Sodom and Gomorrah
Romans 6:23, ESV
For the wages of sin is death,
but the free gift of God
is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
but the free gift of God
is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Genesis 18:16-21, NIrV
16 The men got up to leave. They looked down toward Sodom. Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 He will certainly become a great and powerful nation. All nations on earth will be blessed because of him. 19 I have chosen him. He must direct his children to live in the way that pleases me. And he must direct the members of his family after him to do the same. So he must guide all of them in doing what is right and fair. Then I, the Lord, will do for Abraham what I have promised him.”
20 The Lord also said, “The cries against Sodom and Gomorrah are very great. Their sin is so bad 21 that I will go down and see for myself. I want to see if what they have done is as bad as the cries that have reached me. If it is not, then I will know.”
Today's verses pick up in the middle of a story we’ve already looked at. If you remember, God visited Abraham in the form of a man, with two angels by his side. Why had God stopped by old Abe’s tent? To give him some great news. In one year, his 89-year-old wife Sarah would miraculously have a baby. While he was in Abe’s neighborhood, God also let Abraham in on his secret plans. The nearby cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were so spectacularly sinful, God planned to destroy them. This news troubled Abraham – for a good reason. His dear nephew Lot lived in the city of Sodom!
+ Look back at Genesis 13:11-13, back when Abram and Lot decided to split up. What does it say about where Lot lived and what the people of Sodom were like? (vs. 12-13)
Genesis 18:22-26, NIrV
22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom. But Abraham remained standing in front of the Lord. 23 Then Abraham came up to him. He said, “Will you sweep away godly people along with those who are evil? 24 What if there are 50 godly people in the city? Will you really sweep it away? Won’t you spare the place because of the 50 godly people in it? 25 You would never kill godly people along with those who are evil, would you? Would you treat them all alike? You would never do anything like that! Won’t the Judge of the whole earth do what is right?”
26 The Lord said, “If I find 50 godly people in the city of Sodom, I will spare it. I will spare the whole place because of them.”
When Abraham learned that the sinful city of Sodom would soon be demolished, he spoke up. If he kept silent, his nephew Lot would be destroyed alongside all of Sodom’s sinners. Now, Abraham knew that the Lord was a good God. And a good God like the Lord certainly wouldn’t punish righteous people (those who did what God said was right) along with all the wicked people (those who did what God said was wrong). So he dared to ask the King of the Universe a question about his plan: “If there are 50 righteous people in the city of Sodom? Will you still destroy them, too?”
+ Why did Abraham ask his question to God?
+ What answer did God give to Abraham’s question? (vs. 26)
Genesis 18:27-33, NIrV
27 Then Abraham spoke up again. He said, “I have been very bold to speak to the Lord. After all, I’m only dust and ashes. 28 What if the number of godly people is five fewer than 50? Will you destroy the whole city because there are five fewer people?”
“If I find 45 there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
29 Once again Abraham spoke to him. He asked, “What if only 40 are found there?”
He said, “If there are 40, I will not do it.”
30 Then Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me. Let me speak. What if only 30 can be found there?”
He answered, “If I find 30, I will not do it.”
31 Abraham said, “I have been very bold to speak to the Lord. What if only 20 can be found there?”
He said, “If I find 20, I will not destroy it.”
32 Then he said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me. Let me speak just one more time. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “If I find ten, I will not destroy it.”
33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left. And Abraham returned home.
God agreed to save the city of Sodom if he could find 50 righteous people within its walls. But there was still a problem. Sodom was spectacularly sinful! Abraham doubted God would find 50 people there who followed the Lord’s commands! Abraham asked, “What about five fewer folks?” When God kindly agreed to lower the number to 45 people, Abraham just kept asking God to go even lower. “How about 40? Perhaps 30? Maybe 20?” In the end, God reduced his number all the way down to ten! If God could find two handfuls of righteous people in Sodom, the sinful city would be spared.
+ How many times did Abraham ask God to lower the number of people? (vs. 27-32)
+ Why do you think Abraham kept asking God to lower his number?
Genesis 19:1-4, 9-11, NIRV
1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening. Lot was sitting near the gate of the city. When Lot saw the angels, he got up to greet them. He bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please come to my house. You can wash your feet and spend the night there. Then you can go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered. “We’ll spend the night in the town square.”
3 But Lot wouldn’t give up. So they went with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them. He baked bread without using yeast. And they ate. 4 Before Lot and his guests had gone to bed, all the men came from every part of the city of Sodom. Young and old men alike surrounded the house.
9 “Get out of our way!” the men of Sodom replied to Lot. “You came here as an outsider. Now you want to act like a judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept trying to force Lot to open the door. Then they moved forward to break it down.
10 But the the angels inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they made the men who were at the door of the house blind. They blinded both young and old men so that they couldn’t find the door.
