50. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
Here God shows that Sodom had not at first fallen into those foul and gross crimes which were the cause of its final destruction. We must diligently mark this: for when Satan begins to entice us, we think that we shall be free to retract our steps whenever we please; but we are ensnared, some in one way and some in another. But when we are entangled by Satan's deceits, it is not in our power to escape from them; nay, we feel that we are involved in a complete labyrinth. Since, then, men proceed gradually in provoking God's wrath, we must observe this passage, in which God informs us that the Sodomites were not given up at once to enormous lust, but they began with smaller sins, and then became luxurious through their abundance, and were stupefied by ease and quiet; meanwhile they despised the poor and needy, and did not stretch forth their hands to them. For to seize the hand means the same as to stretch forth the hand, when we set up again those who have fallen, or prop up those who are slipping. Hence God shows that the Sodomites were afterwards so corrupted by luxuries, that he at length adds, that they raised themselves up, that is, that they purposely, and of their own accord, exempted themselves from all fear of punishment: for this is the meaning of the word raised up; that is, they buoyed themselves up, since they promised themselves freedom from punishment; and in that fallacious hope they dared to perpetrate abomination before my face. Hence we must always fear lest Satan should entangle us by His enticements, and at length so fascinate and stupefy our senses that we can no longer distinguish between good and evil, as the Sodomites exceeded the brutes in their abominations, which were the cause of their ruin.
When God announces that he removed those cities as he pleased, he wishes to inspire the Jews with terror, lest they should suppose that they would profit by turning their backs; because, whether they wished it or not, he would at length drag them before his tribunal. God, therefore, here passes the final sentence, that the Jews may feel that they must render an account to him. Now, if any one should ask whether these crimes which Ezekiel relates are worse than those of the Jews, the answer is at hand, that the Sodomites were not under the law; and hence it is no wonder if they wandered and stumbled in darkness: but when the right course of life was pointed out to the Jews, they professedly sought their own destruction, they knowingly and willfully rejected God's yoke, and haughtily despised all the prophets who daily desired to recall them into the path of duty. Other circumstances are also to be noticed, that the Jews not only abused the goods which God plentifully bestowed upon them, but, as we have seen, squandered them upon adulterous worship, and then they fetched from thence all kinds of superstition, and became worse than the beasts, as we have seen elsewhere. While we know that the imitation of the people of Sodom was very common in Judea, when they were tainted with many corruption's through forgetfulness of the law. If, therefore, we weigh these points together, it will not be surprising that God pronounces the Jews to have sinned more grievously that the Sodomites. It now follows --
1 "And they raised themselves up," for he comprehends the daughters of Sodom, that is, the neighboring cities. -- Calvin.
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