Do you think there were any babies and young children in Sodom and Gomorrah when God rained brimstone and fire on the cities?
Yikes! This is the type of question that skeptics ask us Christians which causes us to stutter and stammer. We may even end up second-guessing God and His motives. After all, did God’s anger push Him over the edge so that He became a baby murderer?
Okay, take a deep breath and let’s study sin.
“Sin is sin,” proclaim many people who think all types of sin are equal in God’s eyes, but is that really true?
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:7)
The Bible separates sin into three specific types: sin, transgression, and iniquity.
Although the word sin can be used as a generic catchall word for all three types, its biblical definition really means “missing the mark,” as an archer’s arrow misses its target.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
Basic sin is disobedience to God’s commands and His word, but without willful intent. Examples of sin: losing your temper with your spouse; getting caught up in gossip with your neighbor; exaggerating your importance at work to a new employee; and so forth.
All basic sins can easily be taken care of by asking forgiveness of the Lord and the person involved.
The word transgression means revolt or rebellion and is willful disobedience of God’s commands.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)
Eve knew that God had commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil, but she rebelled and did it anyway. As with all acts of rebellion, Eve suffered consequences for her transgression.
Truthfully, we all have transgressed at different times in our Christian journeys and can probably give interesting testimonies about the consequences we have suffered. But as with sin, transgression simply requires us to ask forgiveness of the Lord and anybody involved. Then, we need to change our ways and not continue in the same transgression.
Yet, continuing in a transgression without repentance eventually leads to iniquity. The word iniquity means depravity (evil perverseness or moral corruption) and always carries within it the hatred of God and His ways.
Iniquity is not a voluntary or involuntary disobedience to the commands of God, like sin and transgression are, but instead, it is a second nature sin. It is a demonic stronghold within the individual which may have been passed on through one’s ancestors or the result of continued willful transgressions or the surrender of oneself to an evil principality over a region.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. (Proverbs 5:22 ESV)
Ridding oneself of iniquity is not as easy as it is for sins or transgressions. Because it is intertwined with the individual’s personality and attitudes, it requires acceptance of truth, God’s mercy, and the fear of the Lord to set an individual free. This often depends on a deliverance move by the Spirit of God upon the people.
…For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting [punishing] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me (Deuteronomy 5:9)
Iniquities are not committed in spiritual vacuums. They are committed before the throne of God and cry out to the Judge to be avenged.
So, when God acted against Sodom and Gomorrah, the people’s iniquity had reached completion. In fact, there were not ten people in the cities who were not filled with this horrible sin. This included young children which the parents had defiled by passing iniquity on to them through the bloodlines. It was then a part of the young children’s second nature and attitudes.
Now, I believe the Father foresaw the iniquity that would be committed by the babies and the young children. And because of His love, He removed the young people of Sodom and Gomorrah before they were accountable for their iniquities. By doing this, the children died in their innocence and not in full-bloomed iniquity.
Our God is a good Father who views eternity as more important for His creation than the present.
So, why San Francisco now?
(Continued in Part 5…if you are interested, the full series, which was written in 2012, may be seen here.)