Posts Tagged With: Sodom

Especially from Christians

abram

Chapter 18 opens with Abraham being visited by three men, whom he greeted joyfully, as was customary.  While he may have seemed to overdo it a little, hospitality was among the most highly valued virtues of his time.  After his visitors had been served the very best he had to offer them, they inquired about the whereabouts of Sarah.  Abraham told them that his wife was inside the tent.  Sarah was, indeed, inside – just inside – eavesdropping.  Abraham is told that he and Sarah would have a child of their own within a year.  Upon hearing this, Sarah laughed.  Being aware of her bitterness, the men asked why she laughed.  She denied that she had done so.  The visitors knew she was lying and told her so.

The next section tells the story of Abraham pleading for the redemption of Sodom.  The city was overrun with wickedness and there were people pleading with God to do something.  Abraham became aware that God planned to observe the city and decide if it was doomed.  The patriarch became quite agitated and began a bargaining session, of sorts, with the Lord.  It bothered Abraham greatly that God would punish those who had done no wrong.  And he told Him so.  He negotiated with God on just how many righteous lives it would take to save the city from destruction.  By the end of the negotiations, Abraham had gotten the Lord’s word that Sodom would be saved if only ten good people resided there.

 

Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and wicked alike.  Far be it from you!  Will not the judge of all the Earth do right?     Genesis 18:25

The first thing in this chapter that grabs me is how hospitable Abraham is towards his visitors.  This behavior, once extremely important, is almost nonexistent.  We no longer eagerly welcome strangers into our homes.  This is understandable, right?  To be perfectly honest, our world is a dangerous place.  Opening the door to a stranger might well be the last thing one does.  But what of a meal?  A smile?  A kind word?  Helping someone who is down, even in the form of encouragement, is a rarity.  Especially from Christians.

The next thing to catch my attention is Sarah.  Her behavior grew increasingly more resentful.  She was living a life of unhappiness.  Remember that Sarah desperately wanted a child of her own.  However, she could not conceive.  So she pleaded with her husband to give her a child to love through Hagar, her servant.  Once he had done so, she learned that one must be careful what she asks for.  So one would think that the news of a child would make her happy.  One would be wrong.  Sarah is very resentful that she didn’t get this news when she wanted it.  Then on top of eavesdropping and mockery, she lies when confronted with her reaction.  Now this is something we see a lot of today.  In our society, it is normal to want what you don’t have.  It is normal to beg, borrow, and steal until you get it…only it doesn’t make you happy.  Yeah, there are many Sarahs in our society.  And bitterness, resentment, and lies are far too common.  Especially from Christians.

Finally – and most importantly, in my opinion – is Abraham’s willingness to bargain with God over the lives of people he doesn’t even know.  Abraham’s disquiet over the suffering of innocent people is touching.  It demonstrates that Abraham doesn’t recognize a God who is unfair, a God who sees no difference between good and evil.  Abraham took his concerns directly to his Lord, openly and honestly.  It didn’t matter that he was powerless and it didn’t matter that it had no imminent impact on his life.    He could have been self-righteous and agreed that the city be destroyed.  He could have been indifferent and have no concern whatsoever.  He could have been a good “follower” and not question what he didn’t understand.  But…he didn’t.  He was determined to save as many lives as possible.  He was confident enough to ask questions of a God he didn’t understand, at that moment.  He was his brother’s keeper.  That type of thing doesn’t happen nearly enough.  Especially from Christians.

For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it (Sodom)    Genesis 18:32

This is the God that I know.  My faith encourages me to be kind and patient.  It encourages me to offer food to the hungry and kind words to the depressed.  My faith does not let me wallow in bitterness and resentment, or strike out at others in anger.  It certainly does not allow me to turn my back on my brothers in need or neglect to ask God to help them in whatever capacity they need most.  Because of the relationship I have with God, I expect certain things.

Especially from Christians, I expect hospitality towards all people.

Especially from Christians, I expect less anger and bitterness.

