Robert Jeffress - When God's Patience Runs Out - Part 1
Hi, I am Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway To Victory". While all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, God is long suffering. That is, he patiently waits for us to repent. But make no mistake, God won't wait forever. And today you'll hear me share a very personal story. It'll help you understand that time is running out for our beloved country. My message is titled, "When God's Patience Runs Out," on today's edition of "Pathway To Victory".
I am probably the only preacher in America who gets misty-eyed when I preach about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. I know the cause of my sentimentality has nothing to do with the story itself, but the first time I ever preached through that passage represented a milestone, a turning point in my ministry. People often ask me, "Pastor, have you always spoken out in the public square against things like abortion, and homosexuality, and transgenderism"? And the answer is no, I haven't always done that. In fact, for the first 15 years of my preaching ministry, I preached through the Bible book by book and if a facet dealt with a controversial subject, I might say a word about it, but only in the pulpit. I never took any public stands against those things.
But that all changed on a Thursday in May of 1998. I was preaching through the Book of Genesis and I had come to the passage we're going to look at today, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. And I'd worked through the sermon and I was finished with it on Thursday and one of the outline points, the principles I had put on the outline was this, "No nation can afford to condone what God has condemned". And interestingly that very same day, a member of our church had dropped by our office and had delivered to my desk two children's books that were written to promote homosexuality among children. One was called "Heather Has Two Mommies". It's about a little girl adopted by two lesbians, and the other book was "Daddy's Roommate".
It's told from the perspective of a little boy who explains to the reading audience, how his father recently divorced his mother and took in a new roommate named Frank. And his mother explained to him that his daddy and Frank had a different kind of love. And the boy explains and it's illustrated in this book, what Daddy and his new roommate Frank do together. What do they do together? Well, they shave together, they eat together, they play together, and then there's a picture, they sleep together. And the person who dropped off the books to our office said, "Now pastor, what are you gonna do about these books"? And I thought to myself, "What do you mean what am I gonna do? I'm not the librarian, I'm the pastor of the local church".
But then I remembered I was about to preach that point and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and no nation can condone what God has condemned. So I thought, "Well, I've gotta do something, make some kind of gesture". So I thought I'd take care of it easily. On the way home that afternoon, I called the librarian, the head librarian. And I said, "I'm sure you're not aware that these books are in our library, but given the fact that first of all, sodomy is against the law in the state of Texas," which it was at that time, "And given the fact that homosexuality violates the teachings of the three major world religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and given the fact that homosexual practices are not exclusively but largely responsible for the greatest epidemic in American history at that time, AIDS, I'm sure you'll remove those books from the children's section of the library". And she said, "Not on your life".
I couldn't believe the response. So the next Sunday I was in the pulpit and I explained what the passage said that we're going to look at and I got to that point, "We can't condone what God has condemned," and I explained about these two books and I said, and I hadn't planned to say it, I don't know what got into me to say it, but I looked into television lens we broadcast live in those days in our town, and I said "I wanna say a word to the city council. I don't wanna put you in a difficult spot, so I'm not gonna make you choose and vote whether or not to allow these books in the library. I have these books in my hands and I'm not giving them back". Well, you won't believe the reaction. The local newspaper wrote an editorial a couple of days later and said I needed to be put in jail for civil disobedience. They said, "Martin Luther King Jr., did some of his best work in jail, and Pastor Jeffress maybe can do some of his best work".
Letters from the Wichita Falls Jail. The ACLU threatened to sue our city, in fact did sue our city over the issue. Our tax exempt status was threatened. It received the national attention, Rush Limbaugh, the Washington Post, NBC News covered the story. Even PBS sent a crew from New York and they did an entire documentary on this controversy in a west Texas town that divided the town over homosexuality. You know, people have asked me, "If you had it to do over again, would you preach that sermon? Would you do what you did"? I say absolutely, but I would add one point, while this passage we're about to look at is one of the clearest denunciations of homosexuality found in the scripture, there's an either even deeper sin that is at issue here and that is rebellion against God.
Rebellion against God takes many forms, it's expressed in many different sins, but the principle is true. God is patient and I want you to hear that today, he is loving, there is no sin beyond God's forgiveness. God is patient, God is loving, he is forgiving if we ask, but there comes a time when God draws a line in the sand and says, "Enough". There is a time when the patience of God runs out and that's what we're going to look at today. If you have your Bibles turn to Genesis chapter 18, as we discover what happens when God's patience runs out.
