When I exegete a book, I tend to get very bogged down in the details and so, I decided to develop a series of a few short lessons on various chapters of the Bible, where I attempt to simply deal with the primary points of each verse without getting too detail-oriented. Each lesson is 2–5 pages long and designed to be read at one sitting. Although it is always nice to have a Bible open when studying this, I have, in almost all cases, included the actual Scripture within the text.
I began this study with a general introduction, followed by introductory lessons to studying the Bible, followed by some introductory lessons to the book of Genesis. These 21 lessons precede the lessons below.
The Dismissal of Hagar (graphic)
Hagar and Ishmael (graphic)
Peter Bentley’s Abraham and Isaac (graphic)
Atheism Resource Word Cloud (graphic)
You will recall that, in the previous chapter, Abraham actually bargained with God. God told Abraham that He would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham began to reason with God, asking, “Well, what if there are 50 believers there? Then how about 45? 40?” In fact, Abraham found that God would preserve this city, even if there were only 10 believers there. Abraham had calculated that this would be the least number of believers in this area, because Lot was there with his family.
The sin of Sodom was homosexuality. One of the great evils in this world is homosexuality, which fact is testified to throughout the Bible, from the Old Testament to the New. A homosexual act is not just sinful, but it is a sin of degeneracy. One of the fascinating things in this world is how some in the homosexual movement have tried to use the Bible in order to justify their sin. So there is no confusion, it is not a sin to be tempted. It is not sinful to have homosexual leanings or desires. We all have temptations and strong desires to do a lot of things. It is only sinful when you act on these desires.
What certain elements of the current homosexual movement attempt to do is, justify the sins that they commit, calling them legitimate human functions (and probably most of them honestly believe this). For many homosexuals, it angers them to be told that homosexual acts are sins, so that they have attempted to deal with the Bible in a variety of ways—from an outright attack by way of confrontations and lawsuits to infiltrating churches and religion to even starting and promoting their own brand of Christianity. They will not just attempt to justify their own sinful behavior but many will claim that the New Testament in general, and Jesus in particular, approve of homosexual acts and committed homosexual relationships, often through strained interpretations of the relevant passages from the Bible, as well as by distorting their own personal natures, desires and experiences to those who are not homosexual.
Because this is such a controversial topic today (40–50 years ago, there would have been no controversy over statements like these), these remarks will be expanded upon with a lot of Scripture thrown in to justify them at a later date.
Every man and woman is tempted by something; and, in some cases, by a number of things. Just because a person really wants to do something does not mean that what he wants to do is therefore approved by God. Married men are tempted by women all the time; however, nothing is more destructive to a marriage and to a family with greater far-reaching affects than adultery. Adultery not only has the ability to dissolve a marriage, but it can negatively impact the lives of the children and their future relationships, thus impacting even the lives of their children in the future. So, simply having a strong desire to do something is not enough reason to follow through on that desire. And having a very strong desire does not make it legitimate or approved by God.
What we have in this chapter is attempted homosexual rape and strong homosexual desires; and it indicates the degree of degeneracy which these cities had descended to. Our salvation and our spiritual growth is obviously an individual matter, but God also deals with groups of men corporately, which concept we took a great deal of time to study already. A husband and wife form a corporate entity; a family is a corporate entity, those in a particular geographical area (the same nation, the same city, the same state, same family, same school, same business, same military unit) are all treated by God as corporate entities. God will treat the city of Sodom and the other nearby 4 cities as a corporate entity. These various entities can be blessed or cursed depending upon who is in them.
You will recall in the previous chapter that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was great. Two angels left to walk to Sodom, and Abraham was left with the Lord, and he “talked” God into sparing Sodom if there were 10 righteous men in that city. Abraham figured how many people were in Lot’s family, added in a few converts (in-laws), and knew that there had to be 10 saved (righteous) people in Sodom. So when he got God to agree that 10 righteous would preserve the city, he believed that his nephew Lot was safe.
Meanwhile, the angels approach Sodom, and Lot is hanging out at the city gate. This is where often court cases were tried, out in the open by the city gate. This suggests that Lot had gotten to a high political position in Sodom.
Gen 19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth.
Robby Dean made the following observations:
1. Angels appear to exist primarily as non-material beings. They are not physically material as we are, they don't have to follow the same laws of biology, the same laws of physics.
2. From several passages it appears that angels have bodies that are composed of light or something like light. For example, in Hebrews 1:7 they appear as flames of fire.
3. Angels have the ability to transform themselves into material creatures that possess all of the characteristics of material bodies. For all intents and purposes, insofar Abraham can tell, the angels he meets are material creatures who appear to be men. They eat they drink, they rest, they sleep. He is going to wash their feet. Later on we see that when they are trapped inside Lot's home and the Sodomite perverts outside are trying to pull them out into the street their hands are outside the door and they have to pull Lot back in. These are physical terms. So these immaterial creatures of light are able to transform themselves to have some kind of material bodies. It appears that God determines when assuming a physical body is allowed.
4. Back in Gen. 6, we had fallen angels and mankind cohabiting together, and such sexual unions resulting in pregnancies and children. This is also alluded to in Jude 6–7. The exegesis of these verses it indicates that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is imitating the immoral sexual sins of the angels of a previous time. "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
5. From this we must conclude that angels are able to take on all biological functions of the material human body, apparently based upon God’s sovereignty.
From. http://phrasearch.com/Trans/DBM/setup/Genesis/Gen098.htm, which is Robby Dean’s Genesis study, lesson #98, accessed May 7, 2012.
Gen 19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth.
Lot once had a thriving business in cattle. Where is it? Why is Lot at the city gate? Lot is not some degenerate with nothing to do, hanging out in front of the city gate, just as some kids with nothing to do might hang out in front of a convenience store. Lot appears to have become a judge or a city official. Whatever the case, he is no longer overseeing this great company of livestock. Despite this position, he does not seem to have any respect from the people of Sodom, as we will later find out.
When it comes to a business, a small number of people are actually able to run a business and to do what is necessary to make the business prosper. This is Abraham. He had a huge cooperative with Lot, but he was the brains of the business. He was also well-motivated. Lot, apparently, was not. Abraham possessed experiential righteousness; and Lot did not. So, here we are, 23 years down the road (see the abbreviated timeline), and Abraham still has a thriving business and Lot is at the city gate of a degenerate city. Lot may have been one of those men who really did not want to run a business. He sort of inherited what he had through Abraham; he built it up in conjunction with Abraham, and God blessed him because he was associated with Abraham. But now, years later, he does not appear to be in charge of the great business, and, let me suggest, that Lot sold it and parlayed his wealth into some sort of political influence, as a judgeship, perhaps. Given his age and wealth, he became a city father or a city official—a judge, in fact—and that has become his interest in life (Gen. 19:9).
Gen 19:2 Lot then said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square."
Lot knows what will happen. He knows that if these men (whom he does not see as angels) will be raped and probably killed by the town’s residents if they remain in the town square. Lot has spiritual deficiencies, but his concern for strangers here is important. Lot may have a sorry spiritual life, but he has not been completely given over to the evil ways of his city.
As this chapter unfolds, bear in mind that, Lot is a judge; and yet, this city is lawless and immoral. This ought to be evidence that, a great president cannot do much good when faced with a lawless and immoral population.
There are a lot of problems with our war on drugs; but the chief problem is a lack of morality among the population. Most people who use drugs are aware of the mass killings which are occurring south of the U.S. border and yet, they still purchase drugs which, in many cases, help fund these murders. This is personal morality—which is necessary to the survival and prosperity of a nation—and a large segment of our population lacks any.
When a significant population lacks such morality, God sometimes intervenes directly (as He will in Sodom and Gomorrah) or He works through other agencies, e.g. natural disasters or other countries. As has been alluded to on several occasions, God has a set of steps that He goes through with Israel when they get out of line.
I find it interesting that these angels refused Lot’s offer of hospitality. I would have thought that this would have been valued by the angels, as they certainly understood that Lot was a part of their mission. However, they refused Lot at first. They had no reason to be afraid of the local population, as the average person would; but this refusal has to make you wonder, did they simply have no interest in spending time with Lot and his family? Could these angels find Abraham interesting company, but Lot, not so much? How well do they know Lot? Have they been observing him over the years?
Gen 19:3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
It does not appear as if Lot warned them about what exactly would happen, but he insists that they come into his house that night.
Lot celebrates them being there with a great meal (interestingly enough, it appears that angels can enjoy fine dining). At this point, Lot appears to be very similar to Abraham, in the way that he is entertaining guests, and our only misgivings about Sodom at this point come from the fact that we know God will destroy it (unless, of course, you have been reading ahead).
When a city is unsafe, and when the people of the city will tolerate other people raping and murdering, such a city is no longer a corporate entity which God can allow. I mentioned all of the murders in Mexico. It appears as though some law enforcement agencies in Mexico decided to turn a blind eye to some of the drug violence, at its outset, in part because it was drug-gang on drug-gang violence. Even if this was the case, the violence spread to all segments of their population.
As we have discussed, God has warned this city. We know that they have been under the 4th stage of national discipline (subjugation to an outside power) and were nearly put under the 5th stage of national discipline (where an outside power removed them from their homeland and would have placed them into slavery—Gen. 14). However, at this point, they will face the 6th stage of national discipline, which is complete destruction of the population.
We have a very similar thing occurring in the Middle East right now. There are many cities where a Jew or a Christian cannot live. The government does not protect them; in fact, in many cases, there are laws which allow the government to prosecute them. At the same time, the people of these cities will oppress Jews and Christians as a part of their religious expression. They kill families and celebrate. God will not allow this to go on forever.
What God desires to see in a national entity is law and order (that is, the laws of divine establishment), the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the teaching of Bible doctrine. God is not concerned if the government is a democracy or run by a vicious dictator or run by an outside country or run by a racial minority in that country. We as men have all kinds of opinions with regards to these things; but, within a national entity, God wants law and order, the gospel openly revealed and Bible doctrine taught. When people are not allowed to hear the gospel; when people are not allowed to worship Him; God has a problem with that.
What we are seeing with Islam is the unrestrained religious soul gone wild. We often picture the unrestrained soul as going wild with sex and drugs (or, in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, homosexual rape), but, in Islam, we have a people here nearly wholly given over to the worship of Satan. Essentially, they believe in a continual struggle, until everything around them is controlled by Islam. I personally believe that in this century, we are going to see literally millions of Muslims killed in war. We may see entire cities obliterated and more. There is a reasonable chance that, in defense of an attack, that Israel will use nuclear weapons. If we have a president at that time with any stones, he will back up Israel with nuclear weapons as well. My point is—and it is based upon what we learn from this passage—God will only put up with corporate behavior like this for so long.
Now, as an aside, God does use some evil nations to discipline other nations, and allows evil nations to live. However, wherever there is strong positive volition toward the gospel and toward Bible doctrine, there will be an oasis of blessing (South Korea, for example, which sends out Christian missionaries all over the world).
Here is a corrected translation of what we have studied so far:
Gen. 19:1–3 So two angels came to Sodom in the evening while Lot is sitting in the gate of Sodom. Then Lot observes [them arriving] and he rises up to meet them. Then he bowed his face to the ground [before them]. Then Lot [lit., he] said, “Listen, please, my lords: turn aside, please, to the house of your servant and lodge [there] the night and wash your feet. Then you can wake up early and go on your way.” But they said, “No, because we will spend tonight in the plaza.” Lot [lit., he] strongly urged them so they turned aside to him and they went into his house. He then made a drinking feast for them with unleavened cakes that he had baked, and they ate.
The two angels, who enjoyed a meal with the Revealed Member of the Trinity and with Abraham, went to Sodom, a city about to be destroyed by God, and they met Lot, Abraham’s nephew, at the city gate. He insisted that they come home with him, which they agree to do.
Gen 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house.
So the angels are at Lot’s home, eating and being made welcome. However, before it was bedtime, the men of the city of Sodom knew about these angels (who appeared to be attractive men to them) and they physically desired them.
We mistakenly believe that homosexuality is simply males being attracted to other males rather than to females, as simple a genetic aberration. There is one very dramatic difference—all situation comedies with homosexual male characters aside—it is not unusual for a male homosexual to have 100 sexual partners; in fact, it is not unusual for them to have 1000 partners or more. Furthermore, we are led to believe that sexual preference is simply innate. However, it is not unusual for homosexuals, males and females, to have had sex with members of the opposite sex, to be attracted to members of the opposite sex, and to have been in love with members of the opposite sex.
However, a male who is sexually attracted to both males and females is going to find more opportunities for sexual encounters with other males. Furthermore, a woman who finds out that this man is having sex with other males is not going to want to continue a sexual relationship with him.
As a further aside, the key to love is in the soul, not in the body. The key to a committed lifetime relationship is one male soul paired up with one female soul. It is the souls that are made to coalesce, and the bodies, for a portion of this marriage, express this soul coalescence. The male soul without the female soul tends to get out of control; and the female soul without the male soul tends to get out of control. They are moderated by one another.
Gen 19:5 And they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them."
I want you to get a picture of this in your mind—there are dozens and perhaps hundreds of homosexuals gathered around Lot’s home. Notice what they do not do. They do not have an orgy among themselves; they want to have sex with those who have come into their city or to observe them being raped and to be titrated by that. Monogamous sex among male homosexuals is rare. A 1981 study showed that only 2% of homosexuals were monogamous or semi-monogamous (which is generously defined as having 10 or fewer lifetime partners). When it comes to variety, if you will, a 1978 study found that 43% of male homosexuals estimated having sex with 500 or more partners and that 28% estimated their having sex with 1000 or more partners. So, even though these men surrounding Lot’s house are filled with homosexual lust, it is for the two strangers, not for one another.
This is because a man has a male soul with male weaknesses. A woman who is aware of her male significant other or husband sleeping around with 500 other partners is going to call it quits somewhere between #1 and #10. No woman would tolerate this. Two males together will tolerate infidelity, simply because they recognize that the other person is a male with male weaknesses.
In this particular circumstance, there are probably other things involved: the desire to exert power over others, the desire to hurt and injure others. However, the means of doing this will be by committing homosexual rape.
When it comes to “committed” homosexuals, a very possible AIDS infection is thrown into the mix, meaning a “committed” homosexual relationship (or an uncommitted one, for that matter) is like playing Russian roulette. There is a very strong possibility that some miscellaneous male partner will be infected with the AIDS virus. The reason that the AIDS virus seemed to happen so suddenly and so dramatically, is because you have the average homosexual male hooking up with 10, 20, 50 or 100 or more partners every single year—many of whom were strangers—and those men are also doing the same thing. Promiscuity is less restrained when there are two men involved.
Gen 19:5 And they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them."
Homosexuality has not reached this sort of a fever pitch here in the United States; but it is addictive behavior, and let me explain why. Every time two men have sex—especially if this is a sexual union between relative strangers—they are risking their lives. An AIDS test on Wednesday does not mean that you are free of AIDS on Friday. Condoms are not a 100% guard against the spread of AIDS (or other venereal diseases); and yet, it is common for homosexuals to have had 500, 1000 or 2000 sexual partners (even if they are in a committed relationship). Having hundreds of partners for a homosexual is much different than for a heterosexual—for heterosexuals, it might be 1 man in 5000 who has 500 partners or more. According to one survey, the median number of lifetime female sexual partners for men was seven; the median number of male partners for women was four (and we live in a highly sexualized society). Still, 25% of women and 17% of men report having no more than one partner of the other sex in their lifetime. However, when it comes to homosexuals, a Dutch study found that men who had a steady partner still engaged in sexual activity with an average of 8 partners a year. Bell and Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43% of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having one thousand or more sex partners. To most heterosexual males (and females), this is amazing and almost incomprehensible. So, in that committed homosexual relationship, both partners are out there about 8 times a year with another man, a man who might introduce a debilitating disease to both of them in this “committed relationship,” and yet they still do it. That is what makes this additive behavior. When you regularly do something that risks your life and the life of your loved ones, that is classic addictive behavior. When your desire to do something exceeds reason and potentially could change everyone’s life for the worst, and yet, you still do it, that is addictive behavior.
You may wonder why gays are so militant. It may seem weird to you that they march with banners and push their agenda on everyone. They are both addicted to the frequency and to the variety and to the very act of homosexuality; so they are going to lay the groundwork for them to be able to pursue frequency and variety in any way possible.
My point is, these men in Sodom are addicted. Now, you would think that, a homosexual group of 8 or 20 men might choose to keep their behavior within this group? They don’t. They are constantly going outside, to meet new men—virtual strangers—to have sex with. Again, remember that hundreds of sexual partners for a homosexual is the norm. So, when new males come into Sodom, all of the males become charged up with the desire to have them—even if they rape them to the point that they die.
Now, you may think that this is unrealistic, that men would never behave in this fashion. Then you do not know the power of lust, the desire to dominate and just how far man is able to fall. In prison, in a study done in 2007, it is reported that 4.5% of the prisoners had been subjected to sexual victimization, either by other prisoners or by their guards. From an article on Human Rights Watch: Human Rights Watch documented vicious and brutally violent male rapes in prison as well as other more common, less overtly violent forms of coerced sex. This sort of activity tends to be more common in our culture in prisons, where the inmates are not properly supervised and protected, and among a prison population which is going to still identify itself as heterosexual. When the supervision of prisoners is more lax, then this sort of thing occurs more often—12.2% in a prison in Nebraska. My point is, in an environment where such a thing is not policed at all—like Sodom—this sort of behavior is not an exaggeration. What happened here is Sodom is no different than would happen in that prison in Nebraska, if all supervision stopped. As far as we can tell, there are no restraints in Sodom, apart from Lot.
Gen 19:6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him,
Lot has lived among these people for over two decades. Therefore, he feels reasonably safe with stepping outside of his door and attempting to reason with them. He has probably had to deal with many of these men in court and they undoubtedly showed some respect for his position.
However, you will note two things: he insisted that the two angels lodge with him, which would have been protection for them; and he shuts the door behind him in this verse, again taking steps to protect them and his family.
Gen 19:7 and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.
At first, we look at Lot and think, this is a marvelous guy. He takes strangers in off the streets to protect them. He attempts to reason with the radical members of his community. But then, he does this:
Gen 19:8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof."
Lot despicably offers up his own daughters instead. Quite obviously, I was not there. I don’t know how many homosexual rapists were threatening Lot. Obviously, he was in a panic, and he apparently had not faced a situation quite like this before.
Why he offers up his own daughters, is a complete mystery to me. However, under difficult circumstances where snap decisions have to be made, some people do and say the wrong thing. Everyone in his household is being threatened.
Gen 19:9 But they [the men of Sodom] said, "Stand back!" And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.
This crowd of homosexuals are speaking of Lot here: “He came to our city to live temporarily and now he is our judge?” This suggests that Lot had a high political position in Sodom. Then they threaten to deal with Lot more viciously than they intend to deal with the two angels inside.
Now, you would think with this crowd (and we have no idea how many there were—I would think well over a hundred and maybe in the thousands) that they would be willing to simply have sexual relations with one another. However, that is not how this addiction works. This is why a homosexual male can have hundreds and even thousands of partners in his lifetime.
It is reasonable to ask, how can this family choose to stay among such people? Let me suggest this: strangers had come into town and they had disappeared; and it was rumored about the town how this occurred—that they were raped until they died. This happened enough times, to where Lot was well-aware of it. However, this is where he put down his roots; his family all lived here; he had a house and a profession, and he apparently no longer had anything which he could parlay into wealth and comfort in another city.
