Today, we are continuing our series on the life of Abraham from the book of Genesis called Abraham – Hearing God’s Call. Why should we study the life of Abraham who lived thousands of years ago in a very different culture than ours? Speaking of an Old Testament story …
1 Corinthians 10:11 (ESV) Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
The stories in the Bible are not random. They are not just there to tell us what happened. The stories of people’s lives were written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to give us examples. Examples of what? Examples of how we should live lives of faith following God. Examples of how we should not live our lives. Examples of how God blesses those who obey and brings judgement on those who disobey. This verse says that these examples are for our instruction, as we live in the end of the ages.
So, what are we learning from Abraham’s example? We’re learning that God has a specific plan for each of our lives. We’re learning that God reveals His plan step by step as we go through life. We’re learning that there is always opposition to God’s plan, both from within ourselves and from outside. Finally, we’re learning of the importance of faith in believing God to fulfill His plan for us.
Today, our message is from Genesis 19 and I’ve entitled it “Evil Judged.” To understand Genesis 19, we need to review what has happened in Genesis 18. In that chapter, the Lord and two angels appeared to Abraham and Sarah. They first announced that within a year, Sarah would give birth to Isaac. Then they revealed to Abraham that the sin of Sodom was great and it was going to be destroyed by God. As Lot and his family, Abraham’s nephew lived in Sodom, Lot prayed that God would spare Sodom from destruction. The Lord said He would spare Sodom if He found ten righteous people there.
Today’s story of the sin and judgement of Sodom has a very important lesson. The city of Sodom is mentioned 50 times in the Bible, 40 times in the Old Testament and 10 times in the New Testament. Jude warns NT believers against false teachers who will be judged saying …
Jude 1:7 (ESV) just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
So the story of Sodom is an example of the power of intercession and a warning that evil behavior will be judged, both in this life and at the coming of Christ. Today, we’re going to learn four main principles that apply to our lives from Genesis 19.
In the last part of Genesis 18, the Lord said that the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah was very great and their sin was very grave, so He was going to visit and investigate.
Genesis 19:1 (ESV) 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.
Despite the fact that the grave sin of Sodom was widely known, Lot had chosen to live in that sinful city. And not just live there. He was sitting in Sodom’s gate, which was reserved for people of prominence in the city.
2 Peter 2:7 (ESV) and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked
Here we see that Lot did not indulge in the wickedness of Sodom, yet he was tormented by the evil around him and chose to continue living there. We’ll see that the end result for Lot will be the devastation of his entire family. It is apparent that Lot choose to live among vile sinners in order to reap financial gain and prominence in the city of Sodom. Lot’s story is a negative example for us of compromising with sin.
What about us today? How are we tempted to compromise with sin? As we’ll see the sin of Sodom that brought God’s judgement was sexual perversion, so we’ll focus on that today. The principles also apply to other types of sin as well. In America and around the world, sexual perversion has increased exponentially in the last 50 years or so. Technology has lowered the barriers for sexual sin. Pornography is rampant, among both men and women, as it is merely a click away on a phone. 43% of Americans now say porn is morally acceptable.[i] The percentage of those who endorse same-sex marriage has moved from 27% 20 years ago to 67% currently.[ii]
Of course, addiction to porn often leads to real life illicit sexual encounters of all kinds. Sexual encounters outside of marriage often leads to abortions. Only 14% of abortion patients are married, 86% are unmarried.[iii] Sexual sin destroys lives, marriages, cultures and ultimately brings God’s judgement.
We are tempted to approve of sexual sin around us or even to compromise with sexual sin in our own lives. God wants to help us live holy lives that point people to Jesus. Jesus can free them from the sin of sexual bondage and every other sin as well.
Genesis 19:4-5 (NIV2011) 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.”
Lot and the two angels had eaten supper together, but now at dusk, Lot’s house was surrounded by the men of Sodom. In the description of the event, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that all the men of Sodom were complicit in what was happening. The men demanded that Lot bring the two men (angels) out so that they could have homosexual sex with them. Now we are beginning to get an idea of the depravity and sexual perversion of Sodom. So Lot goes outside and tries to reason with the men.
Genesis 19:7-8a (ESV) 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.
Lot fully understood the homosexual intercourse was wicked and begged them not to insist on it with his guests. Then Lot inexplicably offers up his virgin daughters to be raped by the crowd. Perhaps Lot is trying to save his own life, but regardless there is no justification for his offer of his daughters. Lot has been infected with the evil of Sodom.
Genesis 19:9 (ESV) 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.
