I must warn you that this passage covers graphic sins. God chose Abraham so that he and we will as Genesis 18:19 says:
…keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just… ~Genesis 18:19 (NIV)
The challenge is to know what is right and just in every aspect of life, from indigenous injustice, marital conflict, courtroom verdicts or work disputes. Of course, there is no justice if there is no judge or if the judge of all the earth does not do right.
Certainly, the God of Abraham keeps his promises.
1. Promise to bless
Three angels come in human form to Abraham, they let him know that Sarai will be with child within a year. Nothing new, its a promise repeated many times over 25 years, this time we have a timetable – 365 sleeps. It’s the difference between knowing Jesus is coming back and knowing Jesus is coming back in January 2022.
90-year-old Sarah burst out in doubt-filled laughter and when confronted about this, Sarah lied, reminding us that God does not need our faith to do miracles. In response the angel of the Lord said:
Is anything too hard for the Lord? ~Genesis 18:14 (NIV)
If that is hard then try promising a baby to a young virgin. Nothing is impossible for God, He can turn guilty sinners into forgiven saints, He can raise the dead and give life.
2. The Angel of the Lord also brings the promise of judgment.
God tells his friend Abraham of his plans to judge
Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. ~Genesis 18:20-22 (NIV)
God comes in response to the great cry of distress about the great sin of Sodom. But God is just and will not punish cities without all the facts, 2 of the 3 angels welcomed by Abraham now go to Sodom to find out firsthand the reports. One of the 3 - the angel of the Lord - remains with Abraham. God opens the door for his friend to plead for the city and Abraham takes up the opportunity. This is the first case of intercession, Abraham begins with a question
Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” ~Genesis 18:23 (NIV)
Will innocent victims get caught in the crossfire of God's Judgment? Can God be just and allow collateral damage? But as is often the case, our problem with Gods justice is tied to a person. We may have a problem with Hell, we may feel like punishment is greater than the crime, but what makes us feel the problem is because we loved people who don’t love Jesus and are facing a Christless eternity.
For Abraham his nephew Lot is in Sodom about to get nuked, if Sodom goes so will Lot. As important as Lot is, God's justice is even more important, Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing —to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” ~Genesis 18:24-25 (NIV)
I’m not sure whether Abraham is telling God he shouldn’t or asking God not to or declaring that he won't or a bit of all three.
Everything hangs on that the judge of all the earth does right, if he doesn’t then there is no hope for the rest of us. God allows Abraham to ask, question and probe because Abraham is pleading the case for the righteous
The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” ~Genesis 18:26 (NIV)
How many righteous people will it take before God will spare the city? 50, 45, 30, 20,10
What is clear is that God is just and merciful, God will not let the righteous be punished with the wicked and God will let the wicked be saved for the sake of the righteous.
What a day Abraham had: promised a son, meeting 3 angels and intercedes for a city. All in a day's work, being God's friend gives you access to his plans and with it comes responsibility. You know Jesus is coming to judge the earth - That at the name of Jesus every knee will bow.
Prayer is such a neglected privilege for Gods people. Abraham pleaded for Sodom for the sake of 10 righteous people, we plead to God for others because of the one righteous one who was obedient all the way to death on a cross.
I beg you to pray for your love ones, plead to God that you would be bold enough to invite them to Explaining Christianity this Tuesday. Pray to God that they would say 'Yes', ask God to open their hearts. Who knows how history could have been re-written if there were not Christians interceding in cities and nations around the world.
Oh, the privilege of intercession, I think of a family whose mother died, leaving behind 3 teenagers and the father who is not a believer but 5 years later all 3 teenagers came to Christ through MBM, only to find that their neighbour has been praying for each of those 3 kids.
I remember one testimony of a woman who along with her friend both came to Christ after leaving school. They contacted their old Maths teacher who they knew was a Christian who had witnessed to them. He told them he had a floor plan of the class with each student and would pray for them each day that they may be saved. Friends don’t neglect the privilege of intercession.
3. Judgment begins
The 2 angels meet Lot at the town gates of Sodom and Lot pleads with them to stay under his roof and not in the town square. We don’t know how big the city is but we know how bad it is. We are told that every male in every part of the city, both young and old demand to rape Lot's guests.
Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 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.” ~Genesis 19:4-5 (NIV)
So much for the good old days, this is not some invite to a consensual gay orgy, this is gang rape and they will not take “No” for an answer, no substitutes will do
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 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.” ~Genesis 19:6-8 (NIV)
At this point we have just one question, why on earth did Lot offer his daughters, why didn’t Lot offer himself, unless they have already raped him. The bible does not justify Lot's act just as it did not approve of Abraham abandoning Sarah in Egypt. The bigger issue is that such wickedness has been going on for a very long time in this city, 20 years earlier we are told that the men of Sodom were sinning greatly against the LORD. God himself would not let Lots daughters pay the price, He will not let the righteous pay the penalty for the unrighteous. So the rapists were struck down with blindness and restrained. Notice the responses to the loving warning of judgment
a. Sons-in-law laugh in the face of warnings
Lot pleaded with the men of Sodom to not rape his guests and now he pleads with his sons-in-law to hurry and escape
But his sons-in-law thought he was joking. ~Genesis 19:14b (NIV)
The idea of a 2nd coming and the existence of hell is viewed as ridiculous. Our world lives in the moment and for the moment and warning people to escape hell is seen as manipulative but isn't that what every shark sign on beaches is doing.