In this town was probably access to many things that could not be found outside of the town. I don’t know if we are talking foods, jewelry, clothing, pottery, furniture or what—but in any city, there is more offered within that city than can be found out in the country. I live in the suburbs, but I can drive less than 3 miles to find most of the things I need or desire. Just 10 miles away, in a nearby town, I would be 13 miles away from these same things. So, the things which Lot’s wife had come to appreciate, enjoy and/or depend upon, could be found in the confines of this city—which things were not as readily available to her for the 10 or so years that she and Lot spent with Abraham, living in their tents and watching over their herds. One chief difference was, quite obviously, the house that they lived in. Many of us love the house that we grew up in, the dream home that we eventually buy—and some of us love every home in between.
Lot also had a position of authority; he had become a judge in this city. So, despite the crime factor—which crimes were committed against strangers, for the most part—Sodom had a lot to like about it.
At this point, Lot had not faced this crowd of men at night. He had not been threatened by them before and their sexual passions. This is probably the first time, Lot felt that his life and the lives of his family were in danger.
Having a general idea of what was occurring, Lot decided to take a stand and to take in these men to protect them. This he had probably not done before. However, there had been enough homosexual rapes in this city for Lot to realize that he needed to act. Likely, there have been 10 or 20 strangers who had been raped or murdered by this time. In fact, given that all of the males were there to watch, it is possible that there had been many more men who had been sodomized. It was their entertainment in this city, and all of the men of the city came to see it. And this was the first time that Lot was seeing this play out, where the lives of everyone under his roof were in danger.
It was enough for Lot to be concerned for the safety of these strangers. However, the idea of terrorizing strangers to a city with homosexual rape had become well-known to Lot, enough that he insisted that these strangers comes to his home, apparently to provide them with some measure of safety. So, up to this point, Lot knew this sort of thing was happening; and he took steps to protect these men. However, this is apparently the first time Lot had seen these men close up, ready to do what they had done scores of times before.
What Lot does not realize is, under circumstances like these, when there is not enough of a pivot to protect the geographical area, then God will act. God will take steps to bring this population under control; or He will destroy that population. Gen. 14 was a prelude to all of this; Gen. 19 is where God will destroy the populations of this area.
A principle that we have not studied yet is, grace before judgment. Gen. 14 was God’s grace given to the people of Sodom; Gen. 19 is God’s judgment, because the people of Sodom rejected the God of Abraham.
Gen. 19 is all about God coming to the city of Sodom and destroying it because of the behavior of the people there. It is clear that the men of Sodom are interested in homosexual rape and that a huge portion of the population will rape and kill strangers who come to their area. We males tend to like pretty violent sports, e.g., football and boxing. What was happening in Sodom was a sport of sorts, and all of the men came out to participate in it or to watch it take place.
This has brought us to the very controversial topic of homosexuality. Interestingly enough, the things we will examine were not at all controversial in, say, the 1950's. But, in the year that I write this, 2012, this has become a very controversial topic. Therefore, let’s examine the Abbreviated Doctrine of Homosexuality.
Homosexuality in the Old Testament
1. In the Old Testament, homosexual acts were not only sinful, but they were illegal.
a. You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable (Lev. 18:22; HCSB; see also Lev. 20:13). The word which describes such an act is tôwʿêvâh (תּוֹעֵוָה) [pronounced to-ģay-VAWH], meaning a disgusting act, an abomination, abhorrent, an abhorrent act. Originally, this word was used to describe how the Egyptians felt about the Jews (Gen. 43:32 46:34 Ex. 8:26). This same word was often used for the abominations committed by the heathen of the land which God told the Jews to destroy (Deut. 18:9, 12 20:18 2Kings 21:2 2Chron. 28:3 2Kings 21:11 2Chron. 28:3). Strong's #8441 BDB #1072.
b. Homosexual activity in the Old Testament was punishable by death. Lev. 20:13
c. The point being made is, this was not considered a minor sin in the Old Testament. This was not eating a “pull-pork sandwich,” a comparison that same-sex marriage advocates are often wont to make. This clear denunciation of homosexual acts is often downplayed on websites which argue that we are not under the Mosaic Law (which is true) and which say things like, “Well, the Old Testament also forbade the Jews to eat shellfish; how silly is that?” They often point to the Sabbath and Sabbath laws, and note that Christians do not obey those laws. What they gloss over is, a person committing a homosexual act would be executed; those who ate shellfish were not.
d. Populations which practiced homosexuality extensively were destroyed by God. In our study, the Sodomite population became involved in forcible rapes by many men, and God will destroy them. Gen. 19
e. The degeneracy of Sodom and God’s judgment of Sodom will be spoken of perhaps a dozen times in the Old and New Testaments.
f. Interestingly enough, the antichrist will not desire women. Daniel 11:37
Homosexuality in the New Testament
2. The condemnation of homosexuality is carried over into the New Testament.
a. The clearest passage is Rom. 1:24–32: Therefore God also gives them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who change the truth of God into the lie, and fear and serve the created things more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gives them up to vile passions. For even their women change the natural use for what is contrary to nature. Likewise also the men, abandoning the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men with men performing what is shameful, and receiving the retribution within themselves, the penalty which is fitting for their error. And even as they do not like to have God in their full true knowledge, God gives them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with every unrighteousness, sexual perversion, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, depravity; whisperers, defamers, haters of God, insolent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do them, but also approve of those who practice them (VW). This can describe many groups of people, but it could certainly describe participants of gay pride parades or the patrons of a gay bar.
b. Rom. 1:24–32 in the NKJV: Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
c. Rom. 1:24–32 Kukis revising the NKJV: Consequently [because some men have rejected God and therefore their minds have been covered in scar tissue] God further delivered them over to a lifestyle of desire and corruption, in the lusts of their thinking, treating with contempt their own bodies [having sexual relations] among themselves, who exchanged the [doctrinal] truth of God for perverted and deceitful precepts, and they have [therefore] worshiped and served that which God created rather than the Creator [Himself], who is praised forever. Amen. For this cause, God delivered them over to disgraceful passions; for even their women exchanged nature’s design of sexual relations [between a man and a woman] into that which is not natural. And not only this, but men also, disregarding and abandoning normal sexual relations with women, burned in their desire [and craving] for one another; males in males, accomplishing [or performing] the unseemliness of a woman’s genitals, and receiving [by way of retribution] in themselves that payment for their straying [from morality and God], which [retribution] was necessary [as established by the justice and righteousness of God]. And just as they did not recognize [and approve of] the [true] God, to keep [Him] in their thinking, God [therefore] gave them over to an unfit [and reprobate] mind, to do those things which are not normal. [As a result, they] are filled with all unrighteousness, with illicit sexual practices [e.g., homosexuality and lesbianism], depravity, a continued desire for more and more, maliciousness; filled with envy, murder, contention, deceit, malicious craftiness; [they are] quiet slanderers, speaking evil, haters of God, insolent and filled with pride, [they are] arrogant, inflating their own character, designers [and creators] of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, violators of contracts, lacking in natural affection, implacable, [and] unmerciful; who, fully knowing the judicial condemnation of God, so that they who practice these things are worthy of death; [in fact] they not only do these things, but they are pleased when others perform [such things].
d. Paul writes to Timothy in 1Tim. 1:8–11 But we know that the [Mosaic] Law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the Law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for slayers of fathers and slayers of mothers, for murderers, for [male] prostitutes, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust (VW).
i. The first bolded word is pornos (πόρνος,ου,ὁ) [pronounced POHR-nos] which means, a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire; a male prostitute; a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator, the sexually immoral, one who practices sexual immorality, immoral men. Thayer, Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider, and Arndt and Gingrich. Strong’s #4205.
ii. The second word found is arsenokoitês (ἀρσενοκοίτης) [pronounced ar-sen-ok-OY-tace], which means, one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, [male] homosexual; one who has sex with younger men (boys), a pederast. Thayer, and Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider, and Arndt and Gingrich definitions. Strong’s #733. Of course, pro-homosexual Christian websites take issue with this word (and others); but the definitions above are based upon unbiased scholarship of 5 of the greatest Greek scholars. So, it boils down to, whose authority seems the most reasonable: that of “homosexual scholars” who have studied a half a dozen words and who want to allow for homosexual practices; or Greek scholars who made this their life’s work and are simply trying to determine what the meaning of a word is, despite their own personal shortcomings? These “homosexual scholars” have a vested interest in changing the meaning of these words.
e. Paul wrote this to the Corinthians: Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be led astray. Neither [male] prostitutes, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1Cor. 6:9–11; VW).
i. The term male prostitutes is pornos (πόρνος,ου,ὁ) [pronounced POHR-nos] which we already covered above. Strong’s #4205.
ii. Adulterer can refer to a person who has committed actual acts of adultery against their spouse or spiritual acts of adultery against God. Strong’s #3432.
iii. The word effeminate is malakos (μαλακός) [pronounced mal-ak-OSS], which means, 1) soft, soft to the touch; clothes that are soft to the touch; 2) metaphorically in a bad sense; 2a) effeminate; weakling 2a1) of a catamite; 2a2) of a boy kept for homosexual relations with a man; 2a3) of a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness; passive homosexuals; a man or a boy who allows himself to be used by a more dominant male homosexual; 2a4) of a male prostitute. Thayer, Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider, and Arndt and Gingrich definitions. Strong’s #3120.
iv. We have already studied Sodomite.
v. Paul is describing categories of people who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. However, some of these people in the Corinthian church used to be this was and they are not any longer because they were justified by Jesus Christ and cleansed by the Spirit of God. There is an implication here that they have left that lifestyle; or that they have rejected those sins.
f. Paul wrote, in Gal. 5:19–21: Now those things done by the sinful, physical nature [of a person] are evident; they are these: sexual immorality, moral impurity, indecent conduct, idol worship, occultic practices, hatefulness, dissension, jealousy, angry outbursts, factious spirits, divisiveness, party spirits, envy, drunkenness, orgies [or, feasts, drinking parties], and things like these. I warn you again, as I have done before, that those people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (AUV—NT).
i. Sexual immorality is moicheia (μοιχεία, ας, ἡ) [pronounced moy-KHEE-ah], which means, adultery, adulterous acts. Thayer, Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider, and Arndt and Gingrich definitions only. Strong’s #3430.
ii. Moral impurity is porneia (πορνεία, ας, ἡ) [pronounced por–NĪ–ah],which means, 1) illicit sexual intercourse; 1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.; 1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18; 1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; (Mark 10:11–12) metaphorically the worship of idols; 2a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols. Arndt and Gingrich add prostitution, unchastity, fornication, unfaithfulness of a married woman. Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider add, every unlawful kind of sexual intercourse, disgraceful sexual immorality. First definitions from Thayer. Strong’s #4202.
iii. Indecent conduct is akatharsia (ἀκαθαρσία, ας, ἡ) [pronounced ak-ath-ar-SEE-ah], which means, 1) uncleanness; 1a) physical; 1b) in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living; 1b1) of impure motives. Arndt and Gingrich add refuse; immorality, immoral intent; sexual sins. Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider add impurity. Thayer definitions given first. Strong’s #167.
Jesus and Homosexuality
3. Most churches which believe that homosexuality is permissible claim that Jesus did not speak directly to the sin of homosexuality.
a. This does not mean that Jesus somehow supported homosexual activity or supported homosexuality within a “committed” relationship. The era of the Hypostatic Union was a hinge between the Age of Israel and the Church Age. It is clear that homosexual acts are not only prohibited but punished with death in the Old Testament; it is also clear that homosexuality was forbidden in the New Testament epistles. So, it would make little sense to say that Jesus lived in a short time period when homosexuality was acceptable.
b. Even though Jesus never said, “Homosexuality is wrong, don’t do it:” He did say, “I have not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.” (Matt. 5:17). The Mosaic Law, as already pointed out, was clearly against homosexual practices and even executed those convicted of committing homosexual acts. So, Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial aspects of the Law, becoming the Lamb who died for our sins (John 1:29 Rev. 13:8); but He did not negate any other aspects of the Law. If anything, Jesus expanded upon the Law of Moses (Matt. 5:20–30). In fact, Jesus did say, “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and thus teaches the people, he will be called least in the kingdom of the heavens, but whoever does and teaches [them], he will be called great in the kingdom of the heavens.” (Matt. 5:19; ALT)
c. Jesus clearly taught marriage between one man and one woman: And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’, and said, For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cling to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh? Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matt. 19:4–6). As the oft-repeated saying goes, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. In view is the sexual act (the two of them shall become one flesh) which is illustrative of the natural connectedness of their souls.
General Biblical Notions on Homosexuality
4. No one is condemned to hell for committing a homosexual act or for practicing homosexuality. All of our sins have been paid for by Jesus on the cross, including the sins of homosexual acts. We are condemned to hell for not believing in Jesus Christ. John 3:16, 18. However, in one respect, committing a homosexual act after salvation is no different than committing any other sin. One person may be tempted to lose his temper, another may be tempted to chase after money or power, another may be tempted to be a skirt-chaser. These are the temptations which all Christians face. Your temptations are not any better or worse than mine. When we sin, we name this sin to God. In order to lessen the number of times we sin, we learn doctrine and begin to think with the mind of Christ. As Paul explains, Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philip. 2:5). And be not conformed to [the thinking and philosophy of] this world: but be you transformed by the renovation of your thinking, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:2).
5. However, even though a sin is a sin; different sins can affect us in different ways. There are sins like the abuse of alcohol or the use of drugs which tend to take over a person’s life. So it is with sexual sins, which tend taint a person’s entire existence. With heterosexual males, it is clear that pornography has an addictive affect upon them; so it should not seem odd that homosexual behavior among homosexuals is also addictive.
6. The homosexual who has believed in Jesus Christ needs to decide which is most important, his personal lusts or his new status of being in Christ.
7. For the homosexual: if you have believed in Jesus Christ—if He is the sole reason for your salvation—then you have eternal life. No one can take this eternal life from you; nor can you overrule this aspect of the plan of God. The Doctrine of Eternal Security (external links): Bible Doctrine Resources or Verse by Verse.
a. All believers, after they are saved, face many choices, because we all come out of some lifestyle or another. We can return to that lifestyle, we can attempt to be moral, or we can do what is required in the plan of God, which is to live the Christian life, which is a supernatural life. A General Introduction to the Christian life (HTML) (PDF)
b. Briefly, the Christian way of life is (1) naming your sins to God as you commit them; the shorter accounts that you keep, the more time that you log in under the power of the Holy Spirit. (2) You are also to learn doctrine under the authority of a pastor who knows the Word of God, the original languages and orthodox theology. Here is a list of such resources (PDF). In my experience, I have found that it is better for the believer to be physically in a group setting rather than to study on their own (even under a good pastor-teacher).
c. Do not attempt to simply justify your lusts. All believers have lusts; and sexual lust is a normal thing. Acting on sexual desires outside of marriage is sinful. God only allows for sex within a heterosexual marriage. It does not matter if you really, really, really, really want to do something. An extremely strong desire does not make such an act unsinful.
d. After salvation, homosexuals have a number of options open to them: date the opposite gender and get to know the person; do not attempt to have sex with them. Most male homosexuals have had sex with women; so, the idea that there is no sexual attraction whatsoever is generally bogus (not in all cases, but in many—a friend of mine once told me that, to his way of thinking, there was no difference between men and women). And many homosexual men have been in love with women in their past as well.
e. Also, it ought to be clear that there are men with more slender bodies (which is actually a thing in the homosexual world); and there are women who seem to have more masculine characteristics. So, even in those worlds of homosexual lust, there is a premium on men who are effeminate and for women who are masculine. This is not in every case, but it often found in those worlds. This indicates the natural predilection of the soul and the natural physical desires.
f. God has designed the right man for every woman; and the right woman for every man. First, you get doctrine into your soul so that you are guided by doctrine and not by your lusts.
g. Or the homosexual can choose to live a celibate life.
h. Unlike some websites that teach, you must struggle against homosexuality in order to prove that you are saved, the Bible teaches that you are saved by faith alone in Christ alone (John 3:16, 18 Eph. 2:8–9 Titus 3:5). You may or may not choose to avoid sexual activity outside of marriage. However, what is different is, you have now become a child of God and you are subject to His discipline (Heb. 12:6). It is like any familial relationship—you are always your parents’ child, but now and again, they may whip you to the point that you wish you weren’t.
8. The key to a lifetime marriage relationship is in the soul, not in the body; and this is where homosexuals and their propagandists completely miss the mark. When a man wears women’s clothing, takes estrogen and even have breast implants, he is still a male in his soul. Such men can play-act like women, but when they are being normal, they are men (even if they look quite feminine). God designed the female soul to fit the male soul, just as He designed the female body to fit the male body. There is a fit of the souls as much so as there is of the bodies. This is why both husband and wife are faithful in most marriages but why fidelity is not a part of homosexual relationships. The “fit,” which is both sexual and soulish, automatically restricts itself to two people.
a. This is why our first marriage is Adam and Eve which is what Jesus Christ confirmed with the words: And He answered, "Have you not read that the Creator at the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man must leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two of them must be one!' So they are no longer two but one. Therefore, what God has joined together man must stop separating." (Matt. 19:4–5; Wms NT). Paul affirms the male female relationship as based upon Adam and the woman in 1Tim. 2:13–14
b. This helps to explain Jer. 31:22b Yehowah has created a new thing in the earth: a woman shall encompass a man. The important verb here is the Poel imperfect of çâbab (סָבַב) [pronounced sawb-VAHBV], which means (these are Poel meanings), to go about [in a place]; to surround. Strong’s #5437 BDB #685. God created the woman to both encompass the man physically as well as soulishly.
c. It is the woman’s soul and the man’s soul together that require mutual fidelity. It is the way that they fit together that results in a monogamous relationship. Often, it is the woman who inspires fidelity in the man; and quite often the woman inspires the man in many areas of endeavor. In fact, it is the woman who is the most inspirational creature on this earth (apart from our Lord). Remove the woman, and there is little reason for man to live.
General Comments About Homosexuality
9. There is an ongoing propaganda war about homosexual actions. It is nearly always presented as innate which can’t be changed, and the natural result of genetics (which things are not true). Men who are homosexual are generally portrayed, in the mass media, as men who were just born liking men. Other than that, they are just like us. Furthermore, the percentages of those who engage in homosexual activity are exaggerated. The way that homosexuality is presented is not an accident. It is intentional and it is propaganda. It is well-known among the politically active in the homosexual community that if you, a straight person, understand homosexuality as simply a result of genetics, then you are likely to believe that it is a valid lifestyle which should not be judged or looked down upon.
10. Although homosexuality probably has a complex genetic component to it, it is not genetically predetermined. Just as some people have a predilection toward alcoholism, some have a predilection toward homosexuality. This predilection does not determine that a person will become an alcoholic nor does it determine that a person will engage in homosexual acts.
11. Those who are self-identified homosexuals make up a very small portion of society: between 1–3%.
12. In 1973, when homosexuality was removed from APA’s list of mental illnesses, it was not as a result of research or new studies, but based upon concerted pressure from the homosexual community. This pressure indicates the political savvy of the homosexual community.
13. There seem to be factors as a person grows up which also have an effect upon a person’s sexuality and sexual attraction.
14. There are both men and women who have engaged in same-sex encounters and then later have been in committed heterosexual relationships.
15. A disproportionate number of child predators (particularly pre-adolescent) are male homosexuals.
16. Politically active homosexuals make strong attempts to introduce homosexuality as a neutral predilection in public schools to as early an age as is possible. Continual attempts are made to introduce children’s books which prominently feature two fathers or two mothers.
