Lessons on Sodom

Genesis 19:9-38

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
June 2015

We are studying the Book of Genesis and came last week to Genesis 19.  It is one of the most famous chapters in the Bible.  It is one chapter that has some adult themes in it.  It is an important chapter in the Bible.  Genesis 19:24-25 summarizes what happened four thousand years ago in the ancient city of Sodom. “Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land” (19:24-25)

Basic Questions about Sodom?

1. WHO destroyed Sodom?

God did it.  This was not just a natural catastrophe.  It was not an act of nature.  It was an act of God.  God rained down fire and brimstone.  He overthrew all of the cities.

2. HOW was Sodom destroyed?

The city of Sodom was destroyed by fire.  It happened very suddenly and quickly.  It was not just Sodom.  Three other cities were destroyed as well in the same way (Deuteronomy 29:23).

3. What was the RESULTS of this act?

It led to total destruction.  All living things died, including all of the plants.  There were no survivors in those cities (cf. Jeremiah 49:18).

4. WHY was Sodom destroyed?

The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it” (19:13).  They were not just sinners in Sodom but “great sinners before the Lord” (13:13) and had absolutely no remorse.

Last week, we looked at “Sodom and America.”  Today, I want to look at “Lessons from Sodom.”  What can we learn from this chapter?  There are many lessons and applications for us that I want to share.

Lessons on Man

We learn something about man.  It is hard to believe that man can be this bad.  We learn from this chapter that man is totally depraved.  This chapter mentions things like sexual abuse, rape, incest and homosexuality.  Unspeakable acts were performed in Sodom on a regular basis by every type of person in the community.

Some of these acts took place in Lot’s own family, as we will see at the end of the chapter. In fact, it even mentions people trying to rape angels.  The men in this town were so wicked that even after they were blinded physically, they still tried to continue to sin.

Lessons on God

There are also some things we can learn about God in this chapter.  We learn a lot about God in this chapter.

1. God judges sin.

What we see in Genesis 19 was an execution.  The whole city was wiped off the map.  This is just a picture of what he will do in the final judgment. He judged the world in Noah’s day with water and the people in Lot’s day with fire.

Many think that God delights in punishing people.  In their view, God is all judgment and no grace.  They think that He is vindictive and loves to see people suffer. Actually, the reverse is true.  God is not sadistic.  He is compassionate but he is also holy.

As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:11).

Exodus 34:6-7 says, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (NIV).

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  He does get angry but He is slow to anger.  He does punish people but he is also compassionate.  He forgives people.  God did wipe everyone out in the Flood but He showed mercy first.  He sent a preacher to them.  Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” and He waited one hundred and twenty years before sending the Flood.  He gave them plenty of time to repent.

God gave grace to the city of Sodom as well.  The city was taken capture by Kerdorlaomer in Genesis 14 and God delivered them.  It was conquered by an invader but Abraham got some men and rescued the whole city.  Abraham’s nephew Lot moved into Sodom.

Lot was a righteous man.  He lived there for at least fifteen years.  There was at least one godly man in the city but it had absolutely no effect on the town.  After sending Lot, he sent two angels into the city.  The city’s wickedness, not only continued, it got worse.

2. God’s judgment is fair.

He only judges based on facts.  The Bible does not just call God a judge, it calls him “a righteous judge” (Psalm 7:11).  Deuteronomy 32:4 says “His works are perfect and all his ways are just.”  Two men were sent into the city to verify the truth of the rumor and to conduct an investigation.  God does not judge on a whim or arbitrarily.  The Bible says that He is no respecter of persons.  He is an impartial judge.  He does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11; I Peter 1:17).

3. God answers prayer.

The whole reason that Lot and his family were delivered was because Abraham prayed.  If Abraham had not prayed for Lot in Genesis 18, he would have been destroyed along with everyone else in the city.  It was Abraham’s prayer that saved his life.  After that prayer, God sent a few angels into the city to deliver him.  James 5:17 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (NIV). 

4. God is able to deliver the righteous from bad situations.

Lot was in a bad situation.  It was a bad situation of his own making.  He should have never moved to Sodom in the first place.  God delivered him in spite of his own stupidity.  God delivered Lot and he can deliver us when we screw up our live and make bad decisions.  We still may have to deal with the consequences of our actions.  Lot’s daughters lived in Sodom and picked up some of the morals of Sodom.  We see that at the end of the chapter.

