Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
― Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Scripture: Genesis 18.20-21
Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
Reflection: Divine Intervention
The Park Forum
God always hears the cry of the suffering. Here, in Genesis, we first see the Hebrew word for cry, zaqah, that God will use concerning Israel throughout the Exodus narrative. It is a technical word, theologian Christopher Wright explains, “for the cries of those who are suffering from oppression, cruelty and injustice.”
The prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel use zaqah to describe the people’s wailing following innocent bloodshed and the hopeless ache of the marginalized as society embraces comfort and stability, turning its back on the sacrifice needed to help those in need. Zaqah is a cry for intervention—if there is a God, surely he will act now.
And yet, God’s response is not limited to the circumstance at hand—extending to the great glory he desires for all humankind. Dr. Wright concludes:
The portrayal of God in such a context, therefore, is significantly not merely that he is in sovereign control, as much in Mesopotamia, as in Canaan, as in Egypt, but also that he is a God of redemptive purpose, whose ultimate goal is the blessing of all nations.
In initiating his special relationship with a people of his own creation and possession, God actually has in mind the best interests of the nations. The promise of blessing for the seed of Abraham is a promise of blessing for the nations.
God’s justice is a rebuke of the mindset that if the marginalized are redeemed the established will suffer. God’s heart moves our hearts and sacrificial service toward the refugee, toward the single mother on welfare, toward the un-insured, toward sexual minorities—for the way he has chosen to bless those on the margins is through his people.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phylis Tickle
Full prayer available online and in print.
Genesis 18 (Listen – 4:59)
Matthew 17 (Listen – 3:46)