Living in Sodom

Let’s face it folks: Morally and spiritually speaking, Australia – or America, or England, etc – is now on a par with ancient Sodom and Gomorrah. These two wicked cities, along with three others, were destroyed by a righteous and holy God who finally had enough of their filth, perversion and ungodliness.

But it is hard to see how Australia or any other Western nation can be said to be much better today. Indeed, in many respects we are much worse. As proof, one only needs to read some of the articles on this site, documenting the daily descent into the pit.

The West is going down the tubes fast, and the levels of iniquity and unrighteousness seem almost incomparable to past evil. A quick look at some of my pieces under the ‘Culture Wars’ section, or the ‘Political Correctness’ section should make clear the moral and spiritual freefall we are now in.

And we are far more responsible and guilty than were Sodom and Gomorrah. As Leonard Ravenhill reminds us, “Sodom had no Bible”. If Sodom was ripe for judgment without special revelation, how much more are we with it? Indeed, how many Bibles are there in Australia alone? 20 million? 50 million?

How many churches are in this land? How many Bible schools and colleges? How many Bible conferences and meetings do we go to? How many audio sermons and Bible messages do we listen to? How many religious programs do we soak up each week? We even have 24-7 Christian cable television.

Yet for a land saturated with all things Christian, what sort of nation are we? What sort of impact have the churches had on the nation around us? Are we making an impact on the surrounding culture, or are we simply being impacted by it?

While we have plenty of believers here, we do not have many pray-ers. While we have plenty of churches, we do not have many intercessors. While we have plenty of pastors and teachers, we do not have many prophets. And while we have plenty of believers who love to be entertained and amused, we do not have many who agonise in their soul over the corrupt and reprobate land we live in, and the carnal and shallow church we belong to.

The pressing need for intercessors

In light of all this, where are the intercessors? On another social forum I posted the following familiar passage: “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30).

A concerned Christian replied, “I wonder about all this. There are heaps of intercessors about and praying people too. So what is happening? I sure don’t know.” I wrote back the following: “2 Chron 7:14 – we need all God’s people repenting and praying, not just some prayer warriors doing all the action.”

Indeed, the problem with a passage like 2 Chronicles 7:14 is that we have heard it so many times, we are so terribly familiar with it, that it has lost its punch. We have become desensitised to its vital and revolutionary message. Let me again offer you the text:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

How many sermons have we heard on this passage? How many visiting preachers or revivalists have used this as their main text? Yet where is the fruit of all this? Why does revival tarry? Why do we not see the land being healed and God moving in wonderful ways?

The answer is as obvious as it is painful. We are simply not meeting the clearly stated conditions of all this. We are simply not humbling ourselves. We are simply not praying. We are simply not seeking his face. And we are simply not turning from our wicked ways.

I travel and speak rather extensively around the nation and overseas, and I do see tiny pockets of this activity scattered here and there. I praise God that a very small minority – a godly remnant – are living and acting on these necessary truths. However, they are way too few and far between.

But can we really say that the first half of 2 Chron. 7:14 accurately describes the Australian church today? For the most part, it certainly does not seem to. The great majority of Australian Christians seem quite happy with the status quo. They do not regard themselves as particularly sinful or in need of revival, and they tend to regard those who do as extremist fruitcakes.

Indeed, we can go back to Ezekiel 22:30. Amongst God’s own people Yahweh was looking for someone – anyone – who meant business with God, who reflected his broken heart over a sin-soaked world, and who was willing to do the hard work of standing in the gap and pleading with God for mercy, not judgment. Yet he found no one!

As Iain Duguid comments, drawing us back to the Sodom theme, “There was literally no one to stand in the gap for her. In Abraham’s day, a quorum of ten righteous men might have saved Sodom. In Jerusalem, the new Sodom (Ezek. 16:46), there is not even left one righteous Lot who will escape.”

If Yahweh can refer to his own city of Jerusalem as the new Sodom, how much more must we refer to modern ungodly Australia as the new Sodom? But since Yahweh was speaking against his own people, what does he say to his people today?

Daniel Block offers this commentary on the Ezek. 22 passage: “To clarify the divine disposition, Ezekiel borrows a metaphor from his older contemporary, Jeremiah, who was commanded to scour the streets of Jerusalem in search of anyone who practiced justice and pursued truth (Jer. 5:1-6). The image of Yahweh searching for someone to man the breach is military….

“Unless the gap was quickly repaired or armed men were stationed in the gap, the invader would have easy access to the city. . . . If only there had been a voice to announce the certain judgment of God in the face of their criminal activity, to warn the people of Yahweh’s approach (cf. Ezek. 3:17; 33:7). But like false prophets in 13:5, the leaders were all too preoccupied with their own affairs to worry about the welfare of the city.”

Do you mind if I lightly rephrase that last bit? ‘Australian Christian leaders were too preoccupied with building their own kingdoms, bringing glory to their own names, and entertaining the masses to worry about the welfare of the nation.’ Indeed, recall that we are about to have a national election. John Taylor’s words aptly fit here: “Any nation which lacks godly leadership, as Israel did at that time, must surely be on the way out.”

Sodom had to be judged. How much more so us? Unless we, God’s people, begin to take seriously the message of 2 Chronicles 7:14, I fail to see how God can remain just and yet not judge us. Remember, judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17).

This nation is in a mess because the church is in a mess. And the church is in a mess because you and I are in a mess. We must begin with ourselves. And the best place we can begin is on our faces before a just, righteous and holy God who will not tolerate evil and degradation, nor allow it to continue unpunished.

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