Apologizing to Sodom and Gomorrah

Apologizing to Sodom and Gomorrah

Ruth Graham, the late wife of the late evangelist Dr. Billy Graham is supposed to have said, “If God doesn’t judge America, he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Those familiar with the book of Genesis will recall that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, near the present-day Dead Sea, sinned. God intended to destroy them, and Abraham, learning of this, bargained with God.  He began by asking God that if He could find fifty righteous people, would He preserve the cities. 

God agreed. Finally, after more bargaining, Abraham asked God if even ten righteous people were found, would He please not destroy the cities. Again God agreed. But God did not find even ten righteous people, and the cities were destroyed.
Some people say, “Aah but this was the wrathful God of the Old Testament;” however, Jesus and the New Testament also mention Sodom and Gomorrah. In Mathew 10, where Jesus is sending out the twelve apostles to “the lost sheep of Israel”, he tells them that if anyone rejects His word, they should leave that house or town, shaking the dust off their feet, and “at the day of judgment, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” (verse 15). 2 Peter 2:6 says Sodom and Gomorrah “are an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.”

But why did Ruth Bell Graham compare America to Sodom and Gomorrah? Here are some possible reasons: America is the largest exporter of missionaries in the word, but we are also the largest exporter of pornography. We have fought some wars where we liberated other people, but we have also engaged in more dubious struggles which seem more misguided and where there were lots of civilian casualties.  We have removed prayer and scripture from our schools. We participate in a holocaust of the unborn. We do not begin to confine sex to marriage between one man and one woman as God intends, preferring casual sex. We broke treaties with our former allies, the Cherokee Indians, and others.  We enslaved a race, and though many Americans, including one of my forebears, gave their lives in the Civil War to help free the slaves, there is still racial hatred and injustice in many of our hearts.  For these reasons and many others, we probably deserve judgment.

Some point out that (as could have been the case with Sodom and Gomorrah) the presence of a righteous minority could save our own nation. Jesus said that his hearers were “the light of the world and the salt of the earth.” Salt is a preservative, and a fairly small amount of salt preserves meat. Could a “righteous remnant” save America? Perhaps, but Romans 3:10, echoing Psalm 14:3, says “No one is righteous, no not one.”

Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is the only truly righteous Man. In a way, we can see him now as the son of Abraham carrying on and bringing to completion the bargaining process that Abraham originally began with God: It only takes one completely righteous man to save Sodom and Gomorrah and the world! At the cost of his own completely righteous life, Jesus himself, God's Son, paid the price to rescue the world from the deathly consequences of its own sin. Through his death on the cross, he saves all who trust in him, and he can save America, or any nation. But we must repent and turn to him.

We as a nation make a grave error if we trust in our supposed righteousness. Of us and of every other nation it must be said, “No one is righteous, no not one.” As Isaiah 45:22 puts it, "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (NIV) Or as the New Living Translation puts it, “Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other.”

Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor and can be reached at wrjones2002@gmail.com. An earlier version of this appeared in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News.


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