Isaiah: God Speaks to People of Sodom


Isaiah One

Hear O heavens! Give ear O earth!

For the LORD has spoken:

“Children I have raised and brought up,

but they have rebelled against me.

The ox knows its owner;

the donkey its master’s trough;

Israel does not know,

my people does not understand.”

Woe! Sinning nation,

guilt laden people,

evil generation,

corrupt children.

They have forsaken the LORD:

they have turned away from the Holy One of Israel;

they have turned back. . . .

Hear* the word of the LORD, governors of Sodom;

give ear to the teaching of our God, people of Gomorrah. . . .

When you spread out your hands [to pray],

I will turn my eyes from you.

Even though you multiply your prayers,

I am not listening.

It is blood that fills your hands.

[*Hebrew does not recognize a distinction between hearing and doing. If you do not obey a command you do not truly hear it.]

Wash to be clean!

Take away the evil of your deeds from before my eyes.

Stop doing evil; learn to do good. . . .

“Come now, let us argue it out together,” says the LORD.

“Even if your sins were like scarlet,

they could become white like snow.

Even if they were like crimson,

they could be like wool.

If you are willing and listen,

you will eat the best of the land.

But if you refuse and rebel,

the sword will devour you.”

For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

“This passage [18ff] provides a conclusion to the contrast between [religious system] and ethical behavior . . . there is only one intelligent course of action—obedience and submission.”

“. .. what God is asking the people to debate with him is the wisdom of the two alternatives that are left them. Should they continue as they are and be destroyed, or should they obey God and be blessed?”

“God does not contend with us as though he wished to pursue our sins to the utmost. There is hope, but in God’s way, not ours.”

“There is a delicate balance to be maintained here between human freedom and divine sovereignty. On the one hand, it ought not to be said that obedience produces forgiveness. God forgives and cleanses not because he must, but because he wishes to and has made a way for that to be done through the death and resurrection of Christ. But, on the other hand, it is also plain that God does not proclaim forgiveness to those who are unwilling to obey.”

“The primary emphasis in Scripture is upon act. It is not how one feels but what one does that is of primary importance.”

–John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament

Two Swords: Enough

Here is a blazing example of what happens when Christians pay little attention to context in the Bible. I have seen several forum discussions in the last months where Christians said, ‘…but Jesus told his disciples to buy swords.”

On the Way to the Mt. Of Olives

Luke 22

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough [ESV].

First, we might note the hyperbole of selling an essential garment in order to buy a sword. What is being emphasized is the critical situation that is developing.

The context of this setting is immediately before they go to the Mount of Olives where Jesus will be arrested and where Peter will use one of those swords (John 18). “Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26).

But back to the immediate context of the “swords”there are clear clues in this hard saying for us to follow. We are told that the disciples possess “two.”  Jesus reply, It is enough,” can only mean either 1) that two swords are sufficient to fill the prescription [that the Scripture about being “numbered with the transgressors” must be fulfilled](Marshall thinks this not “probable”)  or 2) that “enough” is a rebuke to the disciples for not understanding him.

“The words, ‘It is enough’, may imply that that is enough of that kind of talk”–The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

Norval Geldenhuys, Luke (NICNT) thinks that, rather than a rebuke, this “ends the discussion sorrowfully.”

I. Howard Marshall, in Luke (NIGTC), says, “It is most probable that this simply means  ‘That’s enough (sc. of this conversation) and is meant as a rebuke….This is the final conversation-piece in the extended dialogue…It brings to a climax the misunderstanding and earthly-mindedness of the disciples [how contemporary for us disciples today!] which has already figured three times in the dialogue…the disciples fail to understand; taking Jesus literally, they produce two swords, and Jesus has to rebuke them for their lack of comprehension…” **

[It is incredible that many Americans who claim the name “Christian” use this saying to justify their own beliefs about war.  On this side of the Resurrection, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Canon, we are without excuse for such nonsense.]

**[A note on “enough” from another scholar:  ‘Jesus words, “It is enough” are interesting. This is an idiom, and as an idiom is difficult to trace throughout the Bible, but a few references are illuminating. In Deuteronomy 3:26 the NIV (among other translations) render God’s rebuke to Moses as, “That is enough.” In other words, “Be quiet – the discussion is over.” In 1 Samuel 15:16, Samuel cuts King Saul’s excuse off with a brisk, “Stop!” In 2 Samuel 24:16, God stays the hand of the destroying angel with an emphatic, “Enough!” Interjections such as these have both a disjunctive and a corrective sense. They are used to stop the present flow of words or actions, and they indicate a different path of action or discourse will follow. Viewed in this manner, Jesus is simply telling his disciples to shut up; they have utterly misunderstood him yet again,. . .’]

