Last week we read about 3 heavenly travelers who stopped briefly to rest and refresh themselves at Abraham’s tent. The LORD had heard an outcry against Sodom and was heading there, along with 2 of His companions, in order to assess the moral depravity of the city. After a brief visit, the pair of angels resumed their journey to Sodom while the LORD Himself stayed behind to speak with Abraham. The text reveals that the LORD departed (presumably to Heaven) and never rejoined His counterparts.
This morning’s message is a continuation of the same story. We will discover what the angelic duo discovered and the events that took place when they finally reached their destination. The title of today’s sermon is “Sodom and Gomorrah”. It features a well-known and somewhat harrowing passage of Scripture.
I. AN UNPLEASANT RECEPTION (v1-11)
The 2 angels who had recently visited Abraham arrived at Sodom around evening time. Lot, who was sitting at the city’s gate, met them as they came into the city and invited them to stay at his house. The pair initially refused, indicating that they planned to spend the night in the open square. Lot probably suspected that these men would not be safe there, so he urged them to reconsider. They finally accepted Lot’s invitation and went to his home for the night.
After they’d eaten dinner together, a mob of several men of the city showed up and surrounded Lot’s house. They demanded that he send his 2 guests out so that they could have sex with them. Lot went outside to speak with these vile men, closing the door securely behind him. Lot was in a desperate situation, and offered to send out his 2 virgin daughters instead. The men then threatened Lot, pressed him up against the door, and tried to break it down. Fortunately the 2 angels quickly opened the door and pulled Lot safely inside. They then struck the men at the door with blindness, so that they were unable to find their way in.
As this incident shows, the citizens of Sodom were exceedingly wicked. They sought to commit homosexual gang rape against these 2 visitors. They even threatened violence toward Lot when he refused to give them what they wanted. These were vile and despicable men, who were completely overcome with sin. They had no sense of morality, no respect for others, and no belief in God. This is what becomes of people who reject the LORD and are left to their own devices. Sadly, this is a fairly accurate description of much of our world today...
II. A HASTY ESCAPE (v12-22)
The 2 men told Lot that the LORD had sent them to destroy the city. They asked Lot to gather all of his family members and to leave town immediately. Lot’s daughters were both engaged to be married, so Lot went to find his prospective sons-in-law. When he warned them about the city’s impending doom, they thought he was joking and refused to come along. So the next morning at dawn, the angels brought only Lot, his wife, and his 2 daughters out of Sodom.
The angels instructed Lot and his family to leave the valley quickly and escape to the mountains. They warned them to make haste and to not look back, for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was imminent. Lot feared that he would not be able to make it to the mountains, and asked if he might flee to the small, nearby town of Zoar instead. The angels granted his request, promised to spare the little town, and told him that they’d wait to send judgment on the cities until he’d safely arrived out of harm’s way.
Lot had chosen to live in Sodom for 25 years, despite its extensive wickedness and evil reputation. It appears that he had become a rather prominent citizen, as evidenced by his presence at the city’s gate earlier in this story. This suggests that he’d been somewhat accepted by the locals, and had acclimated to their sinful way of life. Obviously his judgment was questionable, seeing that he willingly offered to give his virgin daughters over to the hell-bent mob. Still, despite his many flaws and imperfections, God chose to spare Lot and provided the necessary time for him to escape. The LORD came to save sinners.
III. A DEVASTATING JUDGMENT (v23-29)
The sun had already risen by the time Lot and his family arrived at Zoar. As soon as they were there, the LORD sent fire and brimstone from heaven down upon Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding valley. It consumed and killed all of the inhabitants living there, as well as the crops that were growing in the fields. In violation of the angel’s clear warning, Lot’s wife looked back at the city of Sodom (perhaps in despair). As a result, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
Meanwhile Abraham, from his vantage point several miles away near Hebron, looked to the east and saw smoke rising from the ruins and ashes of Sodom and Gomorrah. Just a few days earlier, the LORD had warned Abraham that these cities were in danger of judgment… and now it had come. God had promised to spare the city if He could find just 10 righteous men living there, but alas, there weren’t even that many. Perhaps Abraham wondered that morning if his nephew Lot had survived, but the LORD remembered Abraham and Lot was spared from the horrible devastation.
IV. A DRUNKEN BLUNDER (v30-38)
Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar, so he and his 2 daughters continued on to the mountains where they stayed together in a cave. Both girls had been previously betrothed to men in Sodom, but now their husbands-to-be were dead. Alone in the wilderness with their father, and grieving the sudden loss of their fiances, these daughters feared that they might never have children of their own. In their anguish, they devised a dastardly plan.
The sisters coaxed their father into drinking excessive amounts of wine, so that he became slobbering drunk and completely unaware of what he was doing. Then the eldest daughter went in and slept with him that night. They did this again the next day. This time the younger daughter went in and slept with him. So both girls became pregnant by their own father. The older daughter bore a son named Moab, and the younger daughter bore a son named Ben-ammi. Thus, the Moabites and Ammonites (mentioned often throughout Scripture) are the physical descendants of Lot through his incestual relationship with his daughters.
This rather disturbing story highlights the danger of too much alcohol and drunkenness. Lot may have been mourning the loss of his dear wife and home, but drowning himself in booze was not the answer. It never is, by the way. Scripture advises Christians to avoid drunkenness, as it impairs our judgment and self-control (Ephesians 5:18). Alcohol might temporarily ease a person’s pain, but it also hinders their ability to make good decisions which invariably leads to even more trouble than before.
There are 2 major observations I’d like to make concerning this chapter before we close. The first and most obvious is this - God hates sin and He judges sinners. The sudden and complete destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the most prolific demonstrations of this truth found in all of Scripture. Although God’s wrath is undeniable, most people today - even many professing Christians - don’t want to talk about it or acknowledge it. But make no mistake about it my friends… those who persistently reject the LORD and live in sinful rebellion against Him will face eternal condemnation in an unquenchable fire.
Secondly, the LORD saves people based upon their acceptance of Him, not based on their works. Let’s face it… Lot was not a good model of righteousness and virtue. He made several foolish decisions and his morals were questionable at best. Yet, most likely as the result of his uncle Abraham’s influence, Lot trusted in God for salvation. Though his faith was extremely shallow and he never reached his godly potential, still the LORD lovingly spared Lot’s life. Of all the characters mentioned in the Bible, I believe that Lot most fittingly describes someone who was “saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).