Friday, August 12, 2011

Genesis Chapter 19 ~ Judgment for Sin on Sodom & Gomorrah

Genesis Chapter 19

In this chapter the angels came to Sodom in the evening, Lot was sitting in the gate and his response to their arrival was very similar to Abraham’s, he rose to meet them and bowed down before them (Gen. 19:1-2). He offered them the same hospitality that Abraham did as well, but they refused it and said they wanted to spend the night in the town square. He warned them about this, so they went to his house. This reminds me of a conversation we had once with an elderly member at our church. She was telling us how when it was hot outside in the summers, when she was a young girl, people in the community used to take their bedding out and sleep under the stars in Lincoln Park. No one in his or her right mind would make a practice of that in Washington, D.C. now. When the depravity of this fallen world invades our communities the town squares that should be safe to sleep in become a howling wilderness.

Before they went to bed all the young and old men in Sodom surrounded Lot’s house. They asked Lot to bring the two men/angels to them so they could, “know them.” (Gen. 19:5) This is a Hebrew idiom that means to have intimacy in relation toward, and it even means sexual relations. It’s pretty clear that these men wanted to commit homosexual acts with the men/angels that Lot was hosting. Lot went to them and asked them to stop acting wickedly and offered his two virgin daughters to them in order to spare the men/angels. Quite frankly this is a horridly sinful and confused response by Lot. It seems that first, he wanted to protect his guests, but second, he may have thought the acts would be less repugnant if they were in a heterosexual manner. The first response is honorable. The second response is just confused. While heterosexuality in marriage is the sexual relationship that God blesses, He in no way endorses rape. Heterosexual and homosexual rape are both evil biblically speaking, and there isn’t any room to argue degrees of toleration in rape. Both are a perversion. The men of Sodom were offended, because what they proposed to do with/to the men was wrong, so they attacked Lot, but the two men/angels saved him by bringing him back in the house and shutting the men of Sodom out. The men/angels struck the men of the city with blindness and they became exhausted as the groped for the door that night.

The angels told Lot to get all of his family out of the city because they were going to destroy it. It appears that this is going to be the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah that Moses alluded to in Genesis 13:10. Lot’s sons-in-law thought he was joking and ignored him, and as the sun arose the next day the angels told Lot to get out of the city with his wife and two daughters, but he lingered. By God’s grace they then forcefully brought them out of the city (Gen. 19:16). One of the angels told him to escape and not look back or else they will be swept away. Lot begged to be able to go to Zoar and the angels allowed him. This is absolutely incredible. Lot is being spared the judgment that God is unleashing on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and yet Lot lingered. It’s even more amazing that the angels through whom God would bring destruction didn’t wait for Lot to keep lingering, but they physically, forcefully, and it seems quickly took him and his family outside the city. You could compare this to lingering while a fire is engulfing your house. Firefighters come and rescue you by having to knock you out and forcefully dragging you out! God is determined to save those who He desires to save. He's unstoppable!

Then God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah by raining sulfur and fire from the, “LORD out of heaven.” (Gen. 19:24) The angels weren’t doing this, God was! Further, it wasn't coming from the heavens. It was coming from God alone! Everyone in those cities died, and while fleeing Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. Abraham looked down the valley in the direction of Sodom and Gomorrah and saw, “the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.” (Gen. 19:28) Can you imagine looking down toward a town or a city where you knew folks, had family and friends that lived there, and just saw smoke rolling into the heavens? It would be terrible. Then we see that it was because of Abraham’s pleading with God to relent from judgment on the righteous, that we considered yesterday, that He relented from destroying Lot (Gen. 19:29). God answers the prayers of His chosen people. We may not ever know it, but God is showing Himself again to be responsive to the prayers of His people. In answering Abraham’s prayer to relent from pouring out His wrath on the righteous He is showing Himself to be fully trustworthy. He hears and answers our prayers if we trust in His provision through Christ alone.

Lot and his two daughters then lived in a cave in the hills outside of Zoar, because Lot was afraid to live there (the implication may be that his fear was of God’s wrath that could come upon Zoar). His daughters desired to further Lot’s lineage so they got him drunk and laid with him and conceived children. They became pregnant by their father Lot without his knowledge of it because he was so inebriated. The son his older daughter had was named Moab (meaning “from father”) who was the father of the Moabites, and his younger daughter had a son named Ben-Ammi (meaning “son of my people”), who was the father of the Ammonites. We see here the sinful origins of two nations who will become constant enemies of God’s chosen people. God is kind to save Lot in answering Abraham’s prayers, but this doesn’t mean that Lot’s progeny is part of God’s chosen people.

In this chapter we see more of the affects of sin; namely, rebellion against God and the provoking Him to wrath. But we also see God’s grace. We see God’s grace in the answered prayers of Abraham, we see God’s grace in preserving Lot because of Abraham, and we see that God is holding to His covenant not to wipe out every person on the planet because of sin like in the flood. He only destroys two cities, not the entire creation. Don’t miss this in the passage. God would be perfectly justified to destroy every person and every community, because all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Yet, God is being kind here to only destroy two communities in His wrath against sin. Further, in His kindness God is giving us yet another warning to turn from sin and flee to God in repentance while there is still time. Since we now live in an age after the revelation of Jesus Christ as the messiah, we should flee our sin and the wrath of God to Christ for safety.

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