Well thank you for clicking on the podcast, I’m your host Randy Duncan, and in this episode we will be leading right up to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as we continue to make our way through the book of Genesis, verse by verse.
But first, as a reminder, in the last episode, we completed chapter 18, which saw God, in person, confirm his promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah. We also discussed God sharing with Abraham his plan for Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham negotiating with and questioning God. And we left off with the two angels who were with God heading to Sodom, which brings us now to chapter 19.
19 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 bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
So a couple of things here. Notice that the two angels arrive in the evening. If you remembe, when they visited Abraham they arrived in the middle of the day. Here, they arrive at night, which sort of sets the scene, in that with Abraham everything takes place in the light, but now, arriving at night, in darkness, it kind of matches the moral darkness of the city and of the scenes that will follow.
Notice also that Lot was sitting in the city gate. The city gate was typically made up of towers, monuments, and perhaps even guardrooms, and a large area where people could sit. The city gate was a physical symbol of collective power and authority, and it is where city elders and officials gathered to discuss local affairs. Sort of like a civic center where the affairs of the city could be discussed in plain view of, and with participation from, the citizens. So it was here that you could hear all of the town gossip, business would be conducted, and justice would be dispensed.
Now why is that important? Because it is here that we find Lot sitting. Which tells us that Lot has become one with the Sodomoites, at least politically, and he is perhaps even a leader among them.
And what does Lot say to the two angels? “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” Now, we can take Lot’s words here in one of two ways. Either he is displaying generous hospitality, or he is worried about their safety. Notice again what he says, “then you may rise up early and go on your way”. It sounds a little bit like he is hoping they can get out of town early the next morning before too many people realize they are even there. I think the second interpretation is the more appropriate way to read Lot’s response, because it is confirmed by the actions of the people later that evening.
But how do the angels respond? They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” Now this is not like sleeping out on the street here. The Hebrew word for square is rehov (ray-hove)(roll rrrs), and it is a broad open square or plaza.
Keep in mind that the two angels are not oblivious to the evil people of Sodom, but they are not afraid. They are not intimidated. They are on a mission from God. And oh, by the way, they are angels, extraordinarily powerful beings that we sometimes misunderstand and maybe don’t have a full appreciation for. In our modern culture and society, there seems to be this picture of angels chillin’ on clouds and playing harps, or maybe one of your family members who has died got their wings and became an angel, or else they are little chubby baby angels we see depicted on Christmas cards, ornaments, and other decorations. But if any of those are what you picture, then you have a gross misunderstanding of angels.
But again, Lot presses them, he strongly urges them, so that they then yield and go to his house. Another point to notice here is that Lot used to live in a tent “near” the city. But now he has become a member of the city, and lives in a house in the city.
A side note here, it says that Lot baked them unleavened bread. This is the first time that unleavened bread known in Hebrew as matzah (matt -sa), is used. This term refers to bread that didn’t have sufficient time to rise. It is the same type of bread the Jews ate during the Passover exodus because they were in a hurry to leave Egypt. And so here Lot prepares matzah for his guests to be able to serve them quickly.
And here is where things begin to get interesting…verses 4-9 read
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.”
So it doesn’t take the men of Sodom long. It says that even before Lot’s guest could lay down for the evening, the men of Sodom came and surrounded the house.
Not only that, but notice who came and surrounded the house! It says the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house”. These words are very descriptive, not a single descent person in Sodom can be found. Even the children and the elderly came. These details are provided in order to show that everyone who will be destroyed is wicked. Remember God’s conversation with Abraham, that if even 10 righteous people could be found, God would spare the city for their sake.
But the text makes it clear that the wicked behavior is not isolated, as all the men, both young and old are involved. Although we have seen in earlier episodes that the word “all” can be hyperbolic depending on the context of the situation, the addition of the merism “both young and old” indicates at least widespread participation.
And why are the men of the city surrounding Lot’s house? Well, we don’t have to guess, it tells us, And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, why? , so that we may know them.”
Now before you think that the phrase “we may know them” is the men of Sodom wanting to have a meet and greet and maybe share some appetizers and play some games with these guests, think again. The men of Sodom have come to Lot’s house, looking to commit homosexual gang rape upon his visitors.
Lot certainly knew what these men wanted, because what does he do? He goes outside, shuts the door behind him, and says “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly”. Lot knows what’s going on. In fact, based on his actions and immediate understanding of what they wanted, it would appear that homosexual rape was a common practice in Sodom.
By demanding Lot bring them outside, rather than letting them inside the house, the men of Sodom may have expected Lot to participate in their evil act.
What Lot does next is to many people, unthinkable. He offers the men of the city his daughters in place of his guests. Lot says to the men, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please”.
This seems to us as absolutely inexcusable. Is Lot truly offering his daughters to be gang-raped and likely murdered? As a father, I can tell you I cannot relate to this in any way whatsoever. A lot of things have passed my lips, a lot of words I wish I could take back, but those are not words that would ever come from my mouth, regardless of the situation! So what in the world is Lot thinking here?
