"Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit" (Ez. 16:49-50).
Pride, prosperity, abundance of free time, and hardness toward the plight of others create a powerful chemistry for spiritual decay and the demise of any people.
Prosperity has a way of numbing the heart toward spiritual matters. Nations that have become wealthy and powerful tend to take credit for their prosperity; they begin to believe that they are invincible and can do whatever they please without suffering any consequences. Every nation that has succumbed to that notion has eventually collapsed. Babel, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome . . . the list encompasses once-great nations whose former glory is eclipsed by their present insignificance. Each embraced the pride, idleness, and fullness of bread that destroyed Sodom. Idolatry and sexual abominations overflowed those nations prior to their destruction.
Oswald Chambers declared that sin is a disposition long before it is a deed. Israel's proud disposition, prosperity, and disdain for the less fortunate have kindled self-centered living, which most always leads to sexual sin. Many think that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their sexual sin. Their sexual sin, however, was merely a symptom of living independently of God. Prosperity allows for personal freedom that poverty doesn't offer. More money means more things, more opportunities for personal expression, and more time for self-gratification. The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah would have happily worn the popular "Life is good" t-shirts which capture the attitude and culture of those who live outside of the presence of God.
The wisdom writer recorded a prayer regarding prosperity and poverty, "Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches-feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, 'Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God" (Prov. 30:7-9). Prosperity and poverty are a trust from God. Those with excess will answer for how they used their resources and those who lack will answer for how they managed their shortage. Both must trust God in the midst of their prosperity and their poverty.
This description of Sodom reveals a number of important truths about pride and prosperity:
Wealth becomes a problem for those who use it strictly for personal gratification without any thought of how those resources could relieve the suffering of others.
Proud people exist in both the communities of wealth and the communities of poverty. Poor people often become bitter toward those who have, rather than cry out to God to meet their needs. Wealthy people often ignore the responsibility that accompanies wealth and fail to pray about how to manage their wealth for the glory of God and the good of others.
Both the wealthy and the poor may use their "spare" time for personal gratification (the poor: theft and sexual immorality; the wealthy: hoarding and sexual immorality). Both groups answer to God for how they live their lives.
What instructions does the LORD give Ezekiel for dealing with the hypocrisy of the elders of Israel?
The LORD illustrates the wickedness of Israel by declaring that, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job lived in Israel during this period, He would rescue them, but would still punish Israel. What does this reveal about the depth to which Israel has stooped? About God?
Review Judges 2:17. Nearly a thousand years have passed since the LORD first used "harlotry" to describe His people. Ezekiel uses this term throughout his description of Israel's relationship with God in chapter 16. What does this reveal about human nature? What hope does he offer Israel at the end of this description? What does this reveal about God?
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