History is littered with the debris of civilisations which have appeared on the stage of human affairs and then disappeared again. But what of the present western civilisation in which we live – that is the civilisation which exists across North America, Europe and Australasia. How long will this civilisation last?
In considering the prospects for “The West” we can go to the Bible and consider the causes of the obliteration of Sodom and Gomorrah by God. Billy Graham (although the statement apparently originates with his wife, Ruth,) is widely quoted as saying that “If God doesn’t destroy the USA, he owes an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah.” We can distinguish three reasons for the downfall of Sodom and Gomorrah:
Immorality Jude comments that Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion (Jude 7). We read in Genesis 19:5 of how the men of Sodom, young and old, demanded that Lot’s visitors were given to them. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Clearly here was a society pervaded by the perversion of homosexual activity. But the statement in Jude 7 does not limit the sexual immorality to this realm.
Christians are often attacked for overly concentrating upon the sin of homosexual activity. But all sexual immorality is heinous to our God. It does not need much research to prove that in “The West” it is now generally accepted that there is no problem with any sexual activity outside marriage. We fall very much under the condemnation of Jerusalem and Judea of whom Isaiah said: they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves (Is. 3:9b). Long gone are the days when people “lived in sin” and homosexual acts were considered an abomination. Accordingly, we are in a society which is bringing disaster upon itself. Romans 1 tells us how God works out his judgement by giving people over to pursue their own sinful ways. The Holy Spirit says God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Rom. 1:26-27).
Disrespect for authority Lot was a man who held a position of authority in Sodom. This is indicated by him sitting in the gateway of the city (Gen. 19:1b). This is what the rulers of the city did. However, we read that the men of the city, in their determination to commit sin, said to Lot, as he sought to hinder them, “This fellow came here as foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! Gen:19:9b). The mocked him. Similarly, disrespect for authority is one of the clear manifestation of the rebellion of the present age in the UK. Gone are the days when authority figures, like police, teachers, judges, doctors were viewed with awe and respect. Today, authority figures are scorned and society is in disarray as a result.
The judgement of God is scorned After being warned of the impending judgement to come upon Sodom we read that Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking (Gen. 19:14). It is very much like that today anything to do with the judgement of God is casually dismissed. The pervading thought is that God will not intervene. It is very much like the days that Peter warns of when he says that They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancesters died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed (2 Peter 3:4-6).
The civilisation based upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed in a cataclysmic way when God intervened. We read in Genesis 19:24-25 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah – from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities – and also the vegetation in the land. The devastation was so complete that the vegetation went as well! What is “in store” for the West? We live in the midst of immorality, disrespect for authority and a mocking of God’s judgement; so we should not be surprised that God is angry. And we should not be surprised if God brings “The West” to an end.
It is worthwhile finally thinking of our own attitude to the society in which we live. Let us look at Lot and Lot’s wife:
Lot: In 2 Peter 2:7-8 we read that God rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard). Lot hated the wildness he saw around him and was rescued by God.
Lot’s Wife: we read in Genesis 19:26 that when Sodom and Gomorrah were being obliterated Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. She was out of Sodom, but Sodom was in her heart. You may be in church professing your heart’s devotion to God, but your heart is filled with the world. Our Saviour said Remember Lot’s wife! (Luke 17:32).
Whether we are rescued or turned to salt depends upon the state of our hearts. The West may be facing devastation – what about us?!
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of September 2010 with revision)