Friday, January 16, 2009

Sadda Minga Morah! Yada Yada Yada...

I was almost sixteen when I landed my first real job at a Hallmark Card shop at the mall. I was excited about new responsibilities and opportunities, but more than that I was thrilled with the idea of having my own source of income. At the store, I rang up purchases in the cash register, counted back change (without the assistance of a computer or calculator--do kids still learn how to do that?) organized greeting cards, dusted shelves, and even learned how to enter the day's receipts into a general ledger. By hand. Today, just putting that in writing makes me sound ancient and the processes archaic, but oh how I loved it all.

After turning sixteen, I was able to drive myself to work, and it was on one of those blissfully beautiful days that I stopped at McDonald's for lunch before reporting for my Saturday afternoon shift. I sat alone enjoying the happy meal that I'd paid for all by myself, and listened as a golden arches employee sang with a heavy foreign (French?) accent as she cleaned a nearby table. I happened to be the only person in the section at the time and I vividly recall her looking at me curiously just before saying, "Ah so reedy for Christ come back, dis world one beeg sadda minga morah, no?"

I nodded my head in agreement, but had absolutely no idea what I'd just affirmed. She smiled. I smiled. And I filed in my memory bank that I'd need to ask my mother if she'd ever heard of a sadda minga morah when I got off work that night.

That evening, my mother explained that God had destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and that was probably what the girl had been talking about. It seemed to fit. After all, I had been able to ascertain that she'd referred to Christ, and she also seemed to be implying something bad about the world. Hmm. I didn't know that God had actually destroyed anything after he'd sent the flood, so I was both troubled and intrigued.

Today's scripture passage is Genesis 19-21. And yes, it's all about God's destruction of "Sadda Minga Morah"--places I first heard of at Micky D's one Saturday in 1974.

Scholars and thinkers have argued about this passage. Many are determined to offer a substitutionary reason for the destruction of these cities other than the pervasive homosexuality that was specifically mentioned in Chapter 19, verse 5. Some wishful thinkers hope to convince their audiences that the meaning of the Hebrew word, yada, which means "to know," meant that and only that in this reference, suggesting that the men of the city wanted to "interrogate" the angels who were staying with Lot. The many other passages that refer to the text, along with the precedent of the word's meaning in prior verses strongly suggest otherwise.

So what might be the primary takeaway from these chapters today? That God hates homosexuals and will destroy the cities (or countries) they live in? I don't think so. In fact, I know not. God doesn't hate specific people, God hates sin. He hated it in the garden, he hated it here, and he hates it now. Abraham did not have a really good frame of reference for God's hatred of sin prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But as he watched the cities smolder in the days that followed, there could be no doubt.

My children, God is serious about sin. He recognizes its destructive power and he despises its wicked ability to blind us to the priority of his purposes and the potential of his love. My message for you is this: Sin--any sin, all sin, leads to death--eternal, complete and total separation from God. But just as he had mercy on Lot and his daughters by allowing them to escape the city before its annihilation, he offers mercy to us today. His offer is beautiful, precious, and free--but not cheap. He allowed his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be born into this sin-filled world so that he could live perfectly, sinlessly, and ultimately painfully in our place.

In order to escape destruction, (for we, too, have sinned grievously) scripture says we are to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. (Romans 10:9) What a small price to pay for the things we've done to break his heart. What a huge sacrifice he made so that we could escape the punishment we deserve.

Thank you Father, that Christ's death is sufficient to cover my sins, and that you've offered the same to every person who by faith would be saved from separation from you.


  1. i am so impressed that you have found the time to write this much every day. i always wanted to be a writer but i guess i just lack the personal discipline it takes to get the job done! well done.

  2. LOVE IT! Thought I would share my thoughts on that passage too.

    This week, one of the assigned readings was Genesis 18. It’s the story of Abraham’s encounter with the three visitors and includes his plea for Sodom. Abraham asks in verses 23-25, “Will You really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are 50 righteous people in the city? Will You really sweep it away instead of sparing the place for the sake of the 50 righteous people who are in it? You could not possibly do such a thing: to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. You could not possibly do that! Won’t the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

    Haven’t we all been there before? Standing heart in fist asking the God of the universe if he really intends to allow innocent people to suffer, pleading with Him for a response to unanswered questions about why bad things happen to good people. After the barter between Abraham and his three guests, the Lord agrees to spare the city if He finds just 10 righteous people. Surely 10 righteous people existed then and surely they do today, right? Surely in the midst of tragic circumstances, God could have found at minimum enough righteous people to spare all the pain…at least for them and their sakes, right?

    Fast forward to Romans 3:10 where Paul quotes the Psalmist saying, “There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3)

    Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Easy answer, eh? There’s no such thing as good people. Our God is both sovereign and just, dishing out (rather sparingly if you think about) whatever consequences are appropriately deserved by the likes of us…the “not righteous” ones. He is completely just and none of us, no not one, deserve any better.

    That’s the great thing about grace. We get to take on the righteousness of Christ. He became our sin so we could claim His perfection. We should be glad no one else out there is righteous on their own. Then, they’d get spared by their own merit and we’d be “swept way” with our guilt. If there were 50 or 45 or 20 or 10 or even one righteous, then righteousness would be possible and the curve would be completely destroyed. The fact that there is “none righteous, no not one” levels the playing field and puts us all in the same stance…in desperate need of Savior offering us an alternative. It’s good being one of the “none righteous.” It means I can excuse myself from wondering why bad things happen to good people and just enjoy the blessing of being able to take off my filthy rags righteousness and try on the cleanliness of my King.

    Genesis 18. I like that story. And I like what the Psalmist wrote in 14:3. And I like that Paul quoted it to the believers in Rome. And I like that when God looks at us, He finds “none righteous, no not one” until He catches a glimpse of Christ who as enough righteousness to spare.

  3. Exactly. Couldn't have said it better myself. I love this Nic, thank you for sharing your great insight! And thank you Cassie for your kind words.