The City of Man 3.0 (Genesis 19:1-16)

Moses introduced the idea of the city very early in the book of Genesis: right after Cain murdered his brother Abel, Moses tells us, he ran away from God’s presence in the Garden of Eden and settled in lands far away to the east.

And there he built a city.

And as the story went on it became clear that this city was not just a political center or an economic center: it was a center of worship. Like all of the most ancient cities that archeologists have uncovered, it was designed to be a temple complex. Cain’s city was, in fact, a counterfeit version of the Garden of Eden, a man-made mountain ruled by men who claimed to be gods.

And this became especially clear when we met King Lamech, a brutal man who treated women like trophies for his own pleasure, who paid back a young man’s insult with murder, who used his three sons to centralize the system of worship around himself.

And so, from very early on in Moses’ story of mankind, we saw two competing systems of worship set up in two competing cities. The first was the City of God, a civilization centered around God’s continuing presence in the Garden of Eden. The second was the City of Man, a civilization centered around the false gardens of Power, Wealth, the Domination of men, the Degradation of women.

And Moses showed us how, over many generations, the City of Man grew more and more powerful until it had filled the earth with violence, killing or enslaving or corrupting the citizens of the City of God until there was, finally, only one righteous man left: Noah.

So God commissioned Noah to build City of God 2.0 out of wood: a boat, an ark. God left the garden of Eden, he entered the ark together with Noah and his family and all of the seeds he would need for a new creation — and then God wiped out the City of Man with a flood. He started over with Earth 2.0.

But as we soon discovered, a corrupted seed from the City of Man survived the flood: Noah’s son Ham. And so the process started all over again: Ham’s descendants moved away into the far east of their world and began to build a new city, a new temple complex, a new man-made mountain designed to penetrate the floor of heaven and invade God’s throne room. This was the City of Babel: the City of Man 2.0.

God, of course, came down, conducted an investigation, and decided to put a stop to the whole thing. He struck them with confusion. The whole project fell apart. The people scattered. And some of those refugees from the City of Babel in the east ended up in the land of Canaan, in the center of the world map of that time, where they began — again! — to build for themselves cities, centers of false worship.

And the most powerful of all those cities was the city of Sodom.

Now, Moses introduced Sodom to us back in Chapter 13. And even there, in his introduction, he hinted to us that Sodom was, in fact, the City of Man, version 3.0, yet another false Garden of Eden.

First, Sodom stood on a plain on the eastern edge of Canaan, just like Babel had stood on a plain on the eastern edge of their world. Second, Moses told us that this whole plain was well watered, like the garden of the Lord. Then he just went ahead and told us explicitly: the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord! Sodom is the City of Man 3.0.

But, at the same time, Moses made it clear that the City of God, version 3.0, was also alive and well: Abraham and his household, living high in the mountains to the west of Sodom, in a grove of sacred trees: the true Garden of Eden, the true garden of God’s presence.

So far so good.

Except that when Abraham’s adopted son Lot saw how rich the plains were in comparison to the mountains…he abandoned Abraham’s household and went to live near Sodom. He was already rich, he already had more than he needed, but Lot had a craving for more: more wealth, more stability, more power, more independence. So when he was faced with a choice between life in the City of God and wealth in the City of Man…he chose wealth.

And then he got caught up in local politics…literally caught up: a foreign army came by and captured him, along with everyone else.

Now, fortunately, the City of God heard what had happened and sent out a counterforce, led by Abraham, who rescued Lot along with everyone else. And at that point Lot should have thought to himself, “Gee, I wonder if maybe I should return to the blessing and protection of life the City of God.”

Well, apparently he did not. Apparently he returned to the wealth and the power of his life in Sodom, the City of Man 3.0. And that is where he has lived for the last 20 years or so, expanding his business, building up his personal wealth.

Lot has no idea that history is about to repeat itself. God is holy. God is compassionate. He cannot allow corruption and violence and false worship to continue unchecked. Judgement Day is only a little more than 12 hours away. Lot has just a little more than 12 hours left before he is going to have to choose, again, between life in the City of God, or wealth in the City of Man.

