As it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah - Dr. Steven Collins
We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Here's where I want to start-- on a very depressing note. We no longer live in a Bible-friendly world. We've proved that. Niels Peter Lemche-- here he is. "The patriarchal narratives are fiction, not reality." By the way, the book from which this comes, called Prelude to Israel's Past-- you know where I bought it? Bibles Plus. Look at this. "The patriarchal narratives are fiction, not reality. That world does not represent a real world. It stands outside the usual representation of time and space. As a matter of fact, neither the narratives nor their world can be dated to any precise period."
That's pretty much what scholarship thinks of the Bible these days. Here's Israel Finkelstein. "Combination of archaeological and historical research demonstrates that the biblical account of the conquest and the occupation of Canaan by the Israelites is entirely divorced from historical reality."
OK, I could give you 1,000 quotes, but those two will suffice. We live in a world that is not terribly Bible-friendly. Here's one more. This has specifically to do with us. In the Wall Street Journal a few years ago, William Dever, a terrific archaeologist. I've had him here in Albuquerque twice to speak to my students-- not about the patriarchs. He doesn't believe that part of the Bible is historical. But he does a pretty good job in the Iron Age with David and Solomon and all that. He says this, "No responsible scholar goes out with a trowel in one hand and a Bible in the other." And he was aiming directly at me.
Well, this is how I respond. "No responsible scholar digging in the Holy Land goes out without a trowel in one hand and a Bible in the other." You just don't do that. And I'll tell you why. And now, you've heard me say it 13 times now over the years. That's simply because the Bible is still the best historical, geographical text we have preserved from antiquity period, bar none. That's just the way it is. Sorry, liberal friends. That's just the fact.
Now, we have been involved in Sodom. And I want to bring you-- by the way, we're going to end up with the second coming tonight. I mean, not actually. I haven't made that kind of an arrangement. We're not going to end with the rapture tonight. I told Brian I was going to tell you that we have figured out, with a team of mathematicians, from the biblical text precisely when the rapture and the second coming will occur right down, we think, to the last hour or two. And I was going to take you right up to the end and say, and it is-- oops, we're out of time. But no, we're not going to go that far. But we are going to end up with the second coming. And we're going to tie Sodom with the second coming, so we'll see how we can do that.
But we've been involved with Sodom. And at the bottom line of it is this-- it is absolutely the best possibility of providing a test case to prove whether or not the Bible is historically factual or not. It's absolutely the perfect test case. Here's why-- because it's accessible.
Because the Bible geography is so specific as to its location-- and I'm not going into that tonight-- but it's so specific as to its location that it was really easy to find. People credit me with having discovered the city of Sodom-- kind of. But I can't really lay claim to that discovery, simply because if someone gave me a map of New Mexico and said, find Santa Fe. And if I followed the map and drove to Santa Fe and I found Santa-- I said, what town is this? Santa Fe. I found it. The map is right. Could I take credit for discovering Santa Fe? No.
Well, I can't take credit for discovering Sodom, because the biblical text is so specific as to the location of Sodom that all we did was follow the map, follow the biblical map. It took us to the location. And then we picked it up from there with archeology to demonstrate-- or not-- that the Bible was exactly correct about the city of Sodom and all the other cities of the plain. So we were able to get involved in that. We've been doing it for 13 years. And it's the perfect test case, because most people doubt the book of Genesis. Most scholars doubted that Sodom and Gomorrah ever existed at all.
And so it's perfect. And they say, well, what about Noah's ark? Well, there is no archeology associated with Noah's ark, because nobody knows where it is. And everybody who thinks they know where it is-- it's not there. There's nothing associated with reality with Noah's ark right now. Does it exist? Did it exist? Certainly. But nobody knows. And but Sodom has a map. And if you go to that location, we can deal with it archaeologically, scientifically, and historically.