17. A number of strategies are used, including ones to get around resistant parents who do not want their children taught about homosexuality when they are 5 or 6 or 7. One approach is to not allow parents to opt-out their children when pro-homosexual (or neutral homosexual) programs, philosophies and books are presented.
18. Similarly, anti-bullying programs are brought into the schools, often as thinly veiled pro-homosexual programs to be introduced again at very early ages. Again, the political savvy of the homosexual community should be noted. There are very few people who are in favor of bullying, so an anti-bullying program seems like a good idea to the average parent.
19. Politically active homosexuals will sue schools, institutions, businesses, churches, pastors, and individuals in order to harass them and to insure their complicit silence. The idea is, you may believe that homosexual activity is sinful, but they will make your life miserable if you publically express that opinion.
20. Although two virgins marrying is much more rare than it used to be, it still occurs. However, at no time has there been any two male or two female homosexual virgins who have “married.” Homosexuality is a lifestyle that demands activity.
21. In other words, a person must engage in homosexual activity in order to identify himself (or herself) as a committed homosexual.
22. Faithfulness among male homosexuals, even in committed relationships, is virtually nonexistent. On the other hand, faithlessness destroys many heterosexual (normal) marriages.
23. It ought to be noted that, any movement which is against the laws of divine establishment as found in the Bible (as the homosexual movement is) will have elements of Satanism. This does not mean that homosexuals will specifically worship Satan or anything like that, but they will support cosmic system policies. As a result, homosexual groups will be highly antagonistic toward Christianity or toward Bible doctrine, and they will be against the laws of divine establishment. Having their actions designated as sins will cause many of them to be angry and antagonistic toward Christians. It is not unusual for a significant number of homosexuals to be one-issue voters (that is, they will vote for whatever person appears to support their lifestyle). This is a minor illustration of how homosexuality can infect a person’s entire being.
24. On the other hand, there will be smaller groups who recognize the need for their own salvation, but are unwilling to give up their homosexual activities. Therefore, they will, after believing in Jesus Christ, attempt to downplay and distort what the Bible says about homosexuality and they will try to develop homosexual relationships similar to marriage relationships in the Bible. However, it is far easier for a “homosexual” person to turn to heterosexuality as an alternative, than it is to actually become involved in a faithful homosexual relationship.
In the more expansive doctrine of homosexuality, all of these statements under general comments are confirmed by named studies. There is a great deal more detail given in the full doctrine: (HTML) (PDF).
You may find this to be helpful to sort out your thinking concerning this issue.
Dr. Jeffrey Satinover asks the question, what if you have a friend, relative or colleague who had a condition that was routinely associated with the following problems:
• A significantly decreased likelihood of establishing or preserving a successful marriage
• A 5 to 10 year decrease in life expectancy.
• Chronic, potentially fatal, liver disease—hepatitis
• Inevitably fatal esophageal cancer
• Internal bleeding
• Serious mental disabilities, many of which are irreversible
• A much higher than ususal incidence of suicide
• A very low likelihood that its adverse effects can be eliminated unless the condition itself is eliminated.
• An only 30% likelihood of being eliminated through lengthy, often costly, and very time-consuming treatment in an otherwise unselected population of sufferers (although with a very high success rate among highly motivated, carefully selected sufferers).
Let’s throw in some other information: this condition very likely has a genetic component, although the problem itself is a behavioral one. Secondly, a person who is involved in this behavior is likely to continue in it, even if he recognizes the destructive consequences noted above. Thirdly, some people with this problematic behavior recognize it as a problem; while others do not believe it to be so. Finally, in resisting outside influence, such a person may involve himself heavily in a subgroup of people who have the exact same behavioral problem.
The problem we are speaking of is alcoholism; and most of us when dealing with close friends or relatives, recognize the destructiveness of this behavioral disease of continued and repeated acts of drunkenness. Furthermore, we hold those people who do these things responsible for their behavior, regardless of whatever genetic predisposition there might be.
Now let’s consider a friend or relative with a very similar set of problems, all related to this person’s behavior:
1. A significantly decreased likelihood of establishing or preserving a successful marriage
2. A 25 to 30 year decrease in life expectancy.
3. Chronic, potentially fatal, liver disease—infectious hepatitis which increases the risk of liver cancer
4. Inevitably fatal immune disease including associated cancers
5. Frequently fatal rectal cancer
6. Multiple bowel and other infectious diseases
7. A much higher than ususal incidence of suicide
8. A very low likelihood that it adverse effects can be eliminated unless the condition itself is eliminated.
9. However, there is a 50% likelihood this behavior being eliminated through lengthy, often costly, and very time-consuming treatment in an otherwise unselected population of sufferers (although with a very high success rate among highly motivated, carefully selected sufferers—sometimes as high as 100%).
The same things are also true as listed above: there may be a genetic predisposition, but the actual problem is behavioral. Individuals continue in this behavior despite recognizing its destructive effects. Some people with this condition see it as a real problem; others do not. Some will resist all attempts to help them. Finally, there is often an association with a subgroup or a subculture of those with the same problem.
This second condition is homosexual activity. Although the immune disease mentioned above is not as often fatal, as noted, it changes a person’s life forever.
The parallels between alcoholism and homosexual behavior are quite obvious.
From Dr. Jeffrey Satinover’s Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth; ©1996, A Hamewith Book; pp. 49–51.
Needless to say, Will and Grace was just a television show; any relationship between it and the actual behavior of homosexuals is coincidental (the same is true of Modern Family). These are entertaining shows, but the last place one should go when evaluating the behavior disease of homosexuality.
While on this topic, one more thing ought to be noted: the relationship between a father and son is unique, just as the relationship between a mother and son is unique. Both parents bring something unique to this relationship which is as much tied to their gender as is tied to their personalities and values. The same can be said of the Father-daughter relationship and the mother-daughter relationship. Every child raised with a mother and a father take some unique from that relationship. Conversely, a child raised by two fathers or by two mothers is going to be lacking something in their gender development.
The local church has failed us in many ways. (1) They do not meet often enough, so that, even if the pastor knows what he is talking about, two Sunday sermons is not enough time to counteract all of the human viewpoint that we face each and every day. (2) Local churches often ignore the basics of our spiritual lives; and our civic responsibilities (e.g., providing for our own family, hard work, and paying all of our creditors). (3) Many do not teach how one is restored to fellowship and thereby filled with the Holy Spirit (naming your sins to God). (4) Local churches almost never teach about our corporate existence and how this relates to God—that is, what are we as a city, a state, a nation, or as an organization, business or school?
Don’t misunderstand these criticisms: God has designated the local church as being the place where we grow spiritually. Their failure does not mean that it should be abandoned or replaced with another set of institutions. God clearly presents the local church as the place that should be the foundation of our spiritual growth in time. However, many of local churches have failed us in these ways. I recall as a recently saved Christian, having listened to a number of R. B. Thieme, Jr. tapes (if you were born after 1980, you probably have no idea what a “tape” is), I thought I’d just go out and find a church where the Bible was taught often, carefully and from the original languages. At the time, I figured I would end up having several to choose from. I lived in Sacramento at the time, which was a reasonably large city. I visited church after church after church. The best I could do was find local churches that were not too crappy. However, God, being a God of provision, provided just at that time, a local taper’s group that listened to R. B. Thieme, Jr.’s sermons. Even though that seemed like an odd sort of gathering to me, it was exactly what God’s plan was. I later found that there were many of these groups that met around a tape recorder where there was no visible pastor, and that they were genuine local churches (they were all over the United States at that time). My point is, if you are interested in the Word of God, then God will provide a local church for you. Now, He may expect you to move, but the circumstances will be such that, such a move will be a normal part of life.
Gen. 19 (along with many other passages of Scripture) deals with the corporate relationship of Sodom to God (or, more accurately, lack of a corporate relationship). This chapter deals with the judgment of God against a geographical entity. Therefore, the believer needs to pay attention to such things. Furthermore, as we will later find out, Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned in multiple passages throughout the Bible.
Personally, I love studying and teaching the book of Genesis, because it is overflowing with truth and application; and is the foundation upon which the entire Bible stands.
The key to this and several other chapters in Genesis is the righteousness and justice of God. Righteousness is the principle of God’s perfect integrity and justice is the function or execution of His perfect integrity. The people of Sodom have been warned—Gen. 14 was God warning them. Their contact with Abraham and Melchizedek could have changed everything, if they chose to go that route. Instead, these people continued to fall deeper and deeper into degeneracy, resulting in God’s eventual judgment upon them.
In the United States, we have not gotten to the 4th of 5th stages of nation discipline yet, but it is clear that God is leaning on us. We, as a nation, face danger on a half-dozen different fronts at least, any one of which could damage our nation dramatically. Nearly half of the people of the United States live in households receiving some kind of governmental assistance. Half of the people in the United States pay no federal income tax, so they have no personal interest in low tax rates (they ought to be concerned about tax rates, but many are not). I know many, many college educated people—some of whom are Christians—who see nothing wrong with borrowing over $1 trillion each year, as long as there is “free healthcare.” We are coming dangerously near to the point where half of the population of the United States is ready to redefine the concept of marriage. Our currency, which was once the strongest in the world, is coming dangerously close to collapsing. We have seen a number of weather-related disasters in this country over the past few years (I write this in 2012) which suggest that God is warning our nation. Add to this, the huge number of Muslims who hate the United States, and would destroy us if they could. And there is one Muslim nation with nuclear weapons that hates us; and another crazier nation close to attaining nuclear weapons. Drug use in the United States is alarming, which has resulted, in part, of chaos on our border with Mexico, with nearly 50,000 people killed in drug wars as of 2012. And these are the things which come immediately to mind; there are far more problems in the United States than those alone.
God warns us by means of Bible doctrine, by means of the laws of divine establishment (when we stray from them, our life gets worse), and by contemporary events. We do not have Old Testament prophets coming to us with messages from God; but, we do have local churches with pastor-teachers who ought to be able to recognize these things and warn us.
And the key is not political involvement; the key is spiritual growth. The key is for more people in the United States to believe in Jesus Christ, and then for Christians to advance spiritually. Had there been only 10 believers in Sodom, God would not have destroyed this city. Our protection from destruction as a nation is based upon the pivot of this nation, which refers to the number of believers and the number of believers who are spiritually mature. Our survival and prosperity as a nation does not depend upon how many people have the correct political opinion (although, believers with doctrine will be able to correctly interpret history and understand their own personal role in relation to government). Our survival and prosperity depends upon the number of believers and the spiritual life of the believers in this corporate entity U.S.A. We could accidentally elect the greatest president in the world and yet still go down as a nation, because every one of us is personally responsible to God. We have a corporate relationship to God, and the president is just one man out of many.
There were, no doubt, many things available in that society of Sodom that were attractive to Lot, or possibly even more so to his wife. It may have been quite simple to us: a few shops, a greater variety of foods and spices provided by traders, but enough was there to blind Lot’s family to all the perversion that was occurring. They were willing to turn a blind eye to it in order to enjoy what else Sodom offered. Lot did apparently look out for strangers, when he could, but the perversity of Sodom was just overwhelming.
So far, this is what we have studied in Gen. 19:
Gen 19:1–9 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose up to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the ground and said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square." But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And the men of Sodom called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may [sexually] know them." Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof." But the men of Sodom said, "Stand back!" And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn, and now he has become the judge! Therefore, we will deal worse with you than with them." Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.
So, two angels have come to Sodom and Gomorrah, sent by God, and they encounter Lot at the city gate who attempts to protect them from the general population of men who either engage in homosexual rape or enjoy watching same. While enjoying a meal with Lot and his family, the house is surrounded by the men of Sodom, who want to rape these two angels (believing them to be men). When Lot stands between them, the homosexual rapists become quite persistent, to the point of being ready to do bodily harm to Lot and cause property damage to his home.
Lot was living in a very pagan society, which had come to the point at which , God had to remove it.
1) Sexual degradation and perversion becomes commonplace and socially acceptable in a pagan culture. The more a culture is divorced from the absolutes of the Scripture the more sexual deviancy becomes "normal" and accepted. The more it becomes normal and accepted, the more accustomed, even believers become. They may not be comfortable with it but they no longer experience the same level of shame and embarrassment when certain things are talked about than when they first came up. We hear about certain things on TV and in the news and we become desensitized to the shame of these acts and actions that are taking place in our culture. As a result of this there is an increase in violence.
2) Women are no longer protected and valued. Or women with traditional values are ridiculed and presented by many as not the sort of woman your daughter ought to be.
3) There is a total breakdown as a result of that over all distinctions. It is no coincidence that at the same time that we have the rise of radical feminism, which was at its core the idea there is total and complete interchangeability between men and women and the workplace and the rise of homosexuality among men and women, which says the same thing sexually, that men and women are completely interchangeable as sexual partners. The idea is, it doesn't matter whether my sexual partner is a man or a woman just as long as I have my gratification. So there is a breakdown of role distinctions and there is evidence in women assuming male authority positions and a failure of male leadership in the culture. So women want to assume male authority positions such as a pastor, or they take male positions in terms of bi-sexuality. All of this reflects a breakdown in the culture because we no longer understand the role of men and women as image bearers as God created them. So women become sex objects and men become tyrannical and abusers, and it leads to a complete breakdown of marriage and of the family, and eventually society.
4) Essentially, we are talking about the breakdown of the laws of divine establishment.
From http://phrasearch.com/Trans/DBM/setup/Genesis/Gen102.htm accessed September 26, 2012.
Gen 19:10 But the men [the two angels] reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them and shut the door.
There is some struggling which apparently is occurring, and the angels reach out to Lot with their hands and bring him back into the house. Then the door is quickly shut and, more than likely, barred (or held closed).
Gen 19:11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
Then these angels are allowed to strike these men outside blind. We do not know how this occurred, but suddenly, this group of dozens or hundreds of men can no longer see, and they are groping about on the outside.
What occurred did not have to be supernatural. This could have been a number of lightning flashes right at this time. With their eyes accustomed to the night darkness, this temporarily blinded the men. However, there had to be an incredible intensity of light in order for this to occur and for this blindness to be sustained. Whatever happened could have been related to the explosion of petroleum which will take place in the next 6 or so hours.
I have heard that angels have bodies of light (which appears to be backed up by Psalm 104:4 Ezek. 1:13–14 Daniel 10:6 Matt. 28:2–3 Rev. 10:1); so their relationship to light—whatever that happens to be—may have been involved at this point.
All of this is done for the benefit of Lot and his family. Their lives have just been threatened by their neighbors. These neighbors wanted to sexually molest the angels who just came into the city and they were willing to do harm to Lot and his family in order to do this. It ought to be clear that this place is filled with great degeneracy and that nothing was being done about it. That is, there were no external laws being applied which curbed this behavior. There were absolutely no external controls from society over these men, because all of the men of the city were there to participate or to watch. These unwarranted attacks upon strangers had become sport to the people of Sodom.
Gen 19:11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
This is what is amazing, and it gives you an idea as to how completely driven these men were by their sexual lusts. They have been struck blind—which takes them back for a moment—and then they resume trying to get to this front door, to rape these men and perhaps to take revenge upon Lot. They are inflamed with sexual lust and they are angry, and all of this overrides the fact that they have all been suddenly struck blind, something which ought to have stopped them cold in their tracks.
Now, I have mentioned homosexuality today and the disease of AIDS. At one time, in the 1980's and 1990's, this disease was a death sentence. Although many of us outside of the homosexual world did not know much about this disease, those in the homosexual world did, and they knew a great deal about the disease—as quickly as discoveries were made, the homosexual community knew about it.
AIDS could be wiped out in one generation easily—all a homosexual has to do is exercise self-control, hook up with one life partner, and stay in a monogamous relationship with that life partner; and the disease would pretty much disappear (as would happen with any venereal disease). Homosexuals knew, long before the outside world knew, that AIDS was primarily spread through homosexual contact (and by dirty needles; where someone uses the needle of a person with AIDS). However, instead, homosexuals, realizing that this could mean death, continued to hook up with other male homosexuals (and whomever they could get to stray from the straight world ). No doubt, many of them were sobered by the disease of AIDS; and, no doubt, some of them curbed their activity somewhat—but faced with a deadly disease, homosexuals pushed forward on many fronts. They pushed psychiatrists to stop classifying homosexuality as a behavior that could be cured; they have brought homosexuality into the popular culture to the point where many people think that homosexual activity is the result of how a person is born, that they have absolutely no choice in the matter; and that male homosexuals are just like male heterosexuals, except that they like males. They also sought to isolate and treat the disease of AIDS like no other disease. There are legal protections associated with the disease of AIDS which are not associated with any other disease.
Part of the homosexual barrage of propaganda is found in television and movies. If the characters on television were to portray homosexuals as they really are, they would be seen with a new sexual partner every single week. This new sexual partner, for the most part, would be a stranger and someone with whom they would have a single encounter. For those who have partnered up, they would still be on the hunt for other homosexual encounters. They would be shown to be manipulative and a significant percentage would be shown to have a penchant for young males (this is virtually ignored in the popular culture and written off by most as a stereotype). Many who have taken on female personas would be revealed as that persona as being simply an imitation of what they think a woman is; they are still all male beneath this imitation; and that the physical and social changes that they go through are designed with one purpose in mind—to seduce straight males. Their social lives, for the most part, revolve around sexual activity. Whereas a male heterosexual may think about sex a lot, he also recognizes that he is in society and he cannot act on his lusts as often as he would like; there is no such limitations on the gay male, who can certainly find another gay male who desires exactly the same thing—a quick hookup with no accompanying social involvement, often occurring in the restrooms of public places.
The Word of God here presents them in a realistic light. The men in Sodom are so overcome with lust that even physical blindness cannot stop them from attempting to satiate their lusts. Just like homosexuals today may think about AIDS, but this is not going to keep them from having casual hookups with other homosexuals. Even homosexuals in “committed relationships” continue to have sexual encounters outside of this relationship, which not only increases the chances that they will contact AIDS, but that they will bring this home to their partner.
One more thing: many homosexuals are politically active and they will lie to you about nearly everything. Now and again they will let the truth slip out; but when faced with their desires and the straight world, they will lie about what they know. If you tell them that homosexual activity is not 100% genetic and that they have a choice, they will say that is nonsense and that you do not have a clue as to what you are talking about. They will challenge you to cite any study of any importance that suggests that. Now, when you do cite such a study, you will find out that they already knew about that study and they knew all about its findings (I have had several such discussions). Most of the time, they are both educated and conversant in that study. But, until you mention it, it is as if that particular study did not exist.
Things will slip out from time to time. I discussed some of these topics with 3 homosexuals on the internet, who added comments to an article I had written. When I spoke of homosexual desires for children and homosexuals wanting to get into the schools and “turn” some of the male children, they acted as if that was the silliest notion a person could ever have. The idea that a straight person could be turned is ridiculous; the idea that this is an interest of any significant part of the homosexual population was also dismissed as ridiculous. However, one of them accidently let it slip out that he wanted to be a school counselor specifically for homosexual boys to guide them to be good homosexuals (whatever that is).
