Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 17 2019 - Genesis 19:1-29 – The Destruction of Sodom

This is, by any estimate, a truly shocking chapter of Scripture. Why are these incidents recorded in the Bible? How can this chapter be "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16-17)?

This chapter is not about the "sin of homosexuality". Isaiah likens rebellious Judah to Sodom in its empty religion, violence and failure to care for those in need (Isaiah 1:10-17). Ezekiel declares the inhabitants of Sodom were "arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy" (Ezekiel 16:53). This chapter is not about homosexual love but about the kind of male rape that sadly still occurs as a means of domination in warfare and within prisons.

What then is this chapter about?

Firstly it reminds us of the appalling consequences that can flow from bad choices. When Abraham and his nephew Lot agreed to separate because their flocks had grown too large to graze together, Lot chose the land in the Jordan valley rather than the less fertile hill country (Genesis 13:10-13). He reckoned that living in the region of Sodom would enable him to prosper. He looked only at external appearance and not at the character of the people among whom he would be living.

How have we gone about making critical choices for ourselves and for our families? Have we simply looked at what might be the best route to prosperity or have we considered where we might best grow in knowledge of God and be useful in his service? The story of Lot is a salutary reminder of the cost of bad choices.

Secondly, this chapter reminds us of the reality of God's judgment. We have a "compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness" (Exodus 34:6). But he will not forever turn a blind eye to human rebellion and violence; he is a God of justice. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah stands as a warning to a world that continues to turn its back upon God and his salvation in the Lord Jesus – the one "who rescues us from the coming wrath" (1 Thessalonians 1:10). We should not seek to minimise the reality and awfulness of God's wrath against sin.

But this chapter also displays the mercy of God. Despite the folly of his choices, Lot and his family are saved from judgment. Indeed, if Lot's sons-in-law had believed God's warning, they too would have been saved. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked; he longs for them to turn back to him and be saved (see Ezekiel 18:23 and 1 Timothy 2:3-5).

We are told in Genesis 19:29 that "when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities." Lot was saved because God remembered his covenant with Abraham and extended his compassion to Lot. It is because of God's covenant faithfulness towards us in Christ that we too are saved.

Lastly, this passage warns us of the danger of turning back from following Christ. We should be like Paul who said, "one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). Jesus warned his followers not to turn back saying, "Remember Lot's wife!" (Luke 17:32).

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ who has saved us from the coming judgment. Without him we would be lost. Help us always to look to him and keep on following him. Help us also to tell others of the one who alone can forgive sins and reconcile us to God. Make us your messengers through whom others may be saved.

Peter Misselbrook