June 2012

But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly. (Gen 13:13)

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. (Gen 18:2-21)

Abraham tried to bargain with God for the safety of the city. He started with fifty, and worked his way down to ten righteous, as the point at which he thought God would spare the city.

Verse 32 - And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once:
                 Peradventure ten shall be found there.
                 And he (God) said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.


The Bible doesn’t answer this very clearly. However, I suspect that Abraham was more concerned to achieve safety for Lot and his family, than he was for the rest of the city. He thought that ten was enough for that. It isn’t hard to get to ten. Count it on your fingers…...

Lot and his wife – Two.
Lot’s unmarried daughters – Two more.
Lot’s Sons-in-law – since the word is plural is plural there were at least Two. (plus their parents and siblings?)
Lot’s servants –perhaps Abraham was including some of Lot’s servants to make up his ten.
Maybe some of the “Elders” with whom Lot “sat in the gate”. (Genesis 19:1)

However Abraham had got the number wrong! Ten was too many! The city was indeed almost TOTALLY wicked! And some of those Abraham might have included in his ten, were actually amongst the wicked. When it came down to the final count only FOUR left Sodom! And only THREE of them escaped the fire! It would seem that Lot’s wife, and married daughters, and sons-in-law, must have been deeply involved somehow in the sin of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah …… involved enough to merit the same judgment on them as on the rest of the city!

Abraham knew God. He knew that God wouldn’t include the righteous in the same destruction as the wicked. But Abraham was limiting God. The righteous were going to be spared. But rather than spare the rest of the city for their sake, he simply took them out of the city before he destroyed it!

Lot was told not to “look behind”. I suspect that this does not mean simply looking over his shoulder to see what was happening. Rather I suspect it is more likely an example of Jewish idiom, which actually meant that he was not to change his mind about leaving the city. To escape the fire, he had to, completely and irrevocably, distance himself from the city and its wickedness. And it was urgent! It had to be done NOW! But Lot’s wife did “look back”. She changed her mind about leaving the city. And she was probably heading back towards the city when she was buried under that “pillar of salt”.**

Why did she do that? The most obvious suggestion is that it may have been to do with those married daughters back in the city. Was she perhaps going back to try to rescue them from the fire which had already started to fall? Or was she like those sons-in-law who rejected his warning as a joke? Or was she unwilling to leave behind her wealthy and easy life in Sodom? Was she involved somehow herself in the “sin of Sodom”?

Of course this is mere speculation there are no Biblical answers for those questions. What we do know is that her disobedience, whatever it was, brought her to the same judgment as the rest of the city. And that means there must have been something seriously wrong in her life, and her relationship with God.

We know this from the words of Jesus himself! In the time of the end, one of the warning signs that the Kingdom of God is finally about to be established, is that the “sin of Sodom” has again become epidemic in the earth. God is again going to destroy whole cities, and this time, even the whole earth, because of wickedness as great as that of Sodom when it was destroyed in the days of Lot.
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:28-30)

Obviously that fire hasn’t fallen yet. And it hasn’t fallen yet because God doesn’t change. He is the same God, still, who would spare a city as bad as Sodom, for the sake of ten righteous!
For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6 RSV)

There are still cities on the earth in which there are at least ten righteous! There are still some to come to salvation before the judgment falls. Are we amongst those for whom God is holding back the judgment?
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

It is surely significant that this generation has revived the “sin of Sodom”, virtually all over the world! It is no longer illegal! It is no longer considered shameful! It is no longer kept hidden, as it was when I was a kid! It has become public! It is flaunted! It has become accepted as a “personal choice”. Homosexuals are lobbying for the same right to “marry”, as exists for heterosexuals! And it has become “politically incorrect” to speak out against it.

We are surely living in the days of Lot, that Jesus told us were coming …… and Peter tells us not to doubt that. The fire is certain to fall WHEN GOD IS READY!
The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)

Peter calls us to separate ourselves from the wickedness of this end time world. He calls us to be “without spot and blameless”(2 Peter 3:14) so that when it happens God can keep us safe from the fire, just as in ancient times, the Bible tells us, he did for Lot.

** Of course Peter’s “destruction of the earth” should not be take too literally! God says elsewhere that the earth itself will never be destroyed.
     One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. (Ecclesiastes 1:4)

The “Earth” that is to be destroyed refers, not the literal globe itself, but to the people who live on it, and their corrupt political systems.

Peter is telling us that just as the literal earth itself was restored after the flood in Noah’s day, it will be restored again to establish the Kingdom ruled over by Jesus, and peopled by the righteous.

** There is a rock salt pillar on Mount Sodom in Israel, overlooking the Dead Sea, which for centuries has been known as “Lot’s wife”. Whether or not it is the authentic site of her awful judgment is not important. What is important is that men have remembered her fate, and saw fit to name the rock after her, They still use it as a memorial of the awful judgment she suffered. It has survived the centuries as a warning to all generations since, of the terrible consequences of “looking back” in willful disobedience.