Read Genesis 19
Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed
1 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. 2 “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.”
3 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. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 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.”
9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, 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.
10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 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.
12 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, 13 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.”
14 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.
15 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.”
16 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 Lordwas merciful to them. 17 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!”
18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 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. 20 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.”
21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)
23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 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.
29 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.
Lot and His Daughters
30 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. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”
33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.
This is a troubling story for many of us. Troubling in the sense that God is about to wipe out an entire city, point blank. Troubling in that the men of Sodom come to Lot’s doors with wicked intentions, and troubling in that Lot panics and offers his daughters as a way to somehow appease the men of Sodom’s vile appetites. Then, there is this strange story of Lot’s daughters getting him drunk to father children by him to preserve their family line. What do we do with a passage like this? Let’s break it down.
So, why does God wipe out an entire city? This punishment may feel excessive at first because we are often uncomfortable with God’s justice, but we learn here that God’s justice is never without purpose, and that He has great intention in all that He does—that even God’s seemingly troubling deeds are good and holy if we let Him speak for Himself. We can trust God, even when we don’t understand exactly what He is working out, because we know that He is good and He is working all things out for the good of those who believe (Romans 8:28)!
There are a lot of “Wait, hold up a minute” moments in chapter 19. What we must understand is that the inclusion of an event so that we gain understanding of the history of God’s people and God endorsing all of those recorded events are not the same thing.
There are a plethora of stories, people, and situations in the Word of God that God Himself disapproves of, from Judas Iscariot and the Pharisees, to Jonah and the people of Nineveh, to Lot, his daughters, and their strange scene at the end of chapter 19. Once again, God’s people see God-sized problems, and rather than asking and allowing God to work them out, they jam the rectangular peg into the circular hole and try to solve the issue with human means and solutions, which from Genesis 3 on have been shown to be imperfect and sinful. The story of Lot’s wife is maybe the clearest example of this. Rather than looking forward and trusting that God would work out her salvation, Lot’s wife does the one thing she’s instructed not to do—turn back. She looked upon God’s judgment, and rather than trusting God in light of it, she doubted.
In many senses, this seems to be imagery echoed in the New Testament. Time and time again, God offers His people the opportunity to trust Him to work out their salvation if they will turn from their wickedness, and in much the same way, we are offered this promise in Jesus. That being said, we read in the New Testament that there is a final judgment of all peoples coming. On that day, many will cry “Lord, Lord!” but will be shown to have not actually trusted in Jesus to work out their salvation and will not have turned from their sin. While they may profess faith, they have unbelieving hearts, much like Lot’s wife. There is beauty to be found in the midst of this—Romans 10:9 is clear that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. If we are faithful to trust in Jesus, He will show us that He is abundantly sufficient—He will save us from our Sodom and lead us into the Promised Land that is the Kingdom of God.
What has the Lord delivered you from? How did He do it?
How are you like Lot’s wife?
How are you different from Lot’s wife?
Did You Know?
Theologians speculate upon the reason why Moses included Lot’s incest with his daughters in the story. One explanation is to show how living in Sodom corrupted the hearts and minds of Lot’s daughters to the utmost degree. This reminds us that we must be vigilant to monitor all that we allow to enter our eyes, minds, and hearts.