I must confess the strangeness of the Sunday we’re having here. It’s Mother’s Day today and our text in view is Genesis 19, which is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. One would not be out of bounds to ask ‘What does Mother’s Day have to do with Sodom and Gomorrah?’ To which my answer would be, ‘I’m not entirely sure.’ I actually had no idea this text was going to fall on this weekend when I laid out the schedule. Which clearly reveals either that SonRise doesn’t follow the Hallmark calendar, or that I have my head in the sand about certain matters…maybe both.

I’ll just say this as we begin. This is a hard text for many reasons, we have great need to pray and ask for wisdom and guidance and light and help as we enter in. Pray with me.

There are two headings to work through today, First the sins of the world, in v1-29. And second, the sins of the Church, in v30-38.

The Sins of the World (v1-29)

This is a large portion, so to make it more digestible we’ll take smaller pieces at a time.

v1-3, “The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.”

As chapter 19 begins the opening scene is very like the opening scene in chapter 18. In both beginnings visitors are welcomed, invited into the home, and a meal is served. But while Abraham showed himself to be the exemplary host before, Lot will show himself to be a buffoon here.[1] But he does begin well. We meet him in v1 while he’s sitting in the town gate of Sodom. The town gate in their day was viewed as the political center of the town where the leaders of the town would gather and discuss and make important decisions for the community. That Lot was present at the gate might indicate that he had become a person of importance in Sodom.[2] But while he may be important to Sodom, this also shows how Lot has become quite comfortable living among the Sodomites.[3] But nonetheless he begins well by welcoming the angels, that he no doubt just believed to be men, by rising to meet them and bowing before them, and invites them to come stay at his home. The angels surprisingly deny the invitation, but Lot presses them to reconsider, which reveals Lot’s knowledge of his fellow townsfolk, of what they would do to two men sleeping out in the open at the gate. So upon urging them, they agree and go. We quickly read of the meal Lot prepares for them next. Remember that Abraham had pulled out all the stops, preparing an extravagant feast for his guests earlier, but here Lot makes unleavened bread, which doesn’t take very long to prepare. This gives the impression that there is some haste and hurriedness present in the situation.[4] Perhaps Lot just wants the evening with his guests to just come and go quickly without any incident.

v4-5, “But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”

So Lot’s guests have eaten, and before they could lay down to sleep they get interrupted. By who? Note the all-encompassing language here in v4: the men of the city, the men of Sodom, young and old, all the people to the last man came and surrounded the house. These words give the sense that every male in Sodom came to Lot’s house in a kind of unruly mob. This all-encompassing language shows us the all-encompassing wickedness of the city. See their request in v5, they ask for the guests, for Lot to bring them out so that they can know them. What do they intend? Well, it all comes down to what the word know means. There are two options.[5] The word know could mean something like ‘be acquainted with’ which would show the Sodomites desire to meet and greet these guests. Giving us the impression that Lot had violated the rules of hospitality by not introducing his guests to the rest of the town. The other option is that the word know means to know intimately, or to know sexually, as in Adam knew Eve and they conceived a child. Yet remember, this is a group of men who’ve come and surrounded the house, and these angels have taken the form of men. This gives us the impression that this is an unruly mob surrounding Lot’s house, with the intention of forcing these guests out of Lot’s care so that they can carry out a homosexual gang rape.

You should know that most liberal theologians believe the first option, that the sin of Sodom was inhospitality. And that most conservative theologians believe the second option, that the sin of Sodom was unnatural sexual deviance. What do we make of this? Well, throughout the whole Bible there are many sins of Sodom mentioned. Isaiah (1:10, 1:17), Jeremiah (23:14) and Ezekiel (16:49) mention adultery, lying, arrogance, laziness and ease due to abundance, oppression of the poor, and not caring for the needy. The NT mentions Sodom as well. Jesus uses Sodom as an example of an unrepentant city in Matthew 11, as does Peter in 2 Peter 2, and Jesus uses Sodom as an example what will occur at the Second Coming in Luke 17. But one other reference is helpful to see. It’s Jude v7 which says, “Sodom and Gomorrah…who indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”