So it was the perfect case. And in fact, we were able to do some very important things. And I'm going to share those with you sequentially in a little bit. But first, I have to update you on this season. Now, I know you woke up this morning going, what I really need today is a fix of lots of rocks and dirt. When I put these things together, Danette always says to me, nobody wants to look at rocks and dirt. I mean, cut the pictures down, for Pete's sake. No, I love to-- I hope you like looking at this stuff, because it's just cool. You're going to look into a biblical city.
We're going to see some things that are talked about in the Bible. I mean, it's just cool. So here it is, for better or worse-- here's this season. But I also want to show you some archeology in process. Here's our site. It's really, really big. Here's our site from a distance. You see the Upper City-- you can't even see the Lower City. All that area of green around-- that's all part of the site. It's all part of the city. They're growing bananas all over the place. And sometimes, they wind up destroying part of the city by planting bananas.
But it's OK, because the Upper City is such a big pile of rocks that you can't plant anything there, so it's pretty safe. And so here, this red circle represents where we're excavating right now. So the excavation from the last-- in fact, the last three seasons-- is in that location. Let's draw it in a little closer. And you see the first glimpse of camel one. I love camel one. Camel one is our truck. It's our Mitsubishi pickup truck, which we bought not this season, but the previous season. And we never had one up to this point.
Man, it's amazing. It takes our stuff up the hill, down the hill. Takes people to the hospital when they fall and break legs-- that never happens. Well, it did once. But when we need stuff-- and we always need things. There's always errands to run. It goes and gets our hot lunches, and so on, so on. So there it is. And I'll show you a close up of her. But she's amazing. And Calvary Church was part of purchasing that truck. I think that's really cool, so I have to report-- they make me report on all this stuff. What'd you spend our money on? So you get a little bit closer.
Now, this draws it's a little bit closer into the excavation. You can see that, for those of you who have seen past pictures, it's looking different. It's looking like something's going on there. Tighten down just a little bit more. That red arrow is where we're digging. You can't see it. Why? Because it's down. It's down. We're three and four meters down. So we'll get into that. Now we're looking down into it. Now, I want you to look at that picture. This was taken on the first day of the dig season this year. So there it is. This is the excavation as it looked at the end of the 2017 dig season. Now, I want you to look at that carefully.
Now, I'm going to keep that red circle in the picture, because it's going to circle the same area in each of the next several slides. I want you to just note the changes. So we're going to go from that to this-- that's a few days in to this season's excavations. This is the same area. Now I want to take you to that end this season. That's the same place, same area. So that's how it goes, slowly but surely.
Over the five and six weeks of the dig season, the dirt comes off slowly. And what you're looking at right there is the Middle Bronze Age palace of King Bera, the city of Sodom, time of Abraham. That's what you're looking at right there. So that's pretty cool. And I'll show you some details of it. Here it is, looking at it from a slightly different angle. Just showing the excavation in progress.
By the way, that whole area has literally 40, 50, 60 gigantic-- the big dump trucks you see moving dirt around town, five, six yards of stuff-- about 40 or 50 of those total taken out during this dig season, all by trowel, dust pan, goofah, the recycled tire buckets that we use, all going out by hand. It's a slow process. But boy, did we move some dirt with our volunteers. And by the way, some of you have been on the dig. Would you stand? If you've been on the excavation, stand up.
Cool. Yeah, we love our-- and every one of you could volunteer. If we had this many diggers in a season-- wow. Could we get the dirt moving. And so this is what it looks like. And that little bit right there, just shaded it in a bit, that's mud brick. So the city is stone foundations, mud brick superstructures, and the palaces here, being swept for the first time in almost 3,700 years. So sweeping the floor. We find a lot of pottery.
And the pottery gets scrubbed up. And then, of course, it goes into its buckets and into the drying trays. From the drying tray-- by the way, that little tag is important, because it follows the pottery all the way through, from its field bucket into the washing, soaking bucket, into the drying tray, and eventually the drying trays are all laid out. This is just a few of them.
