The inward area is the first place of loss of true Christian life, of true spirituality, and the outward sinful act is the result.” – Francis Schaeffer
I hate being a bad news bearer. But there’s no getting around it. This passage is the sad sequel to Sodom’s destruction (Genesis 19:1-29).
You may read Genesis 19:30-38 here: Bible Gateway.
The angels—who admonished Lot to flee to the mountains—granted Lot’s request to flee to a nearby town instead (Gen. 19:18-22). But fear prompted him to move further away from the burning sulfur’s ashes. With his wife gone—turning into salt for disobediently looking back—he and his two daughters finally settle in a lonely mountain cave.
Neither daughters’ future grooms from Sodom had believed Lot when he warned them to flee because of God’s impending judgment, (Gen. 19:12-14). They died along with all the others.
So out of desperation, Lot’s daughters (who also adopted Sodom’s morals) stoop to manipulation and incest with their father to preserve their family line.
And both daughters become pregnant. The older daughter births Moab, while the younger daughter births Ben-Ammi. These two boys’ descendants would become two of Israel’s greatest enemies, the Moabites and the Ammonites. But interestingly, Ruth—David’s great-grandmother and ancestor of Jesus—was from Moab.
This section (verses 30-38) has similarities to Noah’s last days after his rescue from the flood.
Layman’s Bible Commentary observes: “In Noah’s case, he became drunk with wine and uncovered himself in the presence of his children. In both narratives, the act has grave consequences. Thus, at the close of the two great narratives of divine judgment—the flood and the destruction of Sodom—those who are saved from God’s wrath subsequently fall into a form of sin reminiscent of those who die in judgment. This is a common theme in the prophetic literature (Isaiah 56-66; Malachi 1).”
We are more apt to sin when we find ourselves in a desperate situation.
Why didn’t Lot help his daughters find husbands? Abraham’s family wasn’t far away. But Lot’s lack of initiative and habitual compromise only complicated matters.
Although this passage simply reports these events without openly condemning the sisters’ actions, Scripture elsewhere clearly condemns incest: Leviticus 18:6-18; 20:11, 12, 17, 19-21; Deuteronomy 22:30; 27:20-23; Ezekiel 22:11; 1 Corinthians 5:1.
We may never stoop to this kind of sin, but we have all sinned (Romans 3:23). Compared to our holy God even our best efforts “are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). And the wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23).
But the great news is that God remedied our sin problem through the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. He stepped down from heaven’s glory into our dark, sinful world and offers us the gift of forgiveness and life (Romans 6:23), along with transformation of the heart.
By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 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, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:23-26
Genesis 19 seems more like a Hollywood scene than a real historical account with its action packed drama. I find myself both disgusted and intrigued after reading this chapter.
In review of Genesis 18:16-23, the Lord—along with two angels in the form of men—visit Abraham and share the news of God’s impending judgment upon wicked Sodom. Although Abraham prayed/negotiated for God to withhold destruction on Sodom and Gomorrah if ten righteous people could be found there, which God conceded, this small remnant apparently didn’t exist.
Aside from feeling like a movie, Genesis 19 gives us a snapshot of the Sodomites—and Lot’s—moral decay.
You may read Genesis 19:1-29 here: Bible Gateway.
The two angels find Abraham’s nephew, Lot, at Sodom’s gate. His presence there implies that his social and political goals have been realized since this was a place of authority and status.
There is no indication that Lot recognizes these men as angels. But like Uncle Abraham, he extends gracious hospitality and insists they stay at his house instead of in the square.
“Urged them persistently” (NET) translates from a Hebrew verb meaning “to press; to insist.” Layman’s Bible Commentary notes: “This word [persist] ironically foreshadows the hostile actions of the men of Sodom, where they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door (19:9).”
Lot’s hospitality and attempt to protect his guests seem noble, at first anyway. But offering his virgin daughters to the males outside in place of his guests show his rapid plunge down sin’s slippery slope.
As the lust hungry mob presses hard against the door, the men/angels pull Lot back inside while striking the guys with blindness.
