Genesis 19 - The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
A. The two angels come to Sodom.
1. (1-3) Lot convinces the angelic visitors to stay with him.
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
a. Now the two angels came to Sodom: The two visitors that departed from Abraham in Genesis 18:22 as he and the Lord continued their conversation now came to Sodom. For the first time they are identified as angelic beings, who first accompanied the Lord as He visited Abraham at Mamre (Genesis 18:1-2).
i. We have no reason to believe that Lot knew that these were angels; to him, they probably seemed to be distinguished guests with an air of righteousness and morality about them.
b. Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom: There was a steady progression of compromise in Lot’s life. He went from looking toward Sodom (Genesis 13:10), to pitching his tent toward Sodom (Genesis 13:12), to living in Sodom (Genesis 14:12) and losing everything. Now Lot sat in the gate of Sodom, indicating he was a civic leader.
i. The gate area of an ancient city was sort of a town-hall, where the important men of the city judged disputes, conferred with one another, and supervised those who entered and left the city.
ii. Lot himself was a righteous man who was grieved by the sin he saw around him (2 Peter 2:7-8), but because of his compromise few of his family and none of his friends were saved. Compromise destroyed his testimony.
c. He insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house: The hospitality offered to the visitors was not unusual, but the urgency with which Lot offered it was.
2. (4-5) The wickedness and depravity of the men of Sodom.
Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”
a. Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us: These citizens of Sodom clearly came to homosexually abuse and rape these two visitors. They were willing to break all principles of hospitality and morality for their own violent and carnal gratification.
b. The men of the city...both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house: This shows that the entire city was given over to this violence and immorality, and that this behavior wasn’t unusual, but accepted among the men of Sodom.
i. In Ezekiel 16, God later condemned and rebuked the great sin of Judah in the latter days of the divided monarchy. He compared Jerusalem to the ancient city of Sodom, saying they were like sisters. Then, God compared the sins of Sodom to the sins of Jerusalem at that time: Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)
ii. The point of the Ezekiel passage was not to say that the only sins of Sodom that made them targets of judgment were the sins of pride, idleness, injustice to the poor, and such. Instead, those were the sins of Sodom also shared by her later “sister” Jerusalem. The Genesis text makes it plain that God was also grieved by their sexual violence and immorality, which is probably included in the Ezekiel list of sins under the words committed abomination.
c. That we may know them carnally: The sin of the men of Sodom is plainly connected to their homosexuality. There is no doubt the Bible declares homosexual conduct is sin (Romans 1:26-28).
i. The Bible condemns homosexuality in the same context as it condemns incest and bestiality (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). If we ignore the word of God at the point of homosexual conduct, then we have no standing to say any of the other three sins are sin.
ii. Homosexual advocates have an interest in saying homosexuals are exactly like everyone else, except they love and have sex with people of their own gender. Yet when the conduct of homosexuals is observed, this is not the case.
iii. We can look at the statistics on the number of partners homosexuals have: 43% of homosexuals say they have had 500 or more sexual partners in their lifetime. Only 1% of homosexuals say they have had four or less sexual partners in their lifetime. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 77% of homosexuals say they have met sexual partners in a city park, 62% in a homosexual bar, 61% in a theater, 31% in a public restroom. Only 28% of homosexuals said they had known their partners for at least a week before participating in homosexual sex.
iv. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons why males pursue and give in to homosexual desires is because they want to immerse themselves in a lifestyle of dangerous sex with no inhibitions or obstacles, and sense that sex with other men is an easier path to this. No wonder Paul connects “burning lust” and a debased mind with male homosexuality in Romans 1:27-28.
v. Homosexuals also have an interest in saying that up to 10% of the population is homosexual. But the most reliable statistics show only 2.3% of men in their 20’s and 30’s report ever having had a homosexual experience. Only 1.1% reported being exclusively homosexual. These low figures agree with several other surveys and those conducted in Britain and France.
vi. Homosexuals also have an interest in saying they were “born that way.” All attempts thus far to prove this have been based more on wishful thinking than solid biological research, but if it is found to be the case, so what? The Bible teaches we are all born with a predisposition to sin. It shouldn’t surprise us that some 2% of the population finds this predisposition expressed in homosexual desire.
vii. Homosexuals also have an interest in defining themselves as “gay,” a word that used to mean “happy” or “carefree,” but it is a poor description of a lifestyle that has such a high rate of death, disease, and suicide.
