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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 19

 

 

Verses 1-38

SODOM'S WICKEDNESS EXPOSED

Not in the heat of the day, but in the evening, the two angels arrived at Sodom. Lot was sitting in the gate, the place of a judge. He was a believer making an effort to control the evil natures of ungodly men. Many Christians since that time have attempted to make the world better by their entering politics, but the Christian is "not of this world;" rather he has a message of grace that has power to deliver people "out of this present evil world" (Galatians 1:4), and give them an eternal inheritance in heavenly places. For the world is destined to the judgment of God (Acts 17:31): If we are faithful witnesses we shall warn sinners of this and tell them of the only possible escape through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than doing this, Lot settled in Sodom with apparently some hope of improving it. He was a righteous man, but he "tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds" (2 Peter 2:8). He was simply in the wrong place, and rendered himself incapable of warning the people of God's judgment against evil.

Lot met the angels very respectfully, though not with the refreshing enthusiasm of Abraham. Abraham had run to meet them and bowed himself to the earth: Lot rose and bowed with his face toward the earth, a more stiff, formal greeting. Being a believer, he invited the men into his house to spend the night, suggesting that they rise early and continue their journey. Perhaps he felt it would not be too safe for the men to stay long. His invitation was not a warm one, and the men responded that they would remain outside for the night. However, Lot urged them strongly. No doubt he realized the danger they would be in if they were outside.

They accepted his invitation and he prepared a feast for them, including unleavened bread which he baked (v.3). Abraham's meal had been simple, wholesome food, though he spoke of it as only "a morsel of bread." Lot evidently prepared city fare, possible rather elaborate, to make an impression. As to the unleavened bread, since leaven symbolizes evil, the scriptural teaching of unleavened bread is separation from evil. Was Lot telling his visitors that he believed in separation from evil? If so, his life style did not back it up.

But their visit was rudely interrupted by many men of Sodom, both young and old, boldly demanding that the two men who came to Lot's home should come out and be subjected to the horror of homosexual relations (vs.4-5).

Lot's concern for his guests was commendable. He even went outside, closing the door after him, to plead for the two men who had come under the shelter of his roof (vs.6-8). but his offer to sacrifice his daughters was far from commendable. How could he offer his virgin daughters to men of such vile character? Indeed, he had no right to offer them to anybody, for children are not actually the property of their parents, and besides, they were already engaged to be married (v.14). As to the two men, he says the reason they had come to Lot's home was for protection. How different were Abraham's words in ch.18:5, who realized that his visitors had come to have their hearts comforted by Abraham's fellowship. We may be sure that the two angels would not have allowed Lot to give his daughters to the men of the city.

However, the men would not even accept Lot's daughters, but spoke defiantly, telling him that he had come as an alien to their city, and now was acting as a judge. Of course there was some truth in this, as Lot would have to recognize. Similarly, a Christian has no proper rights of citizenship in this present evil world, let alone having the right of acting as a judge in the world's affairs. His citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). May we be preserved from unholy mixtures such as that with which Lot became involved.

When the men threatened to use Lot worse than they had wanted to use the men, then the two men quickly pulled Lot back into the house and closed the door. But besides, they used the power of God to inflict blindness upon the attackers, so that this thwarted their intentions. It is a picture of the way in which God will inflict judicial blindness upon the ungodly who have willingly blinded themselves to the truth of His word and laid themselves open to His dreadful judgment. Such blinding is a warning of greater judgment to come.

LOT'S ESCAPE FROM SODOM

With great urgency the men then speak to Lot. No slightest doubt remains as to the enormity of Sodom's wickedness: they have brazenly demonstrated it in public way. The only answer to this whole matter is the well deserved judgment of God. Lot is told to see that all his relatives are rescued from the city, son in law, sons and daughters, "bring them out of this place." (v.12). For they would destroy the city because its iniquity had exceeded all bounds and the Lord had sent them to destroy it. What news of terrible import for Lot!

Being warned of the imminent judgment of Sodom and strongly urged by the angels, Lot went out to speak to his sons in law who were to marry his daughters (v.14). Why did he not warn his sons? Did he consider it no use to say anything to them? Sad to say, his own life had not been consistent with any warning of judgment he might give, and it is not surprising if his sons received no good, solid instruction from him, backed up by faithful example. But what effect did his words have on his sons in law? They thought he was only joking. They would surely not have thought this if Lot had before shown any serious conviction that the Lord strongly disapproved of the evil of Sodom. Had he made a habit of joking in this way? Let us be deeply serious in our testimony to the fact that God's judgment will fall very soon upon an ungodly world, and that only in Christ Jesus is there any escape.

