Description / Transcription
Please turn in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 19. One of the great advantages of preaching through books of the Bible, which is what we normally do, is that you have to go to next verse and to the next chapter and no one can accuse you of just riding hobby horses, cherry picking what you want to talk about, and nor do you have the opportunity to, if your faithful, to skip over the parts that would be controversial or be difficult or be unseemly, and so it’s Ascension Sunday, there’s lots of good things going on, there’s baptisms.
Wouldn’t have picked on my own that Genesis 19 would be our text, but that’s where we are in Genesis, and so that’s the chapter that we come to. Thought about dividing this into a few different sermons, but I thought it’d be better though it’s a whole chapter, to just read it and deal with it in one sermon, and that’s what we’ll do here. Follow along as I read, beginning at verse 1.
“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 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.” 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.”
“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. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 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.” 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. But the men,” these are the other men, the angels, “the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.”
“Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”
“As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.”
“The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”
“And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.”
“So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.”
“Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.”
“The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” So 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 became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.”
Oooph. [laughter] This is a hard chapter. There’s a lot of sin, and you know what? There’s a lot of sin in the world. Say what you want about the Bible. Even if you’re not convinced the Bible’s authoritative, the Word of God, you have to say the Bible’s realistic. The Bible tells us the way it was and the way people are, and it doesn’t pull any punches, even when it’s the people of God. Sometimes it’s the people outside and sometimes it’s the people inside. And here we see some of both.
There’s a lot to cover here and our time is relatively short. Here’s what I want to do. I want to walk through each of the characters in this drama, each set of characters, and see what lessons we can learn from each of them.
The first people we meet, the first characters in this story, are the angels, verse 1. Remember in chapter 18:3 men had come and they had enjoyed a lavish feast with Abraham and Sarah and the three men turned out one to be the Lord and Abraham bargained and interceded before Sodom, for Sodom, before the Lord at the end of chapter 18, and the other two were the angels. And so these two men, these angelic visitors, come down to Sodom. They want to know is it as bad as we have heard.
And part of what they’re doing, a precursor to the mosaic stipulation, that you shall not judge a person except on the basis of two witnesses, so here’s two witnesses to go down and they will bear testimony to what they see and hear.
Lot prepares hospitality, like Abraham did, and so the people eat, and they he presses upon them to stay, and they say, “No, no, no, well, we can go stay out in the city square.” This is probably part of the ritual that happens. They probably weren’t really thinking they should stay in the city square. It’s like if your parents come and visit you and they say, “Oh, you’re so busy. We’ll just get a hotel.” “No, mom and dad, you’re not staying in a hotel.” “No, we can’t tent outside. It’s fine.” [laughter] “Enough already, you’re staying with us.” It’s probably something like this, give and take. “Okay, so we’ll stay here.”
But before they can go to sleep for the night, of course, they face what we will see in just a moment , the sin of the men of Sodom. These angels have supernatural insight. They know the city is going to be destroyed, because they can see very soon that things are even worse than they have heard. They rescue Lot several times. They rescue Lot by bringing him back into his own house and inflicting the people with blindness, then they tell Lot go and warn your whole family, then they tell Lot you need to get out of here, and then they have to literally grab him by the hand to get him to leave. They prepare the way for the cities of the valley to be destroyed with sulfur and fire.
Now what was the sulfur and fire? We don’t know. Many people think was it an earthquake? Was there a volcano? A meteor? Maybe a violent storm and a lightning strike rained a conflagration in the city. Whatever it was, it was akin to sulfur and fire or perhaps it was literally the Lord miraculously raining down sulfur and fire upon the city. We see here Abraham’s God, our God, is a God of judgment and salvation.
Not one to think that there’s just one central them in the Bible, but if you had to find just one central theme, this would be as good an argument as any, that you see throughout the pages of Scripture the God who is a God of salvation and judgment, salvation for the believing righteous and condemnation and judgment for the unbelieving wicked. And if you have a God who is no longer a God of salvation and judgment, you have made for yourself a God other than the God of the Bible. Because this is one of the reasons we have hard passages like this, because God wants to tell us what God is like, because He knows how prone we are to remake God in our own image.