See then what’s in view. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are great, they were many, but the sin in view in Genesis 19 is without a doubt, homosexual in nature. Which is where we get the name of the deed itself, sodomy. This will become clearer even as we continue on in the text.

v6-8, “Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

In great courage Lot responds to this mob surrounding his house by going outside, shutting the door behind him, in order to talk some sense into them. But as courageous as this act must have been for him, he seeks to compromise with the mob in a similarly wicked manner by offering up his daughters to be raped instead of his guests. In this we see the word ‘know’ appear again, which proves it’s being used in a sexual sense. The mob wanted to know his guests, but Lot responds with his daughters who are virgins because they’ve not known any man. Now, some have tried to explain Lot’s actions here in a sense that puts Lot in a more favorable light by saying Lot was only offering the mob something they would’ve refused, the daughters were engaged to two men of the city after all.[6] But even if that’s the case, the wickedness doesn’t decrease at all as Lot chooses the to protect his guests and willingly give his daughters over to be sexually ravaged.

v9-11, “But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.”

Lot’s attempt to calm the mob fails. Instead he enrages the mob further. They call him a sojourner, or foreigner, and press hard against him, such that the door to his house is near broken. At this point the angels intervene by opening the door, rescuing Lot from the mob, and striking those near the door with blindness. Even so, the mob continues seeking to come inside to get at these men. The mention of the angels shutting the door in v10 brings to mind another moment when a door was divinely shut to protect a family.[7] Remember it? The Lord shut Noah and his family inside the ark just prior to the flood. So too here the same picture is given. Lot’s door is shut by divine figures, protection is secured for Lot, the wicked are separated from God’s people, and judgment is about to rain down from the heavens.

v12-14, “Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”

So the angels bring Lot back inside and tell him what’s going on. That they have been sent by God to destroy the city. They ask Lot if he has any family to tell, so they can escape with them. Lot attempts to get his sons-in-law to leave with them but they don’t take Lot seriously, and see the whole thing as a joke.

v15-29, “As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.”

How curious that the command from the angels for Lot to flee had as much impact on Lot as his command for his sons-in-law to flee.[8] Even though all this great sin is occurring around him and to him Lot finds it hard to leave, notice it in v16, he lingered. Well God knows what’s best for Lot even if Lot doesn’t so in v16 we also see God, in mercy, saving Lot through his angels. They had grabbed Lot before to pull him back into the house, and now they grab him, his wife, and his daughters and pull them out of the city.[9] Even so Lot remains frantic and fearful on his way out, he desires to go to a nearby city, God amazingly grants his request and the city he ends up in comes to be called Zoar.

v23-29, “The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.”

As much detail as we get to see on the sins of these cities, their destruction comes to us in only two verses, v24-25.[10]God had before rained down judgment in the flood, and now He rains down a different kind of judgment: sulfur and fire from heaven. And as Lot lingered within the city unwilling to leave, now Lot’s wife lingers and looks back. We’re not told why she does this, why God judges her for it, or why it’s salt she turns into, but we do know her looking back was a direct brekaing of the command to not look back in v17. And as the narrative closes Abraham comes back into view, standing in the same spot he spoke with God about saving the city and he sees the smoke of its destruction rising into the heavens. He had pleaded with God for the city to be saved if only ten righteous were in it, and yet only three made it all the way out; Lot and his two daughters. Why did they? We’re told here in v29, because of Abraham.

Now before you think we’re done, we have a small scene left to cover still. We’ve seen the sins of the world in v1-29, now see…

The Sins of the Church (v30-38)

“Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And 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 all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose. The next 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 offspring from our father.” 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. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.”

There is much we could linger on here, but let me just say this. Lot has been saved by God, yet now he fears once again while in Zoar, so he leaves it and goes and lives in a cave. Quite telling of what fear can do to us. While in the cave we witness more sexual misconduct. This time it’s Lot’s daughters. They seem to be afraid themselves, that they’ll never be mothers, so in their fear they craft a plan to get their father drunk, so they can lie with him and get pregnant. The older daughter does this first, she succeeds, so the younger daughter does the same thing the next day, and she succeeds. And in both occasions Lot didn’t know what happened or what he did or what was done to him. We do know what came from these incestual unions. The Moabites and Ammonites, two wicked peoples, get their beginning right here in this cave.