We know through studies that male homosexuality is numerically very small—it is not 10% of the population; it is 2 to 3% of the population. Furthermore, same-sex attraction is a continuum; it is not simply you are or you are not. If a male is asked whether he has ever had an attraction to the same sex in any situation, many would answer yes. If asked if one has some attraction now and again to males, but mostly is attracted to females, some would answer yes. If asked about being sexually attracted to females, but mostly to males, some would answer yes. And, finally, if asked if one was attracted only to males, yes would be the answer of some. Such questions have been asked, and the response is a continuum. Those who are in the middle—males who have had some attraction to both sexes—are going to be certainly as numerous as those who claim to be attracted to males only. This is not an either/or; and it is not a 100% matter of birth. Sexual experiences along the way have an affect; and sexual experiences near puberty and before puberty can have a dramatic affect on how a person views himself and his own sexuality.
Propaganda from the homosexual political movement downplays experience and society in the entire equation while simultaneously attempting to influence children at younger ages to accept homosexuality as simply normal. They have been very aggressive to get pro-homosexual books into the classrooms of young children—as young as possible—and to make homosexual behavior an accepted part of sexual education. Many times, this is done under the guise of bullying programs, although there is no great outbreak of anti-homosexual bullying.
However, to help to understand that society plays a big part when it comes to the influence of the sexualization of children, one need only look to the accepted fact that puberty, in the United States, as we have become more sexualized, occurs at earlier and earlier ages. There are even racial differences in this. Setting that aside, we know from research that the development of breasts in women is coming at an earlier and earlier age. Much is this is because we surround our children with so many sexual images. It is in our advertising, it is on our television shows, it is in our movies.
My point is this—if children can be physically changed by external stimuli—that is, if the onset of puberty can occur at earlier ages, simply because of our over-sexualized society—then it would stand to reason that there are external stimuli as well as actual experiences which could affect a person’s sexual identity. The homosexual political movement seeks to downplay this sort of thing when it comes to people being homosexual by asserting “they were just born that way”; but they certainly desire to exert as much influence as they possible can to get pro-homosexual material into our schools. Also on that agenda will be to get counselors on school grounds that specialize in “gay kids.”
Why would they want such a thing? It appears that the homosexual lust for more and different sexual partners is a driving factor. So there is more than social acceptance here; if a young boy can be influenced to experiment, on the basis of being attracted to this or that male, there is another possible hookup. And one thing which cannot be denied is, homosexuals exhibit promiscuous behavior that would shock us heterosexuals dramatically. Just as these men outside of Lot’s door did not choose to have a homosexual orgy amongst one another when they were rebuffed by Lot, so male homosexuals will seek more and more new partners, as this is an addictive behavior pattern (not unlike drug addiction or alcoholism).
So far, this is what we have studied in Gen. 19:
Gen 19:1–11 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose up to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the ground and said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square." But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And the men of Sodom called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may [sexually] know them." Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof." But the men of Sodom said, "Stand back!" And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men [the two angels] reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
Lot and his family knew that the degeneracy of the city was quite serious—even worse than they realized—and the angels’ power was obvious in the way that they stopped these men of Sodom.
Gen 19:12 Then the men [the angels] said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? A son-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place.
Lot and his family are in their house with the two angels, and there are scores, possibly hundreds or even thousands of men outside, wandering about, being unable to see. The angels are going to remove Lot and his family from this place and then rain down judgment upon Sodom.
Lot and his family may not understand completely what is going on, but the actions of the community and the miracle of saving the family gives these angels the authority to call the shots.
Here is where we get an idea as to the size of Lot’s family. There is Lot and his wife and they have two unmarried daughters there with them (Gen. 9:6). These angels, who would probably have more information about Lot’s family, ask about sons-in-law, sons and daughters.
As an aside, son-in-law is in the singular here, but there are sons-in-law in v. 14 (it is not unusual for English translations to use the plural in v. 12 and the singular in v. 14, but it is actually the opposite in the Hebrew).
Back at the end of Gen. 18, we did a headcount: at home, there was Lot, his wife and two unmarried daughters (4). He has at least two sons-in-law (v. 14); and the angels suggest that he has at least two sons and at least two daughters. Altogether, that is 10 people, which is why Abraham stopped talking with God when he was able to insure deliverance for Sodom if there with 10 righteous in the city (Gen. 18:32–33). Abraham did a headcount of Lot’s family and based his intercessory prayer to God on that number.
As discussed at that time, Abraham did not just come to a point and stop counting, when he should have taken it down to 4 or 5 people. God would not have preserved Sodom based upon 4 or 5 people. However, God will deliver Lot and his small family from judgment. So God answers Abraham’s prayer by saying “no” to exactly what Abraham prays for (the non-destruction of Sodom), but “yes” to the intent of Abraham’s prayer (the preservation of Lot and his family).
Both Abraham and Lot have been called righteous (Gen. 15:6 18:24), although we have observed that there is a great difference between the quality of these men’s lives and their testimony—which difference is going to become even more stark as we complete this chapter.
Gen 19:12 Then the men [the angels] said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? A son-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place.
Here, the angels speak of a son-in-law and later in this narrative, Lot will go to his sons-in-law. God is all-knowing; but angels are not. I suspect that angels have a phenomenal memory and an incredible ability to keenly observe what is going on; however, this passage, along with several others, seems to indicate that angels are not omniscient. They do not know all that is going on with every single person—only with those they have personally observed. This simply suggests that there are angels who observe you who know almost everything there is to know about you; and they can read your body language and your face, and they probably know most of the things that you are thinking. However, not every angel knows all of these things about you. The angels that observe my life may know nothing about you. And most angels probably know little or nothing about you or me.
There are times when Satan or a demon will accuse various people before God, and God will speak on behalf of those whom they have slandered (Job 1:8–11 Rev. 12:10). Under those circumstances, angels learn about specific people.
These 2 angels may know some things about Lot. However, they may know nothing about Lot or his family. It is their assignment to destroy these cities. Perhaps God directed them to at least speak with Lot and perhaps God told them, “Just go into Sodom, spend the night, and destroy these cities the next day.”
There are angels in observance, both fallen and elect, perhaps on opposite sides of the stadium, as it were. These two angels are out on the field. Because of this question, they are probably aware that Abraham argued for the preservation of Sodom if 10 righteous could be found. But these angels don’t know Lot’s life; they don’t know his family. They are expecting to have fewer than 10 righteous people—those who have trusted in Jehovah Elohim—whom they will take to safety before destroying the city.
The reason that I am coming to this conclusion, that the angels have a specific mission, but that they do not know everything about everyone, is, they ask Lot if there are more people, and they use the masculine singular word for son-in-law. They expect for there to be fewer than 10 people; and so far, they see 4. They suggest a son-in-law (singular), but Lot will speak to sons-in-law.
They also ask about sons and daughters; which does not mean that Lot has an additional 2 or more sons out there and 2 or more daughters. The angels could be simply asking this as a general question without actually knowing whether Lot has more adult children or not. Abraham made a headcount of 10, which is why he stopped there when speaking with God (Gen. 18:32). The angels, who would have known at the very least, about this prayer, would have understood there to be fewer than 10 righteous (believers), as God was going to judge Sodom, and rescue those who came out with Lot.
So, even though we have done a headcount in a previous lesson, we really don’t know exactly. If I was to make an educated guess, Lot has 2 adult sons or daughters who are married, which should be 4 believers right there; and the problem, as we will see, is with the sons-in-law, who are unbelievers. Because of them, where there ought to be 10 believers (or more), there are 4, along with whichever of Lot’s sons and daughters who believe in Yehowah, but would not join him in leaving Sodom (who are not spoken of, except hypothetically in v. 12).
Gen 19:13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it."
First thing that we note is, these angels have the responsibility of destroying Sodom and the other 4 cities. Therefore, there are not 10 believers in Sodom, so the angels are told to first whisk Lot and his family members to safety.
Here, the angels explain to Lot why he must gather up his people and leave this city, because they would be destroying this place. Lot had no idea who these men were. They were strangers to him a few hours ago. Remember, he only met these angels just this afternoon. However, somehow, in the evening, he has formed a strong bond with them. Furthermore, they just did something which was unprecedented in Lot’s life. His house was under attack. Hundreds of men were outside his door beating on it, trying to get in, and suddenly they stopped. Lot can hear them from the inside, and he can hear what they are saying. No doubt, they are talking about being blinded. We do not know the mechanics of them being blinded. What has occurred to me—and this is conjecture based upon many translations—is that there was a sudden, blinding light, that left all of them blinded. It was nighttime, and these men had been gathering for the past hour or so outside of Lot’s home, and their eyes had become very adjusted to the darkness. If there was a flash of blinding light—even a supernatural light—this could blind them. Whether this is a permanent blindness or one that lasts for several hours, we do not know. However, it will be apparent, later in this chapter, that Lot can come and go from his own house unencumbered by the crowd of frustrated homosexual rapists and voyeurs who are milling about. My point is, Lot is beginning to realize who these men are, to some limited extent. Whether he knows that they are angels, whether he knows much doctrine at all, is questionable; but he will hear that they are from Yehowah and he will believe that, and he will act on that.
Gen 19:13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it."
These angels use the Hiphil participle of to destroy, which often indicates causal, ongoing action. However, the beginning of the destruction of this city is right here, outside of Lot’s home. First thing that they did is neutralize the homosexual criminals of Sodom. Whatever other steps they are taking place at this point in time is unclear. However, the participle suggests that this destruction is beginning, that these angels will be the agents through which this destruction will come, and that it is imminent. Their words indicate that, Lot cannot get a good night’s sleep and then get up bright and early the next morning to do what he has to do; the time to act is right now.
The fact of these angels showing up and going to Lot personally is important, as are the events of that night. His daughters in the home and his wife realize—perhaps for the first time—the great degeneracy that is all around them. These homosexual criminals outside of their door have done this before. They certainly knew of these things intellectually speaking. Remember that Lot insisted that these men stay at his home for protection, so what these homosexual criminals did was not unknown to Lot or just a rumor. However, with this all occurring right here, right outside of their own front door, in a place that they believed that they were all safe, this horrific evil has gotten the attention of Lot and his family. The blinding of these homosexual criminals and their being neutralized also got their attention. There are a lot of things going down, and they are happening all at once; but these things are designed to suggest a great urgency that will have to seize Lot.
These angels are sent by God to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. The word outcry suggests that rapes and killing of strangers had become commonplace in Sodom; and this is supported by Lot insisting that these angels (when he believed them to be men) come stay at his house.
We are never given the specific mechanics as to what happened in Sodom or how it was caused to happen. We do not know exactly what these angels did (v. 13, 22); we do not know exactly what God did (vv. 14, 24–25) when it comes to the destruction of Sodom. We do not know exactly what sort of powers angels have when it comes to destruction as we have here. We know that sulfur and other things rained down upon Sodom from the sky, but we are not told any of the mechanics here. That is, what this a natural or a semi-natural event? Was it completely miraculous? We simply do not know the answers to these questions.
Angels, an addendum:
How does God keep good angels from going bad? Through knowledge, through information, through observation. This is why we are being observed. Angels will observe the lives of believers all over the world over a period of 5000, 6000 or even more years. They will come to many of the conclusions that we come to: that God is righteous, that God is faithful, that God is fair, that God is merciful and that God is truthful. Similarly, they will make observations about Satan and the fallen angels—that they will use fear and intimidation; they will lie; and that all of their works result in chaos, pain, heartache and judgment. Furthermore, no matter what lies Satan tells, he is heartless and he will do anything on his own behalf, regardless of the damage that he causes to others.
In observing all of human history, billions of people and in billions of circumstances, elect angels are convinced that they have no reason to doubt that God is Who He says He is and that Satan is not at all the way he presents himself to be. They watch situations like this play out—and, in this instance, two angels actually participate in the action.
It is one thing to be given a one-sentence description of Rudy Ruettiger, a young man, who, against all odds, became a part of Notre Dame’s football team; and it is quite another to view the movie or read the book. Similarly, it is one thing to be told that God is righteousness and justice and love, but an entirely different thing to see these characteristics play out in real life. Angels see human history as it unfolds and it reveals the perfect character of God in millions of different circumstances and under many different environments.
Given the first chapter of the book of Job, there are times when fallen and elect angels convene with God and people are discussed and Satan brings accusations against many of us. However, does Satan himself gather all of this information? Probably not. Satan is also a created being who can only be in one place at one time. So, when you are accused before God—and you probably are, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ—this is because there are demons who gather information about you and present it to God (or they present it to Satan who presents it to God).
In many ways, you are an object lesson to angels. God’s character is demonstrated in all that He has done for us (giving us His Son for our salvation) and how He is faithful to us, despite the fact that we fail continuously. Angels have volition as well. Unlike fallen man, where we can make one decision which connects us eternally to God (to believe in Jesus Christ), elect angels probably face a situation where they can, at any given time, choose to sin against God (I do not believe that there is salvation for angels; I cannot find that taught in the Bible). Whether there are a multitude of things that they can do or think that would take them out of their relationship with God, we do not know. However, they are learning Who and What God is through their observance of us on this earth. An Understandable Version of the New Testament reads: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a large crowd of spectators [Note: Christians are pictured here as being in a crowded arena, performing in the games], we should lay aside every [excessive] weight and sin that so easily entangle us, and with perseverance, we should run the race [of life] that lies before us (Heb. 12:1). The bracketed material here is from the AUV–NT. Laying aside the weight of sin that entangles us is confession of sin to God for restoration of fellowship. So, before the angels, we are told to get into fellowship.
I’ve listed many of the amazing things found in Genesis (in the first 15 chapters); and this is another of those fascinating things. We have information about the Angelic Conflict which is consistent with everything in the Bible that follows. We tend to think of angels as being quite impressive with great talents and abilities, but they are limited, just as we are. Hidden in this tiny portion of v. 12 is, angels do not know everything there is to know. Angels are learning. At no time in the Bible will this bit of information ever be contradicted.
I realize, for some people who give this very little thought, this does not seem to be amazing. But, someone (or many people) wrote the book of Genesis, and they laid out the groundwork for hundreds of primary and secondary doctrines in this book, and none of these things contradict what we find later. I have gone through this book 3 times on my own. In this 3rd time through, I find myself contradicting a few things I wrote the first time I exegeted this book. I have on many occasions, had to go back in my earliest exegesis of this book and fix some of the mistakes I made. I have revised some ideas or changed my mind on some doctrines, and have had to fix this (at some time in the future, I will replace the short exegesis of Genesis entirely). So, here I am, working with material that has already been laid out, having had a good deal of teaching before ever beginning the first exegesis of Genesis, and yet, I have changed my mind on several occasions of how to interpret this or that passage. How is it possible for these authors from 4000 years ago or more to put together the very foundation for all true theology without making a single mistake even in the most important doctrines? How is it possible for them to lay out the basis for human history, along with all the related theology, without there being glaring differences between these words and what the Apostle Paul will write 2000 years later? Yet, at the same time, it takes me many hundreds of hours to fully apprehend all the truth that is here (or, as best as I am able). The most logical explanation, which is given by the Bible itself, is that God the Holy Spirit both inspired and guided the writers of Genesis as He did the Apostle Paul; which would result in perfect consistency throughout Scripture. For prophecy [the writing down of the Word of God] was never produced by the will of man, but people spoke from God, as they were carried along [i.e., inspired] by the Holy Spirit (2Peter 1:21; AUV–NT).
Here is what we have studied so far:
Gen 19:1–13 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose up to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the ground and said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square." But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And the men of Sodom called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may [sexually] know them." Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof." But the men of Sodom said, "Stand back!" And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men [the two angels] reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door. Then the men [the angels] said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? A son-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it."
So, at this point, there are hundreds of homosexual rapists and voyeurs milling around outside of Lot’s home, having been blinded by the angels.
Gen 19:14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, "Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
I want you to picture this scene: they are trapped inside Lot’s home and there were all of these homosexual rapists outside who, moments ago were trying to break in. Now they are wandering about outside, blinded and confused, still trying to find the door to get into the house. So Lot slips out the door quietly and is able to move through their midst because they are unable to see him. They might hear him, but they are also hearing the others who are out there, who are probably making a lot more noise.
While this is all going on, Lot goes out and contacts the men who are about to marry his daughters, to try to convince them to come with him and to leave this city. This tells us that not every single male of Sodom was out in front of Lot’s home (I am assuming these sons-in-law live in Sodom). However, nearly every male from Sodom was there.
We are told very little of this conversation, but it is likely that Lot recounted all that happened, and that these future sons-in-law just laughed at him. They did not believe in the God of Abraham and Lot and what Lot was telling them seemed like a joke to them.
Let me suggest two things here: Lot did not have a lot of credibility with these young men. They desired his daughters, but they did not look upon what he said as important or serious. He was just the old man in the picture, someone they would have to tolerate after marriage. Secondly, they did not see Sodom as being that problematic nor did it strike them as reasonable that God would strike Sodom. They possibly did not even believe in his God; and they certainly did not fear God. All of this seemed like a big joke to them. Lot had no testimony before them as a believer in Yehowah. Furthermore, they believed that Lot would use the Lord’s name to pull a prank on them.
Having already gone through the headcount, this is where Abraham’s estimations break down—with the sons-in-law. It did not occur to him that Lot’s daughters would be promised to marry men who do not believe in Yehowah.
Gen 19:14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, "Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
Lot is taking all of this quite seriously. These men to whom he speaks think he’s joking. What the sons-in-law presume is, Lot is kidding them; that Lot is making a joke. Here is something which they do not understand: Lot, at least in my estimation, would not make a joke and use God’s name as a part of the joke. Lot may be pretty far gone spiritually; but this is not the sort of thing that he could do (this is an assumption on my part). If they had any understanding whatsoever about Lot and his God, they would understand this.
We do not know how many homes that Lot had to travel to, and we do not even know if this was their reaction at each home. We know that this occurred with at least two of his (future) sons-in-law. They believed that Lot would use the name of his God in order to make a joke. They had to be aware of the perversion that was all around them, and yet, Lot and his God were still a joke to them.
No matter how many people Lot spoke to, it is clear that, Lot was met with negative volition. No one believed him. No matter what he said, no one could take seriously that God was destroying the city.
Abraham’s relationship with the people around him was much different. If Abraham went to his neighbors and told them that God was going to judge the land where they lived, I believe that most of them would have listened to Abraham. But Lot’s testimony was not strong enough.
Some of you are perhaps thinking, “What if someone said that to me today?” We live in a very different dispensation today. Throughout the Old Testament, there are angels and there are prophets and there are messages from God. This does not occur in the post-cannon period of the Church Age. If you know someone who has God telling him things, that would be a person to avoid. If you have a friend who regularly sees angels, find another friend. What we have today is the complete Word of God. We do not need additional information. God does not need to come and tell us to make a right turn straight up ahead. Everything we need to know for our lives is found in the Word of God. Abraham did not have the complete Word of God; Lot did not have the complete Word of God. We do.
On the other hand, if a pastor-teacher takes contemporary history and matches this to our current situation, many similar conclusions can be drawn. He could not say, “We are about to be destroyed with fiery sulfur from above;” but he could say, “It looks as though we could face some serious divine discipline to our nation because of our corporate witness to God.”
In terms of understanding our lives and what we should be doing, this is found throughout the Bible, in both testaments. For instance, in the life of David and the rebellion of Absalom, we can find many applications: of the results of being an absentee father to the idea of offering up a meaningless slogan to run for president. It is all there. We can examine what God the Holy Spirit wants us to know, and then easily make application to all those things going on in our own lives. However, this is done by means of understanding the Word of God. We can do this because there is no new thing under the sun (Eccles. 1:9).
