BOTH COMPROMISE WITH MORAL DEPRAVITY AND DIVINE JUDGMENT PUT WORLDLY BELIEVERS AT RISK
Illustration: W. H. Griffith Thomas: Like Lot, much of the American church has moved into downtown Sodom. We’re so surrounded by its stench that we don’t notice it any more. A ship in the water is perfectly right, but water in the ship would be perfectly wrong. The Christian in the world is right and necessary, but the world in the Christian is wrong and disastrous.
Not arguing for a separate class of “carnal believers”; yet in this story we see a man – Lot – whom the Scriptures characterize as “righteous” involved in a life of compromise with moral depravity. The bad life choices that Lot has made are now going to come home to roost. Earlier we saw some of the consequences as Abraham had to rescue Lot and the inhabitants of Sodom from the attack by the coalition of kings in chap. 14. Now we see more of the tragic consequences of his conformity to the world.
I. (:1-11) COMPROMISE WITH MORAL DEPRAVITY PUTS WORLDLY BELIEVERS AT RISK
A. (:1-3) Godly Virtues (Like Hospitality) Cannot Protect Against Compromise with Moral Depravity
1. (:1a) Opportunity for Hospitality
“Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.”
Very different visit to Lot (even though some parallels) with a very different message – one of impending doom rather than future blessing
They arrived in darkness –
“sitting in the gate” – look at the progression of Lot conforming his life to worldliness – now we find him in prominent leadership role in depraved city of Sodom
– 13:12 “moved his tent as far as Sodom”
– 14:12 “dwelling in Sodom”
His connection to Abraham probably contributed to his popularity
Steven Cole: Sodom shows us the world without God. On one level, it is an ugly, repulsive picture. It was a city where it wasn’t safe to be on the streets after dark, where not only the young men, but even the old (19:4) were living to satisfy their lusts, even if it meant homosexually raping two visitors. But on another level, Sodom, like our society, had its attractive side. It was sophisticated and prosperous.
Ezek 16:48-50 — sins of Israel compared to Sodom
2. (:1b-2a) Offer of Hospitality
“When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, ‘Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.’”
Difference: he did not run to meet them
MacArthur: most likely not just courtesy, but an effort to protect them from the known perversity of the Sodomites
3. (:2b) Option of Spending the Night in the Public Square
“They said however, ‘No, but we shall spend the night in the square.’”
Rejecting the initial offer of hospitality
Parunak: Possible Motive of 2 angels in initially refusing hospitality from Lot:
– Given the inhospitable nature of the rest of the people of Sodom, they want to test whether Lot is being superficial or whether he really wants them to stay. Unlike Abraham, who recognized one of the visitors as the Lord, Lot and his family “entertained angels unawares” (Heb 13:2). He is genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of these strangers, an indication of the “righteousness” that the NT ascribes to him (2 Peter 2:7).
– The angels’ task, according to 18:21, is to verify the condition of Sodom. Perhaps they propose to do this by observing the city at night, a good time to detect its moral fibre.
4. (:3) Insistence on Hospitality
“Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.”
B. (:4-11) Good Intentions Cannot Protect Against Compromise with Moral Depravity
1. (:4-5) Compromise with the World Puts One in Dangerous Situations
“Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’”
These were men that Lot knew well
2. (:6-8) Conflict with Wickedness Cannot Be Resolved by Alternative Wickedness
“But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, ‘Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.’”
Brave action on Lot’s part; understood and took seriously his responsibilities as host
MacArthur: Lot’s response betrayed tension in his ethics; his offer to gratify their sexual lust contradicted his plea not to act “wickedly.” Such contradiction make clear also the vexation of spirit under which he lived in wicked Sodom (cf. 2 Pe:6,7).
Parunak: But sacrificing his daughters isn’t right! We see here the dilemma of those who try to enjoy the friendship of the world: they are caught in moral dilemmas in which there is no way to live godly. Consider once again 2 Pet 2:7, which says that he was “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.” Vexation will be our lot as well if we allow ourselves to sympathize with the world.
Bob Deffinbaugh: Lot’s response is typical of his spiritual state; it is a strange blend of courage and compromise, of strength of character and situationalism. The crowd demanded that Lot turn over his guests, an unthinkable violation of the protection guaranteed one who comes under the roof of your house. Lot stepped outside, closing the door behind him, hoping to defuse the situation. He pleaded with them not to act wickedly, and, just as we are about to applaud his courage, he offers to surrender his two daughters to the appetites of these depraved degenerates. How unthinkable! Lot’s virtue (his concern for his guests) has become a vice (a willingness to substitute his own daughters for strangers).
3. (:9) Community Relationships Can Go South in a Hurry When the Wicked are
Consumed with Carnal Lusts
“But they said, ‘Stand aside.’ Furthermore, they said, ‘This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.’ So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.”
4. (:10-11) Countermeasures Only Succeed via Supernatural Intervention
a. Saving Hands
“But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.”
Horse collar tackle
b. Smiting Hands
“And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.”
Flash bombed them
Even after being blinded they are so driven by their lustful depravity that they continue to press forward
II. (:12-26) DIVINE JUDGMENT PUTS WORLDLY BELIEVERS AT RISK
A. (:12-16) Danger of Hesitating Instead of Responding with Urgency
1. (:12-13) Warning of Imminent Destruction
“Then the men said to Lot, ‘Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it.’”