One of those cities has a future; the other one does not.

So, if you recall, Abraham, high in the mountains to the west, has been standing before the Judge of all the earth, acting as a defense lawyer for the city of Sodom. He has been arguing that, when God goes down to conduct his investigation, he should not focus on finding corruption — because he is definitely going to find that! — instead, he should focus his investigation on finding just one small righteous worshiping community. If the Lord can find a righteous community, then — Abraham says — God should give these cities an extension on their sentence. He should give them more time to see the truth and repent.

And the last thing the Lord said to Abraham was, “Okay. If I find a righteous community, I will not destroy these cities.”

In the meantime, however, the men who were with the Lord have been travelling down, out of the mountains, toward Sodom. And these men cover more than 30 kilometers in just a couple of hours! Which means they are either African marathon runners or some kind of supernatural beings.

Well, Moses says they are supernatural beings: [1] the two angels left Abraham in the late afternoon and arrived at Sodom in the evening. And Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city.

Now, for Lot to be sitting in the gateway means that he is definitely involved in local politics. He might even be one of the elders of the city, a member of the city council.

So when he saw the visitors, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground

— just like Abraham did —

And then he says, [2] “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

— again, just like Abraham did.

But: “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

Now, this is actually a very rude response. In those days there were no hotels. So when travellers arrived in a new city they were normally hoping that someone would offer them a place to stay. And if someone went through the trouble of offering, the visitor was supposed to accept.

But these men are basically saying, “We would rather camp out in the marketplace than spend the night in your house.” Which is an insult.

And, knowing — as we do — that these two men are God’s investigative team, this makes us wonder why they do not want to stay in Lot’s house. Is it because Lot is corrupted somehow, and they already know it? Or is it because they want to test his sincerity?

We don’t know. But if they are testing Lot’s sincerity, he turns out to be very very sincere about his offer:

[3] He insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house.

And, in fact, in the original language, this word “insisted” actually means that he physically grabbed them and forced them.

Which is odd, wouldn’t you agree? It is almost as if Lot expects something bad to happen if they camp out in the marketplace. But surely that couldn’t be! I mean: sure, Lot abandoned Abraham’s household, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a bad guy. Surely he would not deliberately continue to live in a city that he knows is corrupt and dangerous for visitors — would he?

So he took them home, and he prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.

— again, just like Abraham.

Except: the exact opposite. Because Abraham offered them a snack, but gave them a feast. Lot prepares a “feast” for them — that is the word Moses uses here — and then he gives them a snack. Which, again, is odd: “You guys sit down, relax, watch some Astro, I’m going to put together a feast for us!…here’s your chapati.”

So Moses is hinting to us, his readers, that — while Lot still has many good qualities — he has perhaps been influenced and even a little bit corrupted by his 20 years in Sodom.

And now we get to the part of the story that gives the bible its 18+ rating: [4] Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. [5] They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

…yes. That means exactly what you think it means.

[6] Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him [7] and said, “No, my friends

— literally, he calls them, “my brothers!” —

Don’t do this wicked thing. [8] Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

To be very honest, it is difficult to know what to say about Lot’s offer here…

On the one hand he is protecting his guests, which is good! In Lot’s world, if a guest suffers any kind of dishonour, then the host also is dishonoured. So Lot is very very committed to protecting his guests. Good for him.

On the other hand, Lot is not offering himself in exchange for the honour of his guests, he is offering his daughters. Which is repulsive to us! — and definitely repulsive to God. And it is really hard to tell if this is a serious offer, or if Lot is trying to shame his friends and neighbors into realizing what they are doing…we just don’t know.

But one thing is for sure: the fact that Lot is now faced with this situation where he has no good options left…tells us that he should have left Sodom a long time ago.

Anyway, his friends reject the offer: [9] “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.”

So Lot called them “brothers,” but they know the difference. Even after 20 years there, they still consider him a foreigner.

They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

And this word that Moses uses, “pressure”, is the same word that he used earlier when Lot “insisted” that the visitors come home with him: the men have physically grabbed Lot and they intend to treat him worse than the men inside.

