Shake off the dust! (Lk 9:5-9:5)

“Wherever

They did not welcome you,

As you are leaving

That town,

Shake the dust

Off your feet,

As a testimony

Against them.”

 

καὶ ὅσοι ἂν μὴ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς, ἐξερχόμενοι ἀπὸ τῆς πόλεως ἐκείνης τὸν κονιορτὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν ἀποτινάσσετε εἰς μαρτύριον ἐπ’ αὐτούς.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to his 12 apostles that wherever they did not receive them or welcome them (καὶ ὅσοι ἂν μὴ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς), as they were leaving that town (ἐξερχόμενοι ἀπὸ τῆς πόλεως ἐκείνης), they were to shake the dust off their feet (τὸν κονιορτὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν ἀποτινάσσετε) as a testimony or witness against them (εἰς μαρτύριον ἐπ’ αὐτούς).  Equivalent passages to this can be found in Matthew, chapter 10:14-15, and Mark, chapter 6:11.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that if any place would not receive them or listen to their words, they were to leave that place.  They should shake off the dust from their feet, as a witness or testimony against them.  This indicated that the dust of that house was useless.  Some orthodox texts have the statement about Sodom and Gomorrah that was in Matthew, chapter 10:15, where Jesus make a comparison between those places that had rejected them with the famous wicked cities of Genesis, chapter 18:20-19:29, Sodom and Gomorrah.  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that if anyone would not receive them or listen to their words, they should leave that house or town.  They were to shake off the dust from their feet, indicating that the dust of that house or town was useless.  Matthew had Jesus make a comparison between these non-welcoming towns that had rejected them with the famous wicked cities of Genesis.  This was a solemn statement that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah on judgment day than these towns that had rejected his disciples.  They had lacked hospitality to the followers of. Jesus, so that they were worse than those terrible cities in Genesis.  Do you know a town worse than Sodom and Gomorrah?

Against Moab and Ammon (Zeph 2:8-2:10)

“I have heard

The taunts of Moab.

I have heard

The reviling of the Ammonites.

They have taunted

My people.

They have made boasts

Against their territory.

Says Yahweh of hosts,

The God of Israel.

‘Therefore,

As I live,

Moab shall become

Like Sodom.

The Ammonites shall become

Like Gomorrah.

They will become

A land possessed

By nettles,

By salt pits,

A waste forever.

The remnant of my people

Shall plunder them.

The survivors of my nation

Shall possess them.

This shall be their lot

In return for their pride.

Because they scoffed.

They boasted

Against the people

of Yahweh of hosts.’”

Next Yahweh, via Zephaniah, rebuked Ammon and Moab, the east bank trans Jordan countries that were the descendants of Lot, via the incest with his two daughters.  Thus, they were to become like Sodom and Gomorrah as in Genesis, chapter 19.  These countries were taunting and berating Judah and Israel.  However, Yahweh himself decreed that they would become a wasteland with thorny plants and salt pits.  Those surviving and remaining from Yahweh’s people would plunder them and take their possessions.  The Ammonites and Moabites were too proud.  They had scoffed and boasted against the people of Yahweh.  Now it was their turn to be devastated.

The eternal fire in Edom (Isa 34:8-34:10)

“Yahweh has a day of vengeance.

He has a year of vindication

For Zion’s cause.

The streams of Edom

Shall be turned into pitch.

Her soil turned into sulfur.

Her land shall become a burning pitch.

Night and day,

It shall not be quenched.

Its smoke shall go up forever.

From generation to generation,

It shall lie waste.

No one shall pass through it forever and ever.”

Isaiah says that Yahweh will have his day of vengeance and a year of vindication for Mount Zion. The water streams of Edom will be turned into oily pitch, while the land will become like sulfur. Thus the whole land will become a burning pitch of fire and brimstone. Both day and night, forever, this fire with its smoke will not go out. For generations to come, this land will lay wasted so that no one will ever pass by there again. Its sounds like some kind of deserted smoking volcano, suffering the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis, chapter 19.

The destruction of Sodom (Gen 19:1-19:29)

 “The two angels came to Sodom in the evening.  Lot was sitting in the gateway of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and bowed down with his face to the ground. He said, ‘Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet.  Then you can rise up early and go on your way.’ They said, ‘No. We will spend the night in the street square.’  But he urged them strongly.  So they turned aside to him and entered his house.  He made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.”

How are these two angels related to the three men who visited Abraham? They almost seem the same.  Nevertheless these two are called angels, not men, and there only two as if Yahweh, the third did not come.  Lot met them at the entrance to Sodom.  He promptly asked them to stay the night by washing their feet. They wanted to spend the night in the town square of Sodom, but Lot convinced them to stay with him. So, he prepared a great feast with unleavened bread, which they ate. So these angels eat food.

