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Beware this Universal Standard
by Don Costello  
1/22/2010 / Bible Studies


Beware this Universal Standard

Since I got born again at age 26 in 1976 there have been many natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti. In some of those instances the debate afterward in Christian circles would center on the question if God did it or why he allowed it. Ultimately the passage in Genesis 18:23-33 would be quoted to declare that God did not do it because if God would spare the five cites of the plain because of ten righteous then he would spare the nation or area that suffered the disaster because the reasoning follows, there were at least ten righteous in that nation or geographical area. I have heard this reasoning many times and because of ignorance it has become the universal standard of deflecting any talk of judgment from God in regards to a natural disaster, or even a man made disaster such as 9/11.

A few days ago an established writer wrote on a Christian website and used the Genesis passage to discourage any Christian who would say God was mad at Haiti, and encouraged Christians to "get out of the prophet business". Please don't misunderstand me, I don't believe God did it and I don't believe God is mad at Haiti. I believe God poured out His wrath on His Son while he was on the cross and he is not mad at mankind, but I do know He allowed it because it happened. Why he allowed it is another subject entirely and is not the subject of this writing. What I do know is this, people who declare after an horrific natural disaster that God didn't do it and use the Genesis passage are just plain ignorant. An established Biblical principle that is being left out here is as the amount of light is revealed to an individual or a church or a nation, the level or responsibility in obedience rises, and subsequently because of that light, the judgment on the nation, church or individual will be greater.

Many Christians are familiar with the passage in Genesis.

"Genesis 18:23-33 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake.
And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.
And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.
And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place."

The argument follows that if God would spare the cities of the plain if there were ten righteous people then surely he would spare any community or nation because surely there would be ten righteous people there. It sounds good if you don't add some other Scriptures. Scripture such as Ezekiel 14:12-20.

"The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,
Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:
Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.
If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts:
Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.
Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it:
Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.
Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:
Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:
Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness."

In this passage the Lord is telling Ezekiel that when He sends judgment against Jerusalem, only the righteousness of an individual would deliver the individual. Even if Noah, Daniel or Job were there, their righteousness would only deliver them, not even family members. This standard is stricter than Genesis 18:23-33.

The differences in the standards are because of the different amounts of light or revelation given to the two communities. Israel was given much more light than Sodom. This is demonstrated in the ministry of Jesus. When he left Nazareth and moved to Capernaum, in Matthew 4:13-16; the Bible says the people in the area "saw great light".

"And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Easiest the prophet, saying,
The land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
The people whom sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."

Later in Jesus ministry, the three main cities in this area, Corazon, Bethsaida and Capernaum were condemned by Jesus because they did not repent, Matthew 11:20-24.

"Then began him to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
Woe unto thee, Corazon! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tire and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
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.
But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."

The people in this geographical area saw Jesus minister, the light revealed to them was greater than the light revealed to Sodom. Even though they saw "great light", they refused to repent. Jesus said that the judgment upon Sodom would be less severe than for these three cities because Sodom received less light.

In respect to Ezekiel 14:12-21, some would propose that if Ezekiel had interceded for Jerusalem like Abraham had for Sodom, God would have spared Jerusalem. But that is not the case. The Lord told Jeremiah approximately 6 years previous in Jeremiah 11:11-14 not to pray for them because he would not listen.

"Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.
Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble."

In conclusion, the Scripture is clear. To use the Genesis 18 standard for a New Covenant setting is not only error, but it feeds a dangerous complacency based on ignorance.


My name is Don Costello. Ever since I received Christ in November of 1976 I have had a passion to study and know God's word.My wife Melissa and I have 5 children.

My e-mail address is costello.don@gmail.com

I have a blog located at:
www.theophilus-loverofgodsword.blogspot.com/


Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITERS
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