[Link on Romans ’13’]

Romans “13” In Context

A brief look at Romans “13” in its historical and textual context:

586 BC Solomon’s Temple destroyed

[Second Temple Consecrated, 516 BC]

After the Babylonian captivity ended, Judea survived under the succeeding Empires.

323 BC Death of Alexander the Great. Kingdom divided among the generals.

Judea comes under the Ptolemies, who also rule Eygpt

198 BC Judea annexed by the Seleucids, under Antiochus III, who rules Syria

During this period, Jews were under no government edicts to change customs [though many fell under the spell of the Hellenistic spirit of the times]. Antiochus strengthened the High Priesthood, made Torah official law for Jews and exempted Jews from taxes.

Judea was still a theocratic/Temple State.

Internal strife precipitated a crisis under the next king, Antiochus IV, Epiphanes. High Priestly faction, the House of Zaddock, was pro-Ptolemaic.

Another artistocratic family, the Tobiads, was pro-Seleucid.

Complaints against High Priest Onias III led to removal. Office was sold to his brother, Jason, who received permission from Antiochus “to transform Jerusalem into a Greek polis…” “For the first time in Jewish History, the office of high priest had changed from heritage to a privileged position…” to be bought.

Later, Jason refused to surrender that office. Civil war broke out. Besides the political factions, the scribal class, to whom the common people looked, produced the Hassidim who attacked Jews who were Hellenizers.

168 BC Antiochus Intervenes in Jewish civil war.

This led to the events described in Maccabees: Desecration of the Temple; the Abomination of Desolation.

This then led to Revolt of the Maccabees, joined by the Hassidim

164 BC “On December 25…Temple was purified and rededicated to Yahweh.”

Annual observance—Hanukkah, Festival of Lights

Judea gains autonomy. Simon, one of the Maccabees, rules from 140-135. Holds Offices of High Priest [first of the Hasmonean Dynasty], Ethnarch, military and civil Governor. [Bloody beheading site under High Priest/King Alexander Jannaeus}

Intervening Years till reign of Herod–Battles continue between factions and enemies.

63 BC Pompey Captures Jerusalem.

Antipater, father of Herod, honored by Julius Caesar.

40 BC After Rome’s Civil War, under Octavian Caesar, Antony and Roman Senate confer title on Herod: “King of the Jews” [despised by devout Jews]

4 BC Death of Herod The Great

Revolts put down. Kingdom divided among sons

Archelaus rules over Judea…strife continues

Jewish delegation to Rome: complaints about Archelaus’ rule; asks for Roman rule

AD 6 Archelaus’ rule ends. Judea Becomes Roman Province

Change in government calls for census—taken for purpose of taxation. To devout Jews, this was a symbol of subjugation to Rome, a foreign, pagan power

Judas the Galilean [Acts 5:37], with Zadock the Pharisee, leads Revolt

Judas recruits his band around Sepphoris, the capitol [a short distance from Nazareth]

Three Roman Legions under Varus crush revolt via the sword.

2000 Jews Crucified around Jerusalem [Josephus, Ant.17:295]

[From this period until the outbreak of the final Jewish War in AD 66, Zealots and assassins would continue to foment rebellion and violent outbreaks. Josephus, The Jewish War, is great background reading for understanding NT times.]

c. AD 29 “Barrabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection.” [Mark 15]

AD 46-48 Insurrections: Two Sons of Judas the Galilean executed by Rome

c.AD 49 Edict of Claudius

Jews expelled from Rome for disturbances [Acts 18:2]

AD 54 Claudius Dies

Jews begin return to Rome

AD 57 Paul Writes Letter to Romans

AD 66 Jewish War begins. Temple Destroyed in 70


Read IN CONTEXT: Rom 12-13

[Note: Paul wrote a letter, not chapters.  New Testament Had NO Chapter numbers for over 1000 years.]

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect…

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.   Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…..Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law….

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand.  Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light (Rom. 13:12).

Christians are called to be the light of the world, not the sword of the LORD.

[Preston Sprinkle, (Ph. D. in NT, University of Aberdeen), best sums this up by the display of these two verses:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19)

For he [the  governing authority] is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out the wrath of God on the wrongdoer. (Rom 13:4)”] {This KEY POINT of Dr. Sprinkle posted in context below in my last comment.}

[Charles Spurgeon is an excellent example of a Christian leader who understood the implications of this. See here ]