Genesis 18v25 Justice
Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Sometimes I want God to be angry. I want Him to judge. Sometimes I hear stories on the news that make me boil with outrage. After the body of a 12 year old African-American girl was found near his hometown, Tom Waits wrote the song ‘Georgia Lee’.
It’s a devastating song, with a very simple refrain: ‘Why wasn’t God watching? Why wasn’t God listening? Why wasn’t God there, for Georgia Lee?’. And there’s a righteousness in that anger that is shared by the writer of Psalm 94 ‘How long, Lord, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant?’.
And in this passage, it’s not as though the people of Sodom didn’t deserve judgment (though possibly not for the reason I was brought up to think). Ezekiel chapter 16 tells us their sin was that they were ‘arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy’.
Which, erm, doesn’t, actually, sound so bad, really, does it? They weren’t child murderers exactly, and there must be some good people amongst them? So, Abraham pleads with God for mercy, gradually whittling away at God’s anger so that God would be merciful if there were 50 righteous people living there, then 45, 40, 30, 20, 10 – you’ve got to admire his nerve! And God relents – he will show mercy because Abraham has persevered in prayer. But in the event, the city is destroyed; God’s mercy is shown to Lot and his family, but the crimes of the city do not go unpunished.
And Georgia Lee’s killer will face God’s judgment in the fullness of time. For God does care about the poor and the needy, much more than we do.
Is there any danger at all, that in celebrating this advent season I might become ‘overfed and unconcerned’?
God is on the side of the poor and the needy, am I?