Genesis: The Beginning
Destroying Sodom 1-19-16
READ: Genesis 18-19
Yesterday, we read about circumcision and how that would be a sign of the covenant God made with His people. Today, we will look at two things: 1) Sarah’s reaction to the LORD’s Word that she will have a son; and 2) we will travel to Lot’s homeland, Sodom, and see how he is doing as he seeks to live in God’s image there—the land of his choosing (there is that Choice thing playing into the future for human life, again!).
Abraham is sitting in the shade of the oak groves in Mamre (22 miles south of Jerusalem) when the LORD comes to visit him. The LORD is accompanied by two human-looking angelic beings. Abraham welcomes them and serves them with flawless hospitality. The LORD asks about Sarah, “Where is Sarah your wife?” The LORD knows where Sarah is He just wants Abraham to remember Sarah is a part of the covenant, too; the covenant is not just about circumcised men in a relationship with Yahweh. The LORD restates His plan for Sarah to have a child by next year; Sarah who is presently in the tent listening to the outside conversation laughs inwardly at this ridiculous notion. She must experience a moment with the Word of the LORD to circumcise or cut away her doubt. The LORD questions why Sarah is laughing, but she denies it (how does he know?). Spiritual character is a big deal with the LORD (he knows every heart) and he says to Sarah, “No, you did laugh.” (NOTE: The LORD’s corrective Word to Sarah, Revealing Truth, is what gets her ready to believe and receive the promise of Isaac [translated “he laughs”] because she must receive what appears impossible). This lesson reminds me of the saying, “He who laughs last; laughs best!” Who will laugh last? The LORD.
Our lesson continues from this place of laughter with the LORD to a place that burdens His heart. The LORD has heard the outcry of people living in flagrant sin in Sodom and Gomorrah; people made in God’s image are actually reflecting wickedness and hostility toward God. They are living to satisfy their own fleshly desires and caring nothing about the poor and needy. The two angels travel to Sodom in order to investigate the extent of this evil influence. The LORD remains with Abraham; He decides to tell him about this evil that must be confronted. Abraham begins to intercede for the righteous living among the wicked; Abraham asks for the LORD to spare the righteous even if there are only a few the angels find. Now Abraham’s heart is burdened, because Lot and his family live in Sodom (name can translate “secret” and “burning”). The LORD promises if He finds ten people striving to live in His image, He will spare the city from destruction. Then, the LORD leaves. In a matter of minutes, Abraham has experienced the commingling of blessing (good) and cursing (evil) in the revelation of the LORD. Remember, since humanity’s disobedience to the LORD’s instruction in the garden, everyone made in the image of God will experience the knowledge of good and evil and be forced to choose.
Lot is resting by the entrance of the city gate when he meets the angels (Lot has status in the city—a respected member of the community—and the fact that he is sitting at the gate reflects his ability to cooperate in decisions regarding governing matters and culture). Lot has authority, but has he multiplied God’s image in Sodom or has Sodom begun to recreated Lot in it’s image? Let’s read further to see what is revealed regarding that question.
Like Abraham, Lot welcomes these angelic beings with grand hospitality. Lot offers them refreshment and rest, as well as an invitation to dwell inside his house. Lot is persistent like he knows something about the city he does not want the messengers from heaven to know. After some persuasion, the angels agree to stay at the house with Lot. They all share a feast that includes fresh unleavened bread. While the angels are inside with Lot and his family that evening, boys and men from the city gather outside Lot’s house. These residents demand Lot bring the human-looking angels out so they can rape and desecrate them. Lot responds to their shouts. He goes outside and shuts the door behind him. He secretly seeks to appease the crowd; he begs them not to defile the holy. Then, he offers these boys and men his virgin daughters in exchange if they will just leave the heavenly beings alone. (Did Lot really think he was protecting God’s holy image here by trying to appease evil?)
But the people who accepted Lot’s presence and influence in governing the city earlier, now turn against him; they feel Lot has set himself up as their judge. They turn hostile toward Lot. The angels reach out of the door and save Lot before he is destroyed by the very ones he called “brothers” earlier. The door is bolted. As well, the angels inflict blindness on the men gathered outside so they will give up their quest to come against those gathered inside (NOTE: this reminds me of Noah closed up inside the ark).
The angels instruct Lot to gather his family and loved ones living in this city; a city bent on desecrating God’s image. Lot hesitates as he does not want to leave his status, wealth, and friends to make a new beginning. (Lot needs to allow the LORD to circumcise this lust for these things, because they have more power than his love for the LORD). The angels grab Lot, his wife, and their daughters and order them to run to the mountains; they are not to look back and pause in the valley. Lot negotiates (here he goes again) to settle in a little village, Zoar, rather than go to the mountains (High places with God). The angels agree. But, the future will reveal not much has changed in Lot’s image even with this relocation from the LORD; his descendants will reveal that as truth.
As soon as Lot reaches Zoar, the LORD rains down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s wife rejects the instruction of the LORD’s messengers and looks back; she turns into a pillar of salt. It is always unwise to vacillate when the LORD sends a Word to walk away from sin. Sin has the power to harden our hearts when we look toward it. We have to turn toward God and look for His power. Lot’s wife is not the only one unwilling to do as the LORD requires. Lot’s daughters have not disconnected from the culture of Sodom even though they no longer live there. They fear they will find no mates in this small place of Zoar, so Lot’s daughters stoop to manipulate incest as a way to populate Lot’s image and bear his name in this new place (glory for the image of Lot rather than glory for the image of Yahweh). Even though Abraham has many other family members living under the covenant of blessing close by, these daughters choose to continue to live by the standard of a sinful culture rather than reach for a new beginning with the LORD. It is always about a choice.