Friday, January 14, 2011

Genesis 19 - Sodom and Gomorrah

LINK: Genesis 19

BACKGROUND

We already know from Genesis 13:14 that "the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinner against the LORD." In Genesis 18, the LORD told Abraham that He was going to "go down" (same expression in 11:6-9 regarding the tower of Babel) and see the evidence of their "exceedingly grave" sin. Abraham asked God to spare the city if there were even ten righteous there. Kidner says that Abraham is not "haggling" with God but "feeling His way forward in a spirit of faith, of humility, in his whole mode of address, and of love, demonstrating his concern for the whole city not for his kinsmen alone"(Genesis by Derek Kidner). I love that God gave Abraham the freedom to intercede and that Abraham had such a great relationship with the LORD that he felt free to do it. I pray we can all be that way with God!

In Genesis 13, Lot chose to settle in Sodom. Did you notice that "Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom"? Usually, this was the place for the elders of the city where legal matters and political affairs were discussed. So did he enjoy living there and being an elder of a city like that? Was he a force for good in an evil environment? We do not know, but we do know that Peter called Lot righteous in 2 Peter 2:6-8:
And if He [God] condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them as examples to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if he rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their evil deeds). (Amplified)
I know you are saying, "But how could a man be righteous when he offered his own virgin daughters to stave off lusty men ('all the people from every quarter') outside?" The protection of one's guests was part of Asian hospitality, but this was also sin to offer your daughters. Yet, he was righteous?

God could not even find ten people. So, He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah but not before the angels had to physically remove Lot, his wife, and his daughters (The sons-in-law just thought he was joking!), but still Lot's wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. (In Luke 17:42, Jesus, when warning of the destruction on unbelieving Israel said, "Remember Lot's wife!")

There is archaeological evidence to support a catastrophe in that area. Rock strata in that area confirms it and the fault at either side of the Dead Sea indicates an earthquake. There are sulfur balls found in the faults. There is also a mound of salt 150 feet thick that the modern Israelites called "Mount Sodom." In addition, the area around the Dead Sea is useless because of the salt on the surface.

The chapter ends with Lots two daughters getting their father drunk and incest occurring that impregnates both of them. Their sons would start the Moabites and the Ammonites, two tribes that would be enemies of Abraham's descendants!

Here are verses for further study about one of the major issues in this place: Genesis 2:24; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Judges 19:16-25; 20:1-7; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Here are verses for further study about Sodom: Deuteronomy 29:23; 32:32; Isaiah 3:9; Jeremiah 23:14; 50:40; Lamentations 4:6; Ezekiel 16:46-55; Zephaniah 2:9; Matthew 11:23-24, 2 Peter 2:7-8; and Jude 1:7. By the way, Sodom is mentioned forty-eight times in fourteen books of the Bible.

REFLECTION

This whole chapter grieves me. It grieves me that Sodom was such a wicked place with desperate men who would want to "know" total strangers sexually, that Lot would live in such a terrible place, that his sons-in-law would think he was joking about the destruction, that Lot would have to be physically removed from such a place, and that his wife would want to even look back out of curiosity. All those things make me sad every time I study this chapter. In fact, I avoided it for weeks when I was doing an in-depth study of Genesis several years ago for the above reasons.

I have come to two conclusions:
1) Sin and wickedness is repulsive, and I should flee from it! 
2) God is attractive, and I should run to Him and not look back (like Lot's wife). 
This passage hit home because of something that happened on a snowy Thanksgiving evening in 1985, when I wrote a song called "Run to Him" when a dear friend decided that she wanted to go back to something that does not honor God. Here are the lyrics:

Run to Him

You think it's gonna' meet your need
And you want it so bad
The enemy is shouting,
"Without it you'll be sad!"
I see your indecision
Caught between darkness and light
The past is crying for you
And you're wondering whether to fight,
Is it really worth the fight?

CHORUS
You've got to run to Him, run to Him
Lay it all aside
You've got to leave the past behind you
You've got to stand up and fight
He'll never leave or forsake you
The Father loves His own
It may not always be easy
But He's promised to take you home
How He wants to take you home

You're looking and it's so inviting
The pleasure you once knew
Seems it's harder now
Since you're holding to the Truth
I see the pain you're feeling
And the battle in your mind
There's a pathway you'll be choosing
But I hope it's Jesus you'll find
Yes, I hope it's Jesus you'll find

CHORUS 2
You've got to run to Him, run to Him
Lay it all aside
You've got to leave the past behind you
You've got to run the race in stride
He'll never leave or forsake you
The Father loves you so
He's always there when you're lonely
And I know He'll take you home
Please let Him take you home

The choice that you are making
Is the one you make alone
How I want to be there for you
But I can't take you home
His hands are reaching for you
He'll keep you from all harm
The enemy may beckon
But go to God's open arms
Right into His open arms

CHORUS 2

APPLICATION

Where are areas where you "look back" at the world instead of running straight into God's arms? God wants us to talk to Him face to face about everything. You might like to talk to Him about it.

PRAYER

You are a holy, righteous, and compassionate God. May we be people who run to Your open arms and not look back at anything that is not of You. We know that You cannot dwell with wickedness. Scour out the evil in our lives and help us to be pillars of faith in the world around us and not pillars of salt who look back at the world and long for its charms. Amen
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