Now remember where we are in the study of Abraham. Abraham had that relationship with his handmaid Hagar to fulfill God's promising thought. She gave birth to Ishmael when Abraham was 86 years old. God said, "Nah, this isn't the way we're gonna do it". But then got is silent for 13 years until Abraham was 99 and his wife Sarah was 89. God comes back to him after 13 years of silence and says, "I'm gonna keep my promise Abraham. I'm gonna give you and Sarah a son". The son of promise, Isaac. Now, maybe a few days after that reassurance, God sends reassurance in the form of three angels who come to visit Abraham.
Look at verse one of chapter 18 of Genesis. "Now the Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. And when he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth. And he said, 'My Lord, if I have found favor in Your sight, please don't pass Your servant by.'" These three appearing to be men were actually angels. Two of them were angels like we think of angels, but one was a special angel, the angel of the Lord. When you read that in the Bible that is always a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ God in human form, the angel of the Lord.
How do I know that one of these three angels was the Lord himself? Look at verse one, "The Lord appeared to Abraham along with two others". That's interesting in the Bible, whenever angels appear, they take on the form of a male. Have you ever wondered why that is? Why there aren't any female angels? Why do they always take the form of a male? It came to me, you know, if an angel wanted to disguise himself, what better costumes to put on than the image of a man? Nobody would mistake a man for an angel, so maybe that's why. I don't know for sure but that could be what's at work here. But we know one of these was the Lord because later on the other two angels go to Sodom while the Lord stays to talk to Abraham. So they appeared to Abraham and they engage in a conversation. One of them says, "Abraham, where is Sarah, your wife"?
Now that should have clued Abraham that this is something unusual. He hadn't mentioned his wife Sarah, how did they know he had a wife named Sarah? And so one of the angels says, "Now, this time next year, we're gonna return and you're gonna have a son. You're gonna have the son of promise, Isaac, you and Sarah". And Sarah is now overhearing this conversation, she laughs inwardly and she says, "Should a woman at my age have pleasure and have a child and attend PTA meetings? It's preposterous, nobody would expect that to happen". And the angels said, "Why did you laugh, Sarah"? "Oh, I didn't laugh". "Oh, but you did laugh".
Now this was good news from the angels, but the angels don't always deliver good news, they also had some bad news to deliver. Look at verse 16. "Then the men rose up from there, and looked towards Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. And the Lord," there's Jesus said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I'm about to do"? Isn't that interesting that Abraham and the Lord had such an intimate relationship that the Lord felt an obligation to share with his friend Abraham what he was about to do? Wouldn't you like to have that kind of close relationship with God, a relationship with God so intimate that God would feel obliged to tell you what he was about to do? He told Abraham what was going to happen.
Look at verse 20. "The Lord said, 'The outcry,'" now underline that word. "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great and their sin is exceedingly grave". That word outcry is also used in Genesis 4 about the first murder ever committed when Cain killed his brother Abel. Genesis 4 said, "The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground". There are some sins the Bible says that are so horrible in God's sight that they cry out for God to do something, to render justice for that injustice. I think we see those sins today that cry out for God's judgment, the abuse of little children, or heinous murders that can't be even described, or the blasphemy of God's name in the public square, these sins cry out for God's judgment.
What were the sins of Sodom and their city Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plains area? What were the sins that cried out for God's judgment? We would be wrong and people are wrong to limit that to homosexuality, that's not the only sin. You look at passages like Ezekiel 16:49, Jeremiah 23:14, Jude 7, 2 Peter 2:7, you'll see the sins of Sodom listed as materialism, lawlessness, and yes, sexual immorality, and specifically homosexuality. But all those sins cried out for God's judgment. In verse 21, so the Lord said, "I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know".
Now, if God is all knowing omniscient, why did he have to go visit Sodom to see if all of these sins were full and running over like had been reported to him? Did God not know? Of course not, God knew everything. This is in scripture what we call an anthropomorphism. It is a description of God in human terms so that we can understand the eternal qualities of God, God is a just God, he doesn't do anything without reason. That's all that's being said here. And the question is, is it time for judgment? Has it reached that point where injustice and sin is full and running over? And this reminds me of that passage in Revelation 14 and 18 right before the final judgment that comes on the world at the end.
Remember one angel cries to the other and says, "Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe". The angels were comparing the evil in the world to grapes that were fully ripened, they were about to burst not with juice, but with evil. These were truly grapes of God's wrath. Well that's what the angel was saying here the Lord, "I'm gonna go down and see if it's time to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah". How did Abraham react to that news that God was gonna destroy these evil cities? That he say, "That's right Lord, let these sinners have it. Especially those sodomites, I hate those sodomites. What they do is gross, it's wrong, let 'em have it Lord".