By the way, this season, we registered almost 1,200 sherds from separate vessels. So over 1,200 distinct, separate vessels from the palace that we excavated this year. Amazing. We keep about 10%, so that just represents 10%. The rest we toss. We keep the best, the ones that tell us what kind of pottery, what kind of vessels we're dealing with. So it goes here, and then it goes to the reading table. Once a week, on a Friday or a Saturday, the end of the dig week, on our day off-- it's really not a day off. The volunteers get to go to neat places, like Petra and other places. But the staff has to stay there and work.
So we work, and this is what we do. And we read, examine every single diagnostic rim handle base, every diagnostic sherd that comes through the excavation, we examine it. And so it's a rigorous process. All of that stuff is eventually packed up at the end of the season and shipped by DHL back to the US. And we always pray that it gets here. And Dr. Phil Silvia, who's our director of scientific analysis, always is in charge of packing everything up. And it eventually makes it back here to Albuquerque. On the left, this is Dr. Craig Olson.
And on the right, the newest member of our professional staff is Dr. Mohammed Najjar, who is Jordan's top archaeologist. Last year, he finished a 20-year project down in the southern desert of Jordan. And he called me one day and he said, need some help? And I said, yes, of course, because I've known Mohammed for a long time. In fact, he was working for the DOA 13 years ago when we first started. And so I said, absolutely. And now, he is official with the excavation. He is our-- we call him the chief consulting, or senior consulting, archaeologist. And what a jewel he is. What a jewel he is. I wish I could tell you some things that he has said, but I'm not going to risk that to the public eye.
But he's a terrific guy. We love having him. This brings us up. I mean, this really, really pulls us up in terms of the scholarly world, not that we don't have great scholars on our team, but having Jordan's top archaeologist is not going to hurt. So we are really appreciative of his help. And boy, is he a digger. He's not a theoretician. You put a trowel in this man's hand, and things happen. And so he's terrific to have on the excavation.
Oh, here's camel one. And you see what it does every day. Up and down the hill several times. It's wonderful. We absolutely love it. So well, what do you do with it the rest of the time? Sultan Madhi, our director of transportation, gets to keep it and take care of it, pay the insurance on it, and use it as his vehicle for the rest of the year. He has very limited driving, so he takes care of it. He keeps it in his compound, keeps it safe, keeps it polished, and keeps it in good working order.
This is an oven. Well, that's cool. If you've got a palace, you've got to cook. Well, say, well, if you build that thing up, what is this? This is a horno? Recognize horno? That's the foundation of an horno. That's what kind of oven they use. Well, if they build their houses out of mud bricks, adobes, just like we do here, just like the pueblos here, why wouldn't they cook with hornos? Well, they do. It's exactly the same thing. Over there, in Arabic, it's called a tabun, or a tannur, But it's an oven. It's a clay oven. And here's some more of the walls, the palace walls. You say, well, why aren't the bricks as wide as the wall, as wide as the foundation?
Because we carved it away. We carved the brick away, so we can see the absolute width and the construction style of the foundation. We leave some of the mud bricks in place, and here's another one. Look at the thickness of these walls. These are palace walls. Some of them are almost two meters thick. Some are meter and a half thick. It's amazing how big these walls are. And to date, we've uncovered 150 square meters of the palace. We have never yet seen an exterior wall.
How do we know that? Because every wall we find has an intersecting wall going further. We've never found the exterior dimensions yet. It's huge. In fact, it is of truly Mesopotamian proportions. And that's not my words. That's the word of every archaeologist who comes out and looks at it. It's just gigantic, which is one of the reasons why we're digging it. These are the photos we do at the end of the season. We're just carefully documenting everything. It has to be photographed. I love this. This is the first interior doorway of the Sodom palace that we've discovered.
So there it is. And we love this doorway, because it gives us a sense that people were here. They walked through this door. I can't guarantee that Abraham and Lot walked through that door, but they knew King Bera. They talked to King Bera. They hung out sometimes with King Bera. Remember, King Bera accompanied Abraham to go visit Melchizedek, king of Jerusalem. So they knew each other, and here we are, right in the patriarchal world. It's like a time machine, going back and being able to see where they were. Here's some more.
Now, that beautiful, big wall-- do you see that big thing at the top? That's not old. We built that thing during the season, because we have a big area of ruins that we excavated previously in the previous seasons up above it. And now, we're going down well below that. So to keep that from eroding away and coming down on where we are now, we built this gigantic retaining wall. And we're kind of proud of it. It's kind of cool. A little landscaping for the old Sodom palace.
Now, we have so many of these. I could show you 1,000 pictures of the destruction later. But I want you to see something about-- what are these? These are jars. Do you see the rims? Do you see the bases there? Do you see that the walls and some of the handles of the vessels? These are storage jars in the palace, and they're all full of grain. Do you see the dark material around them? That's all grain. When the jars were mashed, smashed, exploded, it sent grain everywhere. It's all black and carbonized.
What's interesting about virtually everything we're finding in the palace-- now, we do find some things on the floor smashed and moving in a northeasterly direction, yes. We even have a saddle quern-- it might appear in one of the photos tonight. It's a large grinding stone. Weighs about 400 pounds. It's about this big around. It's about that thick. Has a nice grinding-- you know what a metate is? This is like a metate on steroids. It's this big, gigantic thing. And it sat on a pedestal, but it's knocked off the pedestal toward the northeast. And you can see where the grain that was on it hit the ground and was running up against the wall.
And hundreds of pottery vessels smashed and moving across the floor, because the direction of the destruction is moving in that direction. And so everything in this photograph right here-- I'd say there's nothing in this photograph was found on the floor. Wouldn't you expect to find the jars and big vessels-- found one vessel that would be about this high-- full of grain. We never found the bottom half of it. We found the top half. It was still full of grain. But it was smashed up against the wall very close to these.
But it's all airborne. All of this stuff is airborne. It's in the destruction matrix off the floor. It's churned in and mixed with bricks and other kinds of artifacts and many different kinds of pottery. It's all just-- we call it the cuisinart effect, like you put it in there and hit the button. Just destroys-- and this stuff is floating. We find vessels, all this high off the floor, smashed in the bricks up against the wall. Everything is moving. It's violent. In this same area-- I'll show you a little piece in a minute-- we found many, many, many melted mud bricks. Melted. Turned into glass. Just melted. Buckets and buckets and buckets of it.
And we're going to find a lot more as we continue to expose this area. It came from the second, third story. It's all coming down. This must have been way up there on the top of the outside of the building, right in the exposure of the main blast. And it's just melting and it's falling down. We just sent it off-- in fact, yesterday or the day before, we just sent off a bunch of samples of that to our air burst team, our astrophysicist and so on, who are testing all this stuff.
But it's amazing the destruction. It is violent and it's ugly. And oh, there's Dr. Najjar doing the-- I don't know, hula or whatever he's doing. No, it's a yee-haw moment, because he's in that doorway, standing in the doorway of that first doorway that we discovered. And hey, you get excited. And even if you have a PhD, you get excited. Oh, here's more of the destruction layer. I love this. Look at this. Just this ugly, dark matrix of stuff. It's just amazing.
Here's some more. The entire floor of this particular part of the palace is just covered with pottery. Now, that pottery was on the floor. It got smashed by stuff coming down on top of it. But there's just gobs of it. Just a few little excavation shots. We should put on there, this could be you. Oh, joy. Oh, joy. I always wanted to just go dig up dirt. It is cool. It's fun. This is what we do.
There's some more. You recognize those? These are new. These are fresh adobes that we're making. And they have a little bit of emulsified asphalt in them, which makes them waterproof. And so right here in this mix, we have four different recipes. And so we're testing the four different recipes to see how they hold up for next year.