So we see the angels, then we see the men of Sodom, and here we need to spend some time. Sodom is a bad place. We already saw in Genesis 13:10 it has a reputation for being wicked, filled with great sinners, and we now read in verse 4, look at it, everyone is wicked, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, young, old, all the people to the last man. Why does verse 4 have those details? Well, because it’s showing that Abraham, as he prayed down to 10 righteous people, verse 4 is telling us beyond a shadow of a doubt there was no one righteous, no not one.
No, every young, old, everyone to the last man was out there. The only righteous people, Lot and his family, and as we’ll see their righteousness was a little iffy, they were not righteous in Sodom.
Isaiah 3:9 tells that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were proud, remorseless, flagrant sin. These were not, this was not I tripped up, I made a mistake. You fall into sin and you run into sin. This was running into sin, rejoicing in sin, high-handed sin.
Now it’s always been the case that there’s sexual sin in the world. You’ve heard me say before you can go read Presbyterian minutes from hundreds of years ago, and I’m sure you would want to, or session minutes from hundreds of years ago, and you know what they’re dealing with? In the “good old days”? Sexual sin. It’s always been with us.
That’s not different. But what is different in the formerly Christian West is the degree to which these sins are no longer hidden but are openly celebrated.
And so we have here in Sodom the open embrace and celebration of sexual immorality. What is the sin in Sodom? Well, there’s really two categories. You can call is “social immorality” and “sexual immorality.”
Social immorality. That’s maybe a little harder to see here, but when you think about it, there’s a contrast between the hospitality that Abraham and Lot gave to the visitors and then the utter lack of hospitality that Sodom gave. And later in the Old Testament we read even more about what was going on. Ezekiel 16:49: “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. They were haughty and did abomination before Me.”
So it seems there was a sin that was you might call social injustice, not caring for one another. Excess, lavish, prosperity, pride, inhospitality. Certainly we see that present here in Sodom. Social immorality.
But there’s also sexual immorality. And sometimes revisionist scholars will want to just emphasize the one and say really this was just about people who were mistreating the poor and they had too much and they weren’t good hosts. But it can’t be reduced to that. It’s also sexual sin, of the worst kind.
Moses here, inspired by the Holy Spirit in writing this, is at pains to show us that this is the worst kind. It’s promiscuous, mistreating of guests, homosexual sin. Some would try to reduce this sin to gang rape. They would say, well, look what we have here is not anything like a consensual monogamous homosexual relationship, this is massive gang rape. Obviously that would be wrong.
And yet the text here does not use the language that it does later in Genesis for Dinah and the Shechemites, words like “seize” or “humble” or “forced.” The verb yahdaw translated euphemistically, well, it means “to know,” but it’s a euphemism for sex in this case doesn’t mean to abuse or violate, so I’m not even sure it’s the case that they were meaning to do that as much as they were meaning “bring these men out to us that we may have a good time.”
More decisively, Jude chapter 7, or verse 7, there’s only chapter of Jude, makes clear that Sodom and Gomorrah had a reproduction for sexual sin. Listen to Jude 7: “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
There’s the authorized, inspired, New Testament interpretation of the sin here and Jude says it was a sin of pursuing unnatural desire.
Now again, if you read all the scholarly books, you will find revisionist scholars who say, well, Jude is talking about having sex with angels. That’s the unnatural desire, because these two men who were coming in were angels and they were trying to have, so that’s the sin. That’s what Jude is talking about, not homosexuality.
There’s two problems with that interpretation. One, the men in Sodom didn’t know that they were angels, so they were desiring to have sex with angels, they didn’t know they were. And even more importantly, listen again to what Jude says, speaking of the sin of Sodom, “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities… indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.” Where did the angels go? They went to Sodom. But Jude mentions, no, this kind of sin was in Sodom, it was in Gomorrah, and it was in the surrounding cities. In other words, you cannot reduce this to desiring sex with angels because there’s no record of the angels visiting Gomorrah or the angels visiting the other cities in the valley. No, what Jude is saying is that whole region was well-known for this kind of sexual sin, to pursue unnatural desire, contrary to the way that God made us and intended for us to be in the garden, men seeking sex with other men.