Is that what Abraham did? No, instead, he responds with the first intercessory prayer in all of the Bible in which somebody prayed for somebody else. He tries to stave off God's judgment through his dialogue with God. He said, "God, before you rain down fire and brimstone, let me ask you a question. If there are 50 righteous people in these five cities, the cities in the plain, if there are 50 righteous people, will you hold back your judgment"? The Lord said, "Yes". The Abraham thought, "What about 45, what if I can find 45"? "Yes". "What about 30"? "Yes". "What about 20"? "Yes". "What about ten, will you spare the city"? And then he makes his case. Abraham in verse 25 said, "For far be it from You Lord, to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike".
It would be wrong for you Lord to destroy the city even if there were ten righteous people. And then Abraham adds, "For shall not the judge of all the earth deal justly". Underline that verse, it is a key verse about the goodness and the justice of God. Have you ever had people ask you the question, "How can God send people to hell who have never heard the gospel before"? Or "What about little babies and mentally challenged people"? And they come up with all of these questions, "It doesn't seem right. How could God do such a thing"?
Here's a great verse to quote back. You can say, "I don't have the answer, I don't understand, but I know this. The judge of the earth will do that which is right". You can always count on God to do the right thing. Apparently there weren't even ten righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. So the two angels go down to Sodom to judge the city. Now look at their encounter with the residents of Sodom, beginning with verse 1 of chapter 19. "Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom". What does that mean? The gate is where people came for justice. This is telling us that by this time, Lot had become a judge in the city. And so these visitors come to Lot, "And when Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground".
Perhaps he sensed there was something different about these visitors and he offers them a place to stay. "Come and stay, spend the night at our house". They say, "Oh no, we don't want trouble you, we'll just stay outside, sleep on the streets". And Lot said, "Not in this city, you won't and live to tell about it, you better come into my house. The crime rate is through the roof". And so they acquiesce and they stay with Lot and his family. Now look at this verse 4. "Before they lay down that night, the men of the city of Sodom, the men of Sodom surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are those men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.'"
Now, that's the PG sanitized version. What they were really saying was, "Bring these men out so that we might rape them, so that we might sexually assault them". So perverse had the city of Sodom become that when the residents of Sodom saw two new faces, fresh faces, their first thought was, "Let's sexually assault these people". It was unbelievable. Now, I said earlier homosexuality isn't the only sin that God condemns and judges, but make no mistake about it. Even though there were other sins, this is the sin that brought God's ultimate judgment. The Bible clearly teaches in both the old and New Testaments that homosexuality is an abomination to God. You find it in the Old Testament, Leviticus 18 verses 22 and 29. Other passages, by the way, maybe you've been asked this question.
Had people ever asked you, "Oh, you conservative Christians, why do you pick and choose which verses you're going to obey and which verses you aren't"? Well, there are all kind of things you're not supposed to do in the Old Testament. You're not supposed to wear a coat that is made of two kinds of fabric. There are certain kinds of bread, and seeds, you're not to eat, or consume, or plant in the ground, why do you just pick on the sin of homosexuality? Why don't you follow those other regulations? Well, it's real simple. The reason we select homosexuality is because it's repeated in the New Testament as well. The only parts of the Old Testament that we obey today, are those parts that are in the New Testament.
There's nothing in the New Testament about not wearing material of two different fabrics. There's no restrictions about what kind of seed you sow, those were old commandments, that's why it's called the Old Testament. We live under the New Testament. And make no mistake about it, the New Testament has many prohibitions against homosexuality. 1 Corinthians 6 verse 9, 1 Timothy 1 verse 10. By the way, the clearest denunciation in the New Testament is found in Romans 1 verses 26 to 27. Now some of you listening aren't gonna like this, but this is the word of the Lord, if you believe all scriptures inspired.
Listen to verse 26 of Romans 1. "For this reason God gave them," who? People who have rejected the truth of God. "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women, exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural". Underline that. "And in the same way also men abandoned their natural function with the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error".
What are those due penalties that people who practice homosexuality receive? Some people think, "Well, it's talking about a physical penalty, certain kinds of illnesses. Maybe it's AIDS that Paul has in mind here". Now, it's true that AIDS is not exclusively reserved for the homosexual community, but it is primarily a homosexual disease. According to the Center for Disease Control, men who have sex with men have an HIV prevalence 60 times higher than the rest of the general population.