[10] But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. [11] Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

And now Lot must know that his guests are not just ordinary men. And that prepares him to listen to what they have to say next:

[12] The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, [13] because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

The Lord’s investigation is over. He has confirmed the reality of the city’s corruption. And he has also confirmed that there is no righteous community here. There is no salt or light in this city. Which means that there is no one here for the citizens to look to for guidance in how to repent, how to worship, how to live in such a way as to please God. Which means that they are inevitably going to continue to get worse: more brutal, more violent, more abusive. Which means that there is no hope for this city. Which means that there will be no extension on the sentence.

When Abraham made his legal argument before the Lord, he had been hoping that his nephew Lot had somehow managed to lead at least 9 other citizens of Sodom into true worship. Clearly, Lot has failed. And, really, we — the readers — are not surprised. Lot has already rejected Abraham’s household two times. And Moses has been making it clear that the only true worshiping community on earth is Abraham’s household. There is only one City of God on earth — and Lot’s household is not it.

And so, now, if Lot wants to be saved from the coming judgement, he needs to gather up his household and flee: that is what his guests are telling him.

[14] So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

Now that is a special kind of pride at work, don’t you think? Remember, these young men are outside of Lot’s house: they are part of the mob. They have just been struck blind. But instead of being freaked out by this sudden, strange, supernatural event, they have continued to try to find the door. And now, when Lot speaks to them and tries to warn them…they think he is joking? They do not wonder, at all, if maybe — just maybe — the God who has struck them blind might also have the power to do something even worse?

And this refusal to listen to Lot’s warning is the final proof that these men cannot be redeemed. See, blindness was a kind of judgement upon these men — and it was also a mercy. By striking them blind, the Lord was actually protecting them from their own sin. Now, the bible makes it clear that small judgements like this are supposed to alert the sinner so that he realizes that he is on the wrong road. These small judgements are supposed to alert the sinner to his need for repentance.

But if the sinner refuses to be alerted, if the sinner refuses to recognize the corrective mercy contained in the judgement, then another judgement will come, and another, and another, each one worse than the last, until — in the end — the sinner has only two options left: repentance, or death.

These men have chosen death. They would rather die than humble themselves and admit that maybe they are on the wrong track. Their physical blindness is really just a symptom of their spiritual blindness.

So, [15] with the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

This is the moment of decision. More than 20 years before this, Lot abandoned the City of God and moved to take advantage of all the opportunities offered by the City of Man. Now, by God’s mercy, he is getting one more chance to repent and return to the City of God.

And Lot chokes.

He hesitates.


Obviously he believes that judgement is coming, otherwise he would not have bothered to try to warn his sons-in-law. He told them to flee! — so why, now, does he find it so hard to flee himself?

Old habits are hard to break, aren’t they? The patterns of a lifetime set in and there we are: locked in place, helpless to do what we know we have go to do if we are going to escape!

Lot is obviously a man who enjoys the good things in life. He is not an actively wicked man, but he is on the way. He has been compromised, corrupted by his own desires for wealth, power. For instance, we find him seated in the city gate, where Abraham was seated in the doorway of his tent. We find him offering cheap food to his guests, where Abraham offered a feast. We find him about to marry his daughters to men from this corrupt city, when he could send them to marry men from Abraham’s household, only 30 kilometers away. We find that he has already married some of his daughters to men from this city! — that is why the angels say, “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here…” suggesting that Lot has other daughters who have already joined other households.

We are finding that Lot is really not very different from his sons-in-law. When the moment comes, and the choice is set before him — repentance, or death! — we find that Lot chooses death. He cannot break free by himself.

The good new is this: Lot is not by himself.

[16] When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.

And there is an irony at work in this closing sentence: Lot used force to drag the angels into his house, a house where they should have been safe. Now, the angels use force to drag Lot and his family out of the city — a city where they should have been safe.

So what now? What does this mean? How do we apply this to our lives?

Well, Moses was a shepherd. He was a pastor. And the reason he wrote all this down was to serve as a guide for his people, the ancient people of Israel, the people who were destined to inherit Abraham’s land. And we are the distant, spiritual descendants of Abraham, so a lot of what Moses wrote to his people also applies to us, who are destined to inherit Christ’s earth.

So what was Moses saying to his people?

Well, we can find at least two main ideas here in this passage that apply to God’s people. The first one is a promise. The second one is a warning.

First, the promise: God’s judgement is inevitable, and it is perfect.

And the people of Israel needed to hear this promise because of where they were: camped in the desert, looking across the Jordan River at a land full of massive, intimidating, corrupted cities. They know that God has promised judgement upon these cities, but they do not know when. They are there, waiting for a signal.

Moses cannot tell his people exactly when that signal will come. But at least he can promise them that God’s judgement is going to fall, and it is going to fall at exactly the right time: at the very instant the sin of [these Canaanite cities] reaches its full measure.

That is what God told Abraham back in Chapter 15. He said that Abraham’s descendants would spend 400 years in slavery in a foreign country, almost as if they were in a holding tank, because “the sin of the [Canaanites] has not yet reached its full measure.”

When the sin of [these Canaanite cities] has reached its full measure, then — and only then — will God bring judgement upon them.

And so Moses is using the example of Sodom and the surrounding cities as a model to show his people how God is going to deal with the rest of the cities of Canaan, and how — one day — God is going to deal with the rest of the nations of the world. What we are seeing is that, back in Abraham’s time, the rest of the cities of Canaan were not yet as bad as they could be. Only Sodom and Gomorrah had reached a level of corruption that needed to be stopped. In fact, the rest of the cities of Canaan needed to be rescued from Sodom and Gomorrah.

But now, in Moses’ time, the nations of the world need to be rescued from the cities of Canaan. Over the last 600+ years, without Abraham’s household there to act as salt and light in the land, the cities of Canaan have all followed Sodom and Gomorrah down the same path of corruption. Their judgement is inevitable. The countdown has begun. And that is God’s promise for the people of Israel.

But the second thing Moses wants to do here is to give his people a warning: do not move away from the City of God as Lot did. Continue to participate in righteous, worshiping community.

And the people of Israel needed to hear this warning because they were going to be tempted. God had already told them that the process of cleansing the land would take some time to accomplish properly, and they would be tempted to go and join in the life of those cities: led away from life in the City of God by a lust for more wealth, more stability, more power, more independence. But that is a road that leads directly into the shadow of Judgement: to compromise, corruption, and paralysis when the moment of decision arrives.

So Moses is telling his people: better not to start down that road. Stay close to Abraham’s household, Abraham’s nation, Abraham’s worshiping community.

But of course, even after the seriousness of that warning, Moses closes with more Good News: God can be merciful even to people who have paralyzed themselves with stubborn sin. He reaches out, and grabs them by the hand, and drags them out of the City of Man.

And I think we can see how so much of this applies to us.

Like the ancient people of Israel, in many ways we Christians are a nation camped in the desert, looking across the Jordan River into a world that we are destined to inherit. Like the people of Israel, we are waiting for a signal.

Like the people of Israel, we are waiting for the sin of our world to reach its full measure.

Which raises a question for us: what does that mean? What will it look like for the sins of our world to reach their full measure?

And just like the ancient people of Israel, we can look to Sodom and Gomorrah for our answer.

Unfortunately, three generations ago controversy erupted over this exact point: what were the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah?

For almost 2000 years, Christians from every age and every culture read this episode and understood that Sodom was destroyed because of homosexual sin. In fact, the connection between Sodom and homosexual practice has been so strong for so many years that, in English, the technical term for the homosexual act is the word “sodomy” — named after this city of Sodom.

But, in 1955, for the first time, a western theologian — who wanted Christians to accept homosexual practice as normal — published a book in which he claimed that Sodom’s sin was not homosexuality, but inhospitality. He claimed that Sodom sinned by failing to care for visitors properly, and this is why the city was destroyed.

And ever since then, in the west, people have been debating about this: was Sodom destroyed because of homosexuality, or because of inhospitality?

The answer is: yes.

Those who argue that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality actually overlook other passages in the bible that clearly tell us Sodom was guilty of many sins, including inhospitality.