In the end, the ridiculously low number of ten righteous people was still way too high for a sinful city like Sodom! These verses give us a frightening picture of just how evil its people had become. When God’s two angels arrived in town, Abraham’s nephew Lot begged them to stay in his home. He knew it wasn’t safe for them to sleep in the city square. The mean men of Sodom were ready to break down Lot’s door and do terrible things to Lot's heavenly guests. Even after God's angels blinded their eyes, Sodom's devilish dudes wouldn’t stop trying to claw their way inside Lot’s house!
+ How many of the men of Sodom came to surround Lot’s house? (vs. 4)
+ Based on this, do you think there were ten righteous people in Sodom? Why or why not?
Genesis 19:12-17, NIRV
12 The two angels said to Lot, “Do you have any other family members here? Do you have sons-in-law, sons, daughters or any other relatives in the city? Get them out of here! 13 We are going to destroy this place. Many have cried out to the Lord against the people of this city. So he has sent us to destroy it.”
14 Then Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law. They had promised to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry up! Get out of this place! The Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
15 The sun was coming up. So the angels tried to get Lot to leave. They said, “Hurry up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out! If you don’t, you will be swept away when the city is destroyed.”
16 Lot didn’t move right away. So the men grabbed him by the hand. They also took hold of the hands of his wife and two daughters. They led all of them safely out of the city. The Lord had mercy on them. 17 As soon as the angels had brought them out, one of them spoke. He said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back! Don’t stop anywhere in the valley! Run to the mountains! If you don’t, you will be swept away!”
The sinful city of Sodom simply could not be saved. Still, God was kind. He sent his angels to lead Lot’s family out of harm’s way before the deadly fireworks began. They warned Lot, come sunrise, anyone left within the city would be toast! So Lot left to tell his sons-in-law. Though he was being deadly serious, both men thought Lot was joking! As the sunrise drew close, lollygagging Lot and his family were still inside Sodom. With the clock on Sodom’s destruction ticking, the angels grabbed the frozen family of four and dragged them to safety outside of sinful Sodom’s city walls.
+ Though he was going to destroy Sodom, what kind thing did God do for Abraham?
+ After dragging them out of the city, what did the angels tell Lot’s family to do? (vs. 17)
Genesis 19:23-29, NIRV
23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord sent down burning sulfur. It came down like rain on Sodom and Gomorrah. It came from the Lord. It came out of the sky. 25 The Lord destroyed these cities and the whole valley. All the people who were living in the cities were wiped out. So were the plants in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back. When she did, she became a pillar made out of salt.
27 Early the next morning Abraham got up. He returned to the place where he had stood in front of the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole valley. He saw thick smoke rising from the land. It looked like smoke from a furnace.
29 So when God destroyed the cities of the valley, he showed concern for Abraham. He brought Lot out safely when he destroyed the cities where Lot had lived.
How terrible it must have been to be inside the sinful cites of Sodom and Gomorrah the day God punished them for their sin! Fire rained down on them from the sky, destroying everyone and everything. Not a single person escaped. Like an erupting volcano, God’s fiery anger turned the whole area into nothing but a smoking pile of ash!
After dragging Lot’s family out of the city, the angels gave a clear warning: “Run! And whatever you do, don’t look back!” Sadly, Lot’s wife ignored the angels’ words and paid for it dearly! She was turned into a pillar of salt. What this means isn’t exactly clear; perhaps she was struck by the falling fire and burned into a salty pile of ash. Regardless of what happened, this glance back cost Lot’s wife her life!
The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a terrifying example of how God feels about sin. Like the waters of the great flood of Noah, the flaming fireballs over Sodom and Gomorrah paint a clear picture: God hates sin! It angers him and will bring his powerful punishment!
Here’s the bad news: the book of Romans reveals that all people have sinned. That includes you and me! And in the book of Luke, Jesus explains that the punishment for sin is a forever fiery death outside of God’s good kingdom! Like the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah, we’re headed straight for fiery destruction. That’s bad news!
But the great story of God’s Word is a good news story. And that good news is for sinners like you and me. As much as God hates sin, he also loves saving sinners! Just as he sent angels to drag Lot’s behind out of the city before the fire fell, he also sent someone to save us from our sins.
That person, of course, was Jesus, the only Son of God. He came to earth with a mission to rescue us from the forever fiery death of our sins. To complete that mission, Jesus had to do a whole lot more than grab a few sinners by their hands and drag them outside of a soon-to-be-destroyed city!
Because our sins earned the curse of death, Jesus volunteered to die in our place. Instead of you and me suffering a forever fiery death, Jesus died on a cross to pay the price of sin for all of us. And to prove that his rescue mission to defeat sin and death was a success, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
Though we are sinners like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, we aren’t doomed to destruction! Just like he sent angels to rescue Lot, God sent Jesus to rescue us! All we have to do is trust in him and God will save us from the fiery flames of destruction!
+ What does the story of Sodom and Gomorrah teach us about God’s feelings about sin?
+ What did Abraham see when he looked out toward the two cities? (vs. 28)