“The word used to describe the blindness these men experienced (19:11) is a rare word that may indicate ‘a dazzled state,’ or a combination of partial blindness and a kind of mental bewilderment. Yet, despite their physical blindness, these men and boys persist to the point of weariness in their effort to satisfy their sexual cravings. . . . When the guests/angels explain to Lot the fate of the city the word translated destroy is the same word used twice in Genesis 6:13 of the judgment of the flood (19:13).” – Layman’s Bible Commentary
Although the angels warn Lot of the devastating consequences of sin, his attachment to this life is difficult to release (19:15-22; 1 John 2:15-17). But in God’s mercy—probably influenced by Abraham’s prayer—the men/angels grasp Lot, his wife, and daughters by the hands and safely lead them out of the city.
Flee for your lives! Don’t look back!” (19:17)
Lot’s wife doesn’t want to go either and she looks back. “The word translated ‘looked back’ signifies an intense gaze, not a passing glance” (Layman’s Bible Commentary). Reluctance and disobedience are her demise as she turns into a pillar of salt.
This section ends with Abraham witnessing the dense smoke rising from the plains that God destroyed. Lot and his daughters narrowly escape by God’s grace.
Many argue: A loving God would never fire down judgment and/or send anyone to hell.
As difficult as this truth is, God—completely perfect in morality—hates sin. He has and will judge sinners. The consequence of our sin is death/hell – eternal separation from Him (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 21:27).
But praise God that He is just as thorough in His mercy for those who love and trust Him as He is severe in His judgment (Romans 6:23; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:36). He graciously provides forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ to those who repent (1 John 1:9; Romans 5:8; John 3:17) and longs to transform us with His abundant, eternal life (John 3:16).
Where are you in relation to God?
Then the LORD said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” Genesis 18:20-21
This week’s theme shifts from fellowship and faith (Gen. 18:1-15) to judgment.
You may read Genesis 18:16-23 here: Bible Gateway.
After Abraham provides a meal, he accompanies his guests—the Lord and two angels—on a walk. As a master teacher or skilled parent, the Lord grabs Abraham’s curiosity with a question to His angels: “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (vs. 17).
Before anyone responds, the Lord reassures and admonishes Abraham through His talk. Once again He connects His promise with Abraham’s obedience.
If Abraham—chosen by God—directs his family after him to walk in righteousness and justice then God would carry out His promise. Abraham would become a great and powerful nation. And all nations would be blessed through him. For Jesus Christ—the Messiah who conquered sin and death’s sting—would descend from Abraham’s line.
God’s plan for Sodom and Gomorrah are revealed in verses 20-21 (above).
The word translated outcry in verse 20 is used to describe cries of the oppressed and brutalized. In this case, the term may have two meanings: (1) It may mean the outcry against Sodom caused by its injustice and violence, or (2) the cry of its rebellion against God (19:13). The Lord speaks of personally observing sin (18:21). The Hebrew text here could be rendered, “I will go down personally and see if their sin is made complete.” – Layman’s Bible Commentary
Abraham Pleads for Sodom
Verses 22-33 record the first time that a man—Abraham—initiates a conversation with God. Abraham appeals to God’s justice as he watches the angels head toward Sodom. In the form of a negotiation-prayer, he petitions the Lord: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city?”
The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people . . . . I will spare the whole place for their sake.”Abraham respectfully persists pleading for the city.
He dwindles the righteous people count down from fifty to ten as he negotiates four more times. Each time, the Lord patiently listens. They end their conversation with the Lord graciously agreeing to not destroy the city if only ten righteous people dwell there.
Why did God reveal His plans to Abraham? Isaiah 41:8 refers to Abraham as God’s friend. Although Abraham wasn’t perfect, his faith pleased God (see Rom. 4).
Why did God let Abraham question His justice and intercede for a wicked city? The NIV Life Application Study Bible notes: “Abraham knew that God must punish sin, but he also knew from experience that God is merciful to sinners. God knew there were not ten righteous people in the city, but he was merciful enough to allow Abraham to intercede. He was also merciful enough to help Lot get out of Sodom before it was destroyed.”
Although God is merciful, He is also just. He doesn’t enjoy destroying the wicked. As with Sodom, He patiently waits for people to repent (2 Peter 3:9). But as we’ll discover next week, His patience with rebellion won’t last forever.
Have a great week!