Of course, we’d be quick to say that much, most, homosexuality is not like this scene in Sodom. Many of us would have family members, friends, loved ones, neighbors, coworkers, people that we find to be decent men and women, and they’re not like these men in Sodom, and so we understand that there’s some distinction, and yet there is no escaping the conclusion, however uncomfortable it may be in our world today, that this sin is particularly heinous for being the sin of homosexuality.
Sodom will become a byword in the rest of the Bible. 2 Peter 2:6, they’re an example of what will happen to the ungodly. In Jesus’ mind in Matthew 11, they’re the standard for wickedness and judgment, and Capernaum is so bad that they reject Jesus, they’ll be judged even worse.
There’s so much to be said here, and you could preach, I could preach several sermons on this whole topic. But let me just say this before we have to move quickly onto the other characters. You know what the most, one of the most dangerous things when we talk about homosexuality and trying to get our mind around what the Bible says, one of the most dangerous things is that if we compromise on this issue, where the world is pressing at us and not just the world sometimes, it’s the love of your own family members and friends, pressing on you to just tweak. And the devil will say, you just change a little bit, you know, maybe it really wasn’t homosexuality, maybe that wasn’t the issue in Sodom. Maybe there’s just a few verses in the Bible, right? You just change.
Here’s the reality, though. The compromise never stops with just this one issue. It invariably follows that you end up with a different kind of God, a different kind of salvation, a different kind of judgment, a different understanding of the Fall and human nature. That is to say that it isn’t simply, well, we have a God and He judges and He does things like Sodom and Gomorrah, and He’s angry with sexual sin. But we’re just going to take one of those sins that we thought was on the list and we’re just going to remove that and that’s not on the list anymore.
But everything else about God and about the Bible, about Hell, about judgment, all the same. You may thing that’s the move that you’re taking, but in time the same desire that wants to compromise in this area, ends up, in order to accommodate this new understanding, a very different understanding of the holiness of God, the warnings of judgment, the command for obedience.
And let me talk specifically to those of you who are younger than me, because I’m getting to be so old. My generation is sort of the where there was still conflict, so if you’re older than me, you may hear something like this and think, “I’m so glad Pastor preaching on this. We need to hear this and so many people are confused about it.” You instinctively agree and you wonder, “How do people not see this?”
My generation, I went to public school in the 80s and the 90s, and even then there was people discussing, students arguing. I went to a mainline, somewhat liberal Christian college and it was all, at the end of the 90s, and it was all conflict about this all the time. Professors on one side, students on one side.
Well, now, if you’re much younger than me, college students, my kids’ age on down, many of you, you didn’t grow up, this wasn’t a culture-wide conflict. The conflict was over. All you’ve known, unless you’re well-catechized into church and school and family, all you know in the larger world is why in the world, how could people think this?
You’re older, you think, “How could people not think this?” You’re much younger than me, “How does anybody think this?” And the question is not whether you’re being shaped by the world – we all are. You are being shaped by the world. Everything that seems normal coming to you from ESPN, Disney, they’re the same thing I know now, wherever you’re getting it from, you’re getting it from your phone, from your social media feed, everything that says how can people think like Genesis 19? You’re being shaped by that. And unless we commit, “God, shape me by Your Word, whatever my experiences are, whatever my friend group tells me, whatever my peer group tells me, whatever my corporate training tells me, shape me by Your Word.”
If we don’t have that commitment in this world, we will be shaped contrary to God’s Word. This is not going to get easier – it will get harder.
So we see the contrast between darkness and light. There in verse 11, the men of Sodom struck with blindness, there in verse 23, the sun rising, a new day is dawning. In this case, the destruction does not portend a creeping darkness but it is itself the triumph of light.
We must quickly move on. Think about Lot’s sons-in-law. Remember there’s laughter in chapter 17 – Abraham laughs, oh, I’m going to have a baby. Sarah laughs, oh, I’m going to have a baby. Now third chapter, more laughing, joking, but this time it’s Lot’s sons-in-law, “Ohhh, Lot, what a joke. Destruction? Yeah, yeah, sky is falling. It’s all coming down.” They don’t think God was serious about judgment.
Isn’t easy for us to say how foolish were Lot’s sons-in-law when they thought he was only jesting? But isn’t it the case that many of us never really consider that God may have a judgment coming upon this world. Do you really believe that?