But, on the other hand, those who argue that the sin of Sodom was inhospitality actually overlook the fact that, for Moses — and for the rest of the writers of the bible — widespread homosexual practice in a society is the premier expression of inhospitality.

Allow me to explain:

If you search the bible for the name “Sodom”, you will quickly discover that the prophets of Israel had something to say about this. Isaiah says that Sodom was destroyed not simply because they were sinning — but because they were proud of their sins. Jeremiah says that Sodom was destroyed because of their arrogance and their violence against their neighbors, and because they supported others that were doing the same. Amos says that Sodom was destroyed because they were offered salvation — they were like a burning stick snatched from the fire — and yet they refused to accept God’s offer. Zephaniah says that Sodom was destroyed for insulting and mocking God’s people — which, you know, threatening to sexually abuse angels definitely qualifies.

But it is Ezekiel who goes into the most detail. He says, speaking with the voice of the Lord: “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 destestable things before me. Therefore I did away them.”

So what we find is that the Old Testament prophets — and the New Testament writers — all agree that Sodom and the surrounding cities had given themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion, but they also agreed that this open, unrepentant sexual sin was really the last stage of a process that began with false worship, arrogance, wealth, power, and a lack of compassion for the poor and for the needy…which is inhospitality.

Moses is expecting us recognize the progression of things: how Cain’s civilization was centered around the self-actualization of men and the degradation of women, how Babel was centered around the craving for centralized power and building a great name for themselves. And now, in the city of Sodom, Moses is showing us the natural end result of every civilization that builds itself around the worship of men: first, those men decide they don’t need God, they can take care of themselves; then they decide they don’t need the poor and the needy, except as slaves; and eventually they decide they don’t even need women.

This is why, for the ancient Jewish people, the practice of sexual immorality — and especially of homosexuality — was not simply viewed as some kind of private sin, it was viewed as yet another expression of injustice: hatred for women, hatred for children, hatred for the poor and the needy.

Moses is holding up the city of Sodom as an example of a society that has become so arrogant and so wealthy that they don’t even have to worry about fertility anymore. They are free to think about nothing but their own pleasure. They are free to abuse whomever they want without fear of consequences. They actually have the power to deconstruct society and rebuild it such a way as to maximise their own profits and pleasures, without any regard for the needs of women and children, the poor and the helpless.

We are asking what it will look like when the sins of our world reach their full measure? The city of Sodom is our answer.

Paul, one of the New Testament writers, fills in a lot more detail about what life in Sodom was like, and what our world is going to be like as we draw nearer Judgement Day. This is how he describes it: “Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

Now, it sure sounds to me like Paul is describing our modern world. Which is alarming, right? Well, this is why we also need to hear God’s promise repeated again and again: the Lord’s judgement is inevitable, and it is perfect.

In Abraham’s time, the cities of Canaan needed to be rescued from Sodom and Gomorrah. In Moses’ time, the nations of the Near East needed to be rescued from the cities of Canaan. Now, it appears, the earth itself needs to be saved from the nations of our world, which have all followed Sodom and Gomorrah down the same path of corruption. Their judgement is inevitable. The countdown has begun. And that is God’s promise, God’s comfort, for his people in every age, especially ours.

So what does this mean for us? How are we supposed to live in the face of this possibility that, very shortly, the nations are going to be rebooted anyway? Should we bother to invest at all in this world? Should we just be like Abraham and move to a mountaintop somewhere and wait?

Well: no. In some ways we are like Abraham’s household: camped on a mountain with God, waiting for Judgement Day. In some ways we are like Moses’ people: camped in the desert with God, waiting for Judgement Day.

But in other ways we are more like the people of Israel several generations after Moses: one kind of Judgement Day has already come and gone. The Jordan River has already been crossed. We have already received our inheritance, we are simply waiting for the final judgement, the final redemption of our earth.

What this means for our daily lives is that Christ’s Church is the City of God in this age. We are called to live in and among the Cities of Man. We are called to be salt and light in this world until the Day of Judgement.

