Sodom and Gomorrah

by Richard J. Hill

Abram’s and Lot’s flocks had become large and their help began to clash with one another. God told Abram and Lot to separate from one another (Gen. 13:11). Abram gave Lot his choice of the land, and Lot and his wife looked and chose the valley of the green fields. Abram left the decision concerning his choice up to God. It is always far better to do that.  Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom – probably dreaming of the crops he could plant, and the number of sheep and goats he could raise, not to mention the beauty of the place. The people appeared at first to be decent, friendly, honest people and would make good friends and neighbors. It is clear from the Bible that Lot was a believer in the living God (2 Pet. 2:7-9). He was referred to as “righteous Lot.” Lot soon learned that things are not always what they appear to be.

 

Though his neighbors became generous, close friends, Lot realized that they were unprincipled people oppressed by serious sensual conduct. The Sodomites had a dark side that produced much anxiety within Lot’s soul. The land, true to promise, became very generous and produced much food for Lot’s family and his flocks.  He probably built a nice home and a beautiful lush garden. His wife and family grew to love their home and many of their neighbors soon became close friends. Lot took a leading position among the government officials of the settlement. He probably met often with other leaders in the town square to talk politics and discuss ways to help their community.  

 

Lot soon became painfully aware that his neighbors’ private lifestyle was far less than honorable. In fact, it was horrible, and in direct conflict with the character of his God. They were Sodomites actively involved in sensual, religious practices and private, illicit sexual activity. It became hard for Lot to live the good life among people who were very vile in their personal lives. But because of his family and their fondness for their friends and neighbors, and his daughters’ engagement to two men, Lot was trying constantly to negotiate. He was persistently trying to “straighten out” the Sodomites. He was attempting to legislate morality for the immoral. Impossible!

 

Believers who desire the best of both worlds – the knowledge of being a child of God and at the same time having an unquenchable thirst for all the temporal possessions of this life (position, influence, wealth, and power) become believers who seldom mature spiritually. They never really become productive for God, and they end up losing it all anyway.

 

There is always the haunting knowledge that God will discipline believers in this life for living contrary to His plan “Forwhom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). As long as God left Lot alone,he would continue to profess faith, while at the same time living among the Sodomites, quietly condoning their sexual immorality. Ultimately, he could not have both.

 

Sodom would have destroyed Lot if the Lord had not destroyed Sodom. One day two angels entered the gate of Sodom. The day of reckoning had come.  They had come to administer God’s justice on the Sodomites, who had constantly impugned God’s righteousness and His justice. The came to balance the scales (Deut. 32: 4) and to deliver Lot and his family out of harm’s way – to remove them from God’s judgment.  This is a vivid illustration of God’s act of mercy toward those who believe. God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations (2 Pet. 2:9).  

 

Weak believers have the wrong emphasis in life. They busy themselves trying to clean up the devil’s world. They become actively involved in social actions to make this world a better place. On the surface that sounds commendable. God never tells believers to busy themselves straightening out this world. As one mentor once said, Christians are never told to clean up the fishpond; we are told to fish in it. God never tells believers to legislate morality for the unsaved – we are to share the gospel of grace with them and live a life that complements our words. A mature believer is to make a positive, moral impact on society because of who they are. We are to be God’s ambassadors to this fallen world.  We are told to be salt, making people thirsty for the living God, and light, showing people the way to life.  The unsaved are blessed by associating with Christians and their godly influence. Christians make the best salesmen, lawyers, doctors, bankers, etc.  And unbelievers are to recognize our integrity and have a desire for its source.

 

Lot’s urgency for the men to stay in the safe confines of his house indicated that he was well aware of the vile inhospitable treatment they would receive from the Sodomites if they chose to stay in the open square. Lot’s desire to protect them illustrated that there was spiritual life in him. Lot made it very plain that they really needed to stay in the safe confines of his home. He proved to be right! Every man of the city, both young and old, came to the house to involve themselves in homosexual rape of angels – angels!  The men said that they desired to “know them carnally.” This is a Hebrew phrase that would imply homosexual rape. There have been books written zeroing in on these words with the attempt to show that homosexuality is not considered a sin or an abomination to the Lord in the Old Testament.  However, this cannot be done. In the light of the context and the meaning of this word, homosexuality was and is a sin before God.

 

We are today living in a society filled with increasing emphasis on homosexual life. An article written in Time Magazinemany years ago was entitled “How gay is gay?” At that time, it was estimated, that ten percent of society was influenced by some form of homosexuality. Some of our leading citizens had announced that they were homosexual. Today it is much more so.

 

Today, much of our music, our dress, our hairstyles, (both long and short) are established by homosexuals. Our society today is filled with homosexual influence. The apostle Paul, in one of the most pointed sections of his writing, spoke loud and clear concerning this very subject in Romans one. The theme of his writing is a people that have fallen into sin and turned their backs on God and so God in turn gave them up. God gave them up to do that which was in the lust of their minds to do. Paul said that although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things (Rom. 1:21-23).

 

Therefore! This “therefore” in verse 24 is heavy with meaning. Here is God’s response to a homosexual filled society. Since they had given up God, God gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. God just gave them the freedom to do what they wanted to do.  

 

“For this reason [leaving the living God], God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Rom. 1:24-25).

 

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:26-32).