Especially from Christians, I expect more keeping of brothers.

Especially from Christians, I expect to see hints of … Christ.

 

 

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Categories: analysis, Angels, faith and religion, old testament, personal, the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lot is rescued, Let’s party

I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me – to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre.  Let them have their share.  – Genesis 14: 24

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Abram and Lot had come to the agreement that separation was necessary for mutual success, so Lot ended up in Sodom.  Sometime later, war ensued between the kings of the five (including Sodom and Gomorrah) and the kings of the four.  After battle lines had been drawn, the Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, leaving their men to perish.  The four kings then took all they wanted from Sodom and Gomorrah; including goods, food, and Lot.  A soldier who had escaped, came and told Abram all that had occurred.  Abram gathered together a rescue team and recovered his nephew and the seized goods.  The King of Salem thought this a time for celebration, bringing out bread and wine, prompting Abram to the verse above.

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Genesis Chapter 14 is one that could almost be skipped.  There is a war.  Lot is captured, then rescued.  The end, right?

Not so fast.  Being that Memorial Day is upon us, I would like to take a moment to discuss the 24th verse, especially the last sentence.

Let them have their share.

 

It appears that man has always found a way to turn horror into celebration.  In Abram’s day, there was bread and wine.  In ours, hot dogs and beer.  Even in the Bible, the deaths of men sent off to war earn only an honorable mention.  Oh, the war is discussed.  This chapter is about kingdoms and rebellion and battle and victory.  Abram gathers 318 trained men, devises an appropriate strategy, and is victorious in his battle plan.  Then, the party.

Sound familiar?  Do you see where I am going with this?

In Abram’s time, men were expected to fight the good fight.  They were expected to be willing to give up their very lives, in battle, for the good of the kingdom.  At the end of the conflict, it was customary to break out the bread and wine.  In our time, men and women are expected to fight the good fight.  They are expected to give up their very lives, in battle, for the good of their country.  At the end of the conflict, it is customary to break out the hot dogs and beer.

Tomorrow is the day when we are supposed to honor all the brave men and women who have fought the good fight and who have given their very lives in battle.  These men and women have done an admirable job.  They, General Colin Powell has said, have lost their lives, and have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury their dead.  The least we can do is…

Let them have their share.

I have no problem with barbeques, hot dogs, and beer; but…

Let them have their share.

I have no problem with mattress sales, but…

Let them have their share.

Sure, buy a new car if you can find a good deal, but…

Let them have their share.

While we enjoy the commercialization that this day has become, let us remember the sacrifices, the tears, the mourning.  Let us remember the lives lost.  Let us remember the families devastated.  Let us remember what Memorial Day is all about.

Your silent tent of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
– Henry W. Longfellow
 
The memory is ours.  We remember, and we are grateful.
Categories: analysis, faith and religion, Memorial Day, old testament, personal, the Bible, Veteran's Affairs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abram and Lot

So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him.  Genesis 13:1

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers.  Is not the whole land before you?  Let’s part company.  If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”     Genesis 13:8-9

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Abram had been discovered as a liar in Egypt, in regards to his true relationship with Sarai.  After Pharoah became aware that the two were married, rather than siblings, he forced them out.  Abram took Sarai, his belongings, and Lot with him.  Abram had become very wealthy during his time in Egypt.  (Thanks to Sarai)  We are told that Lot had gained many riches as well.  With both men having had livestock that needed a fair amount of land, problems ensued.  After a time, disputes arose between the two men’s herdsmen.

Abraham saw the potential for bad blood with his nephew, so he suggested that they part ways.  He figured there was enough land to satisfy them both, and gave Lot first choice.  In whichever direction Lot chose to travel, Abram would go the opposite.  Lot set out toward the east and the plains near the Jordan, which were well watered.  His tent was pitched near Sodom.  Abram lived in the land of Canaan.

