Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. Genesis 19:24-25
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah shows God’s fierce anger being poured out on sinful people. Reflecting and meditating on this story is an unsettling experience. That’s why I am deeply moved whenever I read or speak about it. Even though I am often furious at wicked people who refuse to change their ways, the terrible suffering and agony that took place at Sodom upsets me. I also feel the mental anguish that Abraham suffered when he interceded with God. Though the wicked people of Sodom refused to change, Abraham sincerely hoped that disaster wouldn’t fall on them.
Today, some people want to de-emphasize God’s commands. They think that people should be treated only with love and tolerance and shouldn’t be frightened by examples of God’s anger. Paul says quite the opposite. In the letter to the Corinthians, he tells many stories about God’s anger against sinners. Then he states, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us form setting our hearts on evil things as they did” (1Corinthians 10:6).
Arrogant and stubborn people despise the Word of God and laugh at well-intentioned words of caution. They feel so good about themselves that whenever anyone tells them about the extent of God’s mercy and grace, it only leaves them worse off than they were before. This is what happens when people try to get rid of God’s commands. We must guard against this false teaching. It’s not enough for these people to bring destruction on themselves. They intend to drag us down with them. Like the people of Sodom, they don’t realize that their sins will soon be punished.
The Ninety-Five Theses is a text that everyone knows, most refer to, but few actually read, writes Stephen Nichols. Nevertheless, it is such a crucial text that it deserves to be read widely. Toward that end, Nichols has prepared this edition with an illuminating introduction, explanatory notes, and several illustrations. Martin Luther has left a legacy that continues to enrich the church through his writings. . ., writes Nichols. All of this may be traced back to the last day in October 1517 and the nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door.