They had come to check out the moral condition of the city; not any question as to the depth of its depravity and what God would now do
2. (:14) Weakness of Lot’s Family Leadership
“And Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, ‘Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city.’ But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”
Parunak: “Married” may mean either that these daughters were already out of the house, or that they were engaged to the two daughters who were in the house and left Sodom with him. Probably they were already married, since v.15 distinguishes the two daughters who left with him as those “which are here.” Thus Lot’s extended family includes at least eight people: himself, his wife, two daughters at home, at least two married, and their husbands. This may have been the grounds for Abraham’s plea for ten.
Compare Paul’s assessment of the gospel as “the foolishness of God” in 1 Cor 1:25; cf. 1 Cor 3:18, we are to become fools in the world’s eyes for the sake of Christ. They do not believe either
• the seriousness of their sin,
• the fact of the coming judgment, or
• the nature of the escape that God has provided.
S. Lewis Johnson: You see, the Christian man because of his worldliness has lost his testimony in the midst of the unsaved. It’s always that way. It’s always that way. If you want to reach the lost, you have to be different, not the same, different. It is Abraham who is able to reach those who are outside of Christ. Not Lot, not the men who went down and was the lovely citizen in the community, gained influence and position as if that were a testimony to the grace of God; it was just the opposite. It was Abraham who was the man of God and was able to exhort the vile sinners.
3. (:15-16) Waffling When It Came Time for Action
a. Direct Instructions
“And when 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.’”
b. Divided Loyalties
“But he hesitated.”
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21)
c. Divine Intervention
“So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.”
Parunak: “The men laid hold” of him, his wife, and his daughters by the hand. Each angel has two in tow, one in each hand, like little children who must be led across the street lest they scamper away.
B. (:17-23) Danger of Repeating Your Mistakes Instead of Learning From Them
1. (:17) Urgent Command to Flee to Safety
“And it came about when they had brought them outside, that one said,”
Chiastic structure of 4 instructions:
A1 “Escape for your life!”
B1 “Do not look behind you,”
B2 “and do not stay anywhere in the valley;”
A2 “escape to the mountains,”
Motive: “lest you be swept away.”
Act of divine mercy for God to warn people ahead of time of coming judgment and of way of escape
Song: The Gambler
“Know when to hold them;
know when to fold them;
know when to walk away and know when to run”
Chorus: “I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back; the cross before me; the world behind me”
2. (:18-20) Uninformed Compromise that Maintains Exposure to Risk
“But Lot said to them, ‘Oh no, my lords! Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest the disaster overtake me and I die; now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.’”
Steven Cole: Lot wants to barter with them to keep a bit of his old way of life intact. He thanks them for their mercy in saving him, but then he protests that he can’t flee to the mountains as they tell him to do. That would be just a bit too much. Instead, he wants permission to go to a small town nearby, the implication being that since the town was small (Zoar means “small”), its sins won’t be too bad. Derek Kidner observes, “Not even brimstone will make a pilgrim of him: he must have his little Sodom again if life is to be supportable” (Genesis [IVP], p. 135). Note that God didn’t prevent him. The Lord will let you hang onto your sinful way if you insist on it.
3. (:21-22a) Unending Mercy Despite Lot’s Failure to Obey
“And he said to him, ‘Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.’”
How could Lot have received such mercy when he was so stubborn and unwilling to learn the lessons God wanted to teach him? Intercessory prayer of Abraham
4. (:22b-23) Unimpressive Name for Unimpressive Town
“Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar. The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar.”
Name of town means “small”
C. (:24-26) Danger of Looking Back Instead of Forsaking and Fleeing
1. (:24-25) God Raining Hell on Earth
“Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone 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.”
Constable: All that Lot had gained by living in Sodom burned up like wood, hay, and stubble (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). The Apostle Peter cited Lot as an example of the Lord”s deliverance of the godly from trials that He uses to punish the ungodly ( 2 Peter 2:6-10). John called believers not to love the world or the things in the world because they will pass away ( 1 John 2:15-17).
2. (:26) Lot’s Wife Refusing to Forsake and Flee
“But his wife, from behind him, looked back; and she became a pillar of salt.”
MacArthur: she became poignant example of disobedience producing unwanted reaction at judgment day (cf. Lk. 17:29-32), even as her home cities became bywords of God’s judgment on sin (cf. Is. 1:9; Ro 9:29; 2 Pe 2:5-6).
(:27-29) EPILOGUE – DIVINE DELIVERANCE IN THE MIDST OF DIVINE DESTRUCTION
A. (:27-28) Vision of Abraham – Divine Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
“Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the LORD; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace.”
Abraham had been praying for Lot
B. (:29) Value of Abraham – Divine Deliverance of Lot
“Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.”
God saved Lot because He remembered Abraham; associated with God’s blessing of Abraham
Constable: “The substitution of Abraham for Lot in this sentence [“God remembered Abraham,” Genesis 19:29; cf. Genesis 8:1] makes an important theological point. Lot was not saved on his own merits but through Abraham”s intercession.” [Note: Wenham, Genesis 16-50 , p59.]
Abraham rescued Lot twice: from the Mesopotamian kings (ch14) and from Sodom.
Bob Deffinbaugh: these verses underscore the real reason Lot was spared. While a just God would not destroy the righteous with the wicked (18:25), the stress here is that ‘the prayers of a righteous man availeth much’ (James 5:16). It was Abraham’s faithfulness and not Lot’s which resulted in Lot’s deliverance. Humanly speaking, there was little reason for sparing Lot other than the character of God and the concern of Abraham over his fate.
Mal. 4:1-2 “’For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze.’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,’ says the Lord of hosts.”