- Religion and Philosophy
Understanding Genesis 19: Our Wrath, not God's Wrath
Unknowingly Inviting Angels
And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. Genesis 19:1,2
Growing up in his uncle’s home, Lot learned courtesy and hospitality from Abraham. Sheltering travelers were a common custom even among the pagans. But just like Abraham, Lot unknowingly invited angels into his home.
Unfortunately, the years living in Sodom eroded away any godliness and innocence brought about from growing up isolated in the plains. While not participating or fully given into their influence, Lot knew what the people of Sodom were capable of. Knowing the danger facing these strangers if they were to stay in the streets, he insists they stay at his home and hopes they are unseen by the Sodomites.
Making Love Reduced to "Just Sex"
And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. Genesis 19:5
“Knowing” in the Bible often refers to sexual intercourse, because of the intimacy that exists between the partners, as God intended. "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD." Genesis 4:1 "And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch…" Genesis 4:17
God intends sexual relations between husband and wife to be the most loving, honest and intimate act possible. Sex outside marriage is so common now that the act is commonplace and sometimes meaningless. It does not fully have the love, knowledge, perception, understanding, consideration etc. that a husband and wife develop through their lives together and their commitment toward each other.
For pagans, the intimate act has become so perverse that men and women prostituted themselves in their god’s temples. During the Israelite’s time in the wilderness, God has to forbid the Israelites from imitating these pagans. "And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations." Leviticus 17:7
Revelation of Lot
And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. Genesis 19:6-8
Lot seems to be defending the strangers, but incredibly offers up his daughters instead. While living with Abraham, Lot worshiped at God’s alter; but living in Sodom has slowly eroded away Lot’s understanding of right and wrong. He may not have been totally immersed in their sins, but if God had allowed Sodom to continue their sinful existence, Lot may have eventually become a participant.
The Sins of Sodom
And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door. Genesis 9:11
God knows the heart of all, and He knew the influence of Sodom would grow just as bad as the antediluvian generation, if it were allowed to flourish. Blinded by a supernatural hand, the men were not repentant or sorry for their criminal desires. They were angry and grew so violent that they kept trying to find the door and break into the house, until they were tired.
They did not turn away sorrowful, but more hardened of heart. The Sodomites knew of Lot, and his uncle Abraham. With his God, Abraham had rescued them from captivity. Abraham and His God were admired, but their own pleasures took precedence over learning about who God is. Their riches bred idleness, and pride in their rebuilt city made them xenophobic rather than welcoming or helpful to the less fortunate.
"Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good." Ezekial 16:49,50
They were so immersed in their sin; they did not recognize God’s power.
Forsaking God for Others
And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. Genesis 19:14-15
During the night, the angels warn Lot to leave Sodom. Lot tries to convince his married daughters and their husbands to leave the city but they refuse. In fact, they laugh in his face, and dishonor him. His married daughters, having forsaken any knowledge of their granduncle’s God, chooses to stay in the city with their husbands. His other daughters later commit sins because of their Sodomite friends’ influences.
Our Pleasure vs. Obedience to God
And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:16-20, 26
As the sun rises, Lot is still unwilling to leave Sodom. He struggles with his desire for pleasure found in the sinful city and obeying God’s warnings. As he struggles with his selfish desires, the angels are forced to take the family by the hand and drag them away from the city.
But Lot’s wife, longing for the “good life” in the city, disobeys the angel’s warning and looks back. This action was not what turned her into a pillar of salt; her action was only the true revelation of her heart.
We all struggle with being good, but in our hearts, we long for our sins that we enjoy. The sins of Sodom were so great, that there was no changing of heart even in their blindness. Their hearts were fully rejecting of God, the source of all life; and their breath of life was returned to God, and their bodies became empty dirt. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7 Lot’s wife revealed her desire for her pleasure, more than being obedient to God’s warning for her safety.
Pouring of the Holy Spirit
Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; Genesis 19:24
We often picture these streaks of fire raining down from heaven. But fire mentioned in the Bible are not destructive, but cleansing/purifying. "Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." Isaiah 6:6,7
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?" Acts 2:3-7 The fire is representative of the Holy Spirit, [and the “tongues” refers to languages. The different nationalities were able to understand what the disciples were speaking because of the Holy Spirit.]
As their city was being destroyed, the Sodomites grew angry their city was being destroyed. They had no regret for what they were going to do, no repentance for the crime they were being punished for, only anger and hate toward any sense of righteousness. Their anger that God prevented them from committing their criminal desires, rejected any essence of God in their life, and in turn the source of life. As the Holy Spirit was poured on the city because of their need for cleansing, their rejection of the Spirit not only brought actual burning fire, but the loss of their life.
"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:20,21 "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:" Romans 2:4-6
When the Day of Judgment arrives, it will be our wrath against God that burns us, His outpouring love will be anathema to us and by rejecting Him (the source of life), we will lose our life.
Why God Comes Down "to See"
And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
As Abraham watched the city burn, he saw that there were not even 10 righteous people in the city. "I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know." Genesis 18:21 God knew that the Sodomites were unrepentant and sinful. He knows all. "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" Isaiah 46:10 "Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)" 1 King 8:39
God knew the hearts of these Sodomites, knew their hard-heartedness. But now, Abraham knew it too.
And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. Genesis 19:30
Lot was his lowest point when he left Sodom. All his possessions, and then his wife, were left behind. He lived in Zoar for a little while, but seeing the wickedness of the city, and not trusting in the angel’s words not to destroy the city, he fled into the mountains. But the damage was already done. His daughters thinking they would honor their father in progeny perpetuated incest and brought about two nations that would be constantly at war with the Israelites. God saved Lot and his family, and gave them opportunity to follow God. Unfortunately, they didn’t use their second chance wisely. We are often faced with decisions that invite God into our life, or reject following Him. Nothing is left to “fate” or “luck,” we must embrace our free will and choose God.
Using Our Free Will
And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day. Genesis 19:37,38
Besides the sin of incest, Abraham’s grandnieces birthed enemies of his descendants. Until the early 1990s, the present day Jordan [Ammonites and Moabites] often clashed with the Israelites. "Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:" Joshua 24:9 "Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed." Judges 10:9
We often don’t think of the consequences of our action, but the sins of the father are unwittingly passed to the next generation—God knew the power of nature and nurture, and only He is able to break us from our earthly influence and become more like Him. "Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation." Exodus 34:7 God can see the iniquity being passed from generation to generation, and warns for it to end.
"Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Ezekial 18:31 "A newheart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." Ezekial 36: 26 "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18
Lot’s choices influenced his daughters. Given a second chance at life, they choose to commit incest and for generations, their children only know war. It is not God’s will that we war and hate. It is not His will to destroy people and cities. It is for the sake of His people that sin is cut off.
Whatever sins you hide from others, you don’t have to be a slave to your sin. It’s not about self-control or forcing yourself to do “good.” It’s about knowing and loving God, more than the sin. If you don’t know God, get to know Him. Only when you know Him, will you believe He truly loves you. "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." 1 john 4:16
- Understanding Genesis 20: Ever Loving, Ever Forgiving
A Bible study of Genesis 20.