The Fertile Fields of Sin in Sodom

Lot and the Men of Sodom

Shortly after receiving the promises from God, Abram (Abraham) journeyed out of Egypt with his nephew Lot (Genesis 13:1). A problem soon arose between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen because the land was unable to support all of their livestock (Genesis 13:6-7). Abram proposed that they separate in order to resolve the conflict and allowed Lot to choose which direction he would go (Genesis 13:8-9). Notice what the text says about his decision:

Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord… So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. […] Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom” (Genesis 13:10-12).

While the area around Sodom provided fertile ground for his livestock, Lot ignored a very significant fact about the city: “The men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13). Just as the ground was fertile to produce vegetation, conditions among the inhabitants of Sodom were fertile to produce the great wickedness in that city.

The Lord, through the prophet Ezekiel, explained what these conditions were that made Sodom such a good place for sin to flourish.

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it” (Ezekiel 16:49-50).

The first condition of the people mentioned is arrogance. This is a universal and ageless problem. Paul admonished the saints in Rome that one was “not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3). The proverb writer said, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18). When we start to think that we are more important than others, that we are entitled to certain things, or that the rules do not apply to us, sin will naturally follow. This is why James said, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

The second condition in Sodom was one of abundance. This is not to say that having an abundance or that being rich is wrong. At various times Paul enjoyed “prosperity” and “abundance” (Philippians 4:12). But even though having an abundance is not wrong, it does present various challenges. We are not to put our trust in riches, but in God (1 Timothy 6:17). That verse also tells us we must not be “conceited” because of our possessions. Jesus warned of becoming comfortable with our wealth in the parable of the rich man who neglected the state of his soul (Luke 12:18-19). In all of this, the problem is not having money. The problem is “the love of money” which is “a root of all sorts of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). While wealth is not sinful in itself, it can easily hinder us in our service to God if we allow it. This is why Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24).

A third problem is Sodom was laziness. The people enjoyed “careless ease” or an “abundance of idleness” (KJV). Hard work is commended to us in the Bible. The wise man said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23). Failing to work and being idle instead provides opportunity to sin (1 Timothy 5:13). David’s sin with Bathsheba came after he sent his armies out while he, rather than going out and leading them, “stayed at Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1). Besides the need to be hardworking in secular matters, we must avoid laziness just the same in spiritual matters. It takes effort to follow and please God. Jesus said, “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14).

Finally, the people of Sodom had a problem with selfishness. We are told that the people “did not help the poor or needy.” Caring for others is part of being a Christian. James wrote, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8). A few verses later, he tied helping others to our faith (James 2:14-17). Selfishness – only looking out for our own interests – causes us to refuse to help those who need to be helped. In the same way, selfishness causes us to deny God of what He deserves. When tested with a question about taxes, Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). What belongs to God? It is that which bears His “likeness” (Matthew 22:20). We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Therefore, our life is to be given to him as a “living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). In order to serve Him, we must deny ourselves (Luke 9:23), rather than doing whatever we want to do.

These were the conditions that existed in Sodom – arrogance, abundance, laziness, and selfishness. Because of these things, “they were haughty and committed abominations” before the Lord. As a result, they were destroyed. We will suffer the same fate if we follow the path of sin. Let us learn from Sodom and not allow Satan to find fertile ground for sin in our hearts.


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Comments

  1. Good article, Andy. Thanks.

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