So here I am, putting the new bricks on top of the old bricks. Now, we're not tying them together. We're not putting mortar or anything on them yet. But eventually, what we're doing here is we're going to see which recipes hold up to next year's or later this year in the 2019 rainy season. The rainy season-- how will they hold up? And so we're stacking them. And so each of our preserved mud brick walls from the Middle Bronze Age, from the time of Abraham, gets a layer of the new bricks. And we'll see what happens. See if they hold up. If they hold up, we will eventually do some major reconstruction. You'll get to see the palace sort of come back, at least partially. And we're really excited about that.
So the end of the season-- you see Salah. See him? Our guy with the kofia on, sitting there. Give you a sense of the size of the amount of material we moved this season. Salah? sitting there, sort of resting, going, ah, it's over. It's over. He's one of our local workers, really hard working guy. And got his bonus, by the way. He's really, really good. And so he's just relaxing. But there it is at the end of the season. And then, of course, we put our fence back up, put the signs back up, and hope everybody respects it. And that's the end of the dig season. So there's a little bit of an overview of what we had this year.
In 13 years of this project, we have demonstrated, I think, seven important things. Now, I could extend that list, I think, to 100 things. But seven really important things relative to the Bible. OK, so here they are-- and by the way, if we don't-- I just wanted you to get a sense from those photos of what we do year after-- day after day after day for six or seven weeks a year, year after year after year after year. What does it end up doing? Where do we go? Well, here's where we go.
Number one, Sodom-- here's what we've proved. Sodom was an extremely ancient city of great importance. Well, the Bible told us that. But now, we know it factually. Absolutely, it is true. Sodom was an extremely ancient city of great importance. It survived, it thrived as one of the largest cities in the Levant without a break for almost 3,000 years before it was destroyed. So it's an amazing site. And it's become actually what archaeologists call a type site, which means it has all the periods. It has everything. It has all the evolution of the pottery. You can see all the subtle movements of history at it. And so this is very important, because it is, in fact, the city of Sodom.
How big is it? Well, it's 62 acres surrounded by massive fortifications. If you spread out the settlement footprint of the site, it goes well over 150 acres, which makes it the largest continuously occupied city in the southern Levant in the Bronze Age. The largest one that's continuously occupied. There are only two others that even get larger than it, but only for short periods of time, and they are not occupied during some of the periods where Tall el-Hammam is occupied. So Sodom is the biggest, longest running successful city in the southern Levant up until the time of its destruction. And here it is. Dr. Leen Ritmeyer's drawing of the Middle Bronze Age city with its upper city and lower city. And of course, we are excavating in that upper upper city, right on the top to the right.
Second thing we've proved-- Sodom was a large wealthy city-state with many satellite towns and villages, exactly as described in Genesis. Archeology proves that. We have Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboim. These are the satellites of Sodom. Sodom's the big one. It's always mentioned first. It's the only one ever mentioned by itself. It's the big one of all. Now, what's interesting is is that this is the way the map looked before we started our project. Oh, I'm sorry. You can take everything out. I thought I had another slide in there. But the whole eastern side of the Jordan River north of the Dead Sea was a blank before we started our project. On the archaeological maps, it was blank.
But from our discoveries, here are the cities and towns-- I mean, let's look at it this way. These are archaeological sites in the land of the Kikkar-- that's Genesis 19:28, the land of the Kikkar-- identifiable today as a result of the Tall el-Hammam excavation project. That's what the map looks like. It used to be blank. So there it is. Well, which ones are Sodom and Gomorrah? How did you tell? There's too many. That's more than you need, yes. But some are bigger than others. And it's fairly obvious which ones are which. And Gomorrah is just 20 minute walk up the road. And Admah and Zeboim, a little bit further up the road. And they're in south to north order, as we believe the Bible gives them. So there they are.
Third thing, Sodom and the cities of the Kikkar thrived during the time of Abraham in the Middle Bronze Age. Abraham was a wealthy man. He had many flocks and herds, very wealthy individual. The Middle Bronze Age is the height of the great Canaanite civilizations. He fits into that period so well, because if there was a period in the Levant when you could become a wealthy man, as a nomad, as a tent-dwelling clan leader, this was the time. And so we've proved it. Now, one of the ways we proved it-- many, many ways, but I'm a pottery guy. Ceramics is my deal. And I love this. In the palace of Sodom-- by the way, this has never been seen at any other palace that we know of in the Levant.
