Before we begin looking at Genesis chapter nineteen, you should be warned that we are about to meet a very dysfunctional family in this chapter. In fact, this family is messed up in almost every way possible, and no matter how bad you may think your family is, you’ll soon find out that this family in Genesis nineteen is much, much worse. Anyway, we’ll take a look at how this family got to be so messed up and we’ll also look at some ways that we can avoid making those same kinds of mistakes.
Now in the previous chapter, we saw how three men (who actually turned out to be God and two angelic beings in disguise) suddenly showed up to visit Abraham. Abraham invited them in for dinner and afterwards, God told Abraham that He was going to personally investigate some things that were happening in a town called Sodom. There had been some bad reports about things that were going on there and God decided to send two of His angelic agents to check it out and see if those reports were true.
But before this fact finding mission began, Abraham first asked God to promise not to destroy the city if there were a minimum of ten righteous people living there. You see, Abraham probably knew that things were pretty bad in Sodom, but he also knew that his nephew Lot was living there as well. If there were only ten righteous people living within the city, Abraham calculated that the lives of many people could be saved- including the life of his nephew. God then graciously agreed to accept Abraham’s proposal and spare the city if ten righteous people could be found there.
So now these two angelic special agents -disguised as ordinary human beings- have reached the city and are ready to begin their assignment…
“The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. ‘My lords,’ he said, ‘please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.’
‘No,’ they answered, ‘we will spend the night in the square.’ But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate” (Genesis 19:1-3).
So far, so good, right? Unfortunately, things are about to start going downhill very quickly for Lot and his family- and it all started with a choice that Lot made many years earlier.
Now you may remember that when we saw Abraham’s nephew Lot back in Genesis chapter thirteen, we read this…
“…Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together” (Genesis 13:5-6).
That situation was obviously something that couldn’t go on for very long, so Abraham came up with a solution…
So Abraham made a very generous offer to Lot and the next section of Genesis chapter thirteen tells us how Lot decided to respond to that offer…
“Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram” (Genesis 13:10-11 NLT).
When we looked at this chapter earlier, we pointed out that Lot based his decision on one thing- he saw the advantages of one particular area of land and immediately accepted Abraham’s offer to go there. The problem with this is that Lot apparently didn’t give any consideration to what God wanted him to do in this situation.
For example, there’s no record to indicate that Lot prayed before making this decision, or that he sought any Godly advice before making this move. In fact, there’s no indication that Lot gave any thought to God at all. Lot apparently based his decision on one thing: “What looks best for me right now?”
Unfortunately, many people today also seem to follow this decision-making example by determining what they think is best for them first without really considering the long-term consequences. One good way to avoid this mistake is to ask God to provide you with His guidance and direction in the decisions that you have to make each day. Lot didn’t do that- and that mistake is about to get him into some really big trouble.
“The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city” (Gen 19:1a).
If you’re someone with an eye for detail, you may have noticed that Lot has been steadily moving in a certain direction since he split up with Abraham in Genesis chapter thirteen.
You see, Genesis 13:12 tells us that Lot originally “pitched his tent toward Sodom” after leaving his uncle Abraham. “Pitching his tent toward Sodom” is a poetic way of saying that Lot was living somewhere near the city at that time. Then later on in Genesis 14:12, we find that Lot was actually “…living in Sodom.”
Now here in Genesis chapter nineteen, we see that Lot was sitting in the gateway of Sodom when these angelic beings arrived. So it seems that Lot had become more active and involved with this city over time: first he lived on the outskirts of Sodom, then he moved into the city, and now he was sitting at the city gate.
So what’s the big deal about sitting at the “city gate?” Well, the “city gate” was the center of a city’s daily activity in those days. The city gate was generally built as an arched entranceway with room for seats on both sides of the arch. This gateway area served as the place where business activities took place and court sessions were held (see Joshua 20:4 and Ruth 4:1 for some examples).
According to one source, Lot’s actions in Genesis 19:1 indicate that he held some sort of official position in Sodom. His job was not only to give an official welcome to visitors but also to investigate the nature of any strangers who might arrive. (1) So it appears that Lot was more than just an ordinary citizen who was living in Sodom; he had actually become a very important person there.
So Lot greeted these two visitors and said, “‘…please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.’ ‘No,’ they answered, ‘we will spend the night in the square'” (Genesis 19:2).
