Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed


VERSES 1-3  “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
“And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.
“And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.”

Chapter eighteen tells of Abraham’s efforts to have the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah saved from destruction, evidently because of his interest in Lot and his family. These efforts failed, and now two angels of the Lord visit Sodom, not to save the city, but to warn Lot and thus give him an opportunity to escape. While the Lord was not willing to spare the cities for Lot’s sake, he did favor Abraham to the extent of showing mercy toward his nephew and his family.

‘Lot sat in the gate of Sodom’, and this is where the angels found him when they entered the city. By comparing this statement with Genesis 23:10,18; 34:20,24; and Ruth 4:1, it becomes apparent that it has reference to the fact that Lot had a prominent position in Sodom.

Exercising discernment which one in such a position should possess, he recognized that these were no ordinary visitors, and quickly bowed himself humbly and addressed them as ‘lords’, inviting them to spend the night in his home. They at first demurred, indicating that they were planning to spend the night in the street. But Lot pressed his invitation and they accepted, whereupon a feast was prepared for his guests, including unleavened bread. Evidently Lot recognized that his visitors were righteous persons, hence the use of unleavened bread.

VERSES 4-11  “But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
“And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
“And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
“And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
“Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
“And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.
“But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.
“And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.”

These two angels—who appeared as human beings, and were probably two of the three who just previously had visited Abraham—must have been outstanding in appearance, for they attracted the attention of many in the city as they entered. Some had doubtless seen them enter Lot’s home, and being wicked of heart may have surmised that these strangers were not particularly friendly toward the city.

Before the two distinguished visitors had retired for the night a mob gathered in front of Lot’s residence demanding that he produce his guests. Sensing that they meant to harm them in some way, Lot stepped outside of his door and closed it behind him—which was a brave thing to do under the circumstances—and sought to appease the rioters by offering them his daughters in return for not molesting his guests.

It is difficult for us today to understand how a father could have so little regard for his daughters, but apparently ethical standards of that time must have been quite different from what they are now. It would seem that civilized codes of conduct governing human behavior in those ancient days greatly favored men above women, to the extent that in any circumstance where it seemed necessary to sacrifice one or the other, men and their interests were protected.

The crowd of Sodomites who gathered in front of Lot’s house were not to be appeased. They accused Lot of wanting to act as judge over them, and probably would have done him harm but for the fact that the two angels—his visitors—intervened. They reached out of the door and snatched Lot away from the angry mob, and then, by the use of supernatural powers, smote the would-be intruders with blindness, rendering them impotent to do anybody harm.

VERSES 12-16  “And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:
“For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.
“And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.
“And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.
“And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.”

This demonstration of the Sodomites’ wickedness ended in a manner to give Lot great confidence in his visitors. Then they revealed to him the real purpose of their visit. For Abraham’s sake they gave Lot every opportunity possible to save not only himself, but all of his family as well.

Lot cooperated by warning his two daughters and his sons-in-law to be, “who were to marry his daughters.” (Gen. 19:14, Revised Standard Version), but apparently the only ones who left the city were Lot and his wife, and his two daughters. And even these seemed reluctant to leave, being pulled out by the angels by the hand.

VERSES 17-22  “And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
“And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:
“Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
“Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.
“And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.
“Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.”

After leading Lot out of the city, the angel who acted as spokesman counseled him to flee to the mountain for his life, and not to look back. Apparently the cities were to be destroyed in such a manner that the entire territory of the plain was to be affected, hence it was necessary to be farther away than merely outside of the city.

For some reason Lot seems to have been attracted to city life, for he hesitated to obey the command to flee to the mountain. Instead, he requested the privilege of entering another, although a much smaller, city. The angel who spoke for the Lord granted this request, so Lot and his two daughters entered Zoar—meaning ‘little’—and probably so named because of this circumstance.

VERSES 23-25  “The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
“Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
“And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.”

When Lot reached Zoar the sun had risen. It was evidently the morning following the angels’ visit to Sodom. They had all feasted together at Lot’s home in Sodom, but no one had an opportunity to retire because the commotion caused by the men of Sodom made it impossible for anyone to sleep.

Morning had come, and with Lot safe in Zoar, ‘the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven’.

Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, and ‘all the plain’. No attempt was made to convert the people of these cities before destroying them. They were not called upon to repent. This fact is confirmed by Jesus, who said that if the same mighty works had been done in these cities of the plains as had been done in certain Jewish cities of his day, they would have repented. Why, then, did God not bring about their repentance?

Jesus furnishes the answer by telling us that God will deal with them in the future Day of Judgment, when it will be more favorable for them than it will be for those who rejected him despite the mighty miracles which they saw him perform. While God promised Abraham that he would bless all the families of the earth through his seed, it was not then the due time to bless them. Under the circumstances it was better for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to be cut off in death to await the resurrection and future day of trial, than it was for them to continue in sin, drifting further and further away from God, and entering ever deeper into debauchery and wickedness.

VERSE 26  “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”

The angel had given instructions not to look back. Probably this expression denotes more than merely to turn one’s head to look behind. It seems to imply a hesitance to go forward, if not an actual turning back. Jesus compared Lot’s wife with one who puts his hand to the plow and turns back. Jesus used the illustration as a warning to his followers not to turn back into the world from which they had separated themselves when they obeyed his call to forsake the world and follow him.

It is not necessary to suppose that Lot’s wife turned into a solid pillar of salt. The account indicates that the entire area was affected by the fire and brimstone which destroyed the cities. It is probable that when she looked, or turned, back she still was in the region where the atmosphere had become impregnated with sulfur and possibly other gases. According to some who have been in this region, it contains numerous salt pits and rocks. One explanation is that bituminous gases exploded into flames and caused an eruption of molten salt which rained down upon her and she became covered by molten salt. So it is with the Christian who turns back into the world. It is not that the Lord specially punishes such a one, but the environment and circumstances are such that his spiritual life is destroyed.

VERSES 27-29  “And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord:
“And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
“And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.”

Abraham realized from conversing with his three visitors that Sodom and Gomorrah were not to be saved, so he arose early in the morning and witnessed what he could of the destruction. While God did not spare the cities on his account, nevertheless, he ‘remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow’. Abraham’s prayer on behalf of his nephew had great influence with the Lord, for the angel said to Lot, ‘Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither’. If the Lord would not destroy Sodom until Lot had made his escape because of Abraham’s prayer, is it any wonder that the “time of trouble” (Dan. 12: 1) at this end of the age is shortened “for the elect’s sake”?—Matt. 24:22

VERSES 30-38  “And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
“And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto 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 seed of our father.
“And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
“And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
“Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
“And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.
“And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.”

We have another example of the vast difference between the moral code of ancient times and what is considered proper today. Here, the concern of Lot’s daughters over the matter of keeping the family name alive seems to have outweighed all other considerations. Failure to bear children was considered a calamity, and this, too, may have entered into the planning of Lot’s daughters.

The Lord’s purpose in permitting this action on the part of Lot’s daughters to be recorded was in order to establish the origin of the Moabites and the Ammonites. These figure somewhat in the experiences of the natural descendants of Abraham. Even more important is the fact that Ruth, one of the mothers in the genealogy leading down to Jesus, was a Moabitess.

Click here to go to Part 10
Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |