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A REMARKABLE exhibition of the visible hand of God occurred in Abraham's days, though somewhat outside the circle of his experiences. The occasion was the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This event is distinctly and reliably historic, notwithstanding the modern tendency to regard it as mythical and legendary. Its appearance in the Mosaic narrative would be conclusive, without further evidence, considering how completely established the authority of the Pentateuch is by Christ's own endorsement; but in addition to this, we have Christ's specific allusion to the matter, thus-
"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" (Luke 17: 28).
Then, we have the apostles alluding to it more than once (2 Peter 2: 6; Jude 7), while, in the prophets, it is familiarly used as a standard of comparison in the most matter of fact way, thus:
"Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah"
(Isaiah 13: 19).
"As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighbour cities thereof, said the Lord, so shall no man dwell there" (Jeremiah 50: 40).
"The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom" (Lamentations 4: 6).
"Sodom, thy sister, hath not done as thou hast done" (Ezekiel 16: 48).
It follows that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah stands or falls with Christ, the apostles and the prophets. As the falling of these is on the list of logical impossibilities, the record of that destruction is established.
[Sodom] had a considerable population clustered in several towns and villages, but the character of the population was by no means in harmony with the beauty of their fertile surroundings.
"The men of Sodom were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly"
(Genesis 13: 13).
Their wickedness is manifest in the incident that followed the arrival of Lot's angelic visitors; but their behaviour on that occasion was only a symptom of their general character. This is thus described in a long subsequent message to Israel:
"Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her, and in her daughters, 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 good"
(Ezekiel 16: 49). *
Lot having started near Sodom (Gen 13;12), was now living in the gate of Sodom, so that the world was sucking him into its clutches. He escaped by the skin of his teeth. His wife looked back and was doomed (Gen 19;26, Luk 17:32).
What a lesson to us all! **
2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Heb 13:2)
Curious visitors these, who could dispense with roof and bed while darkness brooded on earth-and make themselves at home "in the street!"
There is here a peep into the modes of angel life. Habits are according to nature and need. The fish in the water, the birds in the trees, beasts in the open field-are at home where man would perish. The comforts of a human home would be death to these.
Angels are higher than man: they cannot die anywhere: they can adapt themselves to any condition. At the same time, possessing the highest and most appreciative order of intelligent faculty, they have their preferences. A human habitation may be to them what a "lodging house" would be to the lord of a palace.
Sleep they apparently do not require. Sharing the nature of Him who "slumbers not nor sleeps" (Psalm 121: 4), "who fainteth not neither is weary" (Isaiah 40: 28), they can "abide in the street all night" without inconvenience.
The fact is interesting to us because of the hope the gospel gives us of becoming like to them (Luke 20: 36). *
3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.
The angels are not indifferent to the wishes and comforts of others. They are the true gentlemen of the universe. They reflect the character of the Eternal Father of all, who is gracious, compassionate, and good. They would have preferred God's open air, but in view of Lot's strong desire, "they turned in unto him, and entered into his house," and not only so, but they condescended to partake of what he provided for them. *
*Visible Hand of God Ch 8
A feast or supper was prepared by Lot, and eaten with unleavened bread. This symbolised fellowship, the unleavened bread representing purity from sin, from the leaven of darkness and corruption, the only basis for fellowship with Yahweh
(1 Cor 5;6-9, 2 Cor 6; 14-18, 1Jhn 1; 5-7). **
The Angels Did Eat
The relation of the spirit-body to food is a matter upon which we must have experience before we can have knowledge. We know that spirit-being can eat, as shown by the angels and the Lord Jesus after resurrection (Gen. 19:1-3; Luke 24:39-43), but we know nothing of how the food is utilised when taken into spirit-organisation. Nevertheless, we may safely draw certain conclusions.
There will be no corruption or corruptibility in the process of digestion, because of the power of the organisation. It is a law of physiology now that the assimilation of food is proportionate to the power of the organisation. Weak bodily machinery performs the process very imperfectly and passes much nutritive aliment unappropriated.
In healthy, powerful organisations, the proportion of rejected matter is much smaller. We should be justified in reasoning how small it must be in an immortal organisation, upon the analogy of this natural principle. But may we not go a step further: nay, must we not go a step further, and say, there will be no residuum at all in the digestive operations of the spirit-body, but that every atom will be consumed in the spirit-combustion at work in the body of every glorified saint?
All substances are spirit at the base, and it is probable--shall we not say inevitable--that a spirit-body has the power of assimilating spirit to spirit without natural residue? If so, there is this pleasing thought before us in the prospect of immortality, that while food may not be--cannot be--necessary for the sustenance of life in the spirit-body as it is in the natural body, yet pleasure and refreshment will be found in the partaking of food and its re-conversion into spirit without any remnant of corruption such as belongs to the present body of our dishonour?
Law of Moses Ch 31
Angels eating, will only be a difficult idea with those whose notions on the subject are drawn from religious novels and art illustrations. The Scriptural exhibition of the subject is free from difficulty. Angels can eat, though independent of eating for life; and when they eat, their food is assimilated to their spirit-nature, just as food eaten by man is assimilated to man-nature; by animals to animal-nature.
There is this difference, that angel-nature is spiritual and incorruptible. There is none of the offensiveness more or less incident to the processes of all animal organizations. Cleanness, holiness, incorruptibility, and strength, are characteristics of the spirit-nature, involving completeness of absorption of all substances partaken of. *
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
-then they did lie down? Yes, they can accommodate themselves to circumstances. They were under Lot's roof: they had the hours of darkness to spend; they had accepted his hospitality; and they conformed to his wishes and expectations in the matter of "lying down"; they could make themselves as comfortable by lying down as sitting up, and lying down would be more to the comfort of the family than if they had sat up. *
5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
They had heard of the arrival of Lot's guests, and, in an idle and wanton mood, they wanted to get sport out of them. They demanded of Lot to bring them out. Lot expostulated with his neighbours. He might as well have expostulated with a pack of wolves. They are deaf to every appeal of reason; they persist in their madness, and make an attempt to break into the house by force. And, no doubt, brute force would have been successful, as it has been in thousands of cases in the history of the world.
But there was a power inside that only rarely takes part in the concerns of men. These comely, gentle visitors, whose arrival had caused the strife, had power that this mob knew nothing of. They had greater power than comes with mere bone and muscle, of however brawny an endowment. They had control of the occult forces of nature. *
11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
This is what men call "miracle," a definition correct enough when employed to mean a use of power beyond human reach...
...It is but a superhuman use of nature-a manipulation of nature's forces by the power that lies at the root of all nature-from which nature sprang, and in which it subsists from hour to hour. The Spirit of God is this energy of nature, and when God gives its control to angel or man, wonderful things can be done, but those wonderful things are all in harmony with nature's forces-not upsetting or displacing them, but using and modifying them with the aim of producing specific results by means of those forces intelligently and dynamically applied.
It is as when a demonstrator of chemical science takes a natural substance, and by decomposing agents, reduces it to elementary principles, or, as when he artificially produces ice, or light, or any other phenomenon. The professor produces extra-natural results-results that override nature for the time being: but the results are not contrary to nature; he produces them by applying nature's forces in a specific way.
"Miracle" is of this order, with this difference, that the operators have a higher command of nature than is possible to man. They have this by having hold of the root-element, the primal eternal force, the Spirit of God, in which all things exist. Man is an external mechanical operator, so to speak, who can only use the established affinities in educing results. The Spirit of God has to do with the inside and constitution of everything, and can at will evolve results in a direct manner, and of a radical sort.
Lot's visitors were incarnations of this Spirit. They had but to will the blindness of the senseless crowd outside the house; their will became a paralysis of the optical nerves of every one of them, and they were blind. It is what happens in mesmeric experiments, only that, in the case of the mesmerist, he has laboriously to expend much of his feeble force in a warm apartment, free from draught, to bring one or two in a company under his influence, while the angels, with the completeness of divine power, smite a whole crowd of robust people in the open air. *
*Visible Hand of God Ch 8
26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)
In the Book of Jasher 19:50-53 it is written: "...Ado the wife of Lot looked back to see the destruction of the cities, for her compassion was moved on account of her daughters who remained in Sodom, for they did not go with her..."
While the book of Jasher is not considered an inspired book, it is an excellent history book. Joshua quoted from the book of Jasher 88:63-64 (Josh 10:13), and so did David, Jasher 56:9 (2Sam 1:18). Two witnesses testified to the accuracy of the Book of Jasher (see Deut 19:15; 2Cor 13:1).
Jesus warned in Matt 10:34-39,
"...He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me..."
Then in Luke 17:32 Jesus said,
"Remember Lot's wife."....
When our angel comes to take us to the Judgment Seat of Christ, will our faith be strong enough to leave our possessions behind? Will our faith be strong enough to be able to leave our family, children, and grandchildren behind; will we look back in desire for what we long for, or just leave without ever looking back (see Matt 24:17; Mark 13:15-16)?
These are gut-wrenching decisions for which we must prepare ourselves now. The right action on our part requires a lot of faith!
"Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth" (Luke 18:8)?
Sis Valerie Mello