Genesis 19

The Destruction of Sodom

The angels who had been with Yahweh and Abraham entered the city of Sodom and met Lot at the gate, where business was transacted for the city. Lot had traded his shepherd staff for a business and political career, probably sometime after Abraham had saved his life, along with the city.

What Was Discovered in Sodom (1-9)

When Lot saw the two angels in the town square, he rose from his desk to greet them in respect and honor. He then offered the angels hospitality in his own home. The angels were happy spending the night sleeping in the square and learning from there what the city was like. Lot, knowing what fate would befall them, insisted they come to his home, where he fed them (1-3). Lot certainly was hospitable and generous in all of this, but he was a businessman and undoubtedly working a potential angle with the travelers he thought might be successful businessmen themselves.

After they had eaten the feast Lot had prepared, and just before they were going to go to bed, men of the city, young and old, surrounded Lot's home. They wanted Lot to give up his guests to homosexual rape. Lot went outside to meet the men of Sodom, knowing that if his guests were wealthy businessmen and were raped, it would cost him and the city much potential revenue.

First, Lot begged the men to cease acting so wickedly, and second, he offered his daughters for the men to rape in his guests’ place (4-7). Many speculations have arisen as to how Lot's offering of his daughters for rape was not as bad as it sounded. I will not bother to record any of them. Lot's personal morality and greed had slipped so far that his offering of his own daughters was just more proof of how the sexual extravagance of the city had corrupted his own moral sensibilities.

Lot pleaded with the men of Sodom to leave his guests in the safety of his home, but the men told Lot to stand down. They then told Lot that he had overstepped his welcome and rank. They told Lot he might think he could judge their behavior as wrong, but they would do far worse to him than they had planned to do with his guests, whatever that meant. They then rushed to grab Lot, pushing him back against the door of his home, almost pushing it open; the men inside opened the door, reached out, grabbed Lot, and pulled him to safety within the house, locking the door behind him (8-10).

What the Angels Did to Sodom (11-22)

The angels sent by Yahweh did some incredible, merciful acts.

  1. The angels struck the men of Sodom who had come to rape them with blindness, until they exhausted themselves trying to find the door and eventually went home (11).

  2. The angels sought to save any family Lot might have had in the city, even the fiancés of the two daughters Lot had offered up to the men outside. Lot went and begged his family to leave the city, but Lot's reputation for seriousness was non-existent, and they assumed Lot was just playing another practical joke on them (12-14).

  3. When the family woke up in the morning, Lot lingered with them, trying to make plans on how to keep the wealth they had acquired. The two angels seized the four of them by the hands and took them outside the city. Once outside the city, the angels instructed them to run for their lives to the hills, where they would be safe from all that would be swept away. They were especially told not to look back (15-17).

  4. Lot was not fully convinced that Sodom would be fully swept away and asked the angels if he could go to a nearby city, where he asked that it not be destroyed. Lot thought that in the hills his life would end, being too far away to recover any of his belongings surviving the destruction. He also likely had friends in the nearby city who might put him and his family up, as he had likely done for them in the past. Most of all, the nearby city would still give him the quickest access to anything surviving destruction (18-20). The angels granted Lot the favor, assuring him that the city of Zoar, which he had selected, would not be overthrown, but he was to enter the city quickly, for the destruction could not begin until Lot was safe (21-22).

It was almost like the angels could sense some natural catastrophe was being held back until Lot was safe. Of course Peter uses this whole event to warn the ungodly of the certainty of judgment, and the godly of how Yahweh's mercy can deliver them out of trials (2 Peter 2:4-9).

The Destruction of Sodom (23-26)

By the time Lot arrived at Zoar, the sun had fully risen; as he entered, Yahweh rained sulfur and fire down from heaven on the area surrounding Sodom. Many theories have been given as to what happened, but it is likely the pressures of the gases beneath the earth in that area erupted, sending fire and sulfur into the heavens, raining it back down. The eruption also may have created a topographical change in the land, bringing the Dead Sea to cover the cities. All of this is speculation, but often God would mix nature with His own timing to perform certain miracles.

As Lot was entering the city, his wife lingered behind, just outside the city, and seemed to have been caught in the debris of sulfur and brimstone falling from the heavens. Those outside the city ran toward it to escape the debris falling from the sky and noticed Lot’s wife entombed by sulfur, as she was looking back and watching her home be destroyed.

Lot's wife served as a warning to followers not to look back longingly at the world they were seeking to escape (Luke 17:32).

In the disaster, four cities were destroyed (Deuteronomy 29:23).

Abraham's Observation (27-29)

It would seem that, on the same morning, Abraham went back to the place where he had stood with Yahweh and interceded for Sodom and now discovered its burning like a furnace. Not even ten righteous had been found in the city after all—only four or maybe three.

Abraham would come to learn his nephew was saved because God had remembered his prayers and deemed Lot righteous (2 Peter 2:7).

Lot's Fear and Sin (30-38)

Lot, not being able to fully trust the word of the angels, left Zoar and moved his two daughters to the hills to live out of a cave. Lot left the hills in greed for a lush valley, only to return to the hill out of fear (30). Lot's daughters, being absent of faith themselves, assumed they would never be marriage-material living like fugitives in a cave, so they devised a plan to become pregnant. They figured their father was so emotionally desolate that he was easy prey for drunkenness. They schemed to get their father so drunk that he would not know what he was doing. The firstborn daughter would sleep with him first, and the second night the second-born would sleep with him. Their plot worked perfectly. Lot became so drunk that he didn't know when they had come in to sleep with him, nor when they had left him. Nine months later, he knew his grandsons were also his sons, one named Moab and the other named Ben-ammi. These two sons formed two nations—Moab, the first born, and the Ammonites, the second born—and played huge roles in the history of Israel as they moved to conquer the land promised to them. Notice their territory on the map below.

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