Listen to what Jesus said:
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. ~Luke 12:5 (NIV)
The advantage of getting people to read the bible is that Jesus gets to say it.
b. Lot himself lingers
As the angels drag Lot into the house, now they drag Lot out of the city
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.” 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 Lord was merciful to them. ~Genesis 19:15-16 (NIV)
Do you know the Urgent-Important matrix? This would be both important and urgent. The angels have one word, Hurry. My mum would tell me that when the sirens went on during the war in Malta you didn’t finish your cup of tea, once those bombs fell that was it.
The angels tell Lot to head for the hills and he, unbelievably, negotiates where to go
But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 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.” ~Genesis 19:19a-20 (NIV)
What a fool, you would think the angels would know where was the safe place to go.
I remember a well-known doctor being asked on TV, what will it be like when he meets God? He said “I guess there will be a bit of negotiation taking place” That man died and has met the God who does not negotiate.
The sons-in-law laugh, Lot himself lingers and Lots wife longingly looks back.
c. Lots wife longingly looks back
They are explicitly told not to look back on the city of Sodom, but Lots wife looks back and places herself under the same judgment.
But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. ~Genesis 19:26 (NIV)
Her heart was still in the city of Sin and now her body was destroyed in the judgment of that city. She had become like the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah, don’t look back, don’t go back, don’t love the world, it is passing away and so will you if you love it.
d. Judgment day has come—this is a taste of hell itself.
… he [God] condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; ~2 Peter 2:6 (NIV)
This judgment is just, it is personally handed out from the Lord. This judgment is permanent. They rebuilt Hiroshima after WWII but they never rebuilt Sodom, the Judgment serves as an example to all, friends God don’t make promises he don’t keep. God commands all people everywhere to repent or else.
Just when you think it could not get worse for Lot he finally runs to the Mountains to live in a cave with his daughters. Lot's daughters realise there are no men to have children with and they panic and get their Dad drunk and have sex with him. We now move from gang rape to incest.
They clearly learnt from Sodom and not the judgment on Sodom. Lot has reaped what he had sown, he led his daughters into Sodom, he offered to hand them over to rapists and now he is himself raped by his own daughters. Each daughter gave birth to a son and each son fathered a nation, the Moabites and the Ammonites. It was the Moabites who lured Israel to idolatry and sexual immorality and the story goes on.
You sow a wind - you reap a whirlwind
Sin of one generation - passed on to the next
Flee from sexual immorality 1 Corinthians 6:18. Run don’t walk, for your sake, for the sake of your family/church and for the sake of the next generation. Brothers and sister its not just about you. If your hand causes you to sin, don’t get a manicure, cut it off.
Sexual sin thrives in the dark and dies in the light, come clean with others, let's be a community that does not pretend, we know grace enough to confess our sin to one another.
There is a sin greater than the sin of Sodom, Jesus said to a town of Capernaum who saw his miracles.
… you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you [Capernaum] had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” ~Matthew 11:23-24 (NIV)
Capernaum is guilty of a greater sin and a greater judgment than Sodom. What? Because rejecting Jesus is even more serious than gang rape. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But let me leave you there, Lot is such a flawed person, on the one hand he is atrocious, he exposes his family to sin, he abandons his daughters. On the other hand, he is described as a righteous man who pleads with others to be saved, he grieves over the sin of Sodom and he heeds the call to run. He is like you and me, by nature Gods enemy and by grace Gods friend.
Christians are at the same time both righteous and sinners. In verse 29, Lot is saved because God remembered his gracious promises to Abraham and we are saved because God remembers his gracious promises in Christ.
The good news, from Moab, birthed in incest eventually came a godly woman called Ruth who marries a son of Abraham from whom will come King David from whom came the greater David, the Lord Jesus.
We are saved not because of 10 righteous persons or 5 or 2. It will take one truly righteous person for God to spare the guilty
…through the obedience of the one man, the many will be made righteous. ~Romans 5:19c (NIV)
Have you ever wondered how can God be right and make us right when we are so wrong? Because of God so willingly experiencing the full wrath of God for just judgment for our sins at the cross, that is how the judge of all the earth does right?
As Lot took the hand of the angel, we take the hand of Jesus that was stretched out on the cross seeking to do what is right and just.