The Mission of God Sermon Series Part 2

Genesis 18:22-33 read:

22So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  24Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  25Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

 27Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

Now, take a look at this:

Now back to Abraham.

Most people read this section from the point of view that God is about to destroy Sodom for homosexual activity, yet the story is not that simple.

If you read Ezekiel 16:48-50 then you see that the “sin of Sodom” was not homosexuality but oppression.  God’s judgment on Sodom is not that different from his judgment on Egypt and his threatened judgment on Nineveh. 

Now, you may object, “What about the men outside of Lot’s door who wanted to have sex with the angels?”

Did you know that it was common in Ancient Near Eastern cultures for men to rape other men not because they were gay but as an act of conquest and humiliation, not that different from what happens in prisons today.

Does that change how you read the story?

But that’s not what I want to talk about. 

What intrigues me is that Abraham intercedes for Sodom.  Well, really, he prays for them.  That’s what we call talking to God, right?

Abraham is praying for a city that rapes the men of nearby villages in order to humiliate them. 

Wow!

Have you read the book of Jonah lately? Probably not.

The book of Jonah is a great book that unfortunately has been relegated to the children’s section of the Bible.  A lot of it has to do with the whale (or big fish) that swallows Jonah.  I’ve never understood why the fish gets all the attention.  Its not really doing much.  In the story, the fish is (1) salvation, not punishment and (2) cheap transportation.  That’s it!

The story goes like this: God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them to repent.  He doesn’t want to and tries to hide from God.  Bad idea. 

God has Jonah thrown into the sea and swallowed by a fish until he is in the right mood to perform his allotted task.  Once there, the fish pukes Jonah onto a beach near Nineveh.

Now, before we write Jonah off as a snob or whatever we need to remember that Nineveh had a reputation akin to Sodom and ancient Egypt.  In modern parlance, they were Nazis or the barbarian soldiers you read about who rape women of all ages in the Congo.

So, Jonah preaches and, lo and behold, the city actually listens and actually repents.  So, God spares  Nineveh and this really torques off the prophet.  Jonah wanted God to do them what he did to Sodom.

Jonah fumes under some shade until God withers the vine.  This is too much for Jonah who asks God to just go ahead and kill him!

God responds by asking Jonah how he can be so upset over losing a little shade and expect God not to be upset at the prospect of destroying a whole city of people that He created and has watched from the time they were all children.

So, the point of the Book of Jonah is that God loves the Ninevites too. 

I had this professor in law school named Sherri Johnson.  She has a Yale law degree (as does her husband) and they both could be partners in Manhattan law firms making millions.  Instead, they adopt orphans and Sherri works on death penalty cases across the country.

I worked on a case with her when I was in law school.  Our client was accused of killing 2 women.  There was no evidence that he actually killed the women.   In fact, the evidence pointed to his partner.  A jury sentenced our client to death anyway.

Sherri has been handling cases like this for nearly 30 years.  Some are innocent and many are not.  Some of the innocent ones are killed anyway.  Heartbreaking stuff. 

Why does she do it?

Because Sherri is a Christian and she knows that God loves the Ninevites too.

This fall, Revolution will hit the streets of Portsmouth to pray for and to minister to the meth prostitutes, to the homeless and to all those who dwell in the darkness with no hope.

Why do it? Some of these people have abandoned their own children.  Many of these people steal. Most of them certainly brought their situation upon themselves.

So why waste Friday and Saturday nights trying to help these men and women?

Because God loves the Ninevites too.

Now I know that none of this makes any sense. 

To pray for the Sodomite?  To preach to the Ninevite?  To love the drug addicted prostitute?

True.

It makes about as much sense as a maniac doing stunts on a BMX in order to postthem on Youtube.

But it was beautiful wasn’t? 

Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.

Revolution: Worship-Grow-Serve.

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