Introduction: God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the most controversial chapters in the Old Testament. Bible skeptics point to it to allege that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. Some allege that He is wrathful in the Old Testament while graceful in the New Testament. Modern society has further declared same sex conduct a civil right, comparable to the civil rights given to blacks and women. To some, the contents of this chapter are nothing short of “hate speech.” Reading its contents out loud could get you fired, sued, and possibly prosecuted. Liberal theologians have tried to accommodate what is now considered to be politically correct. Some claim that God judged Sodom and Gomorrah because the people were inhospitable, not because of their same sex acts.
These views are all mistaken. Jesus cited many times the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah to warn that an even worse judgment is coming during the end times. This end time warning is further cited repeatedly throughout the Bible. The same God who judged Sodom and Gomorrah will one day judge the world. While it is true that one of Sodom and Gomorrah’s many sins was inhospitality, Jude clarifies that God ultimately judged them for going after “strange flesh.” God’s standards of morality are never popular. Jesus warns that the world will persecute those who follow Him. Jesus calls you to be His salt and light, even if it makes you unpopular. From this chapter, He reveals seven warnings about the end times for you to share with others. These include warnings against (1) spiritual self-centeredness; (2) spiritual blindness; (3) spiritual deafness; (4) spiritual procrastination; (5) spiritual dual mindedness; (6) the need for mankind to repent and accept Jesus in faith; and (7) the need for all to show gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice.
First, Lot was the only man in Sodom willing to care for strangers. Centuries later, the prophet Ezekiel explained that the sins that Jerusalem shared with Sodom included self-centeredness in the forms of arrogance, gluttony, and failure to help the poor and needy (Ezek. 16:49-50). From this the Apostle Timothy reveals that people in the end times will be, among other things, lovers of themselves with no love for those in need (2 Tim. 3:2). Second, while in Sodom, all of the men demand to sodomize God’s angels. Centuries later, Jude explained that the men “indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, . . .” (Jude 1:7). To stop the men, the angels temporarily blinded them. From this, God reveals people during the end times will be “spiritually blind’ to God’s standards of morality. Third, after the angels warned Lot that they were about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s future sons-in-law refused to heed his warning to flee. From this, God warns that people during the end times will be “spiritually deaf” to God’s Word and Spirit. Fourth, when the moment of destruction came, Lot procrastinated in responding to the angels’ warnings. The angels had to grab his hand and drag him out. From this, God warns that people in the end times will be “spiritual procrastinators” in searching out the truth. Fifth, after being warned not to look back, Lot’s wife turned back to her home. God then judged her by turning her into salt. Jesus later cited Lot's wife for the proposition that a person must lose their life here to find it in heaven (Lk. 17:32-33). From her judgment, God warns that people of the end times will be “spiritually double minded.” Sixth, because of their wickedness, God judged Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus repeatedly cited this destruction to warn that the judgment many will suffer during the end times will be even worse (Matt. 10:15; Lk. 17:29). Finally, Lot’s family failed to show gratitude for their salvation. Instead, they got drunk and had incest on two consecutive nights. Like Lot’s family, all have sinned. From this, God reveals that you should thank Jesus for being spared from eternal judgment.
Lot, the only man in Sodom willing to care for strangers. When the angels of the Lord arrived at Sodom, Lot showed courtesy in greeting them and offering them a place to stay and refresh themselves. The angels, however, knew of the people’s self-love and hostility toward strangers. Thus, they initially planned to spend the night maintaining a vigil in the town square: “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.’ 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.” (Gen. 19:1-3). Lot was a wayward and carnal man. Yet, he was still deemed righteous through his faith by following after God’s promise to Abraham: “and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men” (2 Pet. 2:7). His self-sacrifice showed that God’s love was within him.
Lot’s hospitality to the angels1
Don’t be self-centered and uncaring toward others in need. Centuries later, the prophet Ezekiel later gave context to the angels’ distrust and vigilance while in Sodom. They knew that the people were self-centered, cruel, and inhospitable: “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.” (Ezek. 16:49-50). Like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah people during the end times will care only about themselves. They will show no compassion for the helpless: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Tim. 3:2).