But at the palace of Sodom, common vessels that you would find almost everywhere-- I mean, you need storage jars, you need cups and bowls and plates, you need lamps, for various functions, you need the common pottery. We find it all over the site in other places, administrative and in domestic contexts. But it's not finished. It's plain. It's not decorated in any way. And we know of no pottery, even in palaces in other cities around the Levant during this same period, that decorate all of their common ware and make it uncommon.
Now, in the palace, we have fine burnished wares and what we call quality ware, fine ware, beautiful things. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about everyday, garden variety plates, bowls, and storage jars. But this is what they look like. The exterior of virtually every common vessel we find in the palace is-- and I had to come up with a term for it, because it's so unique-- it is multi-slip cross wiped palace ware. That's what we call it now. And every vessel has multiple colors of slip or paint put on it in different directions. Not only that, but look at this. This blew my mind.
Who finishes the bottom of a bowl? Look at the base. Even under the base, inside the base, it's finished. We have three or four colors of slip here-- white and black and yellowish and so on. It's all wiped on. Every vessel is unique. And it comes in like 20 different shades of styles, but it's all this multi-slipped, cross wiped stuff. Here's another vessel. This is a side of a big storage jar. Who does this to a storage jar? It's just a crate for putting grain in. In the palace of Sodom, there are no common vessels in this sense. Everything is special. We think they have a special set of potters working for the palace.
We also have proved that, as the Bible suggests, in the attempted abduction of the angels by the men of Sodom-- men and boys of Sodom, you recall. I've talked about that here. I'm not going to repeat that tonight. But we have, in Sodom, roots that go back into the Bronze Age world of the Minoans of Crete of the middle Mediterranean of the Aegean area.
And their culture had a way of raising their boys, their adolescent young men, in a homosexual, pederastic relationship with an older man for eight years. Required. Everybody had to do that. And so it was quite a stunning thing for us to look back at that and go, well, that's not right. You shouldn't do that. But you recall in the book of Genesis, says there was a great outcry against the city of Sodom.
Well, who was crying out against the city of Sodom? Canaanites crying out against the city of Sodom? Why? Well, the Canaanites sacrificed their children and they had temple prostitutes. And I mean, the Canaanites didn't exactly have a moral culture. But they were appalled and crying out against the city of Sodom because of its perceived departure from something that would be acceptable, even in Canaanite culture. And the Bible tells us about that. you remember what happened to the angels.
At our site, we have pillared, Minoan-style architecture. This is in our gateway on the lower tell. Nobody builds gates like this. They have chambered gates, no pillars, just gate houses with some chambers. That's it. No pillars. We have a pillared gateway, and it's probably got a light well. And this is Leen Ritmeyer's model of it. It's a multi-story building with a light well, so we can get light into the lower stories. This is Minoan-style architecture. We have Minoan-style appliques, the decorations on our pottery, the down horn bowls that we see in the upper left. That's from Hammam. The upper right, that's from Hammam. All those other ones are from Crete. Very interesting. We have these connections.
We found something really cool. I love this thing. This is a top of an incense burner, or a very large ritual lamp from the palace. And has this crossing, kind of snake-ish decoration. And then on the outside, around the collar, it actually has a decoration-- a part of it's broken off, but when you restore it, it looks like this. And what does that look like to you? It's a proto-Ionic column capital and column. This is where it comes from. This is the proto-Ionic. There it is. This is from the Aegean. This is where it comes from. And now, it shows up at our site.
In other words, the top of the incense burner is artistically held up by a series of proto-Ionic columns from the Aegean world. It's really amazing. And then we have beautiful pieces like this that are totally a departure from the rather crude geometric Canaanite designs on some of the pottery. This is a beautiful, beautiful execution of a flowering vine. And this can be traced also to the Minoan culture of the Aegean world.
The fifth thing we've done is to show that these cities were destroyed violently during the time of Abraham, during the Middle Bronze Age. Now, how do we know it was destroyed during the Middle Bronze Age, during that time? Well, the pottery tells us that. But also confirmed by radiocarbon dating. And we take samples-- here we are taking some samples of carbon. We really look for grain and things like that. We're taking that carbon and we're putting it in jars.
And it comes back to our lab here in Albuquerque, and then it's shipped off to the various radiocarbon labs around the country for analysis. And those dates are coming back square on around 1,700 BC, which is what our pottery also tells us. So we have a firm date now on the destruction of Sodom, which helps us date Abraham as well.
Sixth thing-- Sodom and the land of the Kikkar were wiped out in an instant. They just weren't destroyed. They were destroyed in an instant. 400 square kilometers of intense civilization wiped out by a super heated plasmic impact produced by a meteoritic airburst event. By the way, that's exactly what Genesis 19 says. Not in this exact same terminology, but it's close. It actually says, "And God rained down fire and--" not sulfur. [NON-ENGLISH], burning stones, from Yahweh out of the heavens. Well, it sounds like a cosmic airburst to me. It's coming right out of the sky and destroying this area.
And of course, you've seen this if you've seen my presentations. The pottery sherd melted with the melted glass on the surface and the trinitite from ground zero of the first atomic bomb explosion. They're identical, because the heat index is the same. That sherd was subjected to about 15,000 to 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit for a fraction of a second and melted into glass. We have lots of that stuff. Here's one of our melted mud bricks, or a piece of melted mud brick from this season, and of course, a glass melt product from close by the site, proving that we have a high heat event, exactly as the Bible describes.
The seventh thing-- Sodom and the land of the Kikkar remained uninhabited for seven centuries after its cosmic destruction. I've just wrote a paper for a secular book that I was asked to write a chapter on Tall el-Hammam. And this is a diagram. It goes from right to left, because that diagram was produced in Israel. But it goes right to left, and it's tracking the rise and fall of the Dead Sea levels through time. So when the Dead Sea levels are going up or it's high, what does that tell you? Lots of rainfall during that time frame. When it's dropping, the rainfall is stopping. It's famine time. It's a drought.
Now, I want you to look at this. Here is the precise moment of Sodom's destruction. Look what happens to the regional climate and the Dead Sea level right in conjunction with the time of this destruction. It was such a massive event that it actually affected the climate for a while and made it really difficult for folks going into the Late Bronze Age. So we can actually see it in the climatological studies that something drastic happened about 3,700 BC-- I'm sorry, about 3,700 years ago, about 1,700 BC.
Now, here's my second coming thing. "As it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah"-- remember that statement? Or we could put it this way, slouching toward Sodom. I sort of took that from Judge Bork's-- remember him?-- book Slouching Toward Gomorrah.
What did he mean by that? That's what our culture's doing. We're slouching in the direction of Sodom. And let's look at it biblically. Here's Luke 17. "As happened in the days of Lot, they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. But on the day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and burning stone"-- or sulfur, if you like-- "from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed."
Ezekiel, now, say, "As it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man." How was it in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah? Well, God tells us in Ezekiel 16. "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom"-- by the way, who's the sister? Jerusalem. But he's bringing up Sodom to make a point. "This was the sin of your sister Sodom. She and her daughters"-- those are the other satellite cities-- "she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned. They did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen."
By the way, what does that mean? "As you have seen." It means that God left enough ruins around that they could see it. It's just a half a day from Jerusalem, just a half a day's walk. Many of them passed it. He said, you've seen this. And that's why I destroyed these cities because of these things.
Now, let's do a little comparison between Sodom and current Western culture. I could've just said America. "As it was in the days of Sodom, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man." How close are we? Are we close? Well, arrogant-- they were arrogant. I say it's this phrase, it's all about me. It's all about me and mine and what I do. They were arrogant. Little concern for other people. Oh, let's get off that one.
Overfed-- I heard yesterday or the day before, 35% of people in the United States are considered overweight. Another 30% are considered obese. Now, I'm not saying there was anybody overweight or obese in Sodom. That's not the point. That's not what this means. In fact, some of the other translations go a little bit different.
What this means is overfed-- this was an idiom for uber wealthy, just filthy rich, just oozing with money. They could do anything they want. They thought they were invincible. They could build whatever they wanted, buy whatever they wanted, buy whomever they wanted. They could do anything. That's what they thought. They were overfed.
Unconcerned-- they're unconcerned. I have my own problems. I have my own stuff to deal with. Yes. Yeah, we've totally turned in on ourself. I mean, can you see it? Can you see our time and day? Yes.
Ignore the poor and the needy. I call this the accumulation of stuff. Why? Well, because as I encounter people in houses and garages, do we have stuff? We have so much stuff we can't even pull it out. We can't even use it all. We have just stuff just oozing and popping out that we can't even store. I know people-- I know several people-- that own or rent storage places, because they don't have enough room at their house for all their stuff. They never use it. They never touch it. But they have to store it somewhere. We have stuff.
In the city of San Francisco-- this just came out yesterday or the day before-- in the city of San Francisco, we have the wealthiest per capita neighborhoods in America. And do you know that the charities that deal with the poor and the needy, those who need help of all kinds up and down society, that those charities who try to help those people in San Francisco are going broke, because the people in San Francisco are not giving them money? They're not supporting them. They're the wealthiest people in the country, but they're not givers. They're takers. Well, I think you could multiply that across America.
Haughty-- the exultation of self. They're haughty. Yeah, we love where we are. We wouldn't trade who we are and where we are. We like it the way it is. We like it safe. We like it not having to touch the people who are needy and so on. Haughty, arrogant.
And of course, this one had to come along-- detestable practices. People call this the new normal. What's the new normal? Did you know that Albuquerque public schools, within recent years, brought their teachers together to teach them how to be sensitive to the dozens and dozens of potential sexual orientations of their students? Everything's normal. If your child has a sexual orientation to trees or automobiles or-- it's normal.
I don't know what to say. By the way, I know teachers that literally got up shortly thereafter, walked out of the classroom. You just can't control anymore. Can't do that anymore. There is no morality left in America. There is nothing that could be classed as immoral, because everything is just interpreted as normal. You're just normal. And then we'll put you in with all the other kids. Well, joy.
One more scripture-- I like what Paul says here. "Mark this-- there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth"-- or in this translation, "able to acknowledge the truth." Sounds like America.
Close with this. What does Isaiah say? In his day-- and I think this applies to our day. Goes right back to Sodom and Gomorrah. "Hear the word of Yahweh, you rulers of Sodom"-- who's he talking to? Any government-- in this case, Israel. But you could apply this to any government, anywhere, anytime, any people. "Hear the words of your way, you rulers of Sodom. Listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah. Take your evil deeds out of My sight. Stop doing wrong, learn to do right, seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Come now"-- by the way, we always take this out of context. We quote this. We forget to quote what comes before it. "Come now, let us reason together, says Yahweh. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
We don't need to stand with the crowd. We can stand out in the redemption of Jesus. Sodom is real. That's the point. Sodom is real. This is not some rhetorical literary metaphor. It's real. The warning against Sodom was real. The destruction of Sodom was real. And so is the second coming of Jesus. So is the second coming of our Lord, who will purge this world with His righteousness.
Well, that's the end of that. Let's pray. Father, we stand amazed in the presence of a holy and righteous God who gives us every opportunity to lay down our will, to repent, to submit to our creator, to His messiah, to You, Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins, who gives us every opportunity, gives us every mercy.
But yet somehow, as a nation, as a civilization, we have collectively turned our hearts and our minds against You and have opted for our own will and our own way. Father, lead us to seek You. Lead us to repentance. And it's all because of Jesus. In His name we pray, amen.
What binds us together is devotion to worshipping our Heavenly Father, dedication to studying His word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.