3. (6-9) Lot bargains for the life and safety of his guests.
So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.
a. Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! This was a difficult argument for Lot to make. He and the men of Sodom had a completely different standard for deciding what was wicked and what was not.
i. The difference in their standards points to an important question: If we abandon the Bible’s guide for sexual morality, what guide for sexual morality will we follow? To simply do as one pleases is not enough.
b. I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish: The offer was horrible and cannot be justified. The men of Sodom showed a shocking demonstration of depravity, but we are just as shocked at the willingness of Lot to give up his daughters to the mob as we are at the sinful desire of the mob itself.
i. We understand it a little more when we consider the low place of women in the pre-Christian world and the very high place of any guest in your home. It was understood a guest was to be protected more than your own family.
c. This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting like a judge: This shows Lot’s feeble efforts at providing moral and spiritual leadership were rejected and mocked by the men of Sodom.
i. Perhaps Lot thought that through compromise he might reach these men, but just the opposite happened. They had no respect for him whatsoever, even though his friendly-first approach led him to call such wicked men my brethren.
4. (10-11) Angelic protection at the door.
But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.
a. The men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door: It must have taken great, perhaps supernatural, strength to do what the angels did at the door. Perhaps for the first time Lot began to understand that his guests were more than men.
b. They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness: Obviously, the work of striking the men blind was supernatural. Now the mob had a physical blindness appropriate to their moral blindness.
B. The angels’ deliverance of Lot.
1. (12-14) The angels warn Lot; Lot warns his family.
Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city; take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.
a. Have you anyone else here? The angels were not omniscient, knowing everything. Knowing the members of Lot’s family was something that spiritual beings could easily observe, but at this point even these angels did not know it apart from Lot’s answer.
b. To his sons-in-law: Lot’s daughter were unmarried and had not known a man (Genesis 19:8). These men were sons-in-law by the ancient practice of binding betrothal, not yet by marriage.
c. We will destroy this place…the Lord has sent us to destroy it: For the first time, Lot heard of the work of these supernatural guests. Sodom was destined for judgment, but God wanted to spare Lot and his family.
d. He seemed to be joking: The effect of Lot’s life of compromise was clear. When he spoke with utmost seriousness to his sons-in-law about the judgment of God, they did not believe him. Not even they would be saved from the judgment to come.
i. The life of Lot shows us that it is possible to have a saved soul and a wasted life. Lot would be saved, but his life would accomplish nothing, as in 1 Corinthians 3:15: If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
2. (15-16) The angels try to hurry Lot and his family.
When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
a. Arise, take your wife and your two daughters: The two sons-in-law would be left behind as the angels urged Lot to escape the coming destruction that would bring judgment on Sodom.
b. While he lingered: Too much of Lot’s heart was in Sodom, so he was not anxious to leave the city. This lack of urgency to obey God (even when it is necessary and good for you) is a common sign of compromise and a backslidden condition.
c. They brought him out and set him outside the city: In Genesis 18 Abraham asked God to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if there were ten righteous found there. Because there were not ten righteous people, God did not spare the city. But He still answered the heart of Abraham’s prayer by bringing Lot and his family out of Sodom, even if it was almost against’ Lot’s will.
i. Lot was in the worst of all possible places. He had too much of the world to be happy in the Lord, and too much of the Lord to be happy in the world.
3. (17-22) The escape from Sodom.
So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords! Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.” And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
a. Escape for your life! Do not look behind you: The angels seemed far more urgent to rescue Lot and than Lot and his family were to be rescued. This is strange, but common in spiritual things.
b. Please, no, my lords! Lot seemed pathetic and whimpering in his prayer, especially in contrast to the bold intercession of Abraham in Genesis 18.
c. I cannot do anything until you arrive there: This answers the question, Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Genesis 18:25). God, bound by His own righteousness and honor, could not bring this judgment on Sodom until the righteous people were delivered.
d. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar: Zoar means small or insignificant. It was the little city Lot bargained with the angel about.
C. God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah.
1. (23-26) The cities destroyed, Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt.