If there were no inns or other places for a visitor to stay in those days, a traveler could always sleep outside in the town square. That’s apparently what these two angels planned to do as part of their fact-finding mission. But that sounded like a really bad idea to Lot- and we’ll soon find out why.
(1) Ray Steadman The Wasted Years http://www.raystedman.org/genesis/3667.html
“But (Lot) insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate” (Genesis 19:3).
Even though Lot’s angelic visitors tried to decline his hospitality, Lot simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. In fact, when it says that Lot “insisted” in the verse quoted above, the Bible uses a word that means to stubbornly urge or press. (1) It seems that Lot knew that being outside after dark in Sodom was a bad place for his visitors to be so he did his best to compel them to stay at his place for the night.
So Lot cooked a nice meal for his guests and everything seemed to be going OK. Unfortunately, Lot was about to find himself with a few more unexpected visitors…
“But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both old and young, all the people from every quarter. And they called to Lot, and said to him, ‘Where are the men which came in to you this night? Bring them out to us, that we may know them'” (Genesis 19:4-5).
You’ve heard the term, “actions speak louder than words,” right? Well, it turned out that these angels didn’t have to spend the night outside in the town square to find out what the people of Sodom were really like. They were apparently determined to demonstrate that for themselves.
Now the Biblical passage quoted above has been translated in a number of different ways depending on the particular Bible version you may be reading. For example, here’s how Genesis 19:5 appears in the following translations…
- “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally” (NKJV)
- “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them” (NAS)
- “Where are your visitors? Send them out, so we can have sex with them!” (CEV)
The word used for “know” in the New King James Version (NKJV) seen above is the same word that’s also used in Genesis 4:1 when it says, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.” That’s why the other Biblical versions quoted above translate this word as “sex” or “relations.” So this tells us that all the men of Sodom -from the youngest to the oldest according to verse four- wanted to homosexually gang-rape these two angelic beings.
(1) New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary
“Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, ‘No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing'” (Genesis 19:6-7).
Did you notice that this text specifically says that Lot shut the door behind him when he left the house to speak with this group? This suggests that Lot had to take the precautionary measure of shutting his own door to prevent one or more of these men from sneaking in behind him to get at his visitors inside the house. This one small detail illustrates just how aggressive the men of Sodom really were.
Lot first tried to deal with this situation by taking a “good neighbor” attitude in referring to these men as “my friends” or “my brothers” (RSV) in verse seven. But even though Lot tried to position himself as just another “one of the guys” with this approach, we’ll soon find out that these men weren’t feeling very neighborly towards him either.
Lot then tried to appeal to their moral conscience in saying, “…don’t do such a wicked thing!” (GNB). In other words, Lot essentially told these men, “Please stop what you’re doing because what you’re doing is wrong.” Lot’s attempt to handle this situation by using a moral line of reasoning is something that we should look at more closely because it helps to illustrate how different beliefs eventually translate into actions.
You see, the word “morality” is the term we use to identify the standard that describes what someone should or shouldn’t do. The problem was that Lot was dealing with a group of people who had a different standard of morality than he did. These men didn’t recognize that some things were right (meaning just, true, or lawful) and other things were wrong (or unjust, dishonest, or unlawful).
The people of Sodom obviously believed that the idea of “right and wrong” was dependant on someone’s personal opinion. While Lot saw their actions as wrong or wicked, these men obviously thought that what they were doing was OK. For the men of Sodom, their standard of morality was not based on anything that had to do with their Creator- it was clearly based on whatever they felt was right.
This concept is something that we refer to as “relativism” today -the idea that “right and wrong” is relative or dependant on whatever someone thinks or feels. You see, once someone rejects the standards of their Creator, then concepts like “right” and “wrong” become things that are determined by whatever that person thinks or feels. That’s what ultimately led to the actions we see here in Genesis chapter 19.
Lot then decided to try another approach. We’ll look at that approach next time, but get ready because you may not believe what Lot suggests next.
So after trying to reason with this group of sexual predators gathered outside his house, Lot decided to make an offer that is almost beyond belief…
“Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof” (Genesis 19:8).
This is the first real indication of how messed-up Lot’s family actually was. There’s really no other way to understand this suggestion except to say that Lot was actually offering to let this mob gang-rape his two teenage daughters. Ladies, how would you feel if Lot was your father and you were listening behind the door and heard him say that?