The parallel account of Benjamities’ failure to grant a traveling Levite’s family lodging. To confirm that self-centeredness is sin that God will judge, He repeats this account through a similar story of the Benjamites in the town of Gibeah who refused to give a traveling Levite and his concubine lodging. Like Lot, only one man in the town eventually stepped forward to help them: “14 So they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 15 They turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When they entered, they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night. 16 Then behold, an old man was coming out of the field from his work at evening. Now the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was staying in Gibeah, but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17 And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, ‘Where are you going, and where do you come from?’ 18 He said to him, ‘We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah. But I am now going to my house, and no man will take me into his house. 19 Yet there is both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, your maidservant, and the young man who is with your servants; there is no lack of anything.’ 20 The old man said, ‘Peace to you. Only let me take care of all your needs; however, do not spend the night in the open square.’ 21 So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet and ate and drank.” (Jdgs. 19:14-21). Western society has become similarly self-centered. Unless it changes its ways, it will also be judged.
Be kind to strangers, foreigners, and help those in need. The Jews were commanded to treat a foreigner in need of help with respect: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:33-34). “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 22:21). “So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Dt. 10:19). These commands also applied to a fellow Jew in need of help: “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.” (Lev. 25:35). This directive to be kind to strangers also applies to Christians: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2). The people of the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, and later Gibeah dishonored God by failing to show compassion to those in need. They loved only themselves. Their lack of compassion provides a warning to western society. Western society has become cold hearted towards the needs of immigrants, the poor, and others in need of help. Unless it changes its ways, God will also judge it.
Be a refuge to strangers in need. Today, Christ is your refuge when you lack protection (Heb. 6:18-20). In turn, He wants you to be a light of His hope to others (Matt. 5:14). You can also show your love for Christ when you help strangers in need: “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;” (Matt. 25:35). “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2; Ro. 12:13). Are you a refuge and a source of hope for strangers in need?
The men of Sodom demand to sodomize God’s angels. When the angels of the Lord arrived at Lot’s house, the men of Sodom surrounded the house demanding that Lot release what they believed were men so that they could rape and sodomize them: “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.’ 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.’ 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.’ 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.” (Gen. 19:4-11). Moses points out that this was not the act of a few rogue individuals. It was the act of men “both young and old, all the people from every quarter.” (Gen. 19:4). In other words, their actions were socially accepted there.
The parallel account of Benjamities’ attempt to rape and sodomize a traveling Levite. With nearly identical words, the Bible recounts how a Benjamite city centuries later attempted to rape and sodomize a traveling Levite: “22 While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him.’ 23 Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, ‘No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly. 24 Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man.’” (Jdgs. 19:22-24). In the book of Judges, the host’s offer of two daughters to protect the Levite from sodomy was the same offer that Lot made in Sodom (Gen. 19:7-8). In the Bible, God repeats a matter to both confirm it and to emphasize it (2 Cor. 13:1). This is also a warning Western societies.
Lot urges the men of Sodom not to engage in evil2
God’s prohibition against same sex acts. Just as it was during the times of Sodom and Gomorrah and the time of the Judges, Western society has come to embrace same sex acts as a civil right. Those who disagree are shamed as homophobic bigots. Yet, no matter how unpopular it may be for people in society today to hear it, same sex acts are against God’s Law: ‘“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” (Lev. 18:22). For the unsaved, the penalty was also death: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” (Lev. 20:13). God even barred cross-dressing: “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Dt. 22:5). If God ran for office today based upon His views, He would be ridiculed as a homophobic bigot. He would be demeaned and rejected. Yet, He warns: ‘“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8).
Examples of same sex acts punished in the Old Testament. Unlike other sins, God also punished entire populations for same sex acts. There are two examples of this in the Old Testament. First, through Noah, He cursed Ham for getting his father Noah drunk and then sodomizing his father. This curse extended to Ham’s descendants in Canaan (Gen. 9:24-25). But He did not curse Ham’s other descendants because they did not adopt the same values. Second, God found the sexual sins of Sodom and Gomorrah to be exceedingly great (Gen. 18:20). He did not limit His punishment to the men who tried to rape His angels. Instead, He destroyed both cities, including all the men, women, and children (Gen. 19:24). The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all later referred to His judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah as a historic fact with warnings for His people to repent (Is. 1:9; Jer. 50:40; Ez. 16:49-50). If someone wanted to excise out of the Old Testament every book which now contains “politically incorrect” condemnations of same sex acts, that person would need to remove the books of Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. If this included all of Moses’ writings, we would need to add Exodus and Numbers. Without these books, there would be little left of the Old Testament.