If you know 20 verses out of the Bible, and little else, you will spend your Christian life in confusion. If you know 20 chapters, you are a little better off. In you know 20 books from the Bible, you are developing the knowledge which leads to spiritual maturity. As we are mandated to do, Grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18). Or, as Paul exhorts us: And do not be conformed [in your mindset] to this world [cosmic system philosophies], but be transformed by the renovation of your thinking, so that you may examine and recognize what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2). The key is, we need to think like God thinks (John 16:13–14 Rom. 11:34 1Cor. 2:16 Eph. 3:3–4).
Gen 19:15 As 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."
The verb often translated to urge is ʾûwts (אוּץ) [pronounced oots], which means, to urge, to insist, to press [upon], to hasten, to hurry [along]. Strong’s #213 BDB #21.
Lot returns without the future sons-in-law, and without anyone else. In the morning (it is doubtful that anyone slept during this time), Lot and his family were to simply get up and walk out of their home.
Most of the time, we live under normal circumstances. We go to work each day, we often see and talk to the same people, we drive the same route and we do many of the same things. We have a normal daily routine, a normal weekly routine and a normal yearly routine. However, things happen which change that. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and war. Or more personal things occur, such as moving, divorce, losing a job, serious illness. Now and again, people in a particular geographical area, face something which completely breaks into their routine. This had happened to the people of Sodom. For the people in Sodom, it was their destruction. For Lot and his family, if he listened to the angels, it would be their salvation.
Elsewhere in the Bible, this routine is described as “eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” The implication of this phrase is, there is little or no thought given to God. Everything is man relating to man. When this occurs, God sometimes has to shake things up, to get us to focus on the reality that we do not see, that we are in the midst of a great conflict.
Our life is all about that which we cannot see. We cannot see our own souls. You can express your intelligence and mentality by the things that you do or say; but you cannot take it out and show it to someone. When you marry, the key to your relationship is the way that your souls interact, but you cannot actually see the soul of your spouse. You get to know what your spouse is like by seeing his or her soul manifest itself under a variety of circumstances; but you cannot actually see your spouse’s soul. You cannot even see your own soul, but you know you have a soul because you can think, you have emotions and you have norms and standards.
This appears to be the reason that we are alive. God can tell both man and angels Who He is, and explain His essence to us; but it becomes far more meaningful if we see the actual evidence of His essence (God’s essence cannot be seen; much like our souls). Whereas, this could be quite dramatic, as we find in this chapter of Genesis; it is more subtle in the Church Age. We do not have angels or prophets coming to us and warning us of this or that catastrophe, and then, these catastrophes come to pass. We learn, instead, about such things in the Bible. We learn Who and What God is, and then we see Him in all the world around us, and in all of the events of our lives. We see, without having to walk between two walls of water, how the Word of God clearly explains our lives and everything that we experience.
God is invisible, and the Angelic Conflict is invisible, our souls are invisible; but these are the things which are key to our lives. What we cannot see is what is most important in our lives. Eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage is simply a way of describing lives which are devoid of God and Bible doctrine. These are external activities. There is nothing moral or immoral implied by this phrase.
Why is there such a great importance attached to the Word of God in this dispensation? Not only is His Word complete, but, man fell into sin because of a few words. Satan misled the woman with a few words which led to her eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, now there are many words before us, in the complete Word of God, all of which reveal the plan and character of God. And we develop from the Bible a full knowledge of good and evil.
Back to the action:
Gen 19:15 As 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."
The angels use one word, “Up!” This suggests that Lot and his family were sort of dawdling about. Obviously they are going to be tired, but also, their adrenalin should be pumping because a few hours ago, their lives were in danger; and now, their lives are in greater danger.
Lot was once very prosperous. My guess is, he chose to sell his company, and he bought a very nice house and had a healthy bank account to boot. He may have used his money to acquire his judgeship. However, all of a sudden, he is under disaster conditions, and these angels are telling him to leave behind all that he acquired. Lot did choose to do what he was told to do. He may not have been the greatest believer of all time, but, when faced with a crisis like this, and angels telling him exactly what to do, he agrees—more or less—to follow their orders.
We face a crises from time to time in our lives, and we need to be spiritually adept at going from routine to crisis mode. Lot and his family were not quite there yet, and they had angels telling them exactly what to do. In our lives, we do not have angels telling us what to do—we have the Word of God in our souls or we do not.
The angels speak directly to Lot. The 2nd person masculine singular verb is used here. Everyone in the house is in danger, but it is up to Lot, as the head of the household, to get them moving.
Gen 19:16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, on account of Yehowah grace being upon him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
Lot and his family had a difficult time just picking up and going. He was warned, but these angels did even more—the overruling will of God is applied here. They grab Lot and his wife and their two daughters and start walking. This is why there are 2 angels sent to their home. One grabs Lot and the wife by their hands; the other grabs the hand of each daughter, and they start walking. There is no packing.
Underneath all of this is an illustration. When it is God’s time for us to leave this world, we do not have a chance to pack. There is nothing that we take with us, apart from our own souls. Whatever is in our soul and spirit is all that goes with us. I suspect that Lot’s house was one of the most beautiful homes in all of Sodom. He had been a very successful businessman, he apparently was retired, and, very possibly, he sunk all of his money into this house and into his career. Now, he walks away from it all—he has no choice—and Lot and his family only are able to take with them what is in their souls (which is apparently quite limited).
The fact that Lot is a spiritual failure, and, therefore, so is his family, is illustrated for us again and again. Lot had no credibility with his sons-in-law or with any members of his family living outside his home. When it comes time to leave, the angels have to physically drag Lot out of their house. This foot-dragging will continue until they are safe.
The phrase the Lord being merciful to him is just as more accurately translated on account of Yehowah’s grace upon him. There is no verb here; we have the feminine singular construct of chemelâh (חֶמְלָה) [pronounced khehm-LAW], which means compassion, mercy, graciousness; pity. Strong’s #2551 BDB #328. This is affixed to Yehowah, giving us the compassion [mercy, graciousness] of Yehowah. This is followed not by the lâmed preposition (which means to) but by a preposition that means upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside. The angels seize Lot and his family because the graciousness of God [is] upon him.
Gen. 19:12–16 (HCSB): Then the angels said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here: a son-in-law, your sons and daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of this place, for we are about to destroy this place because the outcry against its people is great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were going to marry his daughters. "Get up," he said. "Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking. At the crack of dawn the angels urged Lot on: "Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city." But he hesitated, so, because of the LORD's compassion for him, the men grabbed his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters. And they brought him out and left him outside the city.
Lot had no luck with anyone outside of his own house. He could not convince anyone of the judgment that is to come upon them. We have such warnings today, but they are not warnings of sulfur pouring down from above. There are Biblical warnings concerning our corporate relationship to God. That is what Sodom is all about—Sodom’s corporate relationship to God is an outcry that has come up to God.
A state cannot sponsor sin and expect that the end result will be good. The most obvious application is state-sponsored homosexual marriages. No good will ever come of any state or country legalizing gay marriage. Another example is, legalized gambling, where a state endorsing various sins in order to achieve some higher good (like increased revenue to the state). California has done this to help with their budgetary matters and how well has that worked out? When it comes to legalizing and drawing revenue from sin, Nevada ought to be the most prosperous state in the union, but it is not.
Next time, Lot will stop the angels, and suggest plan B instead.
Here is what we have studied so far:
Gen 19:1–16 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose up to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the ground and said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square." But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And the men of Sodom called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may [sexually] know them." Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof." But the men of Sodom said, "Stand back!" And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men [the two angels] reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door. Then the men [the angels] said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? A son-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, "Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. As 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." But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, on account of Yehowah grace being upon him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
The angels have managed to get 4 members of the Lot family to the outskirts of the city of Sodom.
Gen 19:17 And as they brought them out, one [angel] said, "Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away."
It is at this point that the angels will leave it up to Lot to take his family to safety. Apart from the word them, every verb and every personal pronoun in this verse is a masculine singular. Lot is in command of his family, and one angel is giving him marching orders. This is not some family discussion which is taking place here.
To look back is the verb nâbaţ (נָבַט) [pronounced nawb-VAHT], which means, to look intently at, to examine carefully; to rest one’s eyes upon [something]; to look, to behold; metaphorically, to regard, to consider; to bear patiently (these are all Hiphil meanings). Strong's #5027 BDB #613. Therefore, Lot is being warned, not to turn around and look back with great intensity. Obviously, this warning applies to the rest of his family.
The destruction is going to come suddenly, and this appears to be either a volcanic explosion or an explosion of oil from beneath the ground. The reason I say this is, they are not to step, to look back fondly, or to stop anywhere in the valley. So the valley is going to be flooded. They have to get to the hills or they will be swept away. These are probably various kinds of oil products which are extremely hot and will explode out of the ground and drown this valley, as well as fiery sulfur rain down from the sky (which probably is a part of the explosion, as it is not unusual for sulfur to be found with naturally occurring petroleum products).
This may seem horrendous, but apparently these people have been, for some time, raping and killing strangers who wandered into their city; and no mercy was afforded them. Rape and killing was just sport to these people—some participated and some were spectators. But this was a sport all the males of the town enjoyed. Therefore, God meets their ferocity and heartlessness with a greater ferocity.
As an application of this, when we deal with national enemies who are ferocious, then we meet them with a greater force (something which is taught throughout the Bible).
Gen 19:17 And as they brought them out, one [angel] said, "Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away."
The word found here and often translated valley is actually kikâr (כִּכָּר) [pronounced kik-KAWR], which means, a circle, a globe; a circular tract of land, a round district. This five cities made up somewhat of a circular tract of land. Strong’s #3603 BDB #503
Recall from Gen. 14:10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits. When the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, they fell into them, but some survivors fled to the hills. (NET Bible). You will recall that the people of Sodom were not militarily prepared for their enemies from the east; they were not even trained on their own terrain (it appears that they attempted to use their land against the Kings of the East, except that the Kings from the East attacked them from the other side, so that their backs were to the Valley of Siddim—they were trying to set things up so it was the other way around). However, there was a great deal of petroleum and/or natural gas and/or sulfur there, some of which was gathered into pits in the valley near the Dead Sea. Their enemies used their own landscape against them, and now God would destroy them with their own landscape.
This may seem odd to you, for petroleum in various forms to be leaking out of the earth, but it is quite common, actually. From Wikipedia: Petroleum seeps are quite common in such areas of the world...Natural products associated with these seeps include bitumen, pitch, asphalt and tar. Such seepage is found all over the world: Oil residue in seafloor sediments that comes from natural petroleum seeps off Santa Barbara, Calif., is equivalent to between 8 to 80 Exxon Valdez oil spills, according to a new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). So this entire area of Sodom will apparently become flooded with these things.
So, Lot has just observed all of his town turn against him and be willing to kill him; and he saw these men all struck blind. Next, these angels grab a hold of Lot and his family and begin to drag them to safety, and then Lot says...
Gen 19:18 And Lot said to them, "Oh, no, my lords.
Now, in the midst of all this, Lot wants to argue with the angels. Time is of the essence, to the point where the angels are hauling these people to safety, and Lot stops the show, saying, “Oh, no, my lords.” Do you see why his testimony to his sons-in-law may not have been very strong? Even he has a difficult time buying into all of this. And remember what Lot has just witnessed—all of his male friends and neighbors were gathered out in front of his house ready to kill him and rape his guests, and they had all been struck blind. So, it was not a matter of these angels needing to hand him some sort of credentials.
Yet, notice what Lot wants to do. He wants to stop right there in the middle of everything and say, “Okay, let’s discuss our options, if you don’t mind.” He’s saying no, politely, but the word is still no.
In first reading this, I thought, said, “Are you kidding me?” I wanted to reach right into the narrative, grab Lot and shake him.” As if I have never resisted the will of God.
Contrast Lot’s reaction with Abraham, who, when he was 100 and his wife was 99, and Isaac had not yet been born, and God tells him, “You need to circumcise all of the males in preparation for Isaac being born.” Did Abraham say, “Oh, no, my Lord; I’ve done a lot of stuff that You asked me to do, but circumcise all of the males who are associated with me, who work for me or who are my slaves? Are you kidding me?” However, if you will recall, that was not how Abraham reacted. But Lot—that is pretty much what he has been doing all along. And, here he does it when the very ground below him is about to explode.
This helps us to get a good understanding as to the difference between Abraham and Lot. To Abraham, what God required him to do, even though it was painful—and I guarantee you, few males would seriously contemplate circumcision past the age of 1—Abraham was told to do this, and so he did. Everyone, including him, got circumcised.
So, Lot continues this discussion with the angel who has latched onto his wrist:
Gen 19:19 Behold, your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die.
Lot does not believe that he can make it to the hills. It is possible that the destruction of Sodom has already begun, and that Lot and his family can see it. However, Lot apparently does not believe that he is physically capable of escaping to the hills. So, here, God is going to allow Lot to go his own way, and yet still preserve him.
Throughout all of this, you ought to be struck by how willful and bullheaded Lot is, who is constantly offering up a plan B to God’s plan A. If it were up to me, Lot would have been now under 10 feet of fiery sulfur and boiling oil from underground; but God is a great deal more gracious than I am. God’s graciousness explains a lot, because most of us have spiritual lives more similar to Lot’s than to Abraham’s.
It is with this chapter that you really begin to get a feel for just how different Lot and Abraham are. When God came to Abraham, Abraham listened, he believed, and he acted on his faith. God sends angels to Lot, makes certain that Lot recognizes that this is a supernatural situation (by blinding the homosexual rapists), which at once identifies these angels as being far more than men; as well as indicating that they are there to deliver Lot and his family.
Lot has a lot more evidence to deal with, and yet, he’s come up with his own plan. “And you seem to be like a great guy,” he says to the angel, “and you have been so gracious to me by saving me; so, if you would be so kind as to allow me to tweak your plan just a little, because otherwise, I would probably die.”
Do you grasp this? Lot thinks that these angels—who have just blinded a dangerous mob of sexually-charged men and who are about to destroy this area—are not smart enough to give Lot a safe place to go to. “You guys are okay with this quelling the homosexual rapists, and what not; and I am sure you’re going to do a fine job destroying this area, but I don’t think you have really thought it out. You want me to zig, and I think it is most apparent that I ought to zag.”
There are a lot of clear mandates in the Word of God. God has defined specific relationships and has set specific boundaries on some of these relationships. God’s view of things may not be our view of things, because we have been raised up in a world where some things that the Word of God says sound—how should I put this?—intolerant. Let me give you a few examples: the man’s dominance over a woman in marriage; the idea that the marriage of a husband and wife is the ideal place where children can be raised up; and the idea that homosexual activity is sinful and wrong.
So there is no misunderstanding, in every generation, there are things which do not jive with the Word of God; however, you always go with the Word of God; you do not go along with your society’s norms and standards (which are often generational and often a matter of propaganda). When you find your thinking lining up more with your contemporary society than with the Word of God, then you are not getting enough spiritual food. When you find yourself trying to bend the Bible to fit to what you believe, rather than bending what it is you believe to be in accordance with Scripture, then you are not growing spiritually. As God tells us: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways." This is the LORD's declaration. "For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8–9; HCSB).
Up until now, Lot has been just going along with his society; and when God indicates that he is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and here is what he needs to do, Lot wants to discuss it and to bargain for a place that he believes to be more suitable.
It ought to be clear to you why God has chosen Abraham and not Lot. Had God come to Lot and told him that he needed to be circumcised, do you think there might have been some resistence? Do you think that Lot may have wanted to discuss his other options with God? Abraham obeyed God in this because he trusted God. Here, in the context of this narrative, despite all that has happened this night, Lot is still resistant to the will of God.
Gen 19:20 [Lot continues to reason with the angel] Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there--is it not a little one?--and my life will be saved!"
Lot asks if the angels will allow him to escape to a small city which is nearby. It appears to be one of the 5 cities which God intended to overthrow. He is probably pointing out this particular city, explaining where it is.
We do not know what Lot’s motivation was. Was he physically unable to escape into the hills? Did he simply want to have some sort of civilization, even if it is just a small town? Maybe a small city was in consideration for his wife? His stated reason was, the mountains were too far, so, just given him leave to go to this city, Zoar. However, bear in mind, the reason that Lot gives may or may not be the real reason why he wanted to go to Zoar. Whatever the motivation was, God said plan A and Lot decided to argue for plan B instead.
Gen 19:18–20 And Lot said to them, "Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there--is it not a little one?--and my life will be saved!"
You may not realize it, but in the Hebrew, this is a number of very short, staccato phrases, typical of a person who has been running and is now out of breath.
Gen 19:21 He [the angel] said to him, "Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.
The angel agrees not to destroy the city that Lot desires to flee to. Why is this recorded in the Word of God? Why do we need to know that Lot can flee to a small city and that area will be preserved? When it comes to believers being the preservative of a geographical area, proportion seems to be involved. That is, Lot and his family were not large enough to preserve this entire area, or the city of Sodom. God, based upon Abraham’s face to face prayer with Him, was willing to preserve all of the Sodom area if there were ten believers. But there were not. However, for a smaller city, the pivot of three (Lot and his two daughters) will be sufficient to preserve that small area.
I want you to notice that Lot’s prayer here is very similar to Abraham’s prayer. Abraham was, of course, praying directly to God; and Lot is speaking to angels who apparently have some leeway in how they deal with Lot and his family.
So, what is the difference between plan A and plan B? Under plan A, God may have the men who are really designed for Lot’s daughters also living in those hills; that is, that might be where their right men are residing—at the time that Lot is told to go up to the mountains. Or, plan A could have been to eventually return to Abraham; and, again, there would have very likely been men for Lot’s daughters. However, where the Lot family ends up, these daughters of Lot will give up on the idea of marriage and family. That is Lot’s plan B, which is always inferior to God’s plan B.
We are nearing the end of this first part of in Gen. 19. Here is what we have studied so far:
Gen 19:1–21 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose up to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the ground and said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square." But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And the men of Sodom called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may [sexually] know them." Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof." But the men of Sodom said, "Stand back!" And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men [the two angels] reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door. Then the men [the angels] said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? A son-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, "Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. As 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." But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, on account of Yehowah grace being upon him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one [angel] said, "Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away." And Lot said to them, "Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there--is it not a little one?--and my life will be saved!" He [the angel] said to him, "Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.
As we have studied, even in the midst of their running, Lot stops everything and tells the two angels that it is time to discuss where he wants to go.
Gen 19:22 [The angel continues speaking to Lot] Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
Obviously, the specific directions were for the angels to allow Lot and his family to escape before bringing judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah. God protects and preserves His Own. And we may not care much for some of the people that God preserves, but God has preserved Lot for three reasons (1) he believes in Jehovah Elohim; (2) he is related to Abraham; and (3) Abraham prayed on Lot’s behalf. These things combined get Lot and his family a lot of slack. Grace by association is found again and again in Scripture.
We have been studying the judgment of Sodom and the deliverance of Lot and his family from that judgment.
It ought to be clear that Lot does not have the same level of spiritual growth as Abraham. However, when faced with the situation, with what God requires, as told to him by the angels, note that Lot and his immediate family do respond. Not perfectly; but they did what God told them to do, more or less.
By this time, Lot ought to be as spiritually advanced as Abraham, but he is nowhere near Abraham. However, Lot is willing to obey God’s clear commands, but with some modifications, however.
If you have ever been in management or you have owned a company, you know that, for some jobs that have to be done, if you choose Charlie Brown, that job is going to get done and done well; but if you choose Lucy Van Pelt, well, then, that is a whole other story. She might to do the job and, in fact, she might do a wonderful job. However, she might not. You might give her an outline as to what you would like to see done, and you know that, much of the time, she is going to do something which falls outside of that outline. Or she will simply argue as to the end result.