So how could Lot actually suggest something like this? Well, it’s possible that living in Sodom had messed up Lot’s thinking so much that he really believed that making an offer like this was somehow better than the alternative. Or maybe Lot was so scared that he said the first thing that came into his mind without really thinking about how horrible this suggestion really was. Or perhaps Lot had already guessed the true identity of his angelic visitors and felt that he had to go to any lengths to protect them- even to the point of sacrificing his own daughters. Even so, what Lot suggested was clearly wrong and there is no way to justify it.
But in the end, it turned out that Lot’s offer was rejected anyway…
“‘Get out of our way,’ they replied. And they said, ‘This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.’ They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door” (Genesis 19:9).
Can you get a feel for the intense level of violence that was going on here? These people were essentially saying to Lot, “Get out of our way so we can homosexually gang-rape your two houseguests. And when we get done with them, we’re going to do the same thing to you- only worse.”
But that’s not all they said; this also passage tells us that they said to Lot, “This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he’s acting like our judge!” (NLT). Like many people today, the men of Sodom seemed to feel as if no one else had the right to judge their actions. So here’s the question: was Lot wrong to “judge” their behavior and ask these men to stop what they were doing?
“‘Get out of our way,’ they replied. And they said, ‘This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge!'” (Genesis 19:9a).
Is it ever right to judge another person? Well, let’s take a look at what it actually means to “judge” someone else.
When used in this way, the word “judge” means “to deem, to think, (or) to have an opinion.” (1) This is important because it tells us that every decision or opinion that someone holds is actually a type of judgment.
So the question is really not, “is it right to judge someone else” because it’s impossible not to have some opinion on the words or actions of others. The real question is, “what kind of judgments are right?”
You see, the people of Sodom made some judgments too, but they had a different standard for judging what was right and wrong. For example, the men of Sodom obviously felt that Lot was wrong because his judgment didn’t agree with their judgment- and the reason that their judgments didn’t agree was probably because Lot recognized God as the ultimate authority and the people of Sodom didn’t. So these men also made a judgment- Lot was wrong because he called their actions wicked and then tried to stop them from doing what they wanted to do.
Now Lot’s attempt to handle this situation was clearly not going well, but fortunately for him, two rescuers happened to be close by…
“But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door” (Genesis 19:10-11).
Apparently the door to Lot’s house couldn’t be opened from the outside, so these angelic visitors had to push the door open from the inside and pull Lot back into the house before this mob could beat him up or trample him to death.
Then they bought some time: “…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” (NASB). Now it’s important to notice that the only action taken by these angels against the citizens of Sodom to this point involved this defensive act of self-protection to prevent these men from finding a way into Lot’s house.
This was clearly necessary because even after these men lost their sight, it says that they still wore themselves out looking for the door. This tells us just how relentless these men were in trying to satisfy their lust.
(1) See “Judge” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/judge
“The two men said to Lot, ‘Do you have anyone else here–sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.’
So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, ‘Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!’ But his sons-in-law thought he was joking” (Genesis 12-14).
This proved to be the turning point for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah- the point where God’s angelic representatives basically said, “OK, we’ve seen enough- you better pack up your family and get out of here because we’re going to detonate this place”
So Lot went out to speak with the men who had promised to marry his daughters. But if Lot’s daughters were still unmarried (Genesis 19:8), then why does it say that he spoke with his sons-in-law? Well, the answer to that question involves a look at the culture of that time.
In the days of the Old Testament, it was a common practice for parents to arrange marriages for their children. Once the right marriage partner was agreed on by their parents, the new couple would enter a period of “betrothal.”
The betrothal was a something like the modern-day “engagement” that we see between couples today, but it was a lot more formal. A betrothal involved an actual legal agreement that was taken very seriously. This betrothal period could last for up to a year and while the couple were known as husband and wife during that time, they were not allowed to be together physically. The groom usually spent this one-year period working to prepare the couple’s future home which usually involved building an addition onto his father’s house.
When everything was ready, the groom would bring the bride back to the home that he had prepared for them. A wedding ceremony would be performed and everyone would have a big feast. The couple would then go off to start their new life together.
So this explains why Lot had sons-in-law but still had daughters living at home- it seems that his daughters were still within this one-year betrothal period at the time when these two angelic visitors arrived at his house.