The New Testament prohibition against same sex acts. In the New Testament, Paul affirmed that same sex acts remain prohibited under God’s Law, even after Jesus’ death: “[A]nd in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Ro. 1:27). For the unsaved, the penalty for this conduct also bars entry into heaven: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Although some now teach that the sin of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Gibeah was unkindness toward strangers, the New Testament makes clear that the primary sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was sexual perversion: “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7). Like Paul, Peter also warned that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah would bring God’s judgment: “if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;” (2 Pet. 2:6). Jesus also cited to the example of Sodom and Gomorrah to warn of the sins that were severe enough to bring judgment upon entire cities and countries, not just individuals: “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” (Matt. 10:15). “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matt. 11:24). “I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.” (Luke 10:12). Jesus also said that God created people male and female for marriage (Matt. 19:4). If someone wanted to excise out of the New Testament every book which now contains “politically incorrect” condemnations of same sex acts, that person would need to remove the books of Matthew, Luke, Romans, Corinthians, Jude, and Peter. Throughout the entire Bible, this totals 13 of the books. Without Jesus, Paul, or Peter, there would also be little reason to even have a New Testament. Paul said that he was not ashamed of the Gospel: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Ro. 1:16). Are you ashamed of God’s Word?
God’s warning that the world will hate you when you embrace His morality. Believing in God’s Word is never easy. Indeed, if you embrace it, Jesus warns that the world will hate you: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (Jo. 15:19). “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22). Will you stand by the Word, even if you are hated?
The New Testament warns against all sins of the flesh. God did not single out same sex acts as the only prohibited sexual act today. He instead bars all sexual acts of the flesh outside of a Biblical marriage. “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;” (Eph. 5:3). “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,” (Gal. 5:19). “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18). Jesus also warned that all kinds of “sexual impurities” defile a man (Matt. 15:19-20; Mark 7:20-23). Are you fleeing the temptations of sexual immorality?
Don’t be spiritually blinded by the world. Throughout the Bible, many suffered a physical blindness so that God could show them that they had become spiritually blind inside. For example, Jesus put scales over Paul’s eyes to show him that he had become spiritual blind (Acts 9:18). Eventually, a believer will become numb to sin (1 Tim. 4:2). In Paul’s case, he was persecuting God’s people and could not even see the errors of his ways until Jesus blinded him. Throughout the Old Testament, God imposed physical blindness to show believers when they suffered from blindness on the inside: ‘“Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.’ And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand.” (Acts 13:11). “The Lord will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart; and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.” (Dt. 28:27-29; Ex. 10:21). “We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, . . .” (Is. 59:10(a)). “By day they meet with darkness, and grope at noon as in the night.” (Job 5:14; 12:25; 38:15). “They wandered, blind, in the streets; . .” (Lam. 4:14(a); Amos 8:9). “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” (Prov. 4:19). “When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Strike this people with blindness, I pray.’ So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:18). A person is blind to their sins when they can no longer see their sins. Are you salt and light to persons who try to rationalize their sins?
Don’t take advantage of someone blinded to their sins. A believer should also never seek to take advantage of someone who has become spiritually blinded: “14 You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.’” (Lev. 19:14). “‘Cursed is he who misleads a blind person on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Dt. 27:18). Instead, pray for God to lift their scales.
Only God can open the eyes of the blind. God alone can open the eyes of the sinner who is blinded by sin. “The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.” (Psalm 146:8). “The LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?’” (Ex. 4:11). Jesus showed that He is God by healing the blind (e.g., Jo. 9:1-12). Are you praying for Jesus to lift any scales that might be blinding you to sin? Are you also praying and fasting for Jesus to lift the scales covering the eyes of western society?
The refusal of Lot’s future sons-in-law to heed his warning to flee. When it came time to flee, Lot’s future sons-in-law ignored his warnings: “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.” (Gen. 19:12-14). Lot had become so compromised in his walk that God’s warnings spoken through him had no impact. Western society needs to hear the warnings given to these sons-in-law. The Church needs to heed the warning of Lot.
Don’t become spiritually deaf to God’s warnings and blinded by sin. Isaiah later condemned the people of Sodom for also refusing to hear God’s warnings: “Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah.” (Is. 1:10). Like the people of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Gibeah, society has become numb to the pervasive sexual sins throughout it. This is also one of the warning signs of the end times: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,” (2 Pet. 3:3). “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” (Jude 1:18(b)). “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Tim. 4:1). Like Lot’s future sons-in-law, when society embraces the desires of the flesh over God’s morality, it becomes spiritually blind and deaf: “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” (2 Pet. 1:9). “Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see; who have ears but do not hear.” (Jer. 5:21). “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” (Is. 6:10). “They have closed their unfeeling heart, with their mouth they speak proudly.” (Ps. 17:10; Matt. 13:15). Today, pornography, adultery, fornication, and sex outside of a Biblical marriage are all acceptable. Society no longer is shocked or even offended by these sins. Are you willing to stand up for God’s standards of sexual morality, even when you are ridiculed for doing so? (Ro. 1:16). Like Lot, are you a compromised witness for God?