Think about what happened this week. You went out and you topped off every vehicle you’ve ever owned with gas. You went, I hope you didn’t fill up trash bags with gas. I told my wife, I said, I’m just going to put it in my pockets and we’re just going to come home. We’re just going to figure it out. I found myself saying if all these people would just stop the panic buying we wouldn’t be running out of gas and then I realized what did I do that day? I went up and filled up every single car. Why? Why is it at the beginning of the pandemic, no toilet paper! Because everyone thinks what if this goes really bad and the one thing we need to survive a pandemic, Charmin. [laughter]
Why is it if there’s a bad forecast, a flake of snow sometime in the month, the next month, you figure the way to survive, hunker down for months at a time, we only need two things: Milk, bread. Milk and bread. You can survive anything underground, forever. People panic buy because they think this looks bad, but what if it gets really, really a lot worse. We better be ready.
Somehow when it comes to God’s judgment, we think, yeah, it won’t be that bad. Yeah, this is Old Testament, fire, brimstone. Well, it’s in the Bible. Fire, sulfur. It is that bad. There is coming a day. Will we be ready?
Then there’s Lot’s wife. Verse 17, she was warned, “Don’t look back.” Don’t you find yourself thinking, this is a little harsh on Lot’s wife. But she was explicitly told not to look back, and what was at stake wasn’t a mere stumble or oops, she glanced, you know, kind of like you look at Medusa and you turn to stone, oops, you looked. It wasn’t an oops moment. Why did she look back? She was sad to leave the world of sin behind.
See, the angel has to grab the family by the hand, “get out of here, you don’t belong here.” But Lot’s wife wasn’t so sure.
Jesus says in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Such a poignant verse. Only three words. Only shorter verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” Every year when I have to pick a new CDS verse for the next year, my kids plead with me, “Would you please pick ‘Jesus wept’ because we always have to memorize whatever you pick, so just pick ‘Jesus wept’ and you’ll give us all a break.”
Well, I didn’t pick that. Maybe I’ll pick Luke 17:32 sometime, “Remember Lot’s wife.” That would give the teachers something to explain. [laughter]
But it is a striking reminder for us. She experienced the fate of the city that she identified with. You will experience the fate of the city that you identify with. It you identify with the heavenly city to come, that will be your inheritance. If really the city you’re living your life for, the city that defines you, is the city of man, then you’ll experience the same judgment that comes upon that city. Do you identify more with your earthly city? Or your heavenly city?
And then we have Lot himself. What a mixed lot is Lot. Peter, in the New Testament, calls him a righteous man and that he was tormented by the sinful deeds in Sodom, and we do see here that he is counted among the righteous, he’s the one who gets to leave. He’s rescued. And yet there’s a mix, some good, some bad, some ugly. The good with Lot, he’s hospitable contrary to Sodom. Just like his Uncle Abraham he shows hospitality to the strangers.
He also understands that what the men of Sodom want to do is wicked, so he’s not embracing their sexual ethic. He said that’s wrong. He’s not one of them. He warns the family. He leaves. He doesn’t look back like his wife, so there are good things.
And then there’s some bad things. For starters, he chose Sodom in the first place. Remember, Abraham and Lot and Lot chose poorly. And there’s a progression. It’s sort of like the wicked, foolish man in Psalm 1. There’s a progression that at first Lot says, “Oh, I’ll go down there to Sodom.” Remember at first he dwells in tents outside the city, but where do we find him now? Several times the chapter emphasizes house, house, house. He’s not a tent dweller anymore. He’s inside the city. He’s not just, I found at the outskirts, I now live in Sodom, I’m at the city gate, I’m some prominent man, I have a permanent dwelling here. He’s made it his home and now he doesn’t want to leave.
Verse 16: “But he lingered.”
First the angels had to save his hide by yanking him back into the house. How they need to yank him out of the city to save him against himself. And he stops in the middle of an all-out evacuation to say, “Time out, could I go to that other little city over there?”
You see what’s going on in Lot’s mind? “I’m not sure that I want to go all the way to the hills. Do I have to completely leave this region? Look, there’s a little city. That’s a good one.”
And so the angel says, “Fine, Zoar. Just go there. And once you get there, then we’ll destroy the rest.”
But if you notice in verse 30, he doesn’t stay there very long. He ends up living in a cave. He was afraid to live in Zoar. Maybe he was afraid they would face the same judgment, or maybe he met the same kind of people he had met in Sodom, or maybe they simply stroked their chins and said, “Now wait a minute. Aren’t you the one who was living in Sodom? How did you get here?”
There’s some good, some bad, and there’s some ugly. He offers up his daughters to the men of Sodom. It’s almost unbearably horrible to consider.
Now some argue that it’s actually a sign of Lot’s righteousness because so much did he prize hospitality that he was willing to sacrifice his own family for the sake of his guests. One other commentator suggested that Lot maybe had a plan, and because his daughters were virgins, but they were betrothed, and in that cultures to be betrothed was to be legally married, that they would come out and then they would announce that they’re legally married and betrothed and then they would say, “Oh, well, we can’t do that to these women,” and then everyone would be safe.
It seems hard in my mind to absolve Lot of making a terrible offer. Yes, he was in a difficult spot. Sometimes we have to choose between the least of some not very good options, but I don’t believe God every actually wants us to choose the lesser of two evils. We use that expression, I know what we mean, but God never wants us to choose evil.
Just like Abraham. He thought the only thing I can do when I go down to Egypt, my wife’s so beautiful, I got to lie about it. Well, he didn’t have to. This wasn’t the only thing that Lot could have done. He could have said, “No, absolutely, you can’t have these men, and you can’t have my daughters, and the Lord’s going to find some other way.”
So he offers up, I think as perhaps a somewhat well-meaning desire to spare his guests but ultimately a tragic decision that he was spared from.
And then the ugly part at the end of the chapter, as he has sex with his daughters. Now here the text may want to absolve Lot of some of the responsibility. It emphasizes two times he didn’t even know when they lay down and when they got up. He was so drunk. Lot’s daughters figured they could do to their father what their father had almost led them to do.
I wonder if 1 Corinthians 3:15 has Lot in mind: “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss though he himself will be saved but only as through fire.”
If ever that were a verse about somebody, that’s about Lot. You barely made it out, Lot. There’s some good, some bad, and some ugly.
It’s anachronistic to say, “Well, was Lot a believer? Was he born again?” Clearly, the New Testament considers him righteous in some sense. He was counted among God’s people and he was delivered. But he is a man much conflicted. Of all the characters in this story, I wonder if we relate most to Lot. Think about it. He’s in the covenant community, he’s not quite comfortable with the world, but, boy, he’s gotten comfortable living in the world, “Ehhh, I don’t want to quite be the way everyone else is. I don’t like. That doesn’t seem right, but, boy, I’ve really got a good life for myself here, and I’d rather not see that all go up in smoke and flame.”
Then there’s Abraham. We forget that Abraham is in this story. He comes out in verse 27 to the very spot where he had interceded before the Lord to look, he’s seeing, what happened? Were there 10 righteous persons in the city? And of course, there were not. And so he sees the smoke in the valley rising up like smoke from a furnace. We’re meant to be reminded that God’s promise once again proves trustworthy.
So often in Genesis it’s been the promise of blessing that is invincible. Here it’s the promise of judgment that also proves to be true. And twice Abraham has now saved his nephew Lot – once from the Eastern kings in chapter 14 and now from the destruction of Sodom. That God blesses Abraham’s family for the sake of Abraham.
You see there in verse 29, that great covenantal language, “God remembered.” It’s because of His promise to Abraham that He sent Lot out, that He saved Lot. Just as a believing remnant of 10 people would have saved Sodom, so the believing man Abraham is enough to spare his confused nephew.
Then finally we come to Lot’s daughters. What a story. It’s about the origin of the Moabites and the Ammonites, which would be very important for the history of Israel. But it’s about more than just a historical lesson. Often when we think of chapter 19 we remember Sodom and Gomorrah and the raining down of sulfur and fire and we kind of stop there and we forget this last section. What does this have to do? Well, this is an important part of the takeaway of this story, because here’s the lesson from verses 30 through 38: You can take God’s people out of Sodom, but there still may be the spirit of Sodom in God’s people. That’s the lesson. You can take God’s people out of Sodom, but there may still be the spirit of Sodom in God’s people.