The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
a. When Lot entered Zoar. Then the Lord: As the angel said in Genesis 19:22, judgment could not come upon Sodom and Gomorrah until Lot and his family were safe in Zoar. Otherwise, it would violate God’s promise to Abraham, at least in principle.
b. Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah: These cities were judged completely and severely, but only after God confirmed their great wickedness and gave them a righteous witness in Lot.
i. Today, many think these cities are buried under the Dead Sea, and their complete destruction is a testament to God’s judgment and grace in delivering His righteous people.
ii. Before this destruction the area of Sodom was unbelievably beautiful and productive, like the garden of the Lord (Genesis 13:10). Yet, this great privilege and blessing did not turn their hearts toward God.
iii. As well, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah saw more of the power, grace, and mercy of God than any of the other people of the region. They had been delivered from ruin by God’s work through Abraham. They heard the testimony from Melchizedek and saw the example of Melchizedek and Abraham.
c. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt: Lot’s wife was turned to a pillar of salt because she looked back behind, after the angels had specifically said Do not look behind you (Genesis 19:17). Some think she lingered behind and was caught up in the cataclysm somehow, but it was probably a unique judgment of God on her for the state of her heart (a love for Sodom and regret for its destruction) shown by her looking back.
i. “The word looked back has the connotation of looking intently. It might possibly be rendered lagged back, or maybe even returned back.” (Morris)
ii. In referring to the end times, Jesus uttered some almost cryptic words in Luke 17:32: Remember Lot’s wife. In other words, no Christian should have a heart like Lot’s wife as we see the end of the age, a heart that loves the world, and will in some sense, regret the judgment God will bring on it.
iii. We need to look forward to our deliverance, not back at a world passing away and ripe for judgment.
2. (27-29) Abraham learns of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction.
And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.
a. Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord: We sense that Abraham, with deeply moved memory of the previous day, wanted to remember his meeting with God.
b. He saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace: When Abraham saw the smoke of the these cities and their destruction, he could know that his request was answered. God delivered Lot before the destruction came.
3. (30-32) Lot and his daughters live in a wilderness cave.
Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave. Now the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.”
a. Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains: We don’t know why Lot and his daughters became dissatisfied with Zoar – or the people of Zoar because dissatisfied with them. Yet for some reason, the left the small city of Zoar and went to the mountains and dwelt in a cave.
b. Let us make our father drink wine: Lot and his family lost everything in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Even so, they quickly had a stock of wine. They either brought this with them or they obtained it in Zoar.
c. We will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father: This is a remarkable - and seemingly desperate sin from Lot’s daughters. Some suggest that they believed that the whole world had perished with Sodom and Gomorrah, and it was now their responsibility to “repopulate” the earth. However, their brief time in Zoar was enough to show there were other people.
i. Evidently they decided it was the only thing to do under the circumstances, except to trust God, which did not seem to occur to them at all. Obviously living in Sodom affected more than Lot. The effects were also clearly seen in his daughters.
4. (33-38) Moab and Ammon are born from this incestuous relationship.
So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, “Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.” Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.
a. The firstborn went in and lay with her father: We may be uncomfortable with the idea that the Bible includes the record of such disgraceful sins.
i. Yet, Donald Barnhouse observes: “It is far better for children to learn the facts of life from the Word of God where sin is condemned than from dirty words on alley walls, or from lewd stories. No one can escape knowledge of sin…these things are never mentioned without being accompanied by the stern warnings that God hates sin and punishes it.”
ii. “Ironically, in his own drunkenness Lot carried out the shameful act that he himself had suggested to the men of Sodom: he lay with his own daughters.” (Sailhamer)
b. Moab; he is the father of the Moabites…Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon: Their descendants would become enemies and obstacles for Israel, just like the descendants of Ishmael. Lot’s life ended in ruin (past, present, and future), all because of his love for the world.
Genesis 20 - Abraham Lies About Sarah Again
A. Abraham’s lie, God’s protection.
1. (1-2) Abraham lies in a similar manner as before.
And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
a. Abraham journeyed from there to the South: After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham moved. Perhaps he did not want to live in the hills overlooking the destroyed region any longer, and be reminded of those people and the judgment visited upon them.
b. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Abraham’s concern was probably not because Sarah looked like a young beauty at 90 years of age. We can surmise that she was reasonably attractive at that age, but more importantly she was connected to one of the richest and most influential men of the region. In that day, a harem was sometimes more of a political statement than a romantic statement.
i. We should not ignore the idea of Sarah’s attractiveness even in old age. “She had in some measure been physically rejuvenated, in order to conceive, bear, and nurse Isaac, and possibly this manifested itself in renewed beauty as well.” (Morris)
c. She is my sister: This is the same lie Abraham told back in Genesis 12:10-13. He showed that it was easy to slip back into sinful habits. Abraham stumbled in a place that he stumbled before. Instead of trusting God to keep his family together, he devised his own plan to do it. His plan would fail completely.
i. Age does not automatically sanctify us. Unless yielded to the Spirit of God, we will repeat in our old age the sinful patterns of our youth.