Lot’s procrastination in responding to the angels’ warnings. Lot proved to be no better than his two sons-in-law. When it came time to flee, he procrastinated and had to be dragged out of the city. He then pleaded with the angels to stay in a nearby town without having to flee to the mountains: “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.’ 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.” (Gen. 19:15-22). Lot showed that he had no concern for either God’s warnings or the gravity of the situation. He would respond when the timing was right in his mind. The name of the town where he wanted to stay “Zoar” translates as “smallness.” Its original name was Bela (Gen. 14:2; 8). The new name signified his narrow focus on his own needs instead of God’s Kingdom. His procrastination and narrow concerns provide warnings to the Church and western society.
Be prepared for the Rapture. Unlike Lot and his future sons-in-law, you must be alert at all times for Jesus’ return. Jesus used the analogy of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to convey both the sudden and unexpected nature of the Rapture: “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Lk. 17:28-9). “I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.” (Lk. 17:34-6; Matt. 24:40-41). “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” (Matt. 24:42). “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; . . . so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” (1 Thess. 5:3-4, 6; 1 Pet. 5:8). Are you putting off until later the need to repent of your sins and follow after Christ?
God’s judgment of Lot’s wife for turning back. As Lot’s family fled and God’s judgment upon Sodom began, He judged Lot’s wife by turning her into salt when she looked back longingly at her former home: “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.” (Gen. 19:23-26). In the Bible, salt is frequently used as a symbol of God’s judgment. For example, salt was scattered on captured cities to destroy crops (Dt. 29:23; Jgs. 9:45; Ps. 137:34; Jer. 17:5-6; 48:9; Zeph. 2:9). Jesus warned that He has meant for each believer to be a witness and a rebuke to sin in the world. Yet, He cannot use you if you are compromised by sin: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matt. 5:13). Once a person loses his or her moral “saltiness” it is hard to get it back: “Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again?” (Mark 9:50). Have you lost your saltiness to sin?
Albrecht Dürer 1471 – 1528 (Lot and his family flee from Sodom) (1496)3
Lot’s wife turns back and is turned into a pillar of salt4
Give up your old life for the new life God offers. Jesus also used the example of Lot’s wife to warn that a person must lose their life to find it: “Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Lk. 17:32-33; Matt. 10:39; Mk. 8:35; Jo. 12:25). Are you still clinging to the world over what God offers?
Don’t be double minded. Jesus also warns not to be double minded like Lot’s wife between this world and Him. A person like Lot’s wife who longs for the things of the world over what He offers is not fit for His Kingdom: “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’” (Lk. 9:62). “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” (Phil. 3:13). “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jam. 4:4). A double minded person is also unstable, filled with doubt and will not have his or her prayers heard: “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jam. 1:6-8). Is your allegiance torn between the things of God and things of the world in any area?
God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Although Abraham had prayed as an intercessor, God found none within Sodom and Gomorrah who did not deserve judgment. Only through mercy and grace did He save Lot and his daughters: “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.” (Gen. 19:27-29). The beginning of all wisdom is to fear God (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Ps. 111:10). The Bible defines fearing God as hating evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; . . .” (Prov. 8:13(a)). Thus, if you want to fear God, you must love sinners but hate their sins.
When unrepentant sin runs unchecked, God will lift His hedge of protection. God can be a shield to those who take refuge in Him (Prov. 30:5; 2 Sam. 22:31). Yet, when a nation turns from Him, His shield of protection will be removed (Lev. 26:14-39; Dt. 28:15-68). These lessons apply today as well. If the western world will not turn back to God, He will not bless the nations with his hedge of protection against evil. Like a person without a roof over their home, the people will be exposed to all the attacks of the evil one.