As hard to read as this is, it shouldn’t really surprise us. You can take these girls out of Sodom, but clearly you can’t take Sodom out of the girls. The same kind of wickedness they grew up in still reigns within them.[11] And also, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. Earlier Lot was eager and willing to use his daughters for sexual purposes without their consent, now they use him for their own sexual purposes without his consent.[12]


My oh my. Church, after all that, what are we to do? Everywhere we turn in this text there is sin, sin, and more sin. I want to end by encouraging you to remember our two headings today: the sins of the world, and the sins of the Church. Is it surprising to you that the sins of Sodom and the sins of Lot are both included here in this one chapter? Perhaps one reason they occur back to back here is to keep us aware of who we are. We are not surprised to see sin in Sodom. We’ve known for the past five or six chapters that Sodom has been a very vile place, but we are surprised to see the same vileness present in Lot’s own family. Much of our modern culture hates passages like this, and say this is a perfect example of why the Bible is outdated and irrelevant. But say what you want about the Bible, it doesn’t hold back. It doesn’t give fair names to foul sins. It calls sin sin wherever it’s found, whether outside God’s people, or inside God’s people.

Think of those on the outside, the men of Sodom. During this time and after, Sodom in the Bible is well-known for unnatural sexual lust. Not only for men desiring to have sex with other men, but for men forcing themselves upon others. Careful thought here leads us to say that not all homosexuality looks like gang rape, but we should also be clear and say all kinds of homosexuality is sin and against the pattern of God for His world. If you’re older than I am you grew up in a world that largely agreed homosexuality was out of bounds behavior. If you’re my age, you grew up in a world divided, where conflict over homosexuality swarmed. If you’re younger than me you grew up in a world where the conflict on homosexuality is over, and this is now just another normal option among many. If this pattern shows us anything it shows us that believing what the Bible says is getting harder and harder. This might be new for us, but it’s not new for Christians throughout history. We must stand firm Church and continue to embrace what the Bible teaches, regardless how in vogue it is or not. Our hope isn’t found in a Christianized world but in Christ. Even though today following Christ looks more and more like being a sailor in a world that doesn’t believe in oceans. We rejoice, for God is faithful, God is big. He is strong enough to care for us in all times.

Now think of those on the inside, of Lot and his wife, and his daughters. Both Lot and his wife linger when called out of the city. And once they’re out sin clings closely still, even when they’re alone hiding in the cave. Church, sin has ever and always been the biggest problem among God’s people, in the Church. Consider today your reminder that all kinds of sin brings decay, ruin, rot, and in the end, death. You must turn away and flee from it, and seek to see Christ Himself and obedience to Christ as better, truer, and more brighter than all that tempts us in this life.

Now finally, think on Christ. Seeing such sin, both outside and inside God’s people, ought to drive us to Christ. We are sinners, far worse than we’re willing to admit. But in Christ God loves us far more than we could ever hope or imagine. Yes, sin abounds all around us and all within us. But Christ is the great Savior of sinners! Whatever sins grip you, sins of Sodom, or sins of Lot’s family. Christ can and is eager to save all who come to Him!

[1] Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Academic, 2001), 273–274.

[2] Derek Kidner, Genesis (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2008), 144.

[3] John D. Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, EP Study Commentary (Holywell, UK: Evangelical Press, 2015), 340-341.

[4] Kidner, Genesis, 145.

[5] Victor P. Hamilton, Genesis 18-50, NICOT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1995), 34–35.

[6] Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, 344.

[7] Hamilton, Genesis 18-50, 37.

[8] Ibid., 42–43.

[9] Ibid., 43.

[10] Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, 352.

[11] Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, 358.

[12] Hamilton, Genesis 18-50, 51.

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