The Lord then told Abram to look around him – North, South, East, and West.  He promised that the land, as far as Abram could see, would be given to him and his offspring.  Further, Abram was promised that his offspring would be like the dust of the Earth, or too many to count.  Abram’s tent was moved to Hebron, where he set up an altar to God in thanks.

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This is the story of two men who develop conflict.  This is the first description, in the scriptures, of how such conflict (man versus man) is to be handled.

Respectfully nip conflicts in the bud…Abram saw conflict approaching.  Though it had not yet arrived, he sought to end it before it began.  He went to Lot and, respectfully, expressed his concerns.  He then stated that perhaps it would be best if they parted company.  In that way, each of them would have what they required and the relationship would remain intact.  (How many men, Christian or otherwise, would do that today?  I suspect very few.)

Walk by faith, not by sight…Lot chose the east, the land of the plains of Jordan.  He chose the area because of the water and proximity to Sodom.  It mattered not that he left his uncle the land that was dry.  It mattered not that Sodom was well-known for its wickedness.  He sought to increase his wealth, and his selection would have given him such an opportunity.  Lot was not described as a wicked man, himself.  We do get the impression that he was willing to abide with and suffer others sinful deeds if he would profit.  Abram showed no discontent with being left the drier land.  He did not heckle or bargain.  He accepted Lot’s choice, as he said he would.  He had to have known that he, too, could gain more wealth in the land Lot had chosen.  Yet, he had faith that God would see to the needs of he and his family. (If you are anything like me, you know many more Lots than you do Abrams.  Good men  put up with all manner of evil in search of the almighty dollar.)

Have confidence in God’s promises…After Lot had left, God promised that all the land surrounding Abram would belong to him and his offspring.  Abram and Sarai were an older couple, with no children.  It would have been easy to laugh at the idea that he would have innumerable offspring, especially at his age.  But, what did he do?  He believed.  He had every confidence that God would keep every promise made.  He established his altar, and gave thanks.  He expressed joy and gratitude for things that had yet to happen.  (And are there any men who would have this type of faith?  Let me know when you stop laughing.)

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Finally, keep in mind that today is the day of Pentecost.  In the Old Testament, Jews knew this as the Feast of Weeks.  (A sacred day when no work is to be done.  It is a day to express gratitude for the abundant wheat harvest.)  Christians know this to be the day the Holy Spirit filled the bodies of over one hundred men and women after Christ’s death.  The Holy Spirit gave them knowledge and confidence to spread the Good News of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.  In essence, it was the beginning of the church.  The goal of the church was, and is, to add to the dust, or offspring, promised to Abram.

Being referred to as a child of Abraham (Abram) is a compliment to most Christians.  Abram is the father of the Hebrews who would be given land that we now know as Israel.  This man originally came from a town that worshipped pagan idols.  What reason did he have to leave his father’s house and religion?  What reason did he have to leave all that he knew?  There was none but faith.  He was not perfect, by any means. (See previous blog)  He made mistakes, but he believed.  He accepted the spirit of God, as disciples would years later, and followed where it led.

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?  Aren’t we supposed to take the “word of God written on our hearts” and do something with it?  How often do Christians follow the Spirit’s lead?  How much more frequently do they expect the Spirit to follow theirs?

Too many times, we seek fault in others because we enjoy conflict.  We are selfish and greedy.  As long as there is something in it for us, we accept hatred and wickedness.  We are self-righteous and expect to have our way.  When that doesn’t happen, we feel persecuted.

Is that where the Spirit leads you?  Because the spirit inside me leads me to come up with compromises that benefit everyone, avoiding conflict wherever possible.  It leads me away from greed.  It gives me the courage to stand up to those who would place profit over people.  It strengthens my faith to know I am not who I was.  I am confident that I can encourage and support others, because I feel encouraged and supported.

The spirit inside me, the spirit of love, demands to be given away.  I obey and give it to as many as I can.  Because it was given to me.

Categories: Crucifixion and Resurrection, faith and religion, old testament, personal, the Bible, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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