In the end times, God will judge the world like Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus used the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to warn that the world will suffer a worse fate on Judgment Day: “but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Lk. 17:29). “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” (Matt. 10:15). “and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;” (2 Pet. 2:6). “he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:10). These warnings also appeared throughout the Old Testament: “And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans’ pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” (Is. 13:19). ‘“All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.”’ (Dt. 29:23). ‘“As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah with its neighbors,’ declares the LORD, ‘No man will live there, nor will any son of man reside in it.”’ (Jer. 50:40). “For the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands were turned toward her.” (Lam. 4:6). ‘“I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.” (Amos 4:11). “Come forth from her midst, My people, and each of you save yourselves from the fierce anger of the LORD.” (Jer. 51:45). “With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone.” (Ezek. 38:22). “Upon the wicked He will rain snares; fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.” (Ps. 11:6). Are you warning nonbelievers of God’s impending judgment and their need to repent to Jesus?
Don’t allow strongholds of evil to be rebuilt in your life. God burned and destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah, and later Gibeah: “they also set on fire all the cities which they found.” (Jdgs. 20:48). Through the Jews, He also burned the fortress of Jericho and the city of Ai (Josh. 8:28). Satan will use any opportunity to rebuild a stronghold of evil in your life. You might renounce an evil vice and stay true to your vows for a period of time. Yet, Satan will look for opportunities to rebuild those strongholds brick by brick when your guard is down. If you are not vigilant, he will cause you to keep adding bricks back until you imprison yourself again in sin. Thus, you must ruthlessly remove all evil influences in your life (Matt. 5:29-30; 18:8; Mk. 9:43). Are you staying vigilant in keeping yourself free from the things that once imprisoned you? If you feel trapped, turn to Jesus for strength.
The failure of Lot and his daughters to show gratitude for their salvation. After being saved from God’s judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah, neither Lot nor his daughters thanked God for their unearned salvation. Instead, Lot’s daughters turned to the same type of wickedness that brought His judgment by sleeping with their father: “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. 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. 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.” (Gen. 19:30-38). Lot represents the carnal believers of the world. They are saved by faith alone. But they show little to no appreciation for Christ. They go on reliving the same sins that Christ died for on the cross.
Antonio Bellucci 1654 – 1726 (Lot and his Daughters) (1680)5
Lucas van Leyden 1494 – 1533 (Lot and his Daughters) (1521)6
Lot’s failure to thank God for his undeserved mercy and grace. Lot never deserved to be in the Promised Land in the first place. God told Abraham to leave his entire family behind in Ur (Gen. 12:1). When he shared in Abraham’s blessings, Lot later quarreled with Abraham. To resolve the conflict, Abraham gave Lot the first choice of any of Abraham’s lands. Lot chose Sodom based upon what seemed pleasing to his eyes (Gen. 13:10-13). Yet, like Eve in the Garden of Eden, his decisions were guided by what looked pleasing to his flesh. King Chedorlaomer later captured Lot while he lived in Sodom (Gen. 14:12). Abraham later freed Lot from captivity (Gen. 14:13-16). Yet, Lot willingly returned to his place of captivity. When the angels arrived at Sodom, they found Lot sitting at the gate (Gen. 19:1). The gate of the city was the place where city elders gathered to conduct business. This suggested that Lot had become a public leader of Sodom. The evil men of Sodom thought Lot represented them so well that they made him their representative. When saved from Sodom’s destruction, he bought alcohol and got drunk with his daughters. He would have known of his incest after his first drunken incident. But he then got drunk again and allowed it to happen again. While in Sodom, he invited the men to rape his daughters. He later violated them himself. He deserved to die in Sodom. He is like the carnal believers who use God’s mercy and grace as a license to sin. Have you given thanks for your mercy and grace? If you are continuing to sin, how grateful are you for what Christ did for you?