5. God uses angels to do His work.

He uses them in this chapter to judge the wicked and to deliver believers. We not only learn about man and about God in this chapter, we also learn something about angels.  What do we learn about angels in this chapter?

Lessons on Angels

1. Angels work for God.

They serve God.  They do whatever He tells them to do,  If God tells them to go to earth and move a big rock in front of a tomb, they do it.  Here, God told them to go to Sodom to conduct an investigation, so they went.  That was their mission.

2. Angels often use disguises.

They concealed their identity when they went to Sodom.  They went under cover.  They didn’t draw attention to themselves.  No one knew they were angels when they arrived in the city.  They looked like two young men.  Apparently, they still do this today.  The NT says that you can still see a complete stranger and not know that it is an angel.  That is Hebrews 13:2.

3. Angels have special powers.

They are supernatural beings.  They have superhuman strength.  When this perverted mob surrounded Lot’s house, they struck them all with blindness.  Two men were able to instantly blind this large crowd of people from the inside of Lot’s house.  The men who were morally blind suddenly became physically blind.  They still tried to get in but were not able to.  It stopped them in their tracks and made them all harmless.

4. Angels protect believers.

That is what they do in this chapter.  This is one of the ministries of angels.  They deliver believers.  Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (NIV).  That was not just for Lot.  That is something that he does for us and for us.  It is not just a promise of protection but of angelic protection.  We see the same thing in other psalms.

“No harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent” (91:10-13).

This is another passage says believers will be protected by angels from danger.  Danger comes in many forms (disease, violent crime, sickness, accidents).  This protection will come through angels.  God says that we will be protected by angels, and not just one guardian angel but by many.

He will command his angels (plural) concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (cf. 91:11).  Some of you may have a story to share about how you have been supernaturally protected by an angel from danger.

That raises an interesting question.  Why are some believers delivered but not others?  Some believers have been protected, while others are martyred and die violent deaths.  Why?  Were the protected ones more spiritual and the others just carnal?  That cannot be true because the angels here protected Lot and he was not too spiritual.

Some very bad things happened to Job.  In one day he lost his kids.  All ten of them were killed.  He lost his wealth.  He lost his house.  He lost his health but he was not unspiritual.  The first verse of the book says that Job feared God.  He was a God-fearing man.  He was morally upright and blameless.  He shunned evil (1:1).

What is the reason that some are delivered and some are not?  I think there are two reasons.  One reason has to do with God.  It has nothing to do with us and one reason has to do with us.

The reason some receive special protection is because of prayer.  The ONLY reason Lot and his family were delivered from Sodom is because Abraham prayed for him in Genesis 18.  It is the only reason.  If there was no prayer, there would have been no deliverance.  Look what happened to Peter.

“When he (Herod) saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:3-5)

Here Peter lost his freedom.  He is arrested.  He is thrown into prison.  He had to chains put on him.  He is heavily guarded and he was scheduled for execution but the church prayed EARNESTLY for him and God sent an angel to deliver him from prison.

It was in response to the prayers of the church.  That is one reason why believers are delivered.  Some have called Psalm 91 the Christian’s Emergency Psalm.  There’s another reason.  What I have to say now is unpopular in some circles.  Some hate this doctrine.

A reason that some believers are not delivered is because of the will of God.  We see this right in the text.  Acts 12 is an incredible story about how Peter was miraculously rescued by an angel but that is not how the chapter begins.  It begins with the apostle James being martyred.  It says that Herod “had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword” (Acts 12:2).  That is strange.

Peter is released from prison and James is beheaded.  God lets James die a violent death and Peter live.  Why?  Was Peter a better Christian?  Was he more spiritual than James?  Why didn’t an angel come and deliver the Apostle James?  Why would God deliver one of his servants and not deliver another one of his servants?  God is sovereign.  He had a different plan for Peter than he had for James.

Let’s see how these angels ministered to Lot’s family.  When this gang of thugs came to Lot’s house, he went out and tried to reason with them.  He said, “You can have my daughters but not these men, “because they have come under the protection of my roof” (19:8).  He was respectful and even called these rapists his “friends.”

