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Chapter 19


Book of Genesis Chapter 19
Commentary by Pastor Ron Beckham

Audio Bible Study - Genesis 19:1-5

Verse 1. "Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground."

In Genesis 18:2 and its context, we saw "three men" who suddenly "appeared" to Abraham.  Abraham served them as honored guests, and reading on in the chapter, we find that one of them was the Lord (18:3).  The Lord reaffirmed His promise to Abraham that he would have a son through Sarah (Verse 10), continuing to speak with Abraham even after "the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom" in the south.  Those who turned away were the "two angels" of this verse in Genesis 19.

You can notice from these verses that Lot's response to "the two angels" is quite similar to Abraham's treatment of them in the preceding chapter.  "He rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground."  Peter, in later centuries, would refer to "righteous Lot," calling him "that righteous man," in 2 Peter 2:7-8 & context.  Lot made a lot of mistakes and he was about to pay dearly for them, but he did believe in and honor the Lord, and he will be with the Lord in eternity because of his faith, small though it may seem to be to those who read about him.

Verse 2. "And he said, 'Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant's house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.' They said however, 'No, but we shall spend the night in the square.'"

The events of these verses are effectively a test of Lot's belief in the Lord.  How much faith would be shown to reside in him, in relation to the appearance of two angels of God?  What would his response be if they refused his hospitality?  Angels are described in Hebrews 1:14, as "ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation."  The author of Hebrews also said, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels" (Hebrews 13:2).

As to the Lord God, those who trust in Him are right now already "seated... with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:8) though we all to some extent remain blinded to this reality by the world's influence in our lives.  But through faith in the Lord we are already there, in heaven, surrounded by His holy angels who assist us continually.  Someday, like Lot, we will see them and we will rejoice at the continual work of God that has been done in our lives through these angelic beings. 

Verse 3. "Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate."

Note the apparent rejection of Lot's offer of hospitality, as seen in Verse One.  The angels, one of them anyway, said in Verse 2, "No, we shall spend the night in the (public) square" of the city of Sodom.  Also notice Lot's response to their refusal.  He kept on asking; he "urged them strongly" as it says in this verse.  At one point, Jesus told "a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1), speaking of a judge who met a persistent widow.  The judge was not a godly man, but he was worn down to the extent that he finally gave into the widow's demands.

Jesus concluded, "Will not God give justice to His elect who cry to Him day and night? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily."  Jesus ended His words with a sigh - "But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:7-8).  Lot did not take "no" for an answer because he knew of the danger in the city.  The angels knew about it also, but made the attempt to leave, testing the goodness, mercy and hospitality that resided in Lot's heart.  They stayed and "he prepared a feast for them and baked unleavened bread, and they ate."  What will you do when the Lord tests the depth of the love and hospitality that is in your heart?

Verse 4. "Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter;"

The city of Sodom had become utterly corrupt, and it all started with selfishness.  God encourages you to "love your neighbor as yourself," in places like Leviticus 19:18, but the Sodomites had placed their own needs ahead of their consideration of others.  Scripture reveals the underlying sin of Sodom was that "She and her daughter (Gomorrah) had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy" (Ezekiel 16:49).  It's interesting how the sin of humanity manifests itself in willful self-centeredness.

In Romans 1, a picture is painted of those who reject God and "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Verse 18).  They lapse into idolatry, as did the Sodomites, and therefore "God also gave them up to uncleanness," expressing itself (Verse 24 & forward) in sins such as the "gay lifestyle" which is so prevalent today.  God will at some point take His protection away from those who reject the Lord, allowing them to lapse into sin and justify it as "socially acceptable behavior."  "Sexual immorality" is a real problem, along with "covetousness, maliciousness... envy, murder, strife, deceit... whisperers, backbiters" and more.  Not only are those who do such things guilty, but also so are the ones who "approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:29-32).

Verse 5. "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 have relations with them.'"

All the men of Sodom now surrounded the house of Lot, the wealthy nephew of Abraham, and demanded that his two visitors, who happened to be "angels" of God, as we saw in Verse One, be brought out to them.  And here in this verse, we see the awfulness of sin, degenerating to the level of outwardly disgusting behavior, that stares us right in the face.  "Bring them out to us," the men demanded, "that we may have relations with them."