2. (3-7) God threatens judgment upon Abimelech for taking Sarah.
But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
a. Indeed you are a dead man: This was a scary thing to hear from God, even in a dream. But the point had to be made to Abimelech, even though he could truly say he acted in the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands.
i. This may seem drastic, but the stakes were high. “Suppose Abimelech had taken Sarah and God had not intervened? Two seeds would have been at the door to Sarah’s womb, and to this day an element of doubt would cling to the ancestry of our Lord.” (Barnhouse)
b. I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart: Because Abimelech’s heart was right in this regard, God kept him from worse sin. God’s protecting power can guide even a pagan king.
i. Despite Abraham’s failure to really trust God in the situation, God was not going to abandon him. He would not let Abimelech touch Sarah. That womb was going to bring forth the son of promise, who would eventually bring forth God’s Messiah. God would not leave this matter up to man.
c. For he is a prophet, and he will pray for you: Even though Abraham was in sin, he was still a prophet and man of powerful prayer. God’s mercy did not leave Abraham, even though Abraham didn’t trust God the way he should.
B. Abraham is rebuked again.
1. (8-10) Abraham (just like last time) suffers rebuke from a heathen king.
So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid. And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.” Then Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?”
a. You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done: It is sad to see that Abimelech - the pagan king - was in the right, and Abraham - the man of God was in the wrong, and Abimelech told Abraham so.
b. What did you have in view, that you have done this thing? This was a logical question for Ahimelech to ask Abraham. Abraham certainly did not have the Lord in view when he lied and failed to trust God.
2. (11-13) Abraham’s excuse.
And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”
a. Surely the fear of God is not in the place: This was Abraham’s excuse for his sinful deception, but the real problem was that the fear of God wasn’t in Abraham. If he really respected the Lord, His commandments, His promises, and His protection, then Abraham would have never trusted in his own efforts to keep his family together.
b. Indeed she is truly my sister: This was another attempt to justify his lie, by saying it was really the truth. But a half-truth, said with intent to deceive, is always a whole lie.
c. When God called me to wander from my father’s house: This was an indirect way of blaming God for the problem. Abraham claimed that God sent him out on this dangerous journey upon which Abraham had to protect himself.
i. “There is a terrible meaning in this verb wander which Abraham uses. The Hebrew word occurs exactly fifty times in Scripture and never in a good sense. It is used of animals going astray, of a drunken man reeling, or staggering, of sinful seduction, of a prophet’s lies causing the people to err, of the path of a lying heart. Six other words are translated wander, any one of which Abraham might have used, but he used the worst word available.” (Barnhouse)
ii. “Abraham should have said: ‘Forgive me, Abimelech, for dishonoring both you and my God. My selfish cowardice overwhelmed me, and I denied my God by fearing that He who called me could not take care of me. He is not as your gods of wood and stone. He is the God of glory. He is the living God, the Creator, the most High God, possessor of heaven and earth. He told me He would be my shield and my exceeding great reward, and supplier of all my needs…In sinning against Him, I sinned against you. Forgive me, Abimelech.’” (Barnhouse)
3. (14-18) Abimelech’s gift recompenses Sarah, and Abraham prays for him.
Then Abimelech took sheep, oxen, and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, “See, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” Then to Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; indeed this vindicates you before all who are with you and before everybody.” Thus she was reproved. So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
a. Abimelech took sheep, oxen, and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham: In showing such generosity to Abraham, Abimelech was essentially heaping coals of fire on Abraham’s head (as in Romans 12:20). Abraham should give gifts to Abimelech, because Abraham was in the wrong.
i. Also, it is interesting to see Abraham accepted these gifts, when he had refused gifts from a pagan king previously (Genesis 14:21-24), because he wanted no one to think a man had made him rich. Here, because of Abraham’s compromise, he found it hard to reclaim the same high moral ground.
b. I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver: We can imagine the irony in Abimelech’s voice when he referred to Abraham as Sarah’s brother.
c. Thus she was reproved: The ancient Hebrew word for reproved is yakach. It has the idea of “set right,” so it is debatable if Sarah was set right by Abimelech’s rebuke, or if she was found to be right because of her humble submission in this occasion. In a sense, both were true.
of , which is