In Matthew 10:5-15, Jesus sends out His twelve disciples, instructing them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived. They are told to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast our demons. They are told that when they come to a town and find out those "who are worthy", they are to stay with them. They are to let their peace come upon the house if the inhabitants are worthy; and if anyone will not receive them or listen to their message about the Kingdom, then they are to shake off the dust from their feet and leave that town. And here is the warning: Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
Before we dissect the meaning of that dire warning, we need to understand what Jesus meant by being "worthy". According to Strong's Concordance it means to be found righteous on the grounds of being fit for the Good News of the Kingdom. And "being fit" means a willingness to receive the Kingdom; to "see" it and "enter" it. And as we know from John 3:1-5, Salvation is the entry point into the Kingdom. Once Saved, we are called to "do" the works of the Kingdom and take back dominion over the earth [defeating the devil's kingdom], starting in people's lives by healing them, casting out the demons that have kept them in bondage, raising them from the dead [if it is before their time], and teaching them to share this Good News and do the works of the Kingdom themselves, thereby expanding it until it covers the earth.
But Jesus says that if a town is witness to these evidences that the Kingdom is here, and they refuse to listen or receive it, then they will be judged harsher than Sodom and Gomorrah. Wow! Most of us know that the Bible tells us how wicked and evil Sodom and Gomorrah were and that God destroyed Sodom. But do you know the extent of their wickedness? The ancient Book of Jasher gives us more historical insight into the deeds of Sodom. [NOTE: I am not saying that the Book of Jasher is inspired Scripture! But it is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments as a book of historical record. I have found that it fills in some of the gaps in the historical narrative of the Bible, and I believe God inspired the writers to reference it so we would have additional information to illuminate His inspired Word. Remember: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out [Proverbs 25:2)].
So, back to the story of Sodom. In the Bible, we tend to see Sodom as one city, but actually it was a kingdom. And our Christian doctrine primarily describes the sin of Sodom as either rape/sodomy, lack of hospitality, or pride. But it was much more! According to Jasher, the cities of Sodom had four judges to the four cities. These four judges issued a decree that beds were to be erected in the streets of the cities, and if a man came to these places, the citizens were to lay hold of him and force him to lie down on the bed. They would measure him according to the length of the bed, and if he was shorter, they would stretch him until he died. If he was longer, they would fold the bed up and crush him to death.
Another favorite pastime of Sodom was equally appalling. If a poor man came to their land and entered their cities, they would give him silver and gold, then decree that no one in the city could give him anything to eat. Should he die from starvation, then the inhabitants of the city would come and lay claim to their silver and gold and fight over the man's clothes and belongings.
Then there is the story of Paltith, a daughter of Lot that we don't read about in the Bible. During Lot's sojourn in Sodom, one of the men of Sodom takes Paltith as his wife. The Book of Jasher says that Paltith's soul was so moved with pity for a man who was being starved in Sodom that she secretly fed him bread and water, and he was revived. When it was discovered that Paltith was aiding the man, she was seized and taken before the judges of Sodom and was burned to death. Another young woman attempted to aid another traveler in the city of Admah [in the kingdom of Sodom] and her judgment was to be covered with honey from head to foot and placed before bee hives. Jasher records "the young woman cried out... and her cries ascended to Heaven. And the Lord was provoked at this and at all the works of the cities of Sodom, for they had abundance of food, and had tranquility amongst them, and still would not sustain the poor and the needy, and in those days their evil doings and sins became great before the Lord. And the Lord sent for two of the angels that had come to Abraham's house, "to destroy Sodom and its cities." I can't help but recognize the similarity in our blessings of abundance and tranquility among many in our nation, yet so many others are in need of sustenance. But I digress...