The parallels and contrasts between Abraham and Lot. Bible scholar Kenneth Mathews observes that Genesis chapters 18 and 19 start off with remarkable similarities between Abraham and Lot. Yet, as the stories progress, the contrast shows the differences between the man of the faith and the man of the flesh: “1. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent (18:1). Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city (19:1). 2. When he saw them [the angels], he hurried toward them (18:2). When he saw them, he got up to meet them (19:1). 3. and bowed low to the ground (18:2). and bowed with his face to the ground (19:1). 4. please do not let your servant by (18:3). please turn aside to your servant’s house (19:2). 5. Where is your wife, Sarah? (18:9). Where are the men. . . ? (19:5). 6. Sarah laughed (18:12, 13, 15). his sons-in-law thought he was joking (19:14). 7. The outcry against Sodom/Gomorrah is so great (18:20). (their) outcry . . . is so great (19:13). 8. sweep away (18:23-4). swept away (19:17). 9. I will spare the whole place (18:26). I will grant this request (19:21). 10. The Lord promises a son (18:10). Lot offers his daughters (19:8). 11. Abraham will be the father of many nations (18:18). Lot is asked if he has sons-in-law, sons, and daughters (19:12). 12. Abraham pleads for the few righteous (18:23-32). Lot pleads for himself (19:18-20). 13. Abraham and Sarah live in a tent (18:6, 9, 10). Lot and his daughters dwell in a cave (19:30-38). 14. “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (18:17). “because we are going to destroy this place.” (19:13). 15. The Lord promises mercy to the few righteous (18:26-32). Lot receives mercy (19:16, 21-23, 29). 16. The Lord will judge the guilty (18:21b, 26-32). The Lord destroys the cities and Lot’s wife (19:24-26).” (Kenneth Mathews, The New American Commentary, Gen. 11:27-50:26, Vol. 1B (B & H Publishing Group Nashville, TN 2005) p. 212-213). Mathews adds: “The similarities between chaps 18 and 19 (see above) point up the dissimilarities of the two men: Abraham hosts the visitors in safety at his tent (18:1), whereas Lot welcomes the angels to his house (19:1-2), who are put at jeopardy among the Sodomites; the visitors gladly comply with Abraham’s request to dine (18:5b), but the angels reluctantly agree to Lot’s histrionic insistence (19:2b-3a; cp. Jdg 13:16); Abraham’s meal ‘in the heat of the day’ (18:1) includes the delicacies of the fattened calf and curds, but the arrival of the angels ‘in the evening’ (19:1) catches Lot unprepared, and he offers only a meal of unleavened bread (19:3) and Abraham and Sarah scurry about to serve the guests, with Abraham attending to the seated men (18:8c); but Lot is not prepared, and his wife is not mentioned (19:3). Another striking contrast is their respective roles as progenitors of new nations. Lot generates two nations (19:30-38) but ignorantly, whereas Abraham is deliberately and honorably the ‘father of many nations’ (17:5).” (Id. at 213). Abraham’s actions were focused on others. By contrast, Lot was mostly focused on himself.
Don’t use your freedom in Christ to return to your old sins. Sin cannot cause you to lose your salvation. Yet, those who are freed and willingly return to sin face the greater judgment: “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” (2 Pet. 2:20-21). “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” (Prov. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:22). Jesus has also freed you from the consequences of your sins. Have you returned to any old sin that Christ freed you from?
Give thanks that you have escaped judgment for your sins of the flesh. Except for God’s mercy and grace, all mankind would have suffered the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah: “Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a few survivors, we would be like Sodom, we would be like Gomorrah.” (Is. 1:9). “And just as Isaiah foretold, ‘Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, we would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah’” (Ro. 9:29). “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Eph. 2:3). “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Ps. 51:5). After God saved Noah and his family from the Flood, Noah built an altar of gratitude to God (Gen. 8:20). He knew that he did not deserve to be saved. Likewise, when God delivered Abraham, he also built altars to show his gratitude (Gen. 12:8; 13:3-4, 18; 22:9). He knew that he did not deserve God’s mercy and grace. Isaac later followed in his father’s example by building an altar of gratitude to Yahweh (Gen. 26:25). If you are thankful, Paul urges you to make your life a “living sacrifice” of gratitude (Ro 12:1). Is your life a living sacrifice of gratitude? Or, are you focused on just yourself?
God’s mercy and grace in using Lot for the greater good. Abraham might have felt his intercessory prayers were worthless. God promised to save the cities if He could find 10 righteous people. In fact, there were none. Yet, He still saved Lot and his daughters because it was part of His greater plan. They founded the nations of Moab and Ammon. Approximately 400 years later, the Jews became enemies of those two nations. Yet, God still protected them from the Jews when they approached the Promised Land: “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the sons of Lot as a possession.”’ (Dt. 2:9; same for Ammon: 2:19, 37). God used this line of the flesh for the benefit of all mankind. Ruth was a Moabite and a descendant of Lot (Ruth 1:4). She married a Jew named Boaz. Their grandson was David (Ruth 4:17). Jesus later came from their line (Matt. 1:1). Thus, God used the line of Moab to bring the salvation offered through Jesus to gentiles across the world (Jo. 3:16). The lesson is that God can use even your mistakes for His glory. Give thanks that He can use you even when you sin like Lot.