October 5, 2020
Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. "Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:14-15).
Sodom and Gomorrah experienced the wrath of God for their unrepentant sin. But there is a greater judgment on those who have opportunity to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ yet refuse.
Is this judgment temporal or eternal? I believe it is both. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah did not repent of their sin and God destroyed them completely (Genesis 19). Jerusalem had the opportunity to receive Jesus as their Christ and to be blessed with the Kingdom that He brought. They rejected both. In A.D. 70 the city was destroyed, and the inhabitants slaughtered. Those who survived were scattered to the four corners of the earth, just like Jesus said (Matthew 24:1-31).
The judgment Jesus referred to is also eternal. Jude 1:7, . . . just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. So, not only were the cities destroyed, but the people in them suffered a greater punishment of eternal damnation in hell.
One of the difficult truths in this passage is that there are degrees of punishment in hell - it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment. Revelation 20:11–15 states people are judged according to what they had done as recorded in the book of works. Although all people at this judgment are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13–15), it is believed the purpose of the judgment is to determine how severe the punishment in hell will be.
In Luke 10:13-16 Jesus said, Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades! The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.
It is not clear what ‘greater’ punishment these people will receive in hell, but it is clear they will.
“Father, the thought of hell is horrible enough to consider, but to experience greater torment in hell for rejecting Jesus Christ is wholly unimaginable. May this be a greater motivation to reach out to people with Gospel with greater urgency. To the glory of Jesus Christ and for the sake of the lost I ask, Amen.”