Unfortunately, Lot’s sons-in-law didn’t pay very much attention to this warning. Lot tried to tell them about their need to take God seriously but like many people today, they chose instead to laugh off that warning as a big joke. But there was nothing funny about the events that were about to happen to these men -and to the rest of their neighbors- in just a few short hours.
“With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.’ When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them” (Genesis 19:15-16).
So despite everything that had already happened, it appears that these two angelic beings actually had to take Lot and his family by their hands and physically haul them out of town. Although Sodom was about to become a very bad place to be, it seems that Lot and his family had become so attached to this city that they were having some trouble leaving it behind.
“As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, ‘Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!’
But Lot said to them, ‘No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it–it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.’ He said to him, ‘Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.’ (That is why the town was called Zoar)” (Genesis 19:17-22).
So these angelic beings hustled Lot’s family out of the city with some specific instructions: “Run for your lives or you’re going to get wiped out. Get to the mountains- don’t stop anywhere and don’t look back.” But Lot somehow talked these angels into letting him escape to a little town called Zoar instead.
Why didn’t Lot want to follow these original instructions to flee to the mountains? After all, Lot’s uncle Abram was living somewhere within this mountainous region at that time and Lot certainly could have gone back to stay with him for awhile if he really wanted to.
Well, the problem with that idea was that any decision to go back to Abram was sure to result in a very humbling experience for Lot- and we’ll talk more about that next.
“…I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it–it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.’
“He said to him, ‘Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.’ (That is why the town was called Zoar)” (Genesis 19:17-22).
So why couldn’t Lot just go back with his family and stay with his uncle Abram? Well, remember that the area of Sodom was the part of the land that Lot specifically chose for himself back when Abram offered Lot his choice of territory in Genesis chapter thirteen. And don’t forget that Abram also had to go and rescue Lot when that area was invaded and Lot was taken off as a prisoner of war in Genesis chapter fourteen.
Now God was preparing to blow up that entire region- the very area that Lot once thought was so great. To go back to Abram at this point would mean that Lot’s original choice was clearly a mistake- and Lot evidently didn’t want to accept that.
So Lot had to get out of town fast but going back to Abram’s place in the mountains was apparently out of the question. This left Lot and his family with one last option if they wanted to escape with their lives- the obscure little town of Zoar…
“By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah–from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities–and also the vegetation in the land” (Genesis 19:23-25).
This term “rained down” implies that fiery objects came down from the sky and devastated everything in that area. Now it’s possible that this passage refers to a totally supernatural event, but it’s also possible that God used a particular feature of this area to destroy these cities.
You see, this area features some naturally occurring deposits of oil, asphalt, and natural gas. (1) It also contains large quantities of sulfur, which is translated as “brimstone” if you’re reading an older Bible. This means that the people of Sodom were living in an area that contained some extremely combustible natural materials.
We know today that certain gasses and vapors can be highly explosive when ignited. If a pocket of natural gas or other combustible gasses in that area somehow combined with the right ignition source, it’s easy to see how a Biblical writer could describe the resulting explosion as “raining fire.” But make no mistake- whether the cause was natural or supernatural, God was the Person who lit the fuse.
(1) See Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record pg. 354 and “Sidebar: Explaining Sodom’s Destruction,” Biblical Archaeology Review http://www.bib-arch.org/e-features/sodom-and-gomorrah.asp
This brings us to one of the most interesting verses in the entire Bible:
“But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26).
Remember that Lot’s two angelic guests sent Lot and his family out of the city with some very clear instructions: “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!” (Genesis 19:17). This was a very specific and easy to understand warning, but Lot’s wife chose not to follow it.
Now it may be that Mrs. Lot simply looked back at the city behind her to see what was happening. However, one source says that, “The word (for) ‘looked back’ has the connotation (or “meaning”) of ‘looking intently.’ It might possibly be rendered (or “translated as”) ‘lagged back,’ or maybe even ‘returned back.'” (1) So it seems that Lot’s wife might have done something more than simply glance over her shoulder to see what was going on- it’s possible that she actually stopped running or even started to go back to Sodom.
While some people may look at what happened to Lot’s wife as just an interesting detail, Jesus actually used this event to illustrate one of His teachings…
“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:28-32).
Jesus’ illustration tells us that it’s possible for people to go about their self-absorbed, everyday lives without any concern or interest in their Creator. They can create a society and culture that has no use for God. They can try to pretend that God doesn’t really exist, or that “god” is some kind of vague life-force or “higher power” that they can manipulate and control. The problem is that this doesn’t change the fact that God does exist- or the fact that He will punish people for the wrong things they’ve done, just like He did with Sodom.
