twisted and corrupted.

Maybe it wasn’t an audible cry at all. Maybe it was a heart cries of tears and sorrow, empty stomachs and disappointed hopes of the poor and the needy – the ones the arrogant, overfed and unconcerned wouldn’t help.

God is moved enough to visit when someone protests so strongly about a sin that cannot be lived with or tolerated. 

Today there are outcries so great about sins so grievous.  And God still comes - in church and people delegated form. His church, His people are the ones He sends to respond to the outcry. It challenges me to think about how I react to outcries. How loud does it have to get before I actually hear it? Do I rank outcries according to how great I think they are before I respond? Do I think that someone else will deal with it? Or do I help?

I am also challenges about my own out-crying. I was talking with a group of young people this week about why we find it so difficult to ask for help. We have this idea that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Society demands we cope and frowns on those who are struggling.

Christmas is about God coming down to a whole human race that isn’t coping. The sin so grievous is in trying to live a fruitful life without God – the failure to help the poor and needy being just one of many symptoms of life lived without God.  In Christ, God deals with it.

Where Abraham in his bargaining with God stopped at ten righteous men needed to save the city, God stops at one. His One Righteous man saved us all. God comes to each of us, in Christ, through His Spirit.

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