For those who would justify certain sins, insisting that if we are "fair" people, we will turn a blind eye to such actions, this verse must be noted.  Acceptance of others works in both directions and we must note that the men of Sodom had no concept of fairness in relation to the two "men" who were in the house of Lot.  The problem with sin is that it corrupts people and blinds them to the needs and rights of others.  If the "gay rights" people have their way, this verse is not only from the past, but it also depicts the future for our world today.  Sinfulness is not a "private matter," but instead is a contagious disease that grows and reaches out to infect everyone.

Father, open our understanding that we might see, not only our own need, but also the needs of those around us.  We pray for our leaders, our neighbors, our land, that we might repent of our sins and trust in the Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study - Genesis 19:6-10

Verses 6-7. "But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, 'Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.'"

"Lot," Abraham's nephew, the son of Abraham's brother, Haran (Genesis 11:31), now did a very brave thing.  He darted out through the front door of his house, slammed it shut and faced the selfish, angry mob, consisting of the men of Sodom, his townspeople in the place where he had chosen to live.  He was about to do what he should have done a long time ago.  He confronted the sinners that were all around him, and shouted to them, "Please my brothers, do not act wickedly."

They were not his "brothers" because unlike him, they had no regard for the Lord whatsoever.  Lot was actually like so many in our world today.  Sin is all around us, but we are confused by the voices of those who shout, "be fair" to others who believe and act differently than we do.  And yet, where is the line where we must stand up and decide, YES we care for people, but NO, we will not allow sin to fill our land?  Lot was now standing up for what he believed, but it was far too late in time.  He had been concerned about his reputation, his standing in the community, worrying about what people might think instead of taking a stand for the Lord.  Because of it, he would now lose everything; his wife, his property - everything.

Verse 8. "Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof."

Lot retained some faith in the Lord.  As discussed in Verse One of this Chapter, the Apostle Peter later referred to "righteous Lot," calling him "that righteous man," in 2 Peter 2:7-8 & context.  Peter relates that the sin surrounding Lot "tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds" (2 Peter 2:7-8).  He was horrified by what he had seen and heard, but felt, "I'm just one man, what can I possibly do?"  He could have been a force for the good because we are not in this world alone - God is with us!  And God was with Lot.

And yet note that if we, like Lot, do not decide to pray that God will help us do something about it, then WE will be corrupted like Lot was.  We see that his judgment had become impaired to the point where, in his desperation, he had lost sight of right and wrong.  His daughters were right inside the door behind him, listening as he shouted the terrible words, "I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like."  Later in this Chapter, we will see the ruinous effect upon him and his daughters because of his attempt to be a nice guy, to compromise with sin.

Verse 9. "But they said, 'Stand aside.' Furthermore, they said, 'This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.' So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door."

It was far too late to act in relation to the sinfulness of Sodom, but Lot, Abraham's nephew, did do something very brave, standing alone against the mob of men who were attempting to break into his house and attack his guests.  He also had spoken foolishly, as we saw in the preceding verse, jeopardizing any feelings of security in his young daughters.  They had already been corrupted by the sin of that place and were now shocked even more by the callous, uncaring words that came from their Dad.

They already felt unsafe in such a place, but the words of their father were what modern people would call "abusive," and indeed the girls would have felt abused and abandoned.  Any feelings of protection they had were now gone, and the door was bending inward, pressed by the mob of men on their front porch.  The men of Sodom were now focusing their anger on Lot, calling him names and threatening him.  To them he was an "alien" and they contemptuously referred to him as a "judge."  Their bodies pressed hard against Lots body, who was in deep trouble.

Verse 10. "But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door."

Mere seconds were passing, but it must have seemed to Lot and his daughters that the frightening moment reflected by these verses went on for a long time.  It was at precisely this moment that the "two men," referred to as "angels" in Verse One, now acted.  The door was briefly opened by one of the angels who were presently in the form of men, surprising the men outside, and the angels quickly pulled Lot inside, slamming and latching the door against the battering and screaming of the mob.

Does it seem to you that God often brings healing to the situations and lives of people at what seems like the "eleventh hour?"  A lot of people have referred to the deliverance of the Lord as being precisely at such a time - Right before or even after it seems too late, there He is, bringing deliverance to His people.  The timing of these "angels" was perfect for Lot to find safety, and the truth is, God's timing is always perfect for Lot, for you and for me.  He reaches into our lives and brings us to safety just when His help is needed.

