This post is based on Genesis 19v23-38. In order to properly track with me, it would be beneficial to go and read that text first.
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
As we arrive in verse 23, Lot arrives in Zoar, and immediately the Lord rains down sulfur and fire on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroying every living thing, from all its inhabitants to what grew on the ground. This is total destruction. There is not one sinner outside of Lot and certain members of his family who escaped this judgement from God. Sin is no match for God. When it is time to punish it, it is punished completely. There was no place for any lost soul to hide within Sodom and Gomorrah. The city offered no refuge from a mighty and Holy God. There was no bunker, no closet, no basement, no nook or cranny anywhere to hide in from the wrath that rained down from the heavens on these wicked cities and these wicked people. God leaves no sin unpunished.
In verse 28 it says that “the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.” Sodom and Gomorrah were known throughout the lands for their wickedness. And God made sure their destruction was known throughout the lands. The total destruction that God levied against these cities was not just some egotistic, bully power-play. Not only was it the full just punishment for sin, but the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the example that they are, serve as a warning signal. This was actually merciful of God toward others. This was an example and a warning for the surrounding cities and others throughout the land to turn from their wickedness!
Warning of Future Judgment
Even more so, Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example for us. 2 Peter 2v6 tells us, “by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.” Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of the final judgment. What God did to Sodom and Gomorrah God will do to the ungodly, to unrepentant sinners who have rejected Christ, this will be their end. On that day, there will be no place to hide. There will be no other city to run to, there will be no cave to hide in. All will be laid bare and exposed before the judge of all the earth. It will be a day of terror for the wicked. There will be no sin that is left unpunished, and there will be no sin that is unknown to God. No one escapes.
As the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was on display to the world at that time, so God’s final judgment will be on display for all to see on that day. There will not be an eye that misses this mighty display of God’s justice, holiness, and wrath. On that day there will be no confusion on who the Lord is. There will be no mistaking what justice is.
While this judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah was at a certain time in a certain place, the final judgment will be an eternal one. It will not come to an end. It will be an eternal torment in a place where the fire never goes out. If this one was bad, the next one will be worse. It will be the judgment to end all judgments, that never ends.
Christ Was Judged For Us
Not only is Sodom and Gomorrah an example of God’s justice and wrath toward sinners, it is also an example of God’s mercy toward sinners. Just as God rescued Lot from destruction, so God will rescue all of his people from the final judgment. Scripture tells us that judgment is coming, but not before God redeems all the people He has set out to redeem.
There is still time to escape the wrath of God in the final judgment. Look to the smoke of Sodom and Gomorrah not to point a finger at God, but to flee a worse destruction. It’s a smoke signal that signals to us that now is the time to escape to Christ!
The only way to escape the coming judgment is in Christ. The only way of escape is repentance of sin and faith in Christ. It is not good intentions, or good effort, or some other well-meaning path. God does not give out a free-pass salvation. He gives out free substitution! All who would take Christ as their substitute, freely receives His salvation.
It was Christ who was consumed with this righteous wrath of God toward our sin on the cross. There, Jesus, our dear Lord, took the punishment that should have consumed and burned us to a crisp. Christ set us outside the city of God’s wrath, and went right into the flames of Sodom (so to speak) where we once lived. He swapped us places.
The cross is one and the same time a place of judgment, where Christ was judged for our sins, and it is also the place of salvation for sinners like us. Where Christ was judged, we are saved. Where Christ received wrath, we receive kindness. Where Christ received sin, we receive righteousness. Christ’s judgment is our salvation. Because Christ was judged for our sin, we are judged by His perfect righteousness.
The smoke of Sodom and Gomorrah went up as a warning. It went out as a declaration that God hates sin. But the blood of Christ flows out from the cross as a promise to save. It goes out as a declaration that God so loves the world.
Sin Can Destroy Our Own Lives
Though it was God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, the reason He did, was because of their sin and their great wickedness. So in one sense, sin destroyed them, or at least brought them to destruction by God. Sin destroyed their sense of morality, it destroyed their desire to practice restraint and self-control, it destroyed their society, and ended up destroying their lives. This is what sin does. It destroys. Ever since the garden, when sin entered the world, it began and has not stopped since, destroying lives, and destroying societies.
We would be wise to take heed and destroy sin in our own hearts and lives, before it destroys us. As John Owen famously put it, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” Sin will destroy us.