It is hard to imagine anything more despicable than these works of the cities of Sodom, and they will certainly be judged for their evil ways. But what does that say about our sins of mutilating kids to change their genders? And don't you think that making billions of dollars off trafficking children for sex is going to be measured just as evil? Jesus [in Matthew 10] says on the Day of Judgment, it will be more bearable for Sodom than for towns where the people will not receive or listen to the Gospel of the Kingdom! The cities of Sodom did not get the opportunity to hear about the Kingdom or see the works of the Kingdom displayed. Today, Christians DO have that opportunity! And I know the frustration of trying to share the Kingdom message and its works with people I think are worthy, and having it rejected. But when I see the judgment that is coming against those who refuse what Jesus commanded, it breaks my heart.
And if you doubt the truth of this warning, Jesus makes it again in Matthew 11:20-24! He warns the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum because they witnessed the mighty works of the Kingdom of God, yet they refused to repent -- which is refusing to change the way they think and "see" and "enter" the Kingdom of God which was being presented right before their eyes. Again, He tells them it will be more bearable for the evil towns of Tyre and Sidon, and more tolerable for the land of Sodom, than for these cities who were blessed with the confirmation of the Kingdom.
But now, I have to ask ... is it any different for us today? Won't we be held to the same standards as Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum? Won't the same judgement be issued for those who have seen evidence of the miracles of healing, and the casting out of demons, yet refuse to step into the Kingdom and continue the works of Jesus as He commands in the Great Commission? Yes, we have the benefit of Salvation, but Jesus commanded more. He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. He didn't stress Salvation as our goal. We can't even see or perceive or understand the Kingdom without Salvation, so, yes, it is the essential first step. He tells us to seek the Kingdom first! Salvation is a given at that point. There is more to our purpose than getting Saved, and it is to advance the Kingdom through the works He did and to share the Good News that these works are part of the Kingdom; restoring us back to our original state of dominion which He gave men in Genesis 1:26-28 .
If we are Saved, what's keeping us from taking that next step and seeking the Kingdom? Is it that the teachings of the Church have changed? I ask you to consider that after His resurrection, the Bible tells us in Acts 1:3, that Jesus appeared to the Disciples "over a period of forty days and [talked] to them about the things concerning the Kingdom of God". Acts 8:12 says "they believed Philip as he preached good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ". And Acts 28:30-31 tells us that Paul "lived there [in Rome] two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance". Shouldn't we be doing the same? Does the Modern Church need to revive these foundational teachings of the Early Church?
So, here is what I'd like you to understand -- and what I believe the Early Church understood. The Gospel of the Kingdom includes the gospel of Grace, which offers people Salvation, and entry into God's Kingdom of Heaven. God's good news of Grace features the forgiveness of sin, God's redemption, and eternal life. The good news of the Kingdom is about the heavenly ruling of God and His authority over His creation. The good news of Grace, Eternal Life, and Salvation are all aspects of the good news that the Kingdom exists; they are part of the Kingdom and part of Kingdom living!
It is time we take Jesus's warning in Matthew to heart. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Jesus sent His Disciples out and instructed them, saying, "proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand". That goes for us, too! We are to preach it in every town we enter, and if the people will not receive us or listen to our words, then it will be more tolerable for the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, Chorazin and Bethsaida on the Day of Judgment than it will be for them. None of us are exempt from the judgments He decreed over the people in the Book of Matthew.
I pray that a holy fire of revelation and faith in the promises of the Kingdom of God will sweep our land. We have much need of repentance and an acceptance of the Message of the Kingdom. I am happy to see progress being made, in that Believers are moving beyond "Kingdom" as the latest Christian buzzword or part of an advertising campaign to sell the idea of Church and gain new customers. Kingdom is more than creating and packaging the latest image of Christianity. It is a call-to-action, just as Jesus demonstrated 2000+ years ago! We need to not only hear it and receive it, but do it! It is time to preach it, teach it, equip and train! I do not want to see my country fall under the condemnation and judgment that Jesus warns us about! Let us understand, enter, do, and preach the Kingdom of God until it reaches the ends of the earth!
John 12:48 If you reject Me and refuse to follow My words, you already have a judge. The message of truth I have given you will rise up to judge you at the Day of Judgment.