It’s possible that the culture, society, and way of life in Sodom had become such a part of Mrs. Lot that she was having trouble living it behind. If this is true, then it means that Lot’s wife wanted to hang on to the God-denying lifestyle of Sodom so much that she couldn’t bear to leave it- and she paid for decision with her life.
(1) See Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record pg. 355-356
“…Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26)
So maybe there was something in Mrs. Lot’s mindset that caused her to want to return to the city they had left behind. But what about that part about Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt- how (or why) did that happen?
Well, it turns out that a large deposit of rock salt happens to be located right in the area where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are thought to have once existed. (1) Now one theory that we talked about earlier is that God used an explosion (or multiple explosions) of combustible gasses in this region to help destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. If something like this did occur, it would also have the likely side effect of launching large quantities of these salt deposits into the air as well.
So one possible way to explain what happened to Lot’s wife was that she was either caught within one of these explosions or she was enveloped within a salt deposit that came down upon her. If Mrs. Lot was lagging behind the rest of the group or had actually decided to turn around and go back to the city, this theory would also help to explain why she was the only one who was affected.
“Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace” (Genesis 19:27-28).
Abraham knew that the attitudes and practices of the people who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah had put them in danger of God’s judgment. But he also knew that God had promised to spare the city if only a few righteous people could be found there. So Abraham got up early and went out to an area where he could see the results of his angelic visitor’s fact-finding mission. What he saw was the answer that he had hoped to avoid- thick, dense smoke rising up from the cities of that area.
This detail is important because the fact that heavy smoke was still rising from these cities a day later tells us just how extensive this destruction really was. It also indicates that these cities were either still on fire or that smoldering flames were still being fed by a flammable source (like tar or oil, perhaps) an entire day later.
(1) “At the southwest corner of the (Dead) (S)ea is a great mountain of rock salt, seven hundred feet high and five miles long, known as Jebel Usdum (meaning, in Arabic, “Mount of Sodom”). Other salt deposits abound in the region.” (Henry M. Morris The Genesis Record pg. 353)
“So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived” (Genesis 19:29).
So how did Lot make it out of Sodom alive? Well it certainly wasn’t because he was anxious to leave the city. In fact, it seems that God’s angelic representatives had to practically drag Lot and his family out of town because they really didn’t want to go.
Genesis 19:29 tells us the real reason why Lot made it out of the city alive: it was because God remembered how Lot’s uncle Abraham interceded (or appealed) to Him well before this disaster ever happened. We know this because verse nineteen tells us that, “When God destroyed the cities of the valley where Lot lived, he remembered his promise to Abraham and saved Lot from the terrible destruction” (CEV).
You may remember that if there were only ten righteous people living in Sodom, the entire city would have been spared because of what Abraham had done in interceding with God on their behalf. We also pointed out that this should serve as a reminder to never underestimate the effect of a God-honoring life. While it may sometimes seem as if you don’t have much of an impact for God in your school or neighborhood, you may actually have more of an effect than you think.
For example. how do you know that your friends, classmates, teammates, or co-workers have not been rescued from something really bad because of your Godly influence? How do you know that God hasn’t spared them from something really serious because you made sure to pray for them? After all, who is going to pray for the people in your school, on your team, or at your job if not you? Remember that God spared Lot’s life because of what Abraham did and Lot didn’t even know it!
You see, God gave Abraham some “inside information” about what was going to happen in Sodom. Abraham was the only one who knew about the danger facing that city and he used that information to go before God and intercede for the people there. Like Abraham, there are also things that you may see and know about people in your life that nobody else does- only you. Those people could be friends at school, people in your family, members of your team, or other people that you are close to.
If you use that information -not to spread gossip or rumors- but to go before God on behalf of those people and pray for them, you might just save someone’s life, just like Abraham did with Lot.
“Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave” (Genesis 19:30).
So even though Lot (and the remaining members of his family) were able to escape to this obscure little town named Zoar, they apparently didn’t stay there too long. The reason for this quick exit is not too difficult to guess because the Bible gives us a clue in the verse quoted above: “Lot and his two daughters left Zoar… for he was afraid to stay in Zoar.”