Even when we are believers and we have been truly redeemed by Christ, and we have been justified in Christ and declared righteous by God, even though we are rescued from experiencing the penalty of our sin, sin can still bring our life to ruins. Even though, if we are in Christ, we will never experience God’s wrath toward our sin, and even though we will never experience punishment for our sin, because Christ took those things for us, we will still face the earthly, natural consequences of our sin. If we think that because we are saved and secure then we are free to linger in sin, to mess around with it, or entertain it, we are gravely mistaken. Sin is a killer, and if we walk in it, it will bring destruction on our lives. I don’t know who said this first, but “sin first thrills, then it kills. It first fascinates, and then assassinates.” Sin is a Trojan horse. Do not be deceived and duped by the deceitfulness of sin. Sin makes us think that it is not big deal. That just a little bit won’t hurt anyone. That just one more time will be fine. And that no one has to know. But sin is a liar! Sin does not love you. It seeks to kill you.
But praise God that Christ has defeated sin. And Christ puts his Spirit in us, thus giving us the power to fight and resist sin. Jesus is sin’s kryptonite. It’s the only way we can defeat sin. So let us go to battle against sin, wrapped up in the power and the blood of Jesus.
Lot’s Wife Looked Back
In verse 26 we read of Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt. What an example she also is to us of sin destroying her life. In Genesis 19v17 as the angels are warning Lot and his family to flee the city of Sodom, they specifically tell them, “do not look back” as you flee. And so Lot’s wife, in verse 26, disobeys this command, as she looks back on Sodom. In a sense, what is she doing? She is looking back on her sin, she is looking back on the sin of Sodom, and the draw of worldliness that she loved.
In looking back to Sodom, Lot’s wife revealed where her heart was – with the sin and the worldliness of Sodom.
Salvation is looking to Christ, and Lot’s wife looked back to her sin. What a danger it is to look back longingly to the sin for which Christ died for. Looking to sin is turning from Christ. So Look to Christ and live!
How often do we look back wishfully on our sin? How often does our flesh tug at us to go back? This is a constant struggle for many believers, of looking back to our old life, our old ways, our old sin, our old self before we came to Christ. Believer, there is nothing to benefit by looking back on our sin with fond memories. It will only cause heartache, pain, struggling, and more sin. Look to Christ.
In the end, no one ever regrets turning away from sin. In eternity, as we bask in the presence of Christ in our glorified bodies, we will not wish for our old sin back. We will not wish that we had spent a little more time with it. We will not look back with fond memories upon it. You will never regret turning away from your past. On that day you will not regret denying your flesh, and looking to Christ.
We must not entertain our eyes with the false sparkle of sin, lest it ruin our lives. Look to Christ. As we go through this life, with this constant struggle of looking to Christ and looking to sin, we should cry out to God, as Jonathan Edwards so vividly put it, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” I love that. If we could only, always, have a glimpse of eternity on our eyes, we would not be fooled by the lied and the trappings of sin.
God Remembered Abraham
In verse 29 we find something very interesting. It says that when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham, and thus saved Lot. In the midst of God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, He remembers Abraham. He remembers Abraham’s intercession. So God saves Lot. The prayer of a righteous man is indeed effective.
So it is on the last day for us. Amidst God’s wrath toward the wicked, He will look upon us and remember Jesus. He will remember His Son, He will remember Christ’s work for us, His intercession for us, and we will be spared.
I imagine that as Abraham observed the smoke rising from Sodom this was a sobering moment for him. Indeed a sobering moment for Abraham, Lot, and any others who witnessed this destruction. Indeed a sobering passage for us as well. A reminder of God’s righteous hatred of sin, and of His knee-knocking mercy to spare His people.
But as we stand with Abraham, or as we are fleeing with Lot, observing the smoke rising as if from a furnace, the question that should come to our mind is this, “How did I escape that? Christ. Why did the Lord spare me from perishing with my fellow man? Christ.”
A moment of worship for Abraham, possibly. A moment of worship it should be for us.
Lot’s Daughters Sin
After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19 takes a rather strange turn. We read of this gross plot that Lot’s daughters devise to get their father drunk and sleep with him in order to preserve their father’s line. This is obviously a gross immorality.
Unfortunately, Lot’s daughters committed this vile act out of fear. After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his daughters flee to the hills to live in a cave. While living in the cave, Lot’s daughters come to the conclusion that they will never meet another man for them to marry, so they must commit this heinous deed against their father. The fear of their immediate circumstance blinded their moral judgment in a big way.