Father, help us, enable us to be people of courage, acting as You lead us for the benefit of Your Name and for the people around us.  We often do not know what to do.  Show us Your will and help us to walk in it.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study 2/5/10 - Genesis 19:11-15

Verse 11. "They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway."

Continuing the commentary on the preceding verse, God now gave more help to Lot, his wife and his daughters.  The Lord's holy angels struck the angry mob of men outside the door with sudden, utter blindness.  It could have been done sooner, but then we would not have seen the bravery of Lot in facing the mob by himself.  And we also would not have seen the corruption of his thoughts as reflected by the horrible words he said about his daughters in Verse 8.  The evil men who were outside the door had only one idea, to bring harm to Lot and his guests, but now they could not see anything, including the door they wanted to force their way into.  Their minds had only selfish thoughts as their hands continued to grope along the wall, but they could not do any harm.

Notice anew the power of sin, which begins as something small in our lives and then grows larger, enslaving those who give in to it.  We see this in the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and in aberrant behavior, such as the seeking of prostitutes and the commission of other sins that does include promiscuity and homosexuality.  We should be warned by these verses that giving in to sin within a culture, the performing of actions that the Bible views as sinful, bring repercussions.  Sin gradually destroys the judgment of the sinner.  This mob was so corrupted that they continued attempting to force their way in, even after their eyes were gone.

Verse 12. "Then the two men said to Lot, 'Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place;'"

The "two men" were identified as "two angels" in Verse One.  They were immensely powerful beings as compared to anyone in humanity, but they were also limited by not knowing everything.  They were aware that Lot had a family, especially they now knew that Lot had daughters, but they were unclear about who else was under Lot's protection.  Only God knows all things.  The reference to "sons" and "a son-in-law" likely meant the daughters were betrothed to be married, as borne out by the words of Verse 14.  The girls were engaged.

The "sons" were sons-in-law to be.  There also was a wife, the spouse of Lot, who will be mentioned again in Verse 15.  Note that the Lord understands the concern you have for your loved ones.  He will move heaven and earth to save the ones you care for.  You can see an instance of this in Acts 2:38, where Peter, speaking in the power of God, said about the giving of the Holy Spirit, "The promise is to you and to your children..."  The Lord cares for you and He cares for those you love.

Verse 13. "for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it."

The mission of the angels in the place called Sodom, now was crystal clear to all who were in the house of Lot.  The people of Sodom had become unregenerate sinners who were not going to repent of what they had done.  These men outside the door right that minute had committed abominable sins in the sight of God and they had no interest in stopping.  The behavior during the night of the townspeople, when they continued to hunger for their sin even when they had lost their vision is ample proof that they were not about to change their ways.

These people had rejected God and with cunning arguments they had caused the laws of Sodom to be gradually modified so that their way of life became the norm.  They were unregenerate idolaters and so "God gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves," a process you can read about in Romans 1:24 & its context.  What all this leads to is listed in Romans 1:29 & forward - They were "filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness... envy, murder, strife, deceit..." and more.

Verse 14. "Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, 'Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.' But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting."

How would you react if the minister in a local church near you suddenly and publicly said, "Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city."  The answer, for a person who loves the Lord, might well be to do what it says in the last portion of the Letter of First Thessalonians.  We are told there to "PRAY without ceasing!" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  In other words, we should be praying about the events and people in our lives at ALL times; in addition to those moments when disaster seems imminent.

The Scripture goes further, for the Lord DOES communicate with His people, and we should not automatically dismiss the words of someone who purports to be speaking for the Lord.  "Do not quench the Spirit," and it continues, "Do not despise prophecies" (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20).  But then, Paul, the human author of First Thessalonians, continues with the important words, "TEST all things."  You don't have to run out of the door and away from the city every time someone says, "The end is near."  But you should be searching the Scriptures at the present time, for in addition to "test all things," it also says, "hold fast what is good," and "abstain from every form of evil."  Read the Bible, prepare yourself, and then pray - always!  Otherwise, you might become like the "sons-in-law" of "Lot," who thought he was "jesting."

Verse 15. "When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, 'Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.'"