And this is the real brain teaser for us: because our continued presence here on earth is actually the reason God is delaying Judgement. Our presence here is actually providing a few more years, a few more months, a few more minutes of mercy for the enemies of God, in hope that they might see the righteousness and justice of our worshiping communities and be led to repent and join us before it is too late.

So even though the sin of our world is quickly reaching its full measure, we can be confident that as long as the Lord continues to find a righteous, worshiping community of Christ on earth, he will continue to delay judgement, because our Lord’s patience means salvation.

But if that righteous worshiping community begins to disappear from the earth…friends: that is when we can know that the end is very near. We are not just waiting for the sin of our world to reach its full measure, we are also waiting for every last possible kernel of grain to be gathered into Jesus’ barn, for every last possible child of God to be carried into the ark.

And the New Testament tells us that, as we near the end, the nations of our world are actually going to help make us disappear! As the corruption of the nations becomes complete, as they become more and more arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned, as they refuse more and more to help the poor and needy, as they give themselves over more and more to sexual immorality and perversion…they are going to begin to surround God’s household more and more, demanding to abuse God’s people.

For instance, Matthew tells us that, near the end, many false prophets will appear. They will weaken Christ’s Church by filling the world with counterfeit signs and wonders, counterfeit churches, and counterfeit Christians.

Paul agrees. He says that, in the last days, Christianity will look stronger and more popular than ever! — but it will be a false Christianity based on Satanic miracles instead of God’s Word.

Meanwhile — John says, in the Book of Revelation — the remnants of the true Church will be persecuted by economic and political means: our warnings of judgement will be laughed at. Our rights will be taken away. We will be driven from the cities, we will be cut out of the economy, we will be despised as foreigners in countries where we have lived for generations, we will be marginalized and even put to death.

And what is going to be ironic about those days is that, by destroying the Church, the nations of the world will actually be throwing away the very thing that has been protecting them from judgement. One day, the bible tells us, the nations of our world are going to finally succeed in sweeping the last kernel of grain through the door of Christ’s barn, the last child of God through the door of Christ’s Church. In that moment, our Father is going to draw the gates of the City of God closed, and judgement will fall upon everyone caught outside the walls: the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare: the beginning of Earth 3.0.

But until that moment comes we are called to live as the City of God in and among the Cities of Man. That is what all this means for our daily lives.

Which means that we also need to hear Moses’ warning preached to us again and again: do not do what Lot did, and choose wealth in the City of Man over life in the City of God. And we need to hear this warning because we will be tempted, we are tempted to compromise for the sake of more wealth, more stability, more power, more independence.

And Moses’ warning is clear: if we do that, if we move away from worshiping community to live and worship on our own, then we are running  a terrible risk. We think that we will be able to handle the challenge, of course. We think that we will influence them — but instead they will influence us. First our character will be compromised. Then we will make more and more unethical choices in order to preserve our place in society. And in the end, when the final moment of decision arrives — repentance, or death — we will find ourselves paralyzed, unable to move, unable to do what we know we have to do to be saved.

Do not even start down that road! Continue to live in worshiping community, like this: in communities of ten families or more. Stay close to Christ’s household, Christ’s nation, Christ’s Church.

But let me close by reminding us all of the Good News: God is merciful even to those of us who have paralyzed themselves with stubborn sin. And I want to stress that this mercy extends to every kind of stubborn sin, including homosexual sin.

This episode is not meant to especially demonize people who are tempted to practice homosexuality. It is meant to instruct us on what it looks like when a society flames out and turns against itself and its neighbors. Moses is not saying that the practice of homosexuality is the unforgivable sin, but he is warning us about the corrupting power of culture, cultures that make it easy for people to hate women, hate foreigners, hate the poor, and love only their own kind.

All sins can be forgiven, except one only: if you reject the offer of Jesus Christ, if you refuse to let him draw you in to where you can be saved from judgement, then only do you perish.

So if you are here today, and you are struggling with a stubborn sin — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, a longing for the love of the world — and you are so paralyzed that you do not even know how to repent, then do this: reach out your hands and ask your Father to lift you up out of the flames.

And he will. No matter who you are. 

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