It is not until Genesis 19 that we learn that the people who have come to visit Abraham and tell him that he is going to have a son this time next year were angels. These angels have also declared that they have come to see if these cities are worthy of the judgment since the outcry against them have been heard by God (18:20-21). Abraham has been invited to have a conversation with God and in this discussion has asked God to preserve the cities if 10 righteous people can be found in them. God promised that if there were 10 righteous people that the judgment would be averted.
Deliverance From Destruction (19:1-29)
The scene opens with two angels coming to Sodom. Lot is sitting in the gate, which would mean in that culture that he is a respected elder of the city. Lot is a man of standing in this city. Lot makes the offer of hospitality toward these men, but the angels say that they will stay in the city square. An ominous tone is heard when Lot presses them strongly to not stay in the city but to stay in his home (cf. Judges 19:20). Lot knows the wickedness of this city and insists that these heavenly guests stay with him.
Before they go to bed, all the men of the city of Sodom surround the house. They call for Lot to send out the men so that they may know them. Most translations render this that they may “have sex with them.” “Knowing” someone was often a biblical metaphor for having sexual relations. We see that this is what the men of the city mean because of Lot’s response in verses 6-7. This is not a welcoming party of hospitality. This is a request for homosexual relations. Lot declares that these men wanting to have sexual relations with these men is wickedness and begs them not to act to wickedly (19:7). Lot offers his virgin daughters to these men, which is deplorable on Lot’s part. Yet the men reject this offer and begin to break down the door so that they can mistreat Lot worse than the guests. The angels strike the men who were at the entrance of the door with blindness, yet they continue to try to get into the house until they wore themselves out.
This settles the matter for the angels. Remember that they have been instructed to see whether the outcry against this city is true and if they were deserving of judgment. The answer from this scene is a clear “yes.” Judgment is about to come. Therefore, the angels tell Lot to gather anyone of his family and friends and get them out of the city now because the place is about to be destroyed.
Lot goes to his sons-in-law and tell them to get up and get out because the Lord is about to destroy the city. But notice verse 14. “But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.” Judgment is proclaimed, but people think that the call for coming judgment is a joke. How we as humans quickly dismiss God’s warning of judgment! The call of judgment does not move them. So then the angels tell Lot to get his wife and daughters and get out of the city so that they are not swept away in the punishment of the city. Please read the words of verse 16. “But he lingered.” Even Lot is resisting the warning of judgment and does not want to leave the city. Notice what happens. The angels seize Lot, his wife, and two daughters by the hand and led them out of the city. Please read those words in verse 16, “The Lord being merciful to him.” God is rescuing Lot and his family in spite of his own resistance.
The resistance continues in verse 17. The angels tell Lot to escape to the hills and Lot argues with the angels in verses 18-20. What a ridiculous excuse! Lot could take his family back to Abraham. It is not like he lives in the wilderness. But he does not want to leave this life that he knows in the cities of the plain. His heart is also tied to this city. So the Lord grants his request and gives him a small city, Zoar, to escape to. The resistance continues as Lot is escaping to Zoar. Lot’s wife also looks back to the city and is turned to a pillar of salt. If this were not enough, after escaping the destruction, Lot and his daughters do not live in Zoar but live in a cave because he feared living in the city. So the daughters get the idea to make Lot drunk so that they can have relations with him so they can have children. Listen to this exaggeration: “There is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth” (19:31). There is no one out there for us to have. So the best solution is to get our dad drunk and have children that way. This is a shocking ending to the account of Sodom. There are many lessons we learn from this account and we are going to examine three points today.
The Actions of a Depraved Society
Genesis 19 has become a controversial text in our society with the prevalence of homosexuality and its acceptance today. This has caused people to suggest that the condemnation of Sodom was not homosexuality. Rather, the problem was that they were trying forceful take people against their will. So the scene at Sodom does not condemn loving, monogamous homosexual relationships. Beside this, they will also note that when the prophet Ezekiel speaks of the sins of Sodom, notice what the sins were:
As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:48–50 ESV)
It is important to note that there was not just one sin in the city of Sodom. We saw this in Genesis 18:20 that the outcry against the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were very great. Ezekiel points out the other sins that were also going on during that time. But this does not ignore the sexual sins of these cities.
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 6–7 ESV)
Notice that they indulged in sexual immorality and pursue “unnatural desire.” Let’s reset the scene to understand what is happening with Sodom and Gomorrah. The angels have come to see if the outcry against the city matches their actions. Are their sins as grave as the great outcry suggests? The events of the men trying to have sexual relations with other men prove the point to the angels that the cities are worthy of judgment. The point is that sexual immorality and pursuing unnatural desire are the actions of a depraved society. The city was condemned for its pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease. But pursue unnatural sexual desire is the hitting bottom of depravity for the city. This is the very point the apostle Paul makes in Romans 1.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26–27 ESV)
Notice that God calls this: dishonorable passions. Natural, God-ordained relations is being exchanged for unnatural, God-condemned relations. Sodom is pictured as a city full of sins in which judgment falls upon it for its sexual immorality and pursuit of unnatural passions (Jude 7). This sin cannot be removed from the reason judgment came on Sodom.
The Problem of Looking Back
Second, we see the problem of looking back. No one wants to be rescued from the coming judgment. The sons-in-law are told to run for their lives and they do not listen. Lot is told to take his family and go, yet he lingers and the angels must drag him out of the city. Lot’s wife turns back to look upon the city and is turned to salt. God constantly warns against looking back. When Israel was brought out of Egypt, God struck the people for desiring to go back to Egypt. In Luke 17:32 Jesus told the disciples to remember Lot’s wife when the destruction of Jerusalem came. Don’t run back to the city but run for the mountains to preserve their lives. What is the problem?
The problem is forgetting God’s gracious rescue to return to worldliness and selfish living. Lot does not want to leave the city. He begs for a city to be preserve. Lot’s wife does not want to leave the city. The sons-in-law do not want to leave the city. God is graciously offering rescue and we continue to cling to this world. We tell God that we do not want his salvation and rescue. We would rather enjoy this world and take the consequences for that decision. God is trying to save us from our blindness and ignorance. Though they seemed to not desire to be delivered, the Lord in his mercy brought deliverance anyway. How true this is concerning the cross of Jesus! We do not understand the wrath to come for our sins and our deserved judgment. We think we can keep living how we want to live. God gives Jesus to die for our sins and we choose to not turn from our sins but continue to desire this world. We do not desire God above all else. We desire our hobbies. We desire our comforts. We desire our pursuits. We desire this world. We do not desire God. We cling to this life as if this is all there is to life rather than seeing the salvation God is offering and the new life to come. We cannot walk with God and draw near to him so long as we cling to our sinful ways and sinful world.
So why do we do this? Why are we like Lot and his family that do not want to leave and do not want to be rescued?
Corrupted By Our Surroundings
The problem that we see in Genesis 19 is the same problem for us: we become corrupted by our surroundings. The effects of a sinful society on our thinking and desires are vast. The reason we look back and linger in this world is because we have been corrupted by our surroundings and do not even realize it. Second Peter 2:7 tells us that Lot was righteous, but look what has happened to him and his family. How subtle the corruption of the world can infect our thinking! No greater example of this is seen in Genesis 19:30-38. God has just saved Lot and his daughters from judgment and disaster. What is the first thing we see them doing but sinning in sexual immorality again! God shows mercy and we throw ourselves right back into sin. We must be so careful to not let the standard of the world corrupt our thinking. There is no form of sexual immorality that is acceptable to God, even though our society accepts it. Adultery is still a sin though it accepted in our society. Sex before marriage is still a sin. Divorce is still a sin. Pursuing unnatural desires is still a sin. Homosexual relationships are still a sin.
Friends, God is trying to save us from the coming judgment. We must not ignore the warning and we must not be conformed to the thinking of this world.
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! (Ephesians 4:17–20 ESV)
God in his mercy is saving us from ourselves. Will we turn away from our sinful thinking and sinful ways and turn our lives and hearts to the Lord who has made rescue possible through the blood of Jesus?