The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features the last portion of Chapter 7: The Lessons of History: Remembering the Past to Defend the Faith.
Previously: Part 1 of Chapter 7
In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions, just as they did, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 7)
In this, the third lesson from history in verses 5-7, Jude completes the illustration of the progressive nature of sin: unbelief leads to rebellion, which ultimately gives way to depravity. Perhaps no place in history is more readily identified with debauched behavior than Sodom (not to neglect its nasty neighbor, Gomorrah, or the surrounding communities). From the red-light district of De Wallen in Amsterdam to the Strip in Las Vegas, no modern-day place on earth holds a candle to the ancient flesh pot on the plains of Canaan.
Before the destruction of these cities, Moses favorably describes the area as fertile – a good place to raise crops and animals (Gen. 13:10). But God’s wrath against the sinful inhabitants is so severe that the cities are reduced to ashes. In fact, God’s judgment is so complete that the ruins remain undiscovered, and the cities’ precise location is yet in doubt. It’s possible, but not proven, that the ruins lie beneath what is now the mineral-dense water in the southern portion of the Dead Sea.
The Lord’s judgment not only buries the bodies of the wicked beneath the ashes; it plunges their souls into everlasting punishment – in part, as a dire warning to future generations that unrepentant depravity leads to an unmitigated divine response. Jude wishes to remind his readers that the false teachers who have infiltrated the church possess the same depraved nature as the Sodomites and will share the same fate – everlasting punishment in hell.
But what, exactly, is the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Jude seems quite clear that they engage in sexual immorality and practice perversions – particularly homosexuality. Yet some recent commentators argue that the Sodomites, though a salty bunch, are falsely accused and badly misunderstood.