The "sons-in-law" of Lot, the men who were engaged to his daughters, thought he was making jokes when he told them to "get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city," and they were now going to die.  Some time had passed, for the angels had allowed Lot's family to get a little sleep, which they did, exhausted by the events of the previous night.  The "morning dawned" and the household, including the wife of Lot and their two daughters, suddenly woke up at the urging of the two angels who had appeared in the form of men.

And notice that Lot, his wife and his daughters were being given a choice. Lot was told, "Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city."  The two sons-in-law of the previous verses had made their choice - they were gone from Lot's house.  Those who remained must now choose as well.  The whole city of Sodom, and those in the surrounding cities had chosen to reject the Lord, and now they would die in their sins.  In this verse we await the answers of the individuals in Lot's family - Will they trust in the Lord's word through these angels or not?  If they don't, they will die.

Father, Your people tend to be overly timid or too forceful.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and a need to pray. Save us from destruction and help us to be a force for good in the world, as led by the Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study - Genesis 19:16-20

Verse 16. "But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city."

Lot, the nephew of Abraham, now "hesitated."  He had many sheep, goats and other animals, along with a lot of herdsmen and other servants, as we saw in Genesis Chapter 13.  He had a fine home, as is intimated in these verses.  He had money and prestige.  And he also had two angels of God in his house telling him that if he did not leave Sodom immediately, he would die!  But if he went, he would lose everything he had; and he had a great deal!  Then the men, these angels in the form of men, now "seized his hand" and also took the hands of the others, pulling them all out of the house into the street.

Some of the townspeople, consisting of the men of Sodom, must have still been wandering around in the city streets, blinded by the angels on the previous evening.  Lot and his wife and daughters would have heard and drawn back from their pathetic moans while following the angels toward the city gate.  The angels stayed with the family, and please note that angels are with you as well.  You are being pulled toward safety in the Lord, and unless you prefer the things of this world to the love of the Lord, you WILL be rescued from the problems, the sins of humanity.  And note none of us deserve "the compassion of the Lord."  Lot's rescue tells us that the grace of God is based on faith, even though our response to Him may be small.

Verse 17. "When they had brought them outside, one said, 'Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.'"

One of the two angels now admonished Lot, his wife and his daughters to run for their lives!  The place would be destroyed!  The whole valley was to be ruined for all time!  They must go to the "mountains" or they all would die!  Please note that the events of the previous evening should have alerted them to the reality of the situation presented through the two angels.  They must escape! But those mountains must have looked very far away to Lot at the moment!  The instructions given were very clear: "Do not look behind you... do not stay anywhere in the valley..."  They must get out of town - quickly!

They were being led to physical safety, but the Bible warns of an even greater danger that threatens all of humanity, and it is subtle because it is "out of this world" - a potential disaster at the end of our lives on earth.  Jesus told us in many creative ways how to escape this great danger, and it all boils down to one word - believe!  He said, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).  Now is the time for all who have read those words to BELIEVE in the Lord.  He is the One who will save you, even though the world will perish.

Verse 18. "But Lot said to them, 'Oh no, my lords!'"

There is an old English expression, "He who hesitates is lost" and it was true for Lot right at that minute.  He was being offered a way of escape from the destruction of the evil city of Sodom and its surrounding areas.  There is no doubt in my mind, after walking with the Lord for decades, that if Lot was badly out of condition physically, after many years of living in that city, the Lord would have delayed destroying Sodom for as long as it took until an exhausted Lot finally reached the "mountains" mentioned in the preceding verse.  But as we see in the next verse, he wanted to stop and not go on.

His response is no different from that of many people of today.  We will see Lot's concern in the next verse, but what is yours?  If God called you to leave your country and enter some kind of ministry, would you want to wait until your financial situation is perfectly secure?  Do you have a family and don't want to jeopardize their situation?  Are you sickly, too weak to make any kind of journey?  Are you too... what?  "Many are called, but few chosen," Jesus stated in Matthew 20:15, and the reason that few are chosen is because most do not want to go. Lot did not want to go.

Verse 19. "Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die;"

Even though Lot agreed to go with the angels out of the city, he did it with some, perhaps a great deal of reluctance.  "The men seized his hand" as we saw in Verse 16, suggesting that if they had not physically pulled him from Sodom, he would not have gone at all.  The angels were not going any further with him, not visibly anyway, and Lot, who possibly slumped down on the ground in despair at this point, wanted to stop and not go any further.

