Prosperity has a way of numbing the heart toward spiritual matters. Nations that have become wealthy and powerful tend to take credit for their prosperity; they begin to believe that they are invincible and can do whatever they please without suffering any consequences. Every nation that has succumbed to that notion has eventually collapsed. Babel, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome . . . the list encompasses once-great nations whose former glory is eclipsed by their present insignificance. Each embraced the pride, idleness, and fullness of bread that destroyed Sodom and each followed on that heart attitude with idolatrous and sexual abominable actions.
Oswald Chambers says that sin is a disposition long before it is a deed. Israel's proud disposition, prosperity, and disdain for the less fortunate kindled self-centered living which most always leads to sexual sin. Many think that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their sexual sin. Their sexual sin, however, was merely a symptom of living independently from God. Prosperity allows for personal freedom that poverty doesn't offer. More money means more things and more opportunities for personal expression, and more time for self-gratification. The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah would have happily worn the popular "Life is good" t-shirts which capture the attitude and culture of America.
Solomon served as Israel's king at the height of Israel's prosperity and recognized the dangers of prosperity when he prayed, "Two things I request of You. Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches--lest I be full and deny you, and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God" (Proverbs 30:8-9).
It isn't wrong to have wealth but it is wrong to use your wealth strictly for your own personal gratification without any thought of how you should and could use your resources to relieve the suffering of others.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Ezekiel 14:1-16:63
- Why have the elders come to Ezekiel and how does the LORD respond to their coming?
- What does this tell you about God? (It is important to understand that the heart of God for His people has always been repentance and restoration. The problem lies not with God but with the stubbornness of mankind.)
- Who does God use as examples of righteous men?
- List the four dreaded judgments coming upon the people of Jerusalem.
- What does God use to illustrate the coming judgment to the people of Jerusalem?
- What analogy does God use to describe the people of Jerusalem?
- How does the Lord describe Israel's early development?
- Who initiated a love relationship with her?
- Describe God's care and provision for her.
- How does she respond to His love and how is her behavior described?
- What has she forgotten?
- How does Israel provoke the Lord to anger?
- List the six sins of Sodom.
- What does God promise Israel that reveals just how merciful He is?
As you process this chapter think about the parallels between Israel and America. Look at the list of the six sins Sodom was guilty of. Does this remind you of America? America needs revival. The church needs revival. The message "Return" is the message of this hour. Pray for our nation and our churches. Pray for personal revival.