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The Sins of Sodom

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

WEEKLY SCRIPTURE READING Torah Portion: Vayera (“and he appeared”) Shabbat: Nov. 12, 2022/Cheshvan 18, 5783 Torah: Gen. 18:1-22:24 Prophets: 2 Kings 4:1-37 New Covenant: Luke 1:26-38, Luke 24:36-53, 2 Pet. 2:4-11 TODAY’S PRAYER OF AGREEMENT Paul’s prayer in Colossians “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”. Colossians 1:9-14


From our Torah portion this week (i.e., parashat Vayera) we read: "And the LORD said, 'The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave...'" (Gen. 18:20). But what was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Why did God destroy the two cities? Was it because the people there refused to show hospitality to the angelic visitors (as is claimed by some), or was it because of some ongoing sin of the people?

Though the sin of Sodom undoubtedly included the practice of sexual perversion (called "strange flesh" in the Book of Jude), such behavior was symptomatic of a nihilistic culture that glorified violence, despised moral authority and spiritual truth, and practiced the exploitation of others. Throughout the Scriptures "Sodom" symbolically represents gross immorality, depravity, and inevitable judgment from heaven. For example, the prophet Ezekiel later wrote of Judah: "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 abomination (תּוֹעֵבָה) before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it" (Ezek. 16:49-50). The New Testament refers to the fate of Sodom as "a fearful example of the everlasting fire of retribution" (Jude 1:7) -- the destructive result of spiritual anarchy, lawlessness, deviancy, perversion, and trauma (2 Pet. 2:6-10). Thankfully there is real hope for those who seek to escape from the wrath to come by turning to God and trusting in his healing power of salvation, though it is only a "remnant" that find true deliverance (Matt. 7:14). Speaking of the final salvation of Israel, the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah: "If the LORD of Hosts hadn't left us a few survivors, we'd be as desolate as Sodom, doomed just like Gomorrah" (Isa 1:9; Rom. 9:29).

In this connection it should be noted that the word "sodomy" involves any form of violence, perversion, exploitation, or lawless expression of sexuality regardless of gender... In general, it is more helpful to think of it as a code word for egregious sin, "in-your-face" spite toward God, defiant immorality that celebrates spiritual anarchy, moral nihilism, and death... Adultery, fornication, sexual perversions, viewing pornography (i.e., the lust of the eyes), covetousness, gluttony, arrogance (idolatry), unbridled anger (rage), sloth, worshiping the things of this world (i.e., fads, trendy TV shows, sports idols, the world's value system), and so on, all may be called "sodomy." Whenever we consider such things, it is better to look at how we are healed rather than what makes us sick.... The answer in every case to the trauma of the sinful heart is to turn to God and ask for deliverance in the name of Yeshua.

The world and its "group-think" always calls for the abolition of individual conscience. Like the people of ancient Sodom that repudiated God's moral authority so that they would be "free" to their indulge their selfish desires and "autonomy," so the world system today repudiates a person of real conviction and conscience. Indeed, the only thing regarded as "intolerable" in the devil's world is the objection that people have the supposed "liberty" to sin in whatever way they please. This godlessness is anathema to one who truly fears God, of course, since tolerating sin in a world ripe for judgment is a cowardly form of "collaboration" with the enemy (James 4:4). "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and who are shrewd in their own sight!" (Isa. 5:20-21).

The "original sin," that is, eating from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, meant that man sought to transcend God's will to determine what is valuable, true, beautiful, and so on. Man became autonomous, "the measure of all things." Such was the "logical" method of the German idealism of Kant and Hegel, which led to way for Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Adolf Hitler (and some present day politicians) to unleash their nightmares upon the earth. Understand that the deep untruth that lies behind cynical "postmodernism" expresses little more than the godless desire to control the world... Today, more than ever before, the world is like "Sodom," and therefore ripe for judgment from heaven.

And the judgment of God indeed came upon the moral anarchy of that realm... After the angels rescued Lot (and his immediate family), we read "then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and whatever grew on the ground" (Gen. 19:24-25). The sages note the word translated "overthrew" is vayahafokh (וַיַּהֲפךְ), which means "overturned," suggesting that besides the fire and brimstone that rained down from the sky, an enormous earthquake engulfed the plain, forming a crater filled with salt that became known as the "Dead Sea" (ים המלח).

Postscript: Is "Original Sin" Biblical?

In response to this article, someone wrote me and questioned the whole idea of "original sin," claiming that it was a "Catholic dogma" that is not based on Scripture... I replied that while the term "original sin" does not explicitly appear in the Scriptures, the idea is clearly taught that as a result of Adam and Eve's transgression, the terrible judgment of eternal death was pronounced upon them and their progeny, and therefore all the descendants of Adam and Eve are inheritors of this fallen spiritual condition. This is clearly taught in our Scriptures: "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest" (Eph. 2:1-3). This passage clearly assumes that "all have sinned" and fall short of the glory of God, which means that human nature is inherently sick with "spiritual death" -- which is precisely why Yeshua had to die.

Adam ha'rishon represented the "federal head" of humanity: "So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned ... for if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Yeshua the Messiah! Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people" (Rom. 5:12-ff).

The Greek text of the New Testament is clear: Ἄρα οὖν ὡς δι᾽ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἰς κατάκριμα, οὕτως καὶ δι᾽ ἑνὸς δικαιώματος εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἰς δικαίωσιν ζωῆς - "Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people" (Rom. 5:18). Moreover, Paul taught that "since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man" (1 Cor. 15:21).

Yeshua said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies" (John 8:42-45).

Other verses imply the idea that people are born into a "fallen" state in need of redemption: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5); "the Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:2-3); "the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and profane insanity (הוֹלֵלוֹת) is in their hearts throughout their lives" (Eccl. 9:3). Indeed "what is man, that he should be pure, or he who is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?" (Job 15:14). "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is incurably sick; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9).

Spiritual rebirth is the impartation of new nature, as it is written: "who were born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). Without the ontological reality of "original sin," that is, the spiritual condition of eternal death, then people would not need to be "reborn" into a new mode of existence based on the federal deliverance given in Messiah. In other words, the doctrine of "original sin" is integrally connected with our redemption, for without the real "fall" humankind into sin, there would be no need for the cross.


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