Lot was whimpering.  He was appreciative that his life was being spared, but that's about as far as it went.  From his perspective, his life actually was over.  His house was going to be destroyed, his many sheep, goats and other animals were lost to him, his servants, male and female were no longer his - economically he was ruined. And it is very interesting that he was not pleading for the lives of his wife and daughters.  Yes he had a tiny bit of true faith in the Lord and because of it he would be saved - which should give all of us hope because of the Lord's response to this man.  If God would save Lot on the basis of his belief, there is certain hope for ALL who place their faith in the Lord.

Verse 20. "now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved."

Lot should have continued on to the mountains as the angels urged him to do.  There was nothing for him in this little "town" of Bela, which was also called Zoar.  And it's likely that if Lot with his small faith became a resident of Zoar, he would be the only person in the place who had any kind of faith in the Lord.  The disturbing sins of Sodom would have surrounded him once more.  It's true for so many in this world that the need to possess material goods can be a greater force than our common sense.

Jesus made an interesting statement in Matthew 10:38-39 - "Whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."  Lot's "cross" at the moment involved the loss of his material possessions.  Most of our lives we have been like Lot, who valued his lifestyle far too much.  And it's a continuing concern to note that he is not pleading for the lives of his wife or daughters.  His stated concern is that "MY life might be saved."  Lot should have been a safe father for his daughters, but instead he betrayed them by his words. We need to take the risk of losing life as we know it, and make the heroic step of really trusting in the Lord.

Father, we trust in You and give our lives over to Your care.  Please forgive our sins, especially our unbelief, and make us clean in Christ Jesus.  Lead us, Lord, and help us as we follow You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Audio Bible Study - Genesis 19:21-25

Verse 21. "He said to him, 'Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.'"

Lot, Abraham's nephew, had literally been pulled by his hands from the city of Sodom by two angels sent from God.  The intention was to save his life, but it also meant that Lot would lose his home, his flocks in the lush fields outside the city; everything he owned would be gone!  He was stunned and was slow to respond.  He had been told to "escape to the hills" or to the "mountains" in many translations, but now he was begging that he might be permitted to remain in the nearby town of Bela, also called Zoar.  It is also very possible that wealthy Lot was so out of condition physically because of his sedentary urban life, that he was unable to walk any further.

Time was short and God was determined to save Lot's life.  His request to stop was granted and Zoar would be spared.  Note that Lot selected a second-best solution for his future.  God would have stayed His almighty hand of judgment until Lot reached the mountains, just like you and I don't need to worry, also.  God is watching out for us, just like He was for Lot.  Also see that Lot's choice resulted in the saving of Zoar.  This small, corrupt place would survive to pass the sins of Sodom on to yet another generation.

Verse 22. "'Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.' Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar."

This little town was seen previously in Genesis 14, Verses 2 and 8, under the name of "Bela," which translates as "destruction."  After Sodom and the surrounding cities were destroyed, the place came to be called, "Zoar," which means "little."  However sinful this little place was, it would survive for a time, not because of any faith among the villagers, but because of the fear and discouragement of Lot.  Behind the fear of this man, however, was the Lord's love, not only for Lot, but also for his uncle Abraham, who was, no doubt fervently praying for his nephew, Lot, at the moment of this verse.

Lot had a little faith.  Abraham, his uncle, had greater faith in the Lord.  Note that if you become willing to trust in the Lord, even in small ways, the Lord will notice you and watch out for you.  That time when you did not have the accident, but it was close, was it not the Lord watching out for you?  If you lose your income, will the Lord take care of you?  Yes he will.  Just like Lot, who wavered in his faith, but did have some belief in the Lord, God is watching out for ALL who will place even the smallest trust in the Lord.

Verse 23. "The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar."

We saw in Verse 15 that the angels dragged Lot and his family out of their home in Sodom, and now we see that another morning had dawned.  Some time had passed at the moment of this verse and the reluctant travelers were now at the gates of the village of Zoar (or Bela), and Zoar, as mentioned before, meant "little."  It was a very tiny town that Lot had chosen and he likely had no resources in the place.  He would have no way to live there, except he might stay in the village inn, if they had one. His money, if he had managed to bring some, would not last.  Lot was making the latest in a history of poor choices for his life.

We won't see much of Lot in Scripture after this chapter.  There is no mention that he ever met with his Uncle Abraham again, but his life is an important account for us all.  Just like his uncle, who also made mistakes in his own life, Lot did have some faith in the Lord.  This younger man got discouraged, he trusted too much in his money and his skills as a money-manager, and it is interesting that the Lord allowed all his holdings to go away.  He would become "righteous Lot" as Peter reported in 2 Peter 2:7, though at a considerable price.

Verse 24. "Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven,"

It's not made clear, from the language of these verses, exactly what the "brimstone and fire" specified in this verse is all about.  The word "fire" is sometimes used to describe the fall of lightning in the Old Testament, which is probably what is being referred to in 1 Kings 18:38, 2 Kings 1:10, and Job 1:16.  Some translations use the word "sulfur" in place of "brimstone," calling it "sulfur and fire."  No attempt is made in these verses to explain those substances from a scientific standpoint.  The very real destruction of the place is presented as an act of God, a miracle.

Whatever "rained" on the region at that point, it effectively destroyed a place that had previously been so green, so fertile that Lot, Abraham's nephew, had chosen it over any other place in what is sometimes called Palestine.  He wanted to be there for the rest of his life because it was lush and green, perfect for his herds of animals.  The whole area at the point of this verse was suddenly turned into one of the most infertile areas of the planet.  What IS shown here is the utter power of God.  And note that those who reject Him are headed for complete destruction.

Verse 25. "and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground."

The word "overthrew" in this verse literally means "turned-over." Whatever "brimstone and fire" might have been, the ground under the region suddenly experienced a rapid down-thrusting and upheaval which literally "turned over" the outer crust of the earth.  It's like you were carrying a plate of food to the table and dropped it.  It then landed upside down on the floor.  The ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah may be under the Dead Sea as many have thought, but they also may be deep underground, "turned over" like that plate of food.

This is one of the first recorded instances since the Great Flood, of God's judgment on the awfulness of sin.  Note that sin will destroy us.  God is holy, which means He is pure, utterly without fault.  He is "love" (1 John 4:8), and as our infinitely good, loving parent, He will protect His people from harm.  By destroying Sodom, He protected others in the region by removing the cancer of sin from their midst.  Everything in that place was wiped out, and its sin was no more.  The exception, of course, was Zoar, which was like a spot of cancer in an otherwise healthy body.

Father, heal us, heal our land.  When You call us out, away from the sin of this world, give us the desire and the courage to respond to Your will.  We need You, Lord, and we trust in You now.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study - Genesis 19:26-30

Verse 26. "But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."

The two angels of these verses in Genesis had told Lot and the others who were with him as reflected in Verse 17: "Do not look back."  Some have noticed that in order for Lot to know that his wife "looked back" and see that she died because of it, he would have had to have "looked back" too, in order to know what had happened.  But there is a difference.  Lot was not a bad person.  He was merely somewhat shallow and self-centered like most in this world.  He undoubtedly did what a good husband and father would do, by glancing back at his wife and daughters from time to time, making sure they were keeping up.

The Hebrew word in 19:17 and in this verse did not refer to a quick glance, but instead it meant to GAZE, to look intently at something.  His wife looked back intently with a desire to return to Sodom, and disobeyed the Word of the Lord which came through the two angels.  Note by the way, there are many great deposits of rock salt in that area.  When it says "she became a pillar of salt," it may mean that she had stopped to gaze backward and as she paused for a long moment, she was buried by a sudden up-thrusting as a salt deposit burst through the shaky ground.  When Lot looked at her, he would have been shocked to see what appeared to be a pillar of salt where his wife had stood just moments before.

Verse 27. "Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord;"

The written record of the scenes recorded by these verses, now changes from an on-the-spot report about the progress of Lot, to the place where Abraham, Lot's uncle, "had stood before the Lord."  Abraham was presently at what was called the "Oaks of Mamre," a number of miles west of what is now called the Dead Sea.  It was the place where he had prayed and negotiated with the Lord, hoping that God would spare the city-state of Sodom and the other communities of that area.

Abraham may well have continued in prayer after the departure of the Lord and His angels, but it is not mentioned that he did.  The man thought of the place where he stood as a holy place because of His previous encounters with the Lord.  But at the moment he certainly was at the least very anxious and he must have been pacing back and forth as he considered the recent events that might mean trouble, even death, for his beloved nephew, Lot.