Even Lot himself was insensitive to the imminent danger he was in. When morning came the angels had to urge him to leave the city. Yet, still he lingered. Did he want to at least take some of his possessions with him? Then the angels literally took him, his wife and his two daughters by the hand and virtually dragged them out of the house. They had two hands each, so that was all they could take (v.16).

Bringing them outside of Sodom, the angels told Lot to escape for his life, not even to look behind him nor stay in the plain, but escape to the mountains from the danger of being consumed (v.17). The mountains speak of a level higher than that of the world, typically the presence of God, the only real safety.

But Lot, though a believer, shows no real faith in the clearly announced word of God. He protests to the angels that, though he appreciates their kindness in actually saving his life, yet he is fearful that there might be some terrible disaster awaiting him in the mountains. He ought to have been so fearful of the judgment of Sodom as to escape from it as far as he could. But he singles out a town not too far away. and asks permission to go there, since it was near and also only small (v.19).

The angels gave him this permission, saying that that town would be spared when Sodom was destroyed. But he is told to hurry, and moreover that nothing could be done before he arrived there at Zoar. Such is the protecting care of God over one believer! This tells us that Lot was evidently the only righteous inhabitant of Sodom.

THE OVERTHROW OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH

By the time Lot entered Zoar the sun had risen (v.23). The people of Sodom and Gomorrah, seeing the bright sunshine, would be happily prepared for another day of sinful pleasure. But what a shock! Judgment from God suddenly falls in the form of brimstone and fire such as a volcanic eruption might produce (v.24), though we are not told the means of this terrible catastrophe. Some would be killed immediately, no doubt others would have time to realize that God was punishing them for their gross wickedness. But it was too late to escape. The judgment and desolation was total. Every inhabitant of the cities and all the vegetation was destroyed. But this is a picture of a greater judgment still: "As it was in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed" (Luke 17:28-30). 1 Thessalonians 5:3 comments on this, "When they say, Peace and safety, "then sudden destruction comes upon them -- and they shall not escape."

Lot had entered Zoar, but not his wife: she, from behind him, "looked back; and she became a pillar of salt" (v.26). She apparently lagged behind. Her heart was evidently still in Sodom. It seems that Lot had obtained her in Sodom, for we do not read of her before he went there. Such an unequal yoke in marriage might explain why Lot remained there as long as he did when he was continually trouble by "the filthy conversation of the wicked." They had been told not to look back, but the fear of God had not really laid hold of her soul. "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32). Salt is a preserving agent, but this is only a preserved testimony to the folly of unbelief.

Abraham rose early that morning to go to the place where had interceded with the Lord, evidently a point from which he could view the area of Sodom and Gomorrah. How deeply he would be affected in seeing the smoke from the land going up like the smoke of a furnace (v.28). He might well wonder if Lot had been killed in that terrible catastrophe. Yet verse 24 tells us that God remembered Abraham in this case, and delivered Lot, who was evidently the only righteous person in either Sodom or Gomorrah (v.29). We have no information, however, as to whether Abraham ever knew of Lot's escape. He had lost everything except his two daughters, and though in poverty, he may have been too ashamed to try to contact his uncle Abraham.

LOT'S PATHETIC DEGRADATION

Lot had pled to go to Zoar, but after Sodom's destruction he became afraid to remain in Zoar, and took the angels' previous advice to flee to the mountains. Abraham walked generally by faith, but Lot had not learned such a lesson: he was moved at this time by fear. He found a cave in which he lived with his daughters. How deeply impoverished he had become! Lot's history is a warning indeed to every child of God, that friendship with the world will lead, not necessarily to material poverty, but always to spiritual poverty.

The scheming of Lot's daughters to have children by their father is a sad comment on what they had learned in Sodom (vs.31-32). Also, Lot had so sunk down in unconcern about the honor of the Lord that he would allow himself to become so drunk as to not realize what he was doing. Nor was this only once, but a second time on the following night (vs.34-35). We may wonder even at the survival of the children, but the first became the father of the Moabite nation, the second the father of the Ammonites, both of them proving to be troublesome enemies of Israel.

Nothing more is recorded of Lot after this time, not even his death One writer suggests that this was not necessary because he had practically died long before!

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Genesis 19:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/genesis-19.html. 1897-1910.

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