The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 14: Destruction of Sodom
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Fairest among the cities of the Jordan Valley was Sodom,
set in a plain which was "as the garden of the Lord" in its
fertility and beauty. Here the luxuriant vegetation of the tropics
flourished. Here was the home of the palm tree, the olive, and
the vine; and flowers shed their fragrance throughout the year.
Rich harvests clothed the fields, and flocks and herds covered the
encircling hills. Art and commerce contributed to enrich the
proud city of the plain. The treasures of the East adorned her
palaces, and the caravans of the desert brought their stores of
precious things to supply her marts of trade. With little thought
or labor, every want of life could be supplied, and the whole year
seemed one round of festivity.
The profusion reigning everywhere gave birth to luxury and
pride. Idleness and riches make the heart hard that has never
been oppressed by want or burdened by sorrow. The love of
pleasure was fostered by wealth and leisure, and the people gave
themselves up to sensual indulgence. "Behold," says the prophet,
"this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of
bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters,
neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And
they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me: therefore
I took them away as I saw good." Ezekiel 16:49, 50. There
is nothing more desired among men than riches and leisure, and
yet these gave birth to the sins that brought destruction upon the
cities of the plain. Their useless, idle life made them a prey to
Satan's temptations, and they defaced the image of God, and
became satanic rather than divine. Idleness is the greatest curse
that can fall upon man, for vice and crime follow in its train.
It enfeebles the mind, perverts the understanding, and debases
the soul. Satan lies in ambush, ready to destroy those who are [p. 157] unguarded, whose leisure gives him opportunity to insinuate
himself under some attractive disguise. He is never more successful
than when he comes to men in their idle hours.
In Sodom there was mirth and revelry, feasting and drunkenness.
The vilest and most brutal passions were unrestrained. The
people openly defied God and His law and delighted in deeds of
violence. Though they had before them the example of the
antediluvian world, and knew how the wrath of God had been manifested
in their destruction, yet they followed the same course of
At the time of Lot's removal to Sodom, corruption had not
become universal, and God in His mercy permitted rays of light
to shine amid the moral darkness. When Abraham rescued the
captives from the Elamites, the attention of the people was called
to the true faith. Abraham was not a stranger to the people of
Sodom, and his worship of the unseen God had been a matter
of ridicule among them; but his victory over greatly superior
forces, and his magnanimous disposition of the prisoners and
spoil, excited wonder and admiration. While his skill and valor
were extolled, none could avoid the conviction that a divine
power had made him conqueror. And his noble and unselfish
spirit, so foreign to the self-seeking inhabitants of Sodom, was
another evidence of the superiority of the religion which he had
honored by his courage and fidelity.
Melchizedek, in bestowing the benediction upon Abraham,
had acknowledged Jehovah as the source of his strength and the
author of the victory: "Blessed be Abram of the most high God,
possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God,
which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand." Genesis
14:19, 20. God was speaking to that people by His providence,
but the last ray of light was rejected as all before had been.
And now the last night of Sodom was approaching. Already
the clouds of vengeance cast their shadows over the devoted city.
But men perceived it not. While angels drew near on their mission
of destruction, men were dreaming of prosperity and pleasure.
The last days was like every other that had come and gone. Evening
fell upon a scene of loveliness and security. A landscape of
unrivaled beauty was bathed in the rays of the declining sun.
The coolness of eventide had called forth the inhabitants of the [p. 158] city, and the pleasure-seeking throngs were passing to and fro,
intent upon the enjoyment of the hour.
In the twilight two strangers drew near to the city gate. They
were apparently travelers coming in to tarry for the night. None
could discern in those humble wayfarers the mighty heralds of
divine judgment, and little dreamed the gay, careless multitude
that in their treatment of these heavenly messengers that very
night they would reach the climax of the guilt which doomed
their proud city. But there was one man who manifested kindly
attention toward the strangers and invited them to his home.
Lot did not know their true character, but politeness and
hospitality were habitual with him; they were a part of his religion—
lessons that he had learned from the example of Abraham. Had
he not cultivated a spirit of courtesy, he might have been left to
perish with the rest of Sodom. Many a household, in closing
its doors against a stranger, has shut out God's messenger, who
would have brought blessing and hope and peace.
Every act of life, however small, has its bearing for good or
for evil. Faithfulness or neglect in what are apparently the smallest
duties may open the door for life's richest blessings or its
greatest calamities. It is little things that test the character. It
is the unpretending acts of daily self-denial, performed with a
cheerful, willing heart, that God smiles upon. We are not to live
for self, but for others. And it is only by self-forgetfulness, by
cherishing a loving, helpful spirit, that we can make our life a
blessing. The little attentions, the small, simple courtesies, go far
to make up the sum of life's happiness, and the neglect of these
constitutes no small share of human wretchedness.
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