So why do you think that Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar? Well, let’s look at Lot’s arrival in this town from the point of view of the people who already lived there.
For example, how do you think the people of Zoar felt towards Lot when they found out that he was the only survivor of this catastrophic disaster that just killed all of their neighbors? Just imagine if you were a superstitious person living in Zoar at that time or someone who was afraid of angering the so-called “gods.” Would you want to have Lot hanging around your town or do you think that you might be more likely to say, “Don’t bring your bad luck to our city- you better get out right now!”
If Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar, then it was probably because the people of that town clearly didn’t want to have him around. That would explain why Lot and his daughters had to leave Zoar and head to the mountains to live in a cave.
So Lot went from being an important community leader in the great city of Sodom to a poor, unwanted, homeless person who was reduced to living in a cave with the last two surviving members of his family. And all this happened to Lot because he made a series of small (but bad) decisions that resulted in one large bad consequence.
One message from this episode of Lot’s life is pretty clear- Lot was a righteous guy (see 2 Peter 2:7-8) but he chose to make certain decisions without any help, direction, or input from God. That created a chain of events that eventually led to the loss of his wife, most of his family, and everything that he had worked for. If Lot had chosen to follow the more faithful example of his uncle Abraham instead, then things may have turned out very differently for him.
But this story isn’t over quite yet. Remember that we’re dealing with a very dysfunctional family and we’re about to see an example of some of the “family values” that Lot’s children picked up while living in Sodom.
Now if everything that we’ve already seen with Lot and his family hasn’t been enough, here’s what happened next…
“One day the older daughter said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth'” (Genesis 19:31).
Another translation of this verse says, “Our father is old, and there is no man anywhere nearby to have sexual relations with us…” (NET). Since Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar, it seems that his oldest daughter saw the potential of finding a new boyfriend and getting married as totally non-existent.
Unfortunately, it also seems that neither of Lot’s daughters ever considered the possibility that they should pray and ask God to provide for them- and that led to a really bad decision…
“‘Let’s get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father.’ That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up” (Genesis 19:31-33).
Now before we go on, let’s think about the events that led up to this scene. First, remember that Lot and his two daughters had lost their home. They had lost their possessions. They had no place to live, so they all had to dwell in a cave. You would think that this family had virtually nothing left at all, right?
But a look at the verse quoted above tells us that this was not entirely true. You see, Lot and his daughters do seem to have enough alcohol on hand to get at least one of them totally drunk. That gives you a good idea of where their real priorities were and what they thought was important.
However, the fact that these girls had to get Lot drunk enough to sleep with one of them tells us that they knew that he would never knowingly get involved in a relationship like that. Even though the official law against this kind of relationship didn’t come into effect until much later (see Leviticus 18:6), it does seem that Lot still had some kind of connection with God and some sense that this would have been the wrong thing to do.
As far as Lot’s daughters are concerned, well, this just displays the kind of moral values that they learned from living in Sodom. Perhaps this is why the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians reminds us, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character'” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
“The next day the older daughter said to the younger, ‘Last night I lay with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.’ So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today” (Genesis 19:34-38).
Later on in the Bible, we’ll find that the descendants of Moab and Ben-Ammi (the Moabites and the Ammonites mentioned above) will grow to become serious enemies of Abraham’s descendants, the people of Israel. However, God was able to bring something good from this bad situation.
You see, the Old Testament book of Ruth tells us that Ruth was a Moabite (see Ruth 1:4). Ruth later went on to marry a man named Boaz and have a son who became an ancestor of Israel’s king David and eventually, Jesus as well (see Ruth 4:13-22).
We’ll also find out later on in the Bible that Israel’s King Solomon married a woman who was an Ammonite (2 Chronicles 12:13). She had a son named Rehoboam who was also in the ancestral line leading to Jesus (see Matthew 1:7-16). So even though this situation turned into a total mess at the end, God was still able to make something good come out of it
Now before we wrap up this chapter, here’s one final question: what was the sin that caused God to punish the people of Sodom and the surrounding areas? Well, it’s true that their attempt to homosexually gang-rape God’s two angelic agents was the immediate cause, but the book of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel tells us something else as well…
“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49-50).
Arrogance. Gluttony. Unconcern for those who were less fortunate. Pride. Conceit. Self-indulgence. These were the internal attitudes that led to the external actions (or detestable things) that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah- and they are the same internal attitudes that people also need to be on guard against today.