An extreme example of disobedience, but we must learn from this to be obedient to Scripture regardless what situation that puts us in. We must not abandon God’s wisdom for our wisdom. We must not let pragmatism get in the way of obedience.
Lot’s Failed Leadership
Of course, Lot is not entirely innocent in this scenario. First off, Lot failed to practice self-control when it came to the wine drinking. His drunkenness compromised his ability to protect himself and his daughters.
Secondly, this lack of morality that Lot’s daughters displayed, is most assuredly the type of immorality that they learned from their time living in Sodom. Lot failed to rightly instruct his daughters in the ways of the Lord and protect them from the wickedness of the city of Sodom.
From this event, both of Lot’s daughters become pregnant. From them the Moabites and the Ammonites are born, which of course, end up being antagonists to the nation of Israel.
Yet God Had Redemption on His Mind
Despite this grotesque sin of incest and the birth of evil nations, God had redemption on His mind. Later on in Scripture we read that Ruth was a Moabite woman. As we know, she ends up marrying Boaz, an Israelite. This is particularly providential because Boaz ends up being in the line from which Jesus is born. This of course means that Ruth, a Moabite woman, was in the line to Jesus. Talk about redemption.
The Lord is in the business of redeeming the most unlikely and backward situations, and business is booming.
If we think someone is too messed up, perverted, or sinful to be changed, think again. If we think that a situation is too messed up, backwards, or sinful to be redeemed, or work out for our good, think again. These are the people and the situations God habitually likes to redeem.
God Redeems Broken Families
Another lesson that we learn from this portion of Scripture, is that sometimes we have messed up and backward families. No one has a perfect family. We all have broken families to some to degree, and have experienced the pain of that brokenness. The Family relationship is one of the closest relationships that God created, and so when we experience that relationship breaking, to one degree, or another, it can cause excruciating pain.
Every family experiences this. Every family experiences sin, heartaches, breaks, and things not as they should be. And sin is the culprit. Ever since the garden, sin has been doing its best to ravage our families. Our sin has caused this fracture in our family relationships. Divorce, estranged relatives, desertion, arguing and offenses against one another, gossip, lies, broken promises, unfaithfulness, and betrayal. Our family relationships are hurt by these sins and many more.
But the Lord is up to something. He is making a family, a family of adopted sons and daughters through Jesus Christ. It is a family that will not be broken, backward, busted, or hurt by sin in any way, shape, or form. It will be healthy, and whole, and our Father will be the perfect Father, and we will be sons through the perfect Son.
God is putting back together, in a better way, what sin has taken apart. There will come a day when our family will cause us no more pain or sorrow. No more heart-break or headache. Though there may be a lifetime of brokenness and strife that never gets mended on this earth, it will not compare to the family that God is creating and adopting us into through the perfect Son, Jesus.
We’re not going to be nor can we be the perfect father, son, mother, daughter, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, or grandparent. And we cannot expect others to be those perfect things for us. But we have power to endure the sufferings of broken families because we have a perfect heavenly Father who loves us. And He has a perfect Son, who died for us. And He has given us a much bigger family, that one day when we are altogether in the new heavens and new earth in our glorified bodies, they will be bodies without sin. We will have perfect siblings in the faith, then.
This is a family stronger than human blood. It is a family that was forged in the furnace of God’s justice by the blood of Jesus. Jesus’ blood is blood that is thicker than blood.
God is taking all of us broken people, from broken families, and He is putting us together as one perfect family, held together with gospel glue.
The Lord is surely able to sympathize with our weaknesses for Jesus Himself, as we’ve seen, came from a broken, messed up, backward, sinful family in order to one day put an end to all the broken families and make one big perfect family through Him.
So how does the passage of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah connect with following passage of Lot’s incest with his daughters?
Immediately after God’s judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah, sin takes place with Lot’s daughters. Lot is in one moment rescued from sin, and immediately back to sinning in the next. Our hope is in the final judgment to come. The next judgement will be greater, than that of Sodom and Gomorrah because it will end all sin. No more sin will take place. We are in the constant limbo of sinning, being rescued from sin, sinning, being rescued from sin, etc. It’s a constant back and forth. But there will come a judgment in which no more sin will follow it.
Praise God, one day everything will be as it should be.