Verse 28. "and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace."

A literal mushroom cloud arose far up into the atmosphere from the area that had previously contained the city-states of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham, staring in that direction, gasped. He suddenly knew that there had not been even ten righteous people in that place, in relation to his prayer of Genesis 18:32-33.  He may well have wept at that moment, for it would have seemed to him that his beloved nephew, Lot, had been killed in the blast furnace that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  Those places were no more.

It could have seemed to Abraham that God had not answered his prayer.  From his vantage point, not only had Sodom been obliterated, but his nephew, Lot, was dead as well.  Our problem is like his, when it seems that God has not heard or answered our need.  But note Genesis 19:29 - "God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow..."  We must consider these verses, for God HAS heard you and He remembers, even when you don't see His answer at the moment.  Our vantage point is limited, but His is not and He hears your prayer.

Verse 29. "Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived."

Isn't this interesting!  "God remembered" the prayers of Abraham.  He also "remembered" Abraham's real intention in praying, while he asked for the continued existance of Sodom and Gomorrah.  God knew that Abraham's real concern was for the safety of his nephew, Lot.  God knew and He "remembered." The younger man was saved from "the midst of the overthrow" because Abraham cared so much for him.  The nephew was not specifically mentioned in Abraham's prayer of Genesis 18:16-33, but God knew Abraham's thoughts, just as He knows yours.

What about you, by the way?  You may have uttered prayers in the night or in a hospital room, that seemed to bounce off the ceiling.  Did He hear you?  Does He care?  We have seen and heard about instances of hospice nurses who brought a loved one to the Lord right before they died and the family did not know about it until much later or perhaps they never heard.  It was only known to the nurse, to God, and someone she told.  Trust in the Lord.  Your prayer is important, so are you, and your loved ones matter to Him.

Verse 30. "Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters."

Lot left the town of Zoar as fast as he could.  He probably bought a wagon and loaded it with provisions before he left.  That is indeed suggested by Genesis 19:32 & forward, when his daughters said, "Let us make our father drink wine."  If they had a supply of wine, they likely had purchased everything needed for a long stay "in the mountains."  Lot may well have, as an experienced herdsman, bought sheep and goats in Zoar for the journey.  "Zoar," by the way, was still called "Bela" at the time of Lot.  It was later, in the time of Moses (who wrote these words in Genesis), that the town began to be called, "Zoar.

Note that "Lot went up from Zoar" because "he was afraid to stay in Zoar."  The inhabitants of that little place were meant to be destroyed because of their utter sinfulness but were spared because of Lot.  He had been told, "Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley" (Genesis 19:17), but he stopped at Bela-Zoar and the place was spared because of him (Genesis 19:21-22).  God would have given him the strength and the time to reach the mountains, but he stopped at Zoar and now he was afraid of the people in that place.  How many times have we acted in a certain manner, but what we have done leads to fear?

Lord, we have followed You in part, but You are so good, holy, just and full of love that we should utterly abandon ourselves to Your leading and Your care.  Please forgive us and receive our lives.  We trust in You now.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study - Genesis 19:31-38

Verse 31. "Then 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 the earth."

In this verse and the ones that follow, we glimpse into the minds of two young women who had lived all their lives in a "permissive society."  They also had just experienced an unprecedented disaster - their country, their home was destroyed and their fiancés were now dead.  And then, as they were escaping the carnage that fell on the land, their mother was suddenly killed.  They were grieving her loss and the loss of everything that had seemed stable in their lives.  Their future seemed - gone!

At this instant they were lamenting the marriages, children and homes that now seemed impossible for them.  As far as they knew, everyone else in the world had been killed in the blast that took Sodom, except for those creepy men they had encountered in Zoar while being dragged away from their own city.  They saw no hope for the future and the permissiveness they had known all their lives had stunted their decision-making abilities to determine what is right and what is wrong in life.

Verse 32. "Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father."

The way these daughters of Lot thought about him was stated in Verse 31 - "Our father is old," they agreed.  The three were huddling in a cave not so very far from the ruins of what had been their family home.  For all they knew, everyone else in the world had been killed except themselves and a few others.  They had been raised in a culture with a warped view of morality, and now, desperately, they began to look at their father, thinking, "He can give us children!"