Well, there are a couple of different ways to interpret Lot’s actions. First, is that in that ancient culture, the treatment of guests was a priority, even to the point where Lot placed his guests’ safety and well-being above that of his own daughters. Another thought is that Lot knew full well the men of the city were not interested in his daughters, and he was making the plea simply to buy some time, hoping to appeal to the mens’ sense of right and wrong. But another way to interpret is to read the words of Lot as hyperbole. In other words, like Lot is saying “ I would just as soon you violate my family members, my two daughters, as violate these two men who have come under my roof”. It would be like saying to yor employer who is about to fire you, “Why don’t you just take the clothes off my children’s back, and the food off their plates”. If this is the correct way to interpret these words of Lot, then it is apparent that he is attempting to prick the conscience of the mob, to try and appeal to their sense of right and wrong. In other words, if they would not consider treating one of their own citizen’s daughters like this, then likewise, they should not consider treating his guests in this manner. And if this is the correct interpretation it also casts Lot in a better light.
But either way regardless of Lot’s intentions, the men of Sodom are not deterred. They press on with their evil intentions. In fact, how do they respond to Lot? “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.”
They basically tell Lot to get lost! And in fact, they take it a step further, threatening to do even worse to Lot than the gang rape they are desiring to committ upon his guests. Interesting that they have already forgotten that about 15 years earlier they, and the entire city, had been rescued because of Lot’s relationship to Abraham.
And with that, the men press in on Lot, and move closer to break down his door. Which provides us a lot of insight into what their mindset was. They ignored appeals to righteousness, to not doing this evil act. But with stubborness they pressed on, and let no conscience or inhibitions interfere with their desire to commit violence and to indulge their evil lust.
And right here is probably a good place to go ahead and address the elephant in the room, to ask the question, what exactly was the great sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? What was so evil about Sodom and Gomorrah that God destroyed them? In our modern society, and even throughout history, Sodom and Gomorrah are usually associated with homosexuality in general, and there seems to be a pervasive thought that the reason Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed was because in these cities there was rampant homosexuality. But is that really the reason Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed?
The Bible gives us some insight through the prophet Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 16:49-50, Ezekiel is chastising Israel for going whoring after idols and other Gods, and compares Israel to Sodom. Ezekiel says 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.”
Now the word translated as abomination here is the Hebrew word to’evah (toe-eh-vah), and it is the word used in the Torah to describe male homosexuality, as well as other sins, such as idolatry, or being unclean in a ritual sense. So even though this one story told of Sodom and Gomorrah is describing attempted male homosexual gang rape, it is clear from Ezekiel that the people fo Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of evil in a variety of ways.
And I can’t help but think of the way the people ignored and dismissed Lot’s appeal to their conscience and sense of righteousness, and would not be denied in their lust for evil. Perhaps the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had reached a point where they were no longer redeemable. Maybe they had reached the same point in their way of thinking and mindset as the people during the time of Noah.
If you remember an earlier episode when we covered that time period, what was their mindset? The Bible tells us in Genesis 6:5 that The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And this sounds a lot like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Another important consideration is how much does this describe where we are in the world today? Now I’m not saying we are anywhere near the level of evil that existed in those days, but I think it’s important to hear and remember the words of Jesus. In Matthew 24, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? And Jesus responded by saying “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
This seems to be the mindset of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as well. Their thoughts were only evil, continually. And they were living life with no concern, living normally, eating and drinking, being merry, until…. Until God would exercise judgment upon them, just as he exercised judgment upon a totally reprobate society in the days of Noah.
In the next episode, we will see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But first, I think it’s important to remember that in both the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and with the flood during Noah’s time, God does not destroy the righteous along with the wicked.
Remember again, God told Abraham that he would not destroy the righteous along with the wicked. He even tells Abraham that if there were a mere 10 righteous people in the city, he would not destroy it for their sake. Now Abraham stopped pressing his luck at 10 people, but what if he would have gone down to 5 people? What if he would have gone down to 1 person?
I think we saw what the answer to that question would have been. Jesus even told us the parable of leaving the 99 to go save the 1! God would have found a way to protect them. Just like he protected Noah and his family. Just like he will protect Lot and his family.
Both the flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah are depictions of God punishing and eliminating complete evil and depravity, while at the same time, protecting the righteous. In the end, the righteous will not suffer the same fate as the wicked. And so the important question is how do you make sure you are one of the righteous. And as I mentioned in the previous episode, by your own efforts, you can’t.
You only become righteous by accepting the offer of forgiveness that Christ has made possible for you. The only way you don’t proverbially get swept away by the flood, or destroyed like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah is to repent of your sin against God, place your trust in Jesus, and accept him as your lord and savior. That’s it. There is no other way.
A perfectly righteous and Holy God must punish evil. And He will. The only question is who is going to be the recipient of the punishment. Will you pay the price for your sin against God, or will you humble yourself, turn to Christ, and allow Him to pay the price of your sin for you.
I thank you for listening, and I hope you will join me again, and until then, God bless!