“But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, and all the people to the last man, surrounded the house.  They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.’”

However, before they went to lie down for the night, the whole town surrounded Lot’s house.  Here they are called men not angels.  In a surprising tone, the men of Sodom told Lot to bring the men out so that they might ‘know them.’ ‘Know’ is a euphemism for sex. The wickedness of this town becomes obvious as some kind of homosexual rape.

“Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Look I have two daughters who have not known man.  Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please.  Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’  But they said, ‘Stand back! This fellow came here as an alien, and he would play the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.’ Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near the door to break it down.  But the men inside reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. They struck with blindness the men who were at the door of the house, both small and great, so that they were unable to find the door.” 

Lot went out to talk to them and told them to not act so wickedly.  In fact, he offered his two virgin daughters, saying you can do anything you want with them.  He begged them not to hurt ‘the two men’ since they had the shelter of his roof.  Then the men of Sodom turned on Lot as an alien. However, the two men or angels pulled Lot inside the house and struck all the men outside the house blind.  It is interesting that Lot would give up his two daughters to protect the two men or angles, showing that men were more valuable than women.  There is a show of force by the two visiting men making the intruders blind.

“Then the men said to Lot, ‘Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. We are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before Yahweh. Yahweh has sent us to destroy it.’  So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, ‘Up, get out of this place.  Yahweh is about to destroy the city.’ But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”

Then the two men who were angels at the beginning of this story asked Lot who was with him, because Yahweh had sent them to destroy this place.  Lot went to his future son-in-laws to tell them to come with him because of the destruction of Sodom. They thought that he was joking.

“When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Get up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.’  But he lingered.  So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, Yahweh being merciful to him, and they brought him out and left him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, they said, ‘Flee for your life.  Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley plain.  Flee to the hills or else you will be consumed.’  Then Lot said to them, ‘Oh, no, my lords.  Your servant has found favor with you, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life.  But I cannot flee to the hills, for fear that the disaster will overtake me, and I die. Look, that city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one.  Let me escape there.  Is it not a little one?  My life will be saved!’  He said to him, ‘Very well, I grant you this favor too, that will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there! For I can do nothing until you arrive there.’ Therefore the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.”

The two angels took Lot and his wife and two daughters by the hand outside the city, since they were lingering.  They were to flee to the hills without looking back.  However, Lot resisted and wanted to go to a nearby little city of Zoar and so he went there.

“Then Yahweh rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from Yahweh out of heaven.  He overthrew those cities, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.  But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”

Then Yahweh rained on both Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire so that all who lived in those two towns and the plain were destroyed.  It is not clear why Gomorrah was included but it is assumed that they were wicked also.  Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt, a striking biblical image.  Remember that this was in the plain by the Dead Sea which was also called the Salt Sea.

“Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before Yahweh.  He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley plain and saw the smoke of the land going up like the smoke of a furnace.  So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had settled.”

The next day Abraham looked down on the destruction with smoke in the air like a furnace.  So it was that the cities of the valley plain were destroyed, while Lot was saved.  This is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, a fiery destructive God dislikes wickedness and destroys it.

The intercession of Abraham (Gen 18:16-18:33)

“Then the men set out from there, and they looked toward Sodom. Abraham went with them to set them on their way.  Yahweh said, ‘shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?  No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of Yahweh by doing righteousness and justice.  So that Yahweh may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.’  Then Yahweh said, ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin!  I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me.  And if not, I will know. So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before Yahweh.”

The three men, and they are called men, with Abraham set out for Sodom.  However, the men morph into Yahweh and how Abraham must be righteous and just to bring about all that is planned for him.  Somehow there is an outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah because of their very grave sin, without mentioning what the sin is. Yahweh and the three men were going there to see for themselves. It seems as if the men and Yahweh are not one and the same because Yahweh stays behind with Abraham.   

“Then Abraham drew near, and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city.  Will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of the entire earth do what is just?’  And Yahweh said, ‘If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.  Abraham answered, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to Yahweh, I who am but dust and ashes.  Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?’ And he said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’ Again he spoke to him, ‘Suppose forty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of forty I will not do it.’  Then he said, ‘Oh do not let Yahweh be angry if I  speak.  Suppose thirty are found there.’ He answered, ‘I will not do it, if I find thirty there.’  He said, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to Yahweh.  Suppose twenty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.’  Then he said, ‘Oh so not Yahweh be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’ And Yahweh went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham. Then Abraham returned to his place.”

Abraham asked if they would sweep away the righteous with the wicked.  If there were 50 righteous people, will he spare the city?  Yahweh said yes.  Abraham refers to himself as ‘dust and ashes,’ as he asks suppose there are only 45.  Once again the answer is yes.   Then Abraham lowers the number to 40, 30, 20, and 10. Each time Yahweh says yes.  Abraham is a good negotiator and Yahweh is easy to convince.