These young women were grieving the loss of everything!  Any hopes they had for children seemed gone, and there is no doubt that they mourned their fiancés, who had laughed at their father, Lot, and stayed behind to die in the destruction of Sodom.  When morality breaks down in a society, everyone is corrupted. These girls were trying to make some sense out of life, to have some kind of future, and all they had for preparation was the selfish mindset that was the philosophy which had been prevalent in the city of Sodom.

Verses 33-35. "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. On the following 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 our family through 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."

We know something about these girls from Verse 8 of this chapter.  In a moment of fear, Lot had shouted out to the mob of men who were clawing at the door of his house in Sodom, "I have two daughters who have not had relations with man."  To his understanding, at least, his daughters had never experienced sexual relations and they were shocked by Lot's words about them. They each had fiancés in Sodom; young men who were promised to them in marriage.  But now those young men were dead, as was their mother.  All the other young men were dead also.  They wanted to give and receive love as a way to cope with the extreme grief they were feeling, and so the oldest daughter decided to have a child.

She decided she would LOVE it and experience the feelings that having a child would bring.  She acted on that need in relation to the only man in sight, her father, and would suggest the same course of action to her impressionable younger sister.  Her plan was to use some of the supply of wine they brought with them from either Sodom or Zoar, suggesting to their father that a few drinks would make them all feel better.  They no doubt felt guilt about their actions, but they wanted to LIVE and the more wine they drank, the easier it became. This was done on consecutive nights, and Lot, who must have figured all this out after it happened, must have thoroughly regretted his decisions of the past, especially moving those many years before to the corrupt city-state of Sodom.

Verse 36. "Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father."

It's reasonable to wonder about the pregnancies of these two young women, who may have been teenagers at the time.  WHY would God allow them to conceive?  Even though their father was so drunk that "he did not know when (his daughters) lay down or when (they) arose," as we saw in Verses 33 and 35, most cultures would forbid such an act; and if it happened, someone like Lot would have been put in jail, whether he remembered what he did or not.

What we will see in the next two verses is the consequence of sin, and it all started with Abraham.  God said to the man, who was known as Abram at that time, "Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house..." and further, "I will make you a great nation..." (Genesis 12:1-2).  The man did leave, but he took his "kindred," his nephew, Lot, with him.  In Verses 37 and 38, we will glimpse the harm brought by Lot and his daughters to the "nation" (Israel) that was to come from and through Abraham.

Verses 37-38. "The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day."

Lot's eldest daughter, his "firstborn," bore her father a son through an act of incest.  He was so drunk that he did not know what he was doing, but his lack of comprehension is not an excuse.  Lot was never supposed to leave Haran, their ancestral home, in the first place, but he did and subsequently, we saw in Genesis 13:10-11, that Lot was given his choice and made a decision to live in Sodom.  He had a basic faith in the Lord, but he was what might be called a "nominal" believer.  He kept his faith to himself.

Living in Sodom corrupted him and his family.  They liked living in the place and because of his apparent wealth, they had a successful business and a fine home.  He did not want to jeopardize their situation and as the various sins of Sodom grew, he kept quiet about his faith.  His wife liked their lives so much that she looked back longingly at Sodom, though she was told not to, and she was killed.  His daughters were raised in Sodom, knew nothing else, and the low standards of the place were the norm for them.  Corrupted minds lead to corrupt actions, like the birth of the two sons mentioned in these verses.

"Moab" (seed) and "Ben-ammi" (son of my people) grew up to become the progenitors of the Moabites and the Ammonites, two nations that would be thorns in the flesh of the future nation Israel.  The people called Moab located themselves east of the Jordan River (Numbers 21:13-15).  They later refused Israel passage to Canaan, the land of the promise to Abraham, and they sent Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22:24).  They were denounced by the prophets (Isaiah 15-16, Jeremiah 9:26, Ezekiel 25:8-11 and more).  It should be noted, however, that Ruth was the Moabitess (Ruth 1:4) who married Boaz, grandfather of King David of Israel, and became an ancestor of the Messiah.  God turns even our mistakes, our base actions into "good" (Romans 8:28).

Lord, what we call "permissiveness" is filling our world today, just as it did then, and it leads to destruction.  Help our leaders, our people to find You.  Lead us into revival, into paths of righteousness.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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