This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at www.fbcroxana.com.
God destroyed the world by a Great Flood when His Spirit was no longer able to strive with mankind’s wickedness (cf. Gen 6:3, 7). He made a covenant with all living creatures that He would never again destroy the earth by a Flood (cf. Gen 9:11). This begs the question: if mankind became so vile in their depravity after 1600 years that God had to destroy the earth, how would God stop the earth from being overrun by wickedness again so that He would never again destroy every living thing as He had done (cf. Gen 8:21)?
This answer is found in Genesis 10 and 11. God commanded the people to scatter across the face of the earth, but some disobeyed and began to build an empire that had Babel as its capitol under its leader, Nimrod (Gen 10:9-10). God confused the language of the earth, so that they all spoke different languages and had no choice but to obey His command to scatter. The result of this is that the peoples of the earth dwelled apart from one another and were secluded from each other because of language.
Thus, they were unable to cooperate with each other in evil, and their wickedness would not overrun the earth as it had previously—at least, not until mankind could unravel the language barrier and overcome the geography problem. But during this time, there would be no necessity of a worldwide judgment, for the people could not work together toward their evil goals. However, societies tend toward evil, and once a society is overrun by evil, God blots it out (cf. Gen 15:16). This is the case in this chapter with Sodom and Gomorrah.
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. 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.”
Lot had not only moved into the city of Sodom, but he was now sitting at the gates of the city as an elder among the people. Only Lot demonstrated the same hospitality as Abraham toward the two angels. It must have been apparent to all that these two men were angels, and Lot may have caught onto the lust that was already developing in the hearts of the people.
They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.” 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.
This is more than courteous hospitality. There is an urgency in Lot’s refusal to let the angels spend the night in the square. He wanted to protect these strangers to the best of his ability.
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; 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.”
The text is clear that all the men of the city had Lot’s house surrounded. There was not one who had declined the invitation of lustful revelry. The men did not hide their intentions from Lot. They wanted to have sexual relations (literally “know” the men as a man ‘knows’ his wife) with the angels. Whether they realized the men were angels in disguise or not, this is a perverted request that only demonstrates what the LORD already knew about the people of Sodom.
6 But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, 7 and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. 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 was attempting to act righteously, although he missed the mark. In a cowardly act of attempted appeasement, he offered his own virgin daughters to the crowd of men. However, his protection of the strangers is commendable.
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.”
Such is the reaction of the depraved mind of unregenerate men. Anyone who would admonish them to cease from their sin and be righteous is attacked as too judgmental and intolerant. And the depraved mind’s only acceptable reaction to perceived intolerance is retaliation.
So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 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.
The angels step in on Lot’s behalf. He had tried to protect them as a good host should, but it was too much for him. The circumstances demanded miraculous intervention, so the angels blinded the men so that they could not see. Amazingly, the mob was so caught up in their raging lust that they were still trying to find the doorway to break it down.
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; 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.” 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.
Lot believed the word of the angels, and went to wake up his future sons-in-law. But when he told them of the imminent wrath of God upon the city, they laughed at him. They thought he was joking. When he continued to prepare to leave the city, they probably started thinking he was insane. But the point is that they did not believe him.
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.” 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. 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.”
Lot was quick to believe, but slow to obey. It was only the compassion of the LORD that saved him that day. The angels now gave him a simple command and an assurance. They told him to flee from the mountains where the judgment would not harm him, and they assured him that the judgment would not begin until Lot and his family were well away from danger.
18 But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords! 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; 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.” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.
The angel allowed Lot’s request, assuring him that judgment would not befall the town of Zoar. The people there, being in proximity to Sodom, were likely as wicked as Sodom, but now there would be righteous people dwelling among them and saving them from judgment.
23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
What is interesting about this verse is the presence of two LORDs, one on earth and one in heaven. This was always a problem that the Rabbis went to great lengths to resolve. However, there need be no resolution when the fullness of revelation is brought to bear, specifically the doctrine of the Trinity. There is only one LORD, but He is three persons. And we have two identified in this verse, acting in concert to bring about the will of the Godhead.
Fire and brimstone rained out of the sky to fall upon the cities, the valley, the people, and the vegetation. It was total destruction. There was nothing left. Only salt. This destruction is still evident on a map of the Promised Land. Lot’s wife also suffered the same fate as the city when she turned to look at it.
27 Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the LORD; 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. 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.
In this way, Lot was blessed because of Abraham. There were only three who did not perish in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. The LORD had told Abraham that He would spare the city if there were ten righteous. But there were not ten righteous people to be found. So God spared righteous Lot and his family on account of Abraham.
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.
After making such a fuss about fleeing to Zoar instead of the mountains, Lot ends up going to dwell in the mountains. It is unclear as to whether he feared the wickedness of the people would spark another judgment or if he feared that the people would blame him for what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps he feared both.
While they were living in the cave, things must have seemed rather bleak. The family had lost everything. Lot had lost his wife and the girls had lost their mother. The two girls had lost the prospect of marriage. They had lost their servants and their wealth. They had lost their home and position in the community. What was to be done? How would their family reorient itself? They were close to being completely destroyed, so they needed heirs to carry on the family name. But where were these heirs to come from? They were living in seclusion. So the two girls hatched a scheme.
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. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.” 33 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. 34 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.” 35 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. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.
It was probably easy to get Lot to drink. He was mourning the death of his wife and the loss of his possessions. He probably succumbed quickly to the urging of his daughters to drink enough wine to completely black out. Through the incestual acts that followed, both daughters became pregnant with sons.
37 The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 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.
Both of these boys would multiply and become nations. And both of these nations would be bitter enemies of Israel.
God punishes unrighteousness, and He will not punish the wicked while the righteous are in their midst. None are righteous on their own. Everyone has sinned, and deserves death at God’s hand. But God, full of grace and mercy, sent His Son to take away the sins of all those in the world who believe so that they would be righteous. Jesus died on the cross, the spotless lamb offered unto God to make propitiation. In doing so, He took the wrath of God upon Himself so that those who believe in Him will never have to face it. God counts the sins of the sinner as paid in full and attributes Christ’s righteousness to the sinner so that no longer is he a sinner, but a son. It is a free gift from God. All one must do to receive it is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent from sin.
Read Chapter 20