You notice in verse 31, the expression “after the manner of all the earth,” after the manner of all the earth. They’re thinking about how do we get this done here on earth? They are walking not by faith, but only by sight, and as far as they know, all the men are gone. How are they going to have children? How are they going to have purpose? How are they going to extend their father’s line? And so they get him so drunk two nights in a row and lay with him and produce offspring, unbelievably so, by their father.
Lot was in a difficult situation. He wanted to preserve his guests, and so he’s willing to give up his daughters. His daughters are in a difficult situation, they want to preserve their lineage, and so they’re willing to give up their sexual purity. In both situations, they’re walking by sight, not by faith.
We don’t have time to go there, but we’re meant to see a connection between Genesis 19 and later Judges 19, because in Judges 19 it’s a lot of the same vocabulary, same structure, same content, the Levite and his concubine, and the men of the city press in upon them and they do unspeakably horrid acts, and it’s a comparison. Except instead of being Sodom in Judges 19 it’s the tribe of Benjamin. Because God wants His people to see, “Don’t think that just because you go by My name and you’re a part of the covenant community, that somehow you’re free from all of the sins of Sodom, and when you sin like everyone else, rest assured you will be judged like everyone else.”
So there’s a comparison, Genesis 19, Judges 19. There’s also a comparison, have you noticed, between Lot and Noah. What happened with Noah? Remember Genesis 6? The only intention of their hearts was only evil all the time. In other words, it was really bad, everyone. Then chapter 19, verse 4: “Old and young, every man, every single one, to the very last drop, they were pursuing this,” to show us that the sin was total. It was pervasive.
And what happened in Noah’s day? In the end, God judged them by rain. Here God judged them by rain. Rain with water, rain with fire and sulfur. In Noah’s day, one family, one righteous family, is spared from the destruction. In Lot’s day, in Sodom, one righteous family is spared the destruction. And what you might think, if you were writing just a wonderful family history where you’re all heroes in your own story, that we would read in both cases that then God’s people marched off in great faithfulness and obedience to Him, ever grateful for their salvation.
But no. How does the Noah story end? Noah, the righteous man, drunk, naked, with his children implicated in sexual sin. How does this story end? Lot, the righteous man, drunk, naked, his children implicated in sexual sin. Oh, you can take, be removed from Sodom and there’d still be Sodom in your heart.
It would be a mistake if we listened to this as a sermon just about people out there and not ask us what’s going on in here, in our hearts. Are you like Lot’s sons-in-law? Dismissive of divine judgment? Are you like Lot’s wife, in love with the city of this world. Are you like Lot’s daughters, only doing things according to the way of the world? Are you like Lot? Righteous, but conflicted. Compromised.
Or, leaping of the page, is Abraham. Merciful towards his enemies, yet accepting of God’s judgment. Trusting in the promise of blessing and also in the promise of cursing. Having faith that God is good and great, salvation for the believing righteous, condemnation for the unbelieving sinners.
And most important perhaps for our purposes is to note the difference between Abraham and Lot and his family. Both righteous in some sense, but Abraham had a pilgrim spirit. Great Abraham. He will promise, he will inherit this promised land, and yet we find him still living in tents, looking forward to the city that is to come, a sojourner, a stranger, a pilgrim mentality.
With everything that God has blessed us, and He’s blessed us immensely, in this church, in this community, in so many of our lives, great abundance, prosperity. It would be very easy for us to think that this might be a pretty good home. This earthly city might be where we really want to end up, and we lose that pilgrim mentality, that we’re just passing through.
That was the mistake that Lot and his family made. Too comfortable in the city of Sodom. No longer dwelling in tents, but making their home where they should not.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus stands ready there to grab you by the hand, lead you out of the city of man, the city that will face destruction, and lead you to the heavenly city, whether neither rust nor moth can destroy, but all is safe. Go with Him.
Let’s pray. Our Father in heaven, we thank You of this word, a hard word, but a necessary word. Shape us, correct us, rebuke us, encourage us by it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.