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?