2. CHRISTIAN UNBELIEVERS
Do we belong to the present civilization, or to the coming kingdom of God? Do we belong to a system that is doomed to be destroyed, or to one that is destined to endure? Ultimately our own eternal destiny will depend upon the answer to this question.
Perhaps you are one of those people who are quite unmoved by stern words about judgements past and judgements to come? if you are, then this booklet Is not for you. It’s strange, though, that you should have read as far as this.
Some people—probably a larger number— would be more likely to pretend that they were not impressed. Bravely they would assert that they rejected both the story of the destruction of Sodom and the proposition that civilization was to be destroyed.
Fair enough! If this is how people like to see it, it would be difficult to persuade them otherwise. But two things should be made clear. First, it should be understood that refusing to face facts does not make the facts disappear. Many refused to believe that the “Titanic” could sink, but that did not prevent the proud passenger liner from going down on her maiden voyage.
The other thing that should be clearly understood is that those who adopt this negative attitude with regard to divine judgements are demonstrating that they cannot reasonably call themselves Christians.
Does someone protest that a man can be a Christian without believing everything that is written in the Old Testament? Ultimately, of course, it depends upon one’s definition of the word “Christian,” but it is submitted here that the obvious definition is: a follower of Jesus Christ.
How wrong people are to imagine that they can reject the Old Testament and still be followers of Jesus Christ! It is an understatement to say that the Lord Jesus was a firm believer in the Old Testament. He made numerous quotations from the Old Testament; he stressed the importance of its teaching; he rebuked both those who neglected and those who rejected these Hebrew Scriptures. Here are some of the things that the Lord Jesus said about the Old Testament:
“Have ye not read ...?” (Matt. 19:4). Jesus Believed the Sodom Story ...
“Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures ...” (Matt. 22:29).
“If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31).
“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46, 47).
“The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
Even more to the point is the fact that the Lord Jesus believed the story of the destruction of Sodom. Listen to his words:
“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day” (Matt. 11:23).
“Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed ... Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:28-32).
The Lord’s emissary, the Apostle Peter, also spoke of the destruction of Sodom, and made this the basis of a stern lesson for future generations:
“... And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:6, 7).... And He Warned of Judgements to Come
Let us not miss the main point. The Lord Jesus and Peter referred to the destruction of Sodom in a context concerned with another day of reckoning, it might be well to read the passages quoted above again, to see how clearly this thought is expressed. Indeed, the primary purpose of these scriptures is to give warning of judgements to come.The Flood
The Lord Jesus also referred to another catastrophic judgement in the early history of the world—a much bigger judgement than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. This was the flood, when the earth was purged of its wickedness, and when nearly all its inhabitants were swept away. Jesus made this also the basis of a warning concerning judgements to come. Here are his words:
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall a/so the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:37-39).The Second Coming
Observe that both in Luke 17 and Matthew 24 the Lord links the world’s future judgements with his own second coming. But more concerning this later.