" 'Now this was the sin of ... 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.
You have done more detestable things
than they ... your sins were more
vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you.
You will bear the consequences ...
Yet I will remember the covenant I made
with you in the days of your youth,
and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
Then, when I make atonement
for you for all you have done,
you will remember and be ashamed
and never again open your mouth
because of your humiliation,
declares the Sovereign LORD.' "
Ezekiel 16:49-52, 60, 63
I find it remarkably easy, even satisfyingly vainglorious, to rise up upon my high horse and point out the awfulness of this or that. It's not difficult to look at today's world and wonder if it hasn't altogether gone the way of Sodom and Gomorrah, so similar are the characteristics of these times. Sighs and rants, for me anyway, are easily crafted into an Ode to My Own Righteousness.
Certainly the scriptures admonish us to assess the times, to be alert, to beware, and to remain firmly & humbly positioned on the high ground (emphasis on "humbly"). But Oh! the temptation to survey the sights from there and point my finger!
Here, in God's own word, and contained clearly in a text that could easily be interpreted as a judgment against the nation of Israel, is some really good news; the same Good News found in the Gospel narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What's more, it's just one among the many like-texts embedded throughout the Old Testament.
What strikes me as particularly compelling in Ezekiel's Chapter 16 is this:
- Sodom's sin had more to do with their attitude than with their practices. They were first arrogant & complacent which - in turn - gave rise to their detestable practices.
- God's own people were actually worse than Sodom's worst - - so says the text..
- Though God holds individuals and nations accountable for their sin (and it doesn't matter if that sin is small or huge), it is HE alone that provides for sin's atonement. So much for my own feeble attempts.
- The application of God's grace (salvation) is - first and last - His doing; Christ being the ultimate and ONLY atonement. The Good News doesn't get much gooder than that!
- If God scolded His people THEN for pointing to Sodom as a proof of their own innocence, He's still admonishing us TODAY to not do likewise; to not compare ourselves with either the worst in our midst, or the best.
- My comparisons need always and forever to be a vertical, and not a horizontal initiative. "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." 2 Corinthians 10:12
- To understand and fully appreciate the everlasting (new) covenant He's transacted for me and with me, and in me, I need to see myself in Sodom. That makes it pretty darn tough to point at the other guy as proof of my goodness OR badness - believer and unbeliever alike.
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race
marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of our faith ...
Consider Him who endured such
opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary
and lose heart.