 

The apostle regards prevalent homosexual activity as God’s judgment upon a society that has rejected Him. It is not something that God was going to do, it is something that He has done.  Rampant homosexuality is not a symbol that God’s judgment “is coming” but that God’s judgment “has come.” According to Paul, this is not a society that is moving toward God’s judgment, but we are already under God’s judgment, and moving toward a final cataclysmic judgment like Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

Again, Lot’s begging his neighbors to cease from this activity is proof that he still had sensitivity to God and the wickedness of the people around him. It then appears that Lot then just completely fell off the wagon. He offered his two daughters to this Sodomite crowd instead of the angels (Gen. 19:8). In my thinking, Lot had become sodomized in his thinking, but not in his personal life. On the one hand, he appeared very moral, for he resisted homosexuality. He knew evil when he saw it. But ironically, he was willing to sacrifice his own daughters’ purity to fend off the vice of Sodomite men. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” becomes one of the heaviest burdens believers can bear. Believers who marry unbelievers are going to have problems.

 

This weak believer had anemic spiritual convictions concerning family responsibility. Here is Lot’s spiritual mentality. He was so immersed and disoriented in immorality that he viewed the giving of his daughters versus the sexual abuse of the men as the lessor of two evils.  And the Sodomites said to Lot, “Stand back!” They said that Lot had come to stay with them but that he was always acting like a judge. They turned on Lot completely. They said, “Now we will deal worse with you than with them” (the angels) (Gen. 19:9).  

 

Lot’s feeble attempt to stem the evil bent of his neighbors produced nothing. They did not respect him nor even like him. Believers who attempt to change unbelievers’ lifestyle by blending in with them, living with them attempting to influence them in the right way, will seldom succeed. The Sodomites pressed hard against Lot and came near to break down the door. Repeat! The weak compromising believer has no testimony with the unbeliever. Immature Christians think that they can change people’s view of Christianity by compromising their own lifestyle and just blending in. 

 

They think that they can join into their activity to show the freedom that God has given us through grace. Usually, the outcome is like this with Lot. In the end, unbelievers will turn on believers and attempt to destroy them. More than one believer attempting this maneuver has been consumed by the very crowd they were trying to spiritually placate.  God snatched Lot out of harm’s way. The angels pulled Lot into the house with them and slammed the door shut. And the angels struck the Sodomites who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door. Notice that it is angelic work to defend and deliver God’s elect. Speaking of angels, Hebrews says; Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).

 

The Sodomites were struck with a supernatural blindness which is found in only one other place in the Bible in 2 Kings 6:18. It refers to a confusion of the brain by a confusion of the eyes. They thought they were seeing but they were seeing wrongly. 

 

The angels asked Lot if there were any other family members in his house or in the city. God remembered His promise to Abraham. If they could find just ten, He would forego the destruction. Lot’s prospective sons-in-law who were to marry his daughters (verse 14), thought he was joking.

 

When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, telling him to get up and take his wife and his two daughters away lest he be consumed in the punishment of the city.  But Lot hesitated! Repetition! He had lived among the Sodomites so long he had become a part of the sodomite culture. He had friends among them. His home was there. He was probably hit with the prospect of losing all his property, the acquisition of many years of hard work. Or it may have been his benevolent heart paralyzed by thoughts of the awful crisis?  This is the charitable way of accounting for a delay that would have been fatal but for the urgency of the angel.

 

The angels took Lot by the hand and dragged him and his wife and his family to safety against their wills constantly telling them to escape for their very lives (Gen. 19:16). The angels forcefully delivered them. It was as difficult to get Lot out of Sodom as it was to get Sodom out of Lot’s family. Lot complained that he may have been too old and weak to make it through to the mountains. And there were dangers in those mountains. Lot never seemed to get it. He begged the angels to let him run to a small city close by (Zoar) and for them to spare that city for his sake. He said it would save his life. God granted Lot this request (Gen. 19:22).

 

Lot’s wife had been warned but she just could not let go of her home and her friends. She looked back and was destroyed for her unbelief. The sun was rising when Lot entered Zoar. God rained down brimstone and fire totally destroying Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19: 28).  God possibly ignited the bitumen (oil) residue that was there. We do not know how! But we know that God’s wrath was poured out on the morally bankrupt Canaanite cities of the Jordan Valley.  This action provides seed truth for the fact that God is now storing up His wrath for every morally bankrupt city of this earth, upon everyone that falls short of His righteousness. “The Lord has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He has ordained concerning whom He has given assurance to all men that He raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). A prophetic glimpse of this coming judgment of God is found in 2 Peter. “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7).

 

Lot and his two daughters dwelt in a cave evidently near Zoar. The daughters had become overcome with a sodomized world view. They had probably witnessed incest many times. They schemed a way to carry out Lot’s genealogical line. They rationalized their actions by thinking of the disgrace to be barren according to the customs of the earth – their worldview. They had become so much a part of the Sodomite culture that they saw no shame in what they were about to do. It was just a product of who they had become. They made Lot drunk and both lay with him to produce children. Even though the text is careful not to insinuate that Lot did not know what he was doing, there was no evidence of any shame on Lot’s part even for his drunkenness. He had to sober up and realize that that was not the right thing to do. The product of sinful acts never bodes well. The first daughter had a son and named him Moab. He became the the Arab group known as the Moabites.  The second daughter’s son was named Ben-Ammi. His family became known as the Ammonites. Both the Moabites and the Ammonites have historically been and continue to be a thorn in the side of Israel to this very day.  The rest of Lot’s life is unrecorded. No one knows what happened to him.  No one knows how he lived or where he died. This epitaph could be etched on his gravestone: For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap a harvest that will last forever. Blessings!