There are passages that part of me wishes weren’t in the Bible. God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah is among them. Every time I read it, it makes me uncomfortable… which is probably the point. The way the Bible describes the sinfulness of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah should terrify us. Human sin and pride is ugly.
That ugliness is on full display here, but so is God’s simple response to it: “They were haughty and did detestable acts before me, so I removed them when I saw this” (Ezekiel 16:50). He would completely destroy them, raining burning sulfur, demolishing “the entire plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and whatever grew on the ground” (Genesis 19:24–25).
If we ever wondered how God feels about sin, all we need to do is look to this event.
But here’s what makes this more uncomfortable for me: the Bible takes this example and takes it to another level. In fact, it seems that the ugliness of Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin is merely a snapshot of what is going on in the heart of every human being. Every single one of us is just as prone to sinful actions. All of us “suppress the truth” in our hearts and by our unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). All of us have failed to glorify God and show Him gratitude. All of us have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie,” and so we are all without excuse before Him (vv.21,25).
Hopeless. Helpless. Doomed.
But what we shouldn’t miss in all of this is the compassion of God. God hates sin. He hates pride. But even in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, He said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake” (Genesis 18:26). Just as the awfulness of Sodom and Gomorrah’s evil is a snapshot of a larger reality, so, too, is this snapshot of God’s mercy—and in the gospel we see this mercy on full display. In Sodom, there were none that were righteous, not even one. In the entire world, there are none who are righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). But Jesus came to make the unrighteous righteous by crediting His perfect righteousness to anyone who trusts in Him.
So despite the darkness, this passage, like so many others in the life of Abraham, should give us hope. God hates sin, and He does not ignore it. He will judge it all, including the evil that we see in the world right now. But for the sake of those He has declared righteous, He is waiting, so that as many as possible might turn from their sin and put their trust in Him.
Written by Aaron Armstrong