The crowd of men then threatens to rape Lot himself and break into the house. In the next verses, we read that the two angels rescued Lot by pulling him inside the house and struck the men outside with blindness. Now we see the evil of Sodom, unbridled homosexual lust.
Obviously today in America, homosexuality is more and more celebrated as being a virtue. Those who call it wrong and destructive are threatened. In parts of Europe today, simply preaching on this passage could lead to jail time. Yet, the Bible is clear, from Genesis to Revelation, that homosexual behavior is sin and keeps one out of the Kingdom of God.
Now, we need to understand. The temptation or inclination toward homosexuality is not wrong. What is wrong is indulging in homosexual acts. Just as being tempted to commit adultery is not wrong, but the act of adultery is. Not only is homosexual behavior wrong, but it is an indicator of a society that has turned its back on God and is liable for His judgement.
What should our response be? Well, people are addicted to all kinds of sins: drugs, alcohol, pornography, adultery and homosexuality. God can set people free from every kind of addiction, including homosexuality. But in order to be set free, a person must come out of denial and admit their sin. So, we must not celebrate sin, but simply speak the truth of God’s word with love.
Genesis 19:13-14 (ESV) 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.
The two angels had seen enough, they were going to destroy Sodom. Lot went out to try to save the men who were engaged to his daughters. The refused to listen to Lot and thought he was joking. They couldn’t believe that God was going to destroy Sodom. Lot’s daughters were going to marry men of Sodom, not having patience to wait for godly men.
Genesis 19:15-16 (ESV) 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.
The angels warned Lot that the time for destruction of Sodom was fast approaching. Yet, Lot lingered. Perhaps he really didn’t believe the angels. Maybe he didn’t want to leave the city. Whatever his reason, he was not in tune with God. However, because of the Lord’s mercy, the angels grabbed Lot and his family and sent him out of the city. The angels tell Lot to flee to the hills, but Lot begs to go to a small city nearby and the angel’s consent. So, we see God in His mercy, responding to Abraham’s prayer, rescuing Lot and his family. The city of Sodom could not be spared as there were not ten righteous, but only four of Lot’s family.
Lot is a rather pathetic man, even though he personally did not indulge in the sin of Sodom. Yet, because of Abraham’s prayer, God showed His mercy on Lot and His family and rescued them. God wants to rescue people today, people who are caught up in and compromised with sin in their lives. For those who are addicted to sin, as every unbeliever is, are headed for eternal destruction, unless they are rescued. God wants to use you to pray for their rescue and to help lead them to Jesus. Time is of the essence. Those who slip into eternity with believing in Jesus will be forever lost.
Genesis 19:24-25 (ESV) 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.
The sin of Sodom and the surrounding cities had reached the tipping point. The Lord completely destroyed Sodom and the other cities with sulfur and fire from heaven. Not a person survived in those cities. The wicked had been destroyed. When the angels led Lot, his wife and daughters out of Sodom, they gave them strict orders to not look back at Sodom.
Genesis 19:26 (ESV) But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
To properly interpret this verse, we need to look at what Jesus said of Lot’s wife in Luke 17:28-32. Jesus said that when He comes again, no one must turn to go back to the world. So, Lot’s wife, not only looked back to Sodom, she turned and went back, not believing the angels or her husband Lot. She was destroyed along with the other inhabitants of Sodom by sulfur and fire.
Genesis 19:29 (ESV) 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.
In the midst of the destruction of Sodom and the cities of the valley, God rescued Lot because of the prayers of Abraham. All that escaped were Lot and his two daughters, as God destroyed the wicked.
The destruction of Sodom is a picture of God’s wrath beginning to be poured out on sin in this age and fully at the return of Christ. It is a warning that unrepented sin will lead a person into eternal destruction. As believers, we must resist compromising with the sin that is all around us. Too often we laugh and joke about the evil that is destroying people’s lives. We must both recognize sin and seek to help those who are captive to it. God desires to use you and me and rescue people from the sin that keeps them in bondage. It’s only through faith in Jesus Christ, that people can be set free from being addicted to sin. It’s only through Jesus that people can have eternal life and escape eternal destruction.
[i] Gallup Inc, “More Americans Say Pornography Is Morally Acceptable,” Gallup.com, accessed June 7, 2018, http://news.gallup.com/poll/235280/americans-say-pornography-morally-acceptable.aspx.
[ii] “Gay and Lesbian Rights | Gallup Historical Trends,” accessed August 24, 2018, https://news.gallup.com/poll/1651/Gay-Lesbian-Rights.aspx.
[iii] “Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients in 2014 and Changes Since 2008 | Guttmacher Institute,” accessed August 24, 2018, https://www.guttmacher.org/report/characteristics-us-abortion-patients-2014.