What did they say to Lot?  “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door” (19:9).  They told him that they would treat him even WORSE than these two visitors. “If you think this is bad, wait until you see what we will do to you afterwards”.

Once Lot was in danger, along with everyone else in the house, because they were ready to break down the door, the angels stepped in and protected Lot.  How did they do that?  First, they put him in a safe place. They pulled Lot inside the house and struck everyone on the outside with blindness.

But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door (19:10-11).  These men were so wicked, they kept looking for the door after they were blinded but they couldn’t find it.

Second, they gave them instructions to protect them.

“The two men said to Lot, ‘Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.’ So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, ‘Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!’With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.’” (Genesis 19:12-14).

Third, they literally dragged them out of Sodom.

“With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them” (19:15-16).

Notice three different responses to the message of the angels.  The first response was to LAUGH. “So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking” (19:14)

Lot’s son-in laws (the men who were going to marry his daughters) laughed at this message.  They thought it was a joke.  They didn’t take it seriously.  We get the same response today from our message.  If you tell people that they need to repent.  If you tell them that judgment is coming.  If you tell them that Hell is real, people will call you a right-wing religious fanatic, a Jesus freak.  You will be seen as an extremist or an alarmist.  Your message will not be taken seriously?  Why?  Paul says that the preaching of the cross to those that are perishing is foolishness.

The second response was to LINGER.  They did not see the urgency.  They started procrastinating, like many of us do.  They knew that they had to leave but took their sweet time getting ready to leave.  There was no rush in their mind and yet by lingering they were risking their very lives.  The pull of the city was too great.  These angels had to grab them by the hands and drag them out of the city.  God had to deliver Lot almost against his will.  He had to be pushed into things for his own good.

These angels almost failed in their mission.  Lot’s family was not leaving.  They had to use force to get them to leave or they would have stayed in Sodom.  They had to literally drag them out of the house, like little children who are not doing what you ask them to do and you have to pick them up by the hand.  The two angels had four hands and each hand grabbed one of the four people in Lot’s house.

The third response was to LOOK BACK. “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (17:32).  Did you know that Jesus told us to remember two things. He told us to take communion in remembrance of Him. Jesus told us to remember his suffering on the cross.  He also told us to remember Lot’s wife but not for something positive.

We are given the name of Abraham’s wife but not Lot’s wife but this chapter tells us something about her. The angels told them not to look back.  They told them to run for their lives. Lot’s wife disobeyed the angels.  She looked back and was turned into stone.  She became a pillar of the community.  Let’s think about Lot’s wife briefly. Why did she look back?

It wasn’t just because she was curious.  Apparently, she loved the world.  Her heart was in Sodom.  All of her possessions were in Sodom.  She had family members in Sodom.  She was looking at all of the things she left behind.  In her heart, she wanted to go back.  She did not want to leave.  The angels dragged her body out but her heart was still there. She loved the wicked city of Sodom.  It was her home.

Lot’s wife was not the only one not to listen to the angels, Lot did the same thing.  They told him to escape to the mountains and flee for your life.  Lot was a city man.  He had been living in Sodom.  He said, “If I have to leave a large city, can I at least move to a small city.”

The angels gave him permission.  He goes to Zoar but when he gets there, he leaves and goes to the mountains because it did not seem safe (19:30).  The lesson here is that if an angels tells you to do something, you need to do it without arguing.

The chapter ends with on a bad note with incest (19:30-38).  You have Lot living with his two daughters in a cave.  Lot’s wife is dead.  His daughters get him drunk, not once, but twice.  They sleep with him and they both get pregnant.  You cannot blame Lot for the incest.  He was drunk. He was raped but apparently his daughters knew his weakness – alcohol.  This may be a weakness he developed in Sodom (since it is not mentioned earlier).

Once his daughters got him drunk, they abused him sexually.  The chapter began with an attempted homosexual rape of angels and ends with a heterosexual rape on a family member.  This is not a positive note to end on but it shows the effect of raising your kids in the terrible moral atmosphere of Sodom.

These girls left Sodom but Sodom did not leave them.  It is further proof that Lot should never have gone to Sodom in the first place.  Lot ends up reaping what he has sown.  Lot went to Sodom to get rich but ends up losing everything he had (including his wife) and living in a cave, where he is molested by his own daughters.

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