That is like Lot and Abraham; and it is like you and ____. God has various things that are a part of His plan. You may wonder why you do not seem to have much of a place in his plan, but your friend ____ seems to have a lot going on. God knows who He can depend upon; God knows who is going to act within His will and who will not. Maybe I got you and your friend mixed up in this illustration?
Now, you may not think that you really want to participate. You may understand that you are saved and that God is not going to take that away from you (eternal security). And you’re cool with that. However, what football fan would not rather be the one who actually catches that 50 yard pass, or sacks the quarterback before he gets one off; and do this before a crowd of millions? This is a choice that we all have in the spiritual life. You can be the most obsequious nobody in the world, and still play a pivotal part in the plan of God.
Look at Abraham, the most famous person from his time period. He had one son. He did not own any land, insofar as we know (apart from a small plot of land he will buy for a burial plot). He was not some great political figure. He was a great businessman and rancher, but that was about all. And yet, more people know who Abraham is than any other king or pharaoh from that same time period.
If you sat down and listed all of the celebrities that you know: the political figures, the movie stars, the philanthropists, the ultra-rich and well-known. Every single one of us has the ability to be more famous than any of these people. We can do things which, in essence, last forever, as we perform acts of divine good; and our impact on human history can be dramatic and permanent, even though there might be only 10 people out there right now who actually know us by name.
We all live in the Church Age at this point in time; and God has a plan for each one of us in this dispensation; and this plan is put into action by believing in Jesus Christ, by keeping short accounts with God with regards to your sins, by learning Bible doctrine, and by obedience to His Word. We all are given the Holy Spirit; therefore, every single one of us has great potential.
We know the great people of the past: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul. There is absolutely no reason why your name cannot be among these names. You have every bit as much power and potential as any of these men had. Today all believers have the Holy Spirit and the complete Word of God. There is no excuse. We will stand before Jesus at the Great White Throne, and our works will be evaluated, whether they are human good that will be burned up or whether they are divine good that will not be destroyed (1Cor. 3:9–15). Not only will there be millions who observe this, but there will be millions of witnesses to our acts of divine good when they occur (Heb. 12:1). These acts will also be the basis for our rewards in heaven.
Rush Limbaugh has said, “People like to matter.” They want to feel like their life has some meaning, some importance; so often, their involvement in the green movement makes them feel as if they are really doing something; that they are really saving the earth for future generations. In the plan of God, we actually do matter. In the Church Age, everyone has the same portfolio of divine operating assets to begin with along with one or more spiritual gifts. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot catch the 50 yard pass or sack the quarterback of the other team. And you have something that Abraham, David, Paul and Peter did not have: the completed Word of God. You also have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In fact, all of the divine operating assets that Jesus possessed in His humanity, you have; plus the completed Word of God.
So there is no misunderstanding, you do not necessarily have to be out there in front of the crowd; as that may not suit your personality. There are very few people like Billy Graham, who could present to gospel to millions. Also, there would not be that sort of response today; and that may not be your thing, and that is fine. What God intends for you is completely within your power and your ability and even your personality type. The keys are, you stay in fellowship for as long a period as possible, and you grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18). When it comes to divine production, that is grace from God. If you are prepared, it will happen.
Abraham’s life mattered. His prayer to God had power. Without this prayer, it is unlikely that God would have saved Lot. You see, when it comes to Lot, most of his life will be inconsequential (although he will spend eternity in the presence of God). He is good for some illustrations of how not to do things.
Speaking of how not to do things, Lot has made a request to change his eventual direction. Going up to the mountains is too far; he can’t make it; and there is this little city of Zoar which is closer—that’s where he wants to go. This completely explains Lot’s life: God has plan A for Lot; Lot always wants to go with plan B.
Gen 19:21–22 He [the angel] said to him, "Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
Zoar means to be small, to be insignificant. We may surmise two things from this: (1) this was a very small village, which God would protect if Lot and his family are there; (2) this may be the word that we use to describe Lot’s place in the plan of God. On the one hand, you have Abraham, who is fundamental to human history; he is the father of the Jewish race. On the other hand, you have Lot, who is somewhat small and insignificant by comparison. Both men would have children who would become great races, but those who came from Lot (the Moabites and Ammonites) will eventually die out. Those who came from Abraham, the Jews, are with us to this day, 4000 years later. It is just like human good versus divine good. The difference is quite simple: when you follow God’s plan, results are permanent; when you follow your own plan, the results are temporary. As we will later find out, even Lot moving to Zoar (plan B) would be a temporary thing.
Gen 19:23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.
Lot and family left at the crack of dawn, and it was probably somewhere between 10 and noon when they arrived in Zoar. Zoar means insignificance, so, this verse actually reads: The sun had risen over the land when Lot entered into “Insignificance.” This is pretty much a description of Lot’s entire life, after separating from Abraham.
Gen 19:24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven.
Apparently, as they drew near to the city, God began to rain down sulfur and fire, which suggests to me a volcanic eruption of some sort, which apparently involved petroleum deposits, which might include natural gas. Given the heat of the earth, whatever fire had been lit beneath the earth (or had become lit as it reached the surface), the boiling hot oil and/or natural gas formed a gusher which was on fire as well. The amount of hot petroleum which came to the surface was enough to destroy all living things in this geographical area. However, the exact nature of this is unknown to us; we do not know, apart from what we read here, that sulfur and fire came from God out of the sky. Was this a supernatural event? Possibly, but we really do not know.
There are quite a number of websites who make very persuasive arguments that the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah have been found; they are in the valley mostly south of the Dead Sea. And that burned sulfur has been found as well. Apparently there has been found balls of sulfur encased in a burned sulfur compound in these areas.
The map on the right gives the possible locations of these 5 cities (I think that the locations on this map have them spread too far apart). On this same webpage is a 28 min. film on Sodom and Gomorrah, along with many pictures of the area and even pictures of these sulfur balls which have been found.
I have suggested that there were possible explosions of natural gas or various petroleum products which included sulfur as well. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Coal, petroleum, and natural gas contain sulfur compounds. Wikipedia tells us that elemental sulfur was once extracted from salt domes where it sometimes occurs in nearly pure form. Notice where this is all taking place; around the Salt Sea, which, if memory serves has the highest concentration of salts of any salt sea in the world. What happened to Lot’s wife? She was turned into a pillar of salt. So, even though we do not know exactly what occurred, it is not out of the question that there was an explosion of a huge natural gas deposit, which contained a great deal of sulfur, and that the sulfur rained down on the cities that God had judged. One more piece of corroborating evidence is that, under the Mediterranean Sea, less than 200 miles from these sites, there have been found huge deposits of natural gas.
The angels also appear to take part in this judgment in some way, although the Bible does not explain exactly what the angels do. They specifically said to Lot: “For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." (Gen. 19:13). Then, when Lot asked if he could go to a small city instead of escaping into the hills, one angel said, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing until you arrive there." (Gen. 19:21–22). So, the angels clearly take part in this destruction, but we do not really know how these duties are divided up.
God is said to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah as well. Then Abraham said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." The Lord answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it." (Gen. 18:32). Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur 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 (Gen. 19:24–25). What is likely the case is, God did this through intermediaries; through the angels. God gave the orders, and in that capacity, He was the One to rain down fire and sulfur. However, it is the angels who actually did whatever was necessary for this to actually happen.
In like manner, God uses us, believers in Jesus Christ, in His plan as well. There are few of us who will be called upon to destroy complete cities, but we all have a place in God’s plan to do good works. However, in the Church Age, this means (1) we are believers in Jesus Christ; (2) we are in fellowship with God, and therefore filled with the Holy Spirit; and (3) we know the Word of God. Let me add to this, most believers, at some point in time, ought to have a clue as to what their spiritual gift (s) is (are). In many cases, this involves some preparation in that particular area. But, just as God uses the angels to destroy Sodom, God uses us as believers as well to forward His purpose in this world.
Gen 19:1–24 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose up to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the ground and said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square." But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And the men of Sodom called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may [sexually] know them." Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof." But the men of Sodom said, "Stand back!" And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men [the two angels] reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door. Then the men [the angels] said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? A son-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, "Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. As 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." But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, on account of Yehowah grace being upon him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one [angel] said, "Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away." And Lot said to them, "Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there--is it not a little one?--and my life will be saved!" He [the angel] said to him, "Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. [The angel continues speaking to Lot] Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven.
The Angels came to Lot’s family to rescue them and anyone related to them who chose to go with them. In the midst of being led to safety, Lot decides that he cannot go as far as the angels have told him to go, so he asked to go to the city of Zoar instead, which is an insignificant city. About the time that Lot arrived in Zoar, God rained down fire and sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah. As discussed in the previous lesson, this probably involved natural gas or petroleum products as well as sulphur.
Gen 19:25 And He [God] overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
Although the mechanics are not given here, that does not mean that God necessarily acted directly. That is, what we read could actually be what the angels do. Many times in Scripture, the person in charge is said to do something (like, for instance, David conquers Moab, but David does not personally even go to the battlefield). However, those under his command go to the battlefield and defeat the army of Moab. Those acting under her orders defeat Moab, and David, who issues the orders, is the person who ultimately is given credit for what he orders.
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, and all of those in the cities. The sulfur and fire came to them out of heaven; however, it is possible that this was part of an eruption or that this fire ignited the springs of natural gas, oil and related liquids in this area. In any case, the valley and their fields of crops were destroyed. Throughout the Old Testament Bible and in ancient history as well, there are many examples of cities and geographical areas which have been absolutely destroyed and made inhabitable for centuries. This suggests that such a disaster is a judgment from God. Throughout the Bible, fire is associated with God’s judgment.
Genesis sets up the foundation for almost every major doctrine in the Word of God. Here is another example.
There is a doctrine known as the Stages of Discipline for a Nation (which R. B. Thieme, Jr. calls the Cycles of Discipline), and I want you to notice that we actually find the final 2 stages, plus one more, for Sodom, both here and in Gen. 14.
What we have done here is taken the information given to us about Sodom and putting this into a series of consecutive stages, which God used against nations which had gotten out of hand. God is dealing with Sodom as a corporate entity.
Stage of Discipline
Stage 4: Control of a country by an external power.
In Gen. 14, the people of this general area were paying tribute to Chedorlaomer. This means that this king from the far east had come to this area and had conquered this degenerate people, and so they had to pay taxes (tribute) to him as part of their subjugation to him. Gen. 14:1–4 Lev. 26:23–26.
Stage 5: Removal of the inhabitants of a country by an external power.
When they stopped paying tribute, Chedorlaomer came to this region with some of his friends, and they took the people of Sodom captive and were about to remove them from this land. Abraham intervened, as their savior, and preserved their lives. In their association with Abraham, these people were given some slack. Now, they could have turned toward the God that Abraham worshiped, and that would have changed everything for them. Gen. 14:5–16 Lev. 26:27–38.
Stage 6: The destruction of a nation by an external power.
Finally here, in Gen. 19, these people have become so degenerate that God will absolutely destroy them. See also Jer. 10:25 Ezek. 25:6–8 35:5–10
When we get to Lev. 26, you may wonder, why don’t we have this final stage of discipline named? Easy: God is not going to completely destroy Jerusalem or His holy mountain; God is not going to be destroying all of the Jews. Therefore, God did not have to warn the Jews of this final act of discipline.
And just in case you would like to do some extra-credit study:
We should be aware that these stages of discipline, #1–5, were specifically designed by God for Israel. That means that, although our own nation may receive discipline, there is no requirement for it to follow these stages exactly.
R. B. Thieme, Jr. chart (posted by Joe Griffin Ministries):
Denver Bible Church:
Grace and Truth Bible Ministries:
R. B. Thieme, Jr. Ministries (taken from notes):
Although we do not necessarily follow these stages exactly, these are a good indicator of where a nation is at any given time.
Gen 19:25 And He [God] overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
God allows His judgments to stand for a very long time, so that we can see them with our own eyes and recognize what a judgment from God is like. As mentioned earlier, even Josephus said that there were signs of the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah that he and his contemporaries could see 3000 years later.
I believe that God uses natural disasters, like the tsunami that came up against Thailand and southeastern Asia; the Katrina disaster in New Orleans; it can be man-made destruction, like the atomic weapons used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and it can be a medical disaster, such as the AIDS virus. People can observe these things and have different impressions and offer different explanations, but these are judgments from God. These are not random events.
I realize that this is an unpopular concept to maintain today, but let me suggest to you that all natural disasters are judgments by God against a specific population, and that God also spares specific people in these judgments (just as we are seeing in Gen. 19). Many times we have seen, particularly in the Midwest as of late, such disasters turn the people of that area toward God. Even in heathen New York City, after the 9/11 attacks, the infrequently attended churches had many more who began to attend church. God does not just bring destruction to a geographical area to get more people in church or to get more people to turn towards Him; but it indicates that the people of that area are turning further and further away from Him. These are warnings from God, just as Sodom had successive warnings throughout her history. God also is able to protect that which is His, illustrated by this one lone house left out of an entire neighborhood turned to rubble on the Bolivar peninsula near Galveston. For those who do not know, this is a photograph of a neighborhood filled with houses which hurricane Ike devastated.
Back to Lot and company:
Gen 19:26 But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
By this time, Lot, his wife, and their two daughters were moving along on their own. What seems to be the case is, they hear the great explosions, and the wife, disobeying what the angels said (“Don’t stop or look back”), looked back to her city.
It says here that she became a pillar of salt. She was apparently struck dead. Usually, this verse is portrayed with her just standing there, and her body is suddenly transformed somehow into salt. However, it is possible that she was struck down with sulfur and was somehow preserved there whole. This is right in the general area of the Salt Sea, so, what may explain this is, she was struck dead, but in the process was infused with salt, which preserved her body for a long period of time. Therefore, this process does not need to be instantaneous. That is, there is no reason to think that, in one instant, she is alive, and in the next, she is a pillar of salt.
We have a similar approach suggested by the Amplified Bible: Lot's wife not only "looked back" to where her heart's interests were, but she lingered behind; and probably overtaken by the fire and brimstone, her dead body became incrusted with salt, which, in that salt-packed area now the Dead Sea, grew larger with more incrustations--a veritable "pillar of salt." In fact, at the southern end of the Dead Sea there is a mountain of table salt called Jebel Usdum, "Mount of Sodom." It is about six miles long, three miles wide, and 1,000 feet high. It is covered with a crust of earth several feet thick, but the rest of the mountain is said to be solid salt (George T. B. Davis, Rebuilding Palestine According to Prophecy). Somewhere in this area Lot's wife looked back to where her treasures and her heart were, and "she became a pillar of salt." Jesus said, "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32).
The word for pillar suggests that she is a garrison or an outpost (that is what the word actually means); she remained outside of Zoar for a time, looking. Lot entered into Zoar, probably with his family behind him, but, at some point, Lot’s wife stopped. It may be a mile or two back. And she is staring at the city as God is destroying the cities, the people and even the vegetation. They had been warned to run all the way to Zoar, but Lot’s wife did not. So, with all of the raining down of fire and sulphur, she is caught in this. She does not freeze like some statue, but she is killed by the hot fiery gas combined with sulphur that gushes out of the sky upon her, because she did not run all of the way to Zoar. Being that they are near the Dead Sea, her body is preserved to some extent by the salt that is there. Perhaps there are eruptions right there where she is, and these eruptions include the salt water from the Dead Sea. Perhaps she was knocked over into a salt marsh. Whatever the case, she is killed, but, to some extent, her body is preserved by salt.
Gen 19:26 But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
This suggests to me, along with many other passages in Genesis, that this book existed long before Moses came on the scene. It may not have been committed to writing, but many people knew it from memory; and there were things like Lot’s wife as a pillar of salt that existed for a few decades which confirmed the historicity of Genesis.
It is impossible to examine these verbs to determine whether Lot’s wife was transformed over a period of time or whether it was instantaneous. Although the imperfect tense is used here, which often refers to continuous or extended action, when found in a series of imperfect verbs with wâw consecutives, we are simply referring to a series of consecutive or logical actions, whose duration of action may be lengthy or not.
V. 27 is our, meanwhile, back at the ranch verse:
Gen 19:27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD.
So far, we have seen God’s will overruling Lot and his family, despite their persistence to stay out of God’s will. The angels grabbed their hands and pulled them out of their home. Then we had the permissive will of God, where God said, “I want you to go up into the hills” and they requested to go to Zoar, a small city, instead. So, even faced with a great disaster, with proofs that they saw with their own eyes, and they still argue with God’s will. Then Lot’s wife turned around, disobeying the Lord, and was killed and eventually turned into a pillar of salt.
However, in contrast, notice what Abraham does. He goes to the place where he stood before the Lord before. Abraham, of his own volition, desires to speak to God again and he goes to the place where he last spoke to God. This is God’s will.
The modern-day equivalent to this is Bible class. We do not have a place where we literally speak with God, but there is a place where He speaks to us, and that is Bible class, whether this is around a computer, where an MP3 file is played, ideally gathered with others, or in a brick and mortar building, where someone is teaching the Word of God live (whenever possible, we ought to all physically attend a doctrinal church).
When Abraham does this—walking over to the place where he previously stood before the Lord—he is exercising his desire to know God’s will; he is desiring to speak to God; he is desiring to hear from God. For us, this ought to be daily.
Gen 19:28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
The destruction in Sodom and Gomorrah was so great that, Abraham was able to see the smoke from it from where he lived. He could see the smoke rising up, as if these cities were great furnaces. No doubt, these cities were consumed with fire in all of this. It is great enough to be observed from a distance of several miles.
Gen 19:29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and He therefore sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.
Since God is omniscient, He does not remember anything; He knows everything. The word remember is an anthropopathism, ascribing to God human characteristics which He does not possess in such a way that we might better understand His actions.
With v. 29, we look back in time, a few days. That God remembered Abraham means, Abraham reasoned with God about the preservation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham had a prayer and a desire behind that prayer. He figured that Lot would be protected because he assumed that there were enough believers in Sodom and Gomorrah to preserve those cities. God knew that the desire behind Abraham’s prayer was to protect his nephew and family, and that is why God did. God took Lot and family out of Sodom and Gomorrah and then destroyed these cities. So God did not answer Abraham’s prayer exactly, but He did answer Abraham’s desire.
During the first century, the Jewish historian Josephus recorded the visible evidence of the existence of Sodom and Gomorrah in his day: "Now this country is then so sadly burnt up, that nobody cares to come at it...It was of old a most happy land, both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burned by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of the divine fire; and the traces of the five cities are still to be seen." (Josephus in his "Wars Of The Jews", Book IV, Chapter VIII, written nearly 2000 years after this judgment).
With this, we have completed the first part of Gen. 19. However, Sodom and Gomorrah loom large over the rest of Scripture, so, before we return to Gen. 19, we need to take a look at further references to both Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Sodom and Gomorrah Postscript
This will continue for a half-dozen or so lessons:
We have just completed the first part of Gen. 19, where God has destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah by means of two angels; and after these angels first saved the remnants of Lot’s family.
It should have struck you as odd that, for several chapters, we have focused on Abraham and the expected birth of his son by Sarah; and suddenly, we have gone off on this Sodom and Gomorrah tangent. We are only months away, in the Abrahamic narrative, of his son of promise being born, and suddenly, we find ourselves with Lot in Sodom. Part of the reason for this is, there must appear to be the insertion of time between the promises of Isaac’s birth and His actual birth, as this parallels the birth of our Lord (a long period of time passes between the final prophecies of our Lord and His incarnation). Isaac’s birth is parallel to our Lord’s incarnation, something that we will study off in the future.
In other words, the Author of this portion of Genesis inserts the illusion of time in a literary way between the promises and birth of Isaac; whereas this time insertion will be real between the Old Testament prophecies and the birth of our Lord.
What we find with Abraham’s soon-to-be-born son and with Lot living at ground zero before the judgment, is that these are disparate clusters of human events taking place in history along side one another. In one place, there is Abraham, waiting on God, expecting to somehow being able to impregnate his wife, even though neither of them is physically able to produce a child. And at the very same time, just down the road from them, where Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and his family live, Sodom and 4 other cities have descended deeply into lawlessness, to a point where divine judgment is called for.
God is at work in both places. God is with Abraham on his ranch and God is going to Sodom to judge them for their sinfulness. This sort of thing occurs today in adjacent areas, all over the world. God is involved, whether man is faithful or degenerate. Jesus Christ controls history for the glory of God. And the key is not God’s love but God’s justice. But that is a topic also for the future.
Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned many times in the Old and New Testaments. They are used over and over again as warnings to believers in the Age of Israel and to us believers in the Church Age. For this reason, we have spent a great deal of time on this portion of Gen. 19. If Jesus talks about Sodom and Gomorrah, if Paul mentions it, and if both Peter and John find it worth talking about, then Sodom and Gomorrah ought to be something that you ought to know a lot about (this is why we will spend nearly 20 lessons on this topic).
Lot is mentioned twice in the New Testament. Jesus uses him in an illustration in Luke 17:28–32; however, to understand what is being said, we need to back up and understand the entire context. And, in order to understand the context, we need to understand some terminology and some eschatology (which is, the doctrine of future things).
All disciplines require a vocabulary. No matter what profession you are in, you have learned a vocabulary specific to that profession. In most professions, you could string together a number of words into a sentence that those in your profession would understand, but that those outside your profession would not fully grasp. In this study of Genesis, you will note that an important part of this study is the development of a theological vocabulary, because with this theological vocabulary comes spiritual understanding. A concept is developed and explained, and then it is given a name. Or, there are things about which you are already aware, but you need to know the proper names for them, so that the concept itself is then easy to refer to.
In order to understand what Jesus is teaching, we need to understand a number of things first:
The 1st Advent is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. It is when our Lord walked on this earth as a man. This is roughly between 5 b.c. and a.d. 30.
This word literally refers to the administration of a household. However, it has come to mean in modern theology an epoch during which God has a particular plan for that era, e.g., the Age of Israel or the Church Age. Eph. 1:7–10 3:1–10 Col. 1:23–29. For this reason, when we see the word dispensation in the Bible, we need to not think of it as an epoch but as the way that God administers His household. However, outside of the Bible, the word also includes the idea of a period of time. See the Doctrine of Dispensations (HTML) (PDF) for more information.
The Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union
The time period is at least 3–4 years of our Lord’s public ministry, and it may take in His entire physical life. This time period might be seen as a hinge between the Age of Israel and the Church Age. During this period of time, Jesus Christ fulfills all of the Mosaic Law and all of the prophecies of the Old Testament, while simultaneously living the spiritual life that would be utilized by believers today in the Church Age. As R. B. Thieme, Jr. used to say, our Lord test drove the spiritual life for us. We draw upon the exact same spiritual assets as our Lord did during His earthly ministry.
This is the era in which we live right now, where God works through the church universal, which is through those who believe in Him. God also works primarily through the local church through the power of His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. These are the means by which believers grow spiritually. Most divine good is produced in this age as a result of the correct function of the local church in guiding believers to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Doctrines which are specific to the Church Age, e.g., the filling of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit, the universal priesthood. Like many technical words found in the Pauline epistles, Paul appropriated this word from another discipline and applied it to Christian doctrine. Originally, this word refers to doctrines and principles known within a particular cult or organization, but not known to outsiders. Paul used this word to apply the Church Age doctrines, which would not have been known to those in the Age of Israel. The word mystery simply refers to some aspect of Church Age doctrine. Rev. 16:25–26 1Cor. 2:7–8
The Tribulation will occur after the termination of the Church Age, which is the removal of all believers from planet earth via the rapture. The Tribulation will be a shortened 7 years prior to the 2nd Advent, which is then followed by the Millennium. The Tribulation is actually the final 7 years of the Age of Israel, which was interrupted by the Church Age (which concept will be more thoroughly explained below). Matt. 24:15–31
Different from the rapture (which occurs at the beginning of the Tribulation), the 2nd Advent is when Jesus returns and cleanses the earth of unbelievers at the end of the Tribulation and begins the next dispensation with His Millennial reign (which is presented in the gospels as the Kingdom of God). Matt. 24:27, 30–31, 36–39 Mark 14:61–62 Luke 9:26–27 17:30 Acts 1:11 Col. 3:4 1Thess. 5:2–4 Rev. 1:7 3:11.
The 2nd Advent in connection with the Tribulation is often called, the Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord
This can refer to a portion of the Tribulation or to the return of Jesus Christ when He will destroy all of the armies who are converging upon nation Israel. Jer. 46:10 Acts 2:20 1Thess. 5:2 (This phrase is also used for the end of the Millennium in 2Peter 3:10)
In many Old Testament passages as well as in at least one New, the two advents of our Lord (His incarnation and then His return to this earth for judgment and reward) are presented as one event. That is, we go directly frm the 1st Advent to the 2nd. However, intercalated between these two events is the Church Age. Examples of this: Psalm 2:6–9 22:22–23 96:11–13 110:2–3 146:7–10 Isa. 40:3–5 42:1 Jer. 33:14–16 Luke 17:22–30.
Intercalation is the key to understanding Luke 4:16–21, where Jesus is reading Scripture in a synagogue and He stops mid-verse, and rolls the scroll back up. He stopped reading mid-verse in Isa. 61:2, and then said, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The rest of the verse, which Jesus did not read, continued on into the 2nd Advent of Christ. There are many more examples found in the Doctrine of Intercalation (HTML) (PDF) (where I have color-coded the 1st and 2nd advents). If you are unaware of this concept, when you see these verses laid out—two dozen of them—where the 1st and 2nd advents are placed together but clearly distinguished by color-coding, it will be as if your eyes have just been opened. Let’s just say you will have a new-found respect for eschatology and the Word of God.
Baptism of Fire
The baptism of fire is when the earth is cleansed at the 2nd advent of all unbelievers. This is when all unbelievers are removed from the earth prior to the beginning of the Millennium. Malachi 3:2–3 Matt. 3:11 24:40–51 Luke 3:16–17 2Thess. 1:7–10 1Peter 1:12 4:7. Some people confuse rapture passages with baptism of fire passages. With the rapture, believers are removed from the earth, and they meet the Lord in the air. Then the Tribulation begins with unbelievers only on the earth. In the baptism of fire, which occurs a shortened 7 years later, unbelievers are removed from this earth and believers are left behind. The Millennium then begins with believers only.
The Millennium is the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on this earth. This is the Kingdom of God which Jesus offered to the Jews and which they rejected during His 1st Advent. This is a time of perfect environment. However, at the very end of the Millennium, Satan will be loosed from his bonds and he will lead a rebellion against God and against perfect environment. Psalm 72 Isa. 11:1–9 John 8:44 Rev. 20:1–3.
Explaining each of these words completely and going over the passages where they are found would expand this one lesson by 10-fold. However, notice which two predilections of man are dealt with. Have you known unbelievers who think that their lives would be so much better if God was removed from it? They will go to all sorts of trouble to keep even crosses from being seen (in Skinner Butte, at the site of 9/11). In the Tribulation, unbelievers will have the chance to show how they can, with Satan’s help, run the world. Although this time period will begin with unbelievers only; believers will emerge (something that unbelievers will try to stamp out). Another concern of mankind is the idea of perfect environment. We tend to think that, if we could just make our environment better, then our lives would be good. In the Millennium, mankind will live in perfect environment some will still rebel against Jesus Christ in the end (Rev. 20:7–11).
There are some believers who do not believe in dispensationalism. However, it is very difficult to explain the use of the words mystery or dispensation or epoch (age) in the Bible without using dispensational theology. However, the very fact that your pastor does not haul a baby lamb in front of the congregation and slice his throat open every Saturday should offer the simple observable proof that things are done differently in the Old and New Testaments, in the Age of Israel as over against the Church Age.
You will notice that some of these words and phrases are used in the Bible (day of the Lord) and some are not (like intercalation). It is not unusual for theology to develop theological terms not found in the Bible (such as, the word Trinity).
One of the more thorough listings of Scripture for the 2nd Advent:
http://www.jesusiscoming.com/Scripture.htm accessed July 4, 2012.
Eschatology, in a nutshell: Jesus was born of a virgin, had a 3 year public ministry and died on the cross for our sins—this was His 1st Advent. His life is sometimes called the Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union. After Jesus died physically, was resurrected and finally ascended, the Church Age began (Acts 1:7–9). The church age continues until believers in the Church Age are raptured from this earth, where we meet the Lord in the air (1Thess. 4:17). The Age of Israel is then continued and concluded, and the final 7 years of the Age of Israel occurs, which is known as the Tribulation (Matt. 24:21). Then Jesus will return to the earth, to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4), which is His 2nd Advent (the Tribulation and 2nd Advent together are known as the Day of the Lord). At this time, He will cleanse the earth with fire (the baptism of fire) after killing millions who have come to destroy Israel (Rev. 14:20). In the Old Testament, there was no clear separation between the 1st and 2nd Advents of our Lord; however, intercalated between these advents is the Church Age. After the baptism of fire, the Millennial reign of Christ will commence. Now, understanding this terminology and the outline of the end times, we can proceed.
Sodom is found 10 times in the New Testament in 9 different passages. The New Testament passages with Lot and/or Sodom are found below. When covering these passages, we will begin early enough to understand that context and then follow them out to a logical conclusion. So we will study more than just the references, but the passages themselves, and how Lot and/or Sodom is related to the message that is being taught.
Luke 17:22–24 And Jesus said to the disciples, "The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man [i.e., the 2nd advent], and you will not see it. And they will say to you, 'Look, there!' or 'Look, here!' Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in His day.
Jesus, speaking to His disciples, tells them that false Christ’s will arise, and that they are not to follow such persons. When Jesus returns, it will be like lighting flashes that light up the sky. The 2nd Advent will be known throughout the world; it will not be the result of rumors flying about.
Luke 17:25–30 But He [Jesus is referring to the Messiah, speaking of Himself in the 3rd person] must first suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot--they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
However, before this all occurs (the Tribulation), Jesus would be rejected by this generation, who would crucify Him (He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation). Then Jesus, in the tradition of the Old Testament, seamlessly moves from the 1st Advent to His 2nd. Let’s repeat our Lord’s quote, but color-code it: And Jesus said to the disciples, "The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, 'Look, there!' or 'Look, here!' Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot--they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. The brighter red is the 1st advent. Therefore, Jesus, in the grand tradition of the Old Testament, teaches the 1st and 2nd Advents together, without indicating that there will be a passage of time intercalated between them (the Church Age). There are a couple dozen passages from the Old Testament which are just like this, where the 1st and 2nd Advents of our Lord are run together, as if one event. Had Jesus been accepted by Israel as their Messiah, then He would have suffered for their sins and then the Tribulation followed by the Millennium would have begun. However, because the Jews rejected Him and the Kingdom of God, which He offered them, these things did not come to pass. Since they rejected the Kingdom of God, they could not receive the Kingdom of God. This is paralleled by our faith in Jesus Christ: if we exercise faith in Jesus, we will be saved; if we reject Him, we will not be saved. God respects our free will.
Note that the people are eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage is simply normal human behavior in the end times; their lives are filled with various activities that do not include God. The same thing is true in the days of Lot (our actual topic here), where people are engaged in normal activities prior to the destruction of Sodom. Sinful activity in particular is not in view here; just day to day activity apart from God. All the people of Sodom were destroyed (except for Lot and his two daughters).
Jesus here is setting up an analogy between the end of the Tribulation and the judgment of Sodom. Apart from the great evil of Sodom, people simply went about their day-to-day business, completely apart from God. At the end of the Tribulation, despite all of the catastrophes which are taking place, people will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage; that is, they will be involved in day-to-day human activity without a thought to God.
Luke 17:31–33 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
When it becomes clear that the day of the Lord is near (day does not always refer to a literal 24-hour period of time), then there are steps which must be taken immediately. Just as Lot’s wife looks wistfully back at the life she had for 23 years and dies, so it will be in the end times. If you try to preserve your life (the things in your possession), then you will lose your life (your physical life). The destruction in the end time is going to come upon them suddenly, just as it did in Sodom. Lot’s wife looked back wistfully and was caught up in the destruction of her city.
Luke 17:34–35 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left."
The final scene of the baptism of fire is that unbelievers will be removed from the earth; two people are in bed, one is taken and one remains. Two people are working side-by-side; one is taken and one remains. The one who remains goes into the Millennium (2Thess. 1:5–10). The one who is taken will eventually be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:6–15).
Now, it may seem odd that we are examining the end times, but Jesus uses Sodom and Gomorrah as a parallel to the end times. When their judgment came, they were not expecting it.
As an aside, and making this personal, we have no idea how quickly such an economic judgment could come upon the United States. We have the same debt ratio as European nations which are in chaos now (Greece). We are close to a point where politicians cannot simply pull excess monies out of Social Security anymore because there are no excess monies in Social Security; and we have no idea how far we are from a time when nations refusing to lend to our government. However, that day could come upon us as a thief in the night, just as it happened in Sodom: people are buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, and suddenly, the dollar is no longer the strong currency of the world, which would bring economic chaos to our country (it is the strength of the dollar which has kept our country afloat, despite our great debt).
There are many times I have thought that Americans would not riot or do crazy things like the Greeks have; but then, there were teachers marching the streets of Chicago, unhappy in part with their $76,000 average salaries during a time that our president calls the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression (which it is not). So, at a time when people ought to feel lucky that they have a job, they are, instead, marching in the street for more taxpayer-funded benefits (obviously confident that they cannot lose their jobs). So, it is not difficult to imagine rioting in the streets by people demanding that their lives be subsidized more by the government when the government spigot of money and benefits is finally turned off (and that time has to occur). That scenario is no longer that far-fetched any more. We have baby boomers retiring by the thousands each day in America, expecting to be paid from social security and other retirements, and the money for those programs is not there (social security is not like a savings account; the money is not there in some kind of lockbox or bank account and we draw from it). Nearly since the day that social security was instituted, politicians have been raiding that fund, in order to pay off promises, constituencies and donors. So, if people who are making $76,000 march the streets in protest in the middle of a time of great unemployment, what will millions of seniors do when they go to draw their meager social security benefits, and they aren’t there? Or the benefits that they receive are not enough to buy food with, because of the decreased value of the dollar?
The key to what will happen in America will be the spiritual state of the citizens. Do we know and understand the Word of God or are we dependent upon the government as our god?
We are studying Sodom and Gomorrah, and how these cities are spoken of elsewhere in the Bible. What we have picked up so far is, Sodom has been under divine review for quite a long time, enduring for nearly a decade the 4th stage of national discipline and almost falling into the 5th stage of national discipline. In the end, because of the absolute lawlessness of the people of Sodom and their homosexual degeneracy, it was destroyed in the 6th stage of national discipline, which is the complete destruction of a nation and its people. In fact, this was so complete that 2000 years later, the historian Josephus is an actual witness to its devastation.
Although many different geographical areas came under God’s judgment from time to time, this is the one first noted in the Bible, so that we understand that, before God, we have an individual and a corporate responsibility (the latter responsibility is nearly ignored in the teaching of our local churches today ).
We have also, from time to time, taken note of the difference between the spiritual impact of Abraham versus that of Lot. Lot had virtually no spiritual impact on the people around him, despite holding a high political office; Abraham had a dramatic effect upon the people around him, even though he was fairly independent and not wedded to any particular nation or group.
The previous lesson included a list of eschatological terms; and if you feel weak in this area, then please refer back at this terminology in this and the next lesson.
As in the previous lesson, we will start back far enough in these passages to get the context and move to a logical conclusion, so that you are not left hanging.
Great spiritual works done in a city can turn that city around:
Sodom (or, Sodom and Gomorrah) is also mentioned in the book of Matthew, where Jesus used these cities to illustrate certain truths to His disciples. Jesus, while giving His disciples direction as to what they will do when they carry out the great commission (to evangelize and teach the world), will look back to the time of Sodom’s destruction in order to teach His disciples.
Matt. 10:12 [Jesus is speaking to His disciples here]: “As you enter the house, greet it. (This narrative is repeated in Luke 10:10–16).
The disciples were not in the business of speaking to houses. They were not being ordered to greet an inanimate object here. Greeting the house means, they greet those who live in the house. Greeting the house meant to greet the inhabitants of the house (house is called a metonym; it is a metonym for the inhabitants of the house). This is a figure of speech, and the Bible is filled with common as well as sophisticated figures of speech. Most of the time, these figures of speech are so ingrained in our thinking, that we read a verse like this and we do not even think about it unless it is pointed out.
Matt. 10:13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.
Again, the disciples were not determining the structural worthiness of the house, but of the response to the gospel from those within the house.
The word peace refers to peace between man and God, which is salvation. When a house is worthy, that means the occupants are interested in salvation or they want to know the Word of God. Essentially, the disciples, based upon the reputation of Jesus, would go about as His disciples, and they would go to houses, where people would be gathered, and they would speak the same messages to these people as Jesus spoke. A house is worthy if they responded with positive volition; a house is unworthy if they had no interest in what was being taught. When people of a community had no interest in the teaching of the disciples, they simply moved on. No peace between God and man was established there.
Matt. 10:14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.
The people would say, “We’ve heard about your Jesus and we just are not interested.” So, the disciples were to just move on.
Matt. 10:15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”
A city where there is no interest in the gospel of Jesus Christ, would be a city which would be under corporate judgment from God. In this time period, the Jews would eventually revolt against the Romans, and they would be slaughtered. The Roman slaughtering of the Jews was so vicious that it is remembered to this day. After being slaughtered, they would be held under punishment until the day of judgment (2Peter 2:9b).
A city is a group of people gathered to a particular geographical area, and these people make up a corporate body. Obviously they do not all think alike; however, if none of them are interested in either the gospel or the teaching of the Word of God, the disciples were to move on. These people form a corporate witness, and in the example given, if no one wants to hear the words of the disciples, the disciples were supposed to get out of town, as God would deal with them corporately. There are some cities that would be under great judgment as a result; and a judgment against them in eternity. Such a judgment would result in sometimes temporal judgment and always an eternal judgment.
Remember how it was for Sodom—God destroyed them with hailstones of burning sulfur, but delivered the righteous (which was a total of 3 people).
Matt. 11:20–22 Then He [Jesus] began to denounce the cities where most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent [i.e., change their minds about Jesus]. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
Chorazin and Bethsaida were cities in which Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom and offered Himself as their Messiah and Savior. Yet, He was rejected by these cities (apart from a few disciples who lived in Bethsaida—John 1:44).
This does not mean that those in Sodom would have observed the great miracles of Jesus and be saved by exercising faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is simply saying that, He could have imposed a presence which would have curbed their behavior. For instance, the men of Sodom may have had a strong desire to rape males who came into their city, but, after a few of them are executed, they no longer will commit such crimes. We have many instances of history where rioting crowds have been quelled and law and order subsequently enforced (the end of the French Revolution is an example of this).
Jesus says the same thing to the inhabitants of Capernaum:
Mat 11:23–24 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you."
Capernaum is a metonym for the people who live there. The city itself will not be brought down to Hades; the people of the city would be.
Our Lord paints a pretty tough picture for the people of Capernaum; there are not many things worse than fire and brimstone being rained down upon you from the sky. What He is speaking of is, eternal judgment. They have seen the Lord; they have heard the truth; and yet they rejected Him. John 3:36 He who believes on the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him. (MKJV).
This certainly will cause us to ask, could Sodom have been saved? Could Sodom have remained a city even to the day of our Lord? Jesus appears to be saying that it could. Therefore, let me give you a modern-day illustration: New Orleans. For many years, this city had become filled with crime and gangs and people who lived on the government dole. Both the city and the state were known for government corruption. However, when Hurricane Katrina came, it washed much of that away. It had somewhat of a cleansing effect on this city. Much of the population of New Orleans, particularly those who lived on the government dime, left that city, and lived on the government dime elsewhere (such as, here in Houston). At the same time, New Orleans is emerging as a vibrant city again. When people take part in the rebuilding of their own city and their own homes, this is revitalizing. The same sort of transformation could have taken place in Sodom, where the population was constrained by law and order and/or partially removed, and replaced by those drawn to Sodom. After all, if the Lord did His marvelous works in Sodom, there would be people with positive volition who would come from other cities to Sodom to see them.
An analogous situation was experienced in Houston, which was a boom town for many years, where people came from all over the world to make their fortune in Houston (when I moved here, people were moving to Houston at the rate of 1000/week). Part of the reason for some people moving to Houston was Berachah Church, where Bible doctrine was being taught faithfully, in some decades, as much as 10x a week. At this time, we have at least 3 doctrinal churches in the Houston area. Positive volition toward the Word of God brought people to this city from all over.
To be clear, we credit the boom in Houston to doctrinal teaching in this way: Houston, as a geographical area, was blessed greatly by God. This then acted as a magnet to pull in people from all over the United States to participate in this great blessing. Associated with this would be people who were drawn in part or in full to Berachah Church, for the doctrinal teaching that occurred there. I personally moved here simply for a job; but explored the possibility of moving to the Houston area only because Berachah Church was here. I did not have this overwhelming desire to move here and move in next door to Berachah Church (I think that they called that Berachah barracks at the time?). However, the blessing which God gave to this geographical area made moving here and finding work quite easy to do. I recall talking to one school secretary on the phone, calling her from California, and she told me, “Just come on down here, put in your application to a few schools, and you will have a job.” After trying to get a teaching job in California for 4 years, that sounded like quite a deal to me. In retrospect, I know that this was clearly God’s geographical will for me.
So, what Jesus is saying is, had these same works been done in Sodom and had law and order been enforced, as well as some judgment upon this city, what remained would have been controlled by law and order; and people would be drawn to this city by the promises of seeing or speaking to God-Incarnate. Just as New Orleans was transformed, so would Sodom have been transformed. It does not mean that the people who were destroy by fire and sulphur would have changed their minds and believed in the Revealed Member of the Trinity; it just means that this city would have been restored by law and order and an influx of new blood, pulled in due to the great works of God done in the city.
Quite obviously, in our much larger cities, there is bound to be a number of believers (particularly in the United States); in various stages of growth (many in flat-out infancy). A serious judgment often results in a change of attitude, albeit often very temporary, in these people.
Sodom and Gomorrah are evidence of a future, eternal judgment:
Let’s go to the book of Jude for the next passage:
Jude 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, Who delivered a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
Jude reminds the believer that, even though the Revealed Member of the Trinity (= God the Son = the Angel of the Lord) led 2 million people out of Egypt in the exodus, He later destroyed those who were faithless—that is, those who had originally trusted in God but had turned from Him, and therefore, they died the sin unto death; their bodies dropping like flies in the desert. This was, in fact, a generational thing. There was Gen X, those who were 20 and above who marched out of Egypt with Moses; and there was the generation of promise, who were the children 20 and younger who were with them at the exodus. All of them had believed in the Second Person of the Trinity—all of those who left Egypt with Moses. However, Gen X did not exercise faith as God brought them toward the Land of Promise. God told them what to do, and they refused to do it, crying about the giants in the land (Num. 13–14). So God killed off that first generation, which series of judgments are represented by the rebellion that takes place in Num. 16 and additional deaths recorded in Num. 20 21). However, the GOP (the generation of promise; the children who left Egypt with Moses) believed God—not only for salvation but in their subsequent lives—and therefore, they went into the Land of Promise and took the land of Palestine away from the many groups of heathen who lived there.
Gen X was like Lot—they were saved by faith, but they did not advance spiritually. The GOP was like Abraham; they not only believed in Yehowah Elohim, but they trusted His guidance through the leadership of Moses.
Those who did not believe does not refer to unbelievers, as all of the Jews who followed Moses had believed in Jehovah Elohim (because they all followed God’s instructions for the Passover—Ex. 12); however, they did not engage their faith in the spiritual life. They were saved—the Gen X’ers believed in Yehowah Elohim—but they did not parlay their salvation into a vigorous spiritual life. When tested, they simply fell apart, despite all of the signs and wonders that they observed.
You may want to also notice that Jude tells us it is Jesus Who delivered the Jews from Egypt (another one of the many passages which confirms that Jesus is the Revealed Member of the Trinity and known as the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament).
Jude 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day--...
Jude then speaks of the angels who had sexual relations with mankind in Gen. 6, how God has placed them in restraints until the final judgment.
Jude 6 And angels, who did not remain within [the bounds of] their proper authority, but left their own realm, God has kept in perpetual bondage, under [thick] darkness, awaiting judgment on the Great Day [when they will be punished]. (AUV–NT)
There are universal laws for angels, just as there are for human society; and one of them is to remain within and among themselves. In Gen. 6, we studied how angels had the ability to have sexual relations with human women, and thereby corrupted almost the entire human race. God has placed these angels in a perpetual bondage as a result, and they will be judged in the end times with the rest of the fallen angels.
Jude continues with the topic of God’s judgment, and speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah. What ties the two events together is, both involve sexual behavior which is unrestrained, rampant and out of bounds; and the eventual judgment of God.
Jude 7 ...just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, where God rained down fire upon them, serves as an illustration of the final judgment of God.
As an aside, there are some groups who believe that God simply burns up unbelievers and they are gone. If this were the case, there would be no need for an eternal [never-ending] fire. The fire would burn up the unbelievers and then it would no longer be needed. However, the Bible teaches both eternal reward and eternal judgment, and all that a person must do to avoid eternal fire is, take a few seconds out of their life and believe in Jesus. Salvation is free; it is instantaneous and it is permanent.
We continue in the 3rd lesson of the New Testament references to Sodom. Again, you may have to go back to lesson #211 if there are confusing vocabulary words. Also, in each passage, we will go back far enough in the passage to both pick up the context and to take the passage to a reasonable conclusion.
God knows how to preserve the righteous and to level judgment on the wicked.
Peter mentions Lot as an aside. He goes back to the book of Genesis and covers several historical events. He will demonstrate historically how God is able to preserve the righteous and yet judge the wicked, using Sodom and Gomorrah as an example.
He first points out that God did not spare the angels who sinned.
2Peter 2:4 (most of this is the ESV translation) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;...
God did not preserve the pre-flood world when true humanity was nearly destroyed. The angels responsible for the mixing of angels with man were placed into chains of gloomy darkness. We studied this back in Gen. 6.
2Peter 2:5 ...[and] if He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;...
There is a point at which God will destroy a huge population, or a geographical sector; and yet preserve the remnant from that area. Noah was preserved in the flood and Lot and his daughters were preserved from the destruction of Sodom.
What God does is often illustrative of spiritual truths. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and their legacy is an example to the ungodly (those who have not believed in Jesus Christ).
2Peter 2:6 ...[and] if 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;...
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah to us are like unbelievers to God (the ungodly). Extinction here is the feminine noun katastrophê (καταστροφή) [pronounced kat-as-trof-AY], which means, 1) overthrow, destruction; 1a) of cities; 2) metaphorically of the extinction of a spirit of consecration. Quite obviously, this is the word transliterated catastrophe. Thayer definitions only. Strong’s #2692. God condemned these cities to be overthrown, which meant, the people in these cities would be made extinct (the 6th stage of national discipline). For those people who are ungodly, this is their final end on earth as well.
Lot, as we know, was not someone who was of a high moral quality. The people who surrounded his home and who desired to rape the two angels, had little respect for Lot. Lot was so in fear for his own life, that he offered up his own daughters to try to placate the mob outside his door. In every way possible, Lot was spiritually inferior to Abraham. As we found out, even his sons-in-law-to-be were unsaved. When Lot came to his future sons-in-law to warn them, they did not take what he had to say seriously.
2Peter 2:7 ...and if He rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked...
Although we are not told this in Genesis, Peter tells us that Lot was greatly distressed by the immoral behavior of the townsfolk. We know in Genesis that Lot was aware of it, and we know that he tried to protect the two angels (who Lot saw as men) from such a vicious sexual attack.
So there is no confusion concerning the righteousness of Lot, he is righteous by faith in Yehowah Elohim. There were certainly times when his relative righteousness was greater than those around him, but that is not why God preserved him. God preserved Lot for three reasons: (1) he had believed in the Lord (his obedience in Gen. 19 reveals his faith in Jehovah God); (2) he was associated with Abraham, and much of the blessing that Lot received was an overflowing of blessing from Abraham; (3) Abraham prayed on Lot’s behalf and God answered this prayer. The only thing that is in view here is #1, Lot’s righteous based upon his faith in Jehovah God.
The word that describes how Lot felt is the verb kataponeô (καταπονέω) [pronounced kat-ap-on-EH-o], which means, 1) to tire down with toil, exhaust with labour; 1a) to afflict or oppress with evils; 1b) to make trouble for; 1c) to treat roughly. Thayer definitions only. Strong’s #2669. As Lot stood at the door, with his homosexual rapist neighbors, he was treated roughly. When the people there committed acts of rape and killed strangers, Lot was oppressed with such evil. By the way that these men treated Lot at his own front door, you can tell that even his life is in danger.
2Peter 2:8 ...(for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);...
Peter confirms that Lot is a believer by calling him righteous. Righteousness comes to all of us when we exercise faith in Jesus Christ. This is a positional righteousness; it is not necessarily an experiential righteousness.
Lot knew what was right and wrong. If the male townsfolk gang-raped strangers, you can imagine the kind of morally reprehensible behavior that they engaged in regularly. These acts of violence distressed the soul of Lot. He was not a spiritual giant, by any means, but what these people did shocked him. Recall that he spent a couple of decades with his uncle Abraham, and he would have seen a lot of personal integrity in action by observing his uncle (Abraham was positionally righteous and he exhibited experiential righteousness).
2Peter 2:9 ...then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,...
Mixed together in Sodom was Lot and his family—declared righteous by Peter—in the midst of a city of sexual degenerates. God is able to preserve the righteous while judging the unrighteous. God is more than able to distinguish and separate people in a time of geographical catastrophe.
Therefore, since God delivered Lot in this circumstance, we know that God will deliver those in the midst of trials (whether they be personal or historic) and that God will keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgement, which would be when the devil and his fallen angels are thrown into the Lake of Fire and those who have followed Satan (Rev. 20).
2Peter 2:10 ...and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the Glorious Ones [that is, the Members of the Trinity].
Peter characterizes those who are the unrighteous: they continually walk after or pursue lusts. If they desire something (sex, power, money, drugs, alcohol), they pursue these lusts without any deference to morality. For them, they have the lust for something, and right and wrong in their minds is defined by what satiates that lust. If something moves them toward their lusts, that something is good; whatever impedes this progress toward their lusts is defined as bad. Politically, some of these people are often called one-issue voters. They will vote for the candidate which moves them toward satiating their personal lusts.
The same degeneracy that we read about in Gen. 19, many of us have personally observed, but with a different object of lust. As an example, people addicted to certain drugs will do anything in order to have those drugs. Furthermore, the same ones despise authority. They do not want anyone judging them or telling them not to do that which leads to them having what it is that they lust after.
Such men are daring and presumptuous, arrogant and self-willed as they blaspheme that which should be glorified or that which is majestic. They scoff at the idea that there should be any limits placed upon their behavior.
We had a wonderful example of power lust in the 2012 election (nearly every election is an example in power lust). Mitt Romney is a very moral person and has been so for most of his life. However, he desired the presidency so much that, in the primary, he destroyed his opponents with negative political ads—most of which were distorted or untrue about his opponents. Whereas, he could have put a stop to such ads (even though they were put out mostly by Super PACS), he chose not to, allowing vicious attack ads to be the key to his primary victory in Florida. On the one hand, I can guarantee you that such an approach was an affront to Romney’s character; but his lust for power was so great that he allowed such ads to be run. Interestingly enough, Romney himself was later defeated in the general election, in part, by a huge number of dishonest, negative political ads, which defined him as a very unsavory person (which he is not) of questionable character (he was accused of indirectly killing a man’s wife, of being out of touch, of having no heart). Whereas none of these things are true, how do you accuse your opponent of an unsavory campaign after you have done the exact same thing against your primary opponents?
Back to our passage:
2Peter 2:10 ...and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the Glorious Ones [that is, the Members of the Trinity].
We will continue with this category of people, as these are the sorts of people who were in Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed those cities. They follow their lusts, which lead them to degrading acts, as well as exhibiting animosity toward authority (Lot was a judge in Sodom).
2Peter 2:11 Whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord,...
It is not the elect angels which condemn unrepentant mankind. In God’s dealings mankind, He calls all of the shots; angels do not. Fallen angels may act under God’s permissive will (see Job 1–2). However, they will be eventually judged.
2Peter 2:12 ...these, however, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,...
These people have become like animals, which have no self-control, which act only on instinct and desire. These types had given themselves over to lascivious behavior; therefore, for this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done (Rom. 1:26–28).
There are some animals which are out of control and dangerous to mankind—obviously, much more of a problem during Peter’s day than during ours. There is nothing that can be done to convince, say, a deadly lion (which did inhabit that part of the Middle East during Peter’s time) who was a danger to mankind in a certain geographical area. The only option was to hunt this animal and kill it. Men who behave in a similar fashion, who do whatever they want to do without exercising much self-control, will also be destroyed. These types will be destroyed in the destruction; whether their nation or city is destroyed or whether they are, at the end, cast into the Lake of Fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels (Rev. 20:10–15).
2Peter 2:13 ...suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.
They receive the appropriate wages for their wrongdoing (that is, they will receive a just payment for what they do). They are so comfortable with the evil they do, they will revel in the daytime (meaning in public). They do not try to hide their evil behavior. They will celebrate it; they will flaunt it. This describes perfectly the militant homosexuals in some parts of the United States and elsewhere in the world. This describes a gay pride parade.
Meanwhile, they will deceive you—lie to your face—as they feast with you. Feast simply refers to any sort of public celebration, and can be reasonably extended to simply public interaction. As you will find, those who celebrate evil have no problems lying to you when necessary in order to “sell” their evil or to make it palatable to you.
As an example, I have had lengthy online discussions with those who celebrate the homosexual lifestyle, and they will intentionally misrepresent their personal free will in relationship to their behavior; the number and frequency of their partners while they argue for marriage equality. They will similarly deny the relationship of homosexuality to AIDS; and the close relationship between homosexuality and their desire to infiltrate public schools by any means possible. They are pushing today are bullying programs in the schools, which programs try to instill pro-homosexual bias in children before they even understand what sexuality is. In the future, there will be a push for men to have paid positions as counselors for “homosexual” children in our schools. This will be pushed as if these are “special needs” children.
For those who have viewed our last election of 2012 with some concern; there were many areas to be concerned about. If memory serves, two states voted for same-sex marriage by a popular vote (I believe this is the first time this has occurred; as even California in 2008 voted against this). Along the same lines, marijuana use was decriminalized in two states, which will undoubtedly increase marijuana use among adults and young people alike in those two states. These are votes to allow people to satiate their lusts (although the same-sex marriage is more about gaining a political foothold to go after churches and to infiltrate schools).
Let’s return to the key verse, 2Peter 2:6 By turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, the Lord condemns them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.
The overall point that Peter is making is, God has, in the past, made cataclysmic judgments of various parts of the world, where the righteous have been preserved. Therefore, we should logically expect Him to do this at some point in time to the world itself. There will come a time when the world will suffer cataclysmic judgment, which is the Tribulation. Those who will be preserved in the world will be believers, and God will remove the unbelievers from the earth through the baptism of fire. As this sort of cataclysmic judgment occurred in Sodom and Gomorrah, so it will happen to the entire world. God can and will judge the world.
This is a principle that cannot be overemphasized: what we find in the history of the Bible is not just history, but it is also illustrative of great spiritual truths. Over and over again, Jesus went back to the Old Testament and explained a passage or interpreted that passage or applied it to current circumstances. This same thing is found in the writings of the Apostles and early disciples of our Lord.
Sodom is used to denote sexual deviance of the Beast in the end times:
The final mention of Sodom occurs in the Revelation, written by John the Apostle:
Rev 11:3–6 And I will grant authority to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
It has been supposed by some that God will resuscitate Moses and Elijah, and that they would be the two witnesses. This is believed, in part, because, when God was glorified, Moses and Elijah were with Him (Luke 9:28–35). However, it is possible that these are just two great evangelists in the Tribulation who have enormous power over the elements.
In Revelation, they are called lampstands because they reveal truth (light is often used to illustrate truth). They are called olive trees because they would bear fruit (that is, they would speak the truth about Jesus Christ and that particular time in Biblical eschatology and people will believe).
These men will also have miraculous powers, with perhaps even greater control over nature than Al Gore or Barack Obama.
Except for the first century, when the Apostles were establishing their authority, we do not have miracle workers or healers. An evangelist does not walk through the doors of a hospital and begin to heal one man after another, and then proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. This was done in the first century so that those men who were picked by Jesus were able to prove that the power of God is with them. These sign gifts established their authority, because there was no New Testament yet to be the source of their authority (however, as the New Testament began to be written, these sign gifts began to diminish). Furthermore, there was a great change taking place, from God working within the nation Israel to working within the body of believers (the church universal; as well as the local church). The great sign gifts gave credence to those Apostles proclaiming the risen Lord, the gospel and the mystery dispensation. However, once the canon of Scripture was completed, and its authority well understood, then there was no longer a need for sign gifts (which actually began to fade from view before John wrote the final epistles and Revelation).
In our era, the post-canon portion of the Church Age, our authority and power rests in the Word of God. It has been established and has stood as the most powerful thing on this earth for 20 centuries. The evangelist Billy Graham did not have to heal a few people or perform a miracle in order to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. He only needed to open his mouth and proclaim what was in the Bible, and millions were saved. God, through Billy Graham, changed 2 or 3 generations of the United States. I have a personal friend who is an unbeliever, insofar as I know, and yet was drawn to Billy Graham and watched him speak on many occasions on television. The power of the Holy Spirit can be very powerful indeed.
However, on the other hand, in the Tribulation, these two evangelists will be endowed with miraculous powers and perform miracles even greater than what Jesus did. The Tribulation is a shortened period of time, so what occurs then is intensified. “Do you not understand the judgment of God?” these witnesses might say. “I will show you the judgment of God.” And a river nearby will be turned to blood or a city may be struck with a debilitating disease.
Why does this happen in the Tribulation, but not now? In the Tribulation, the time remaining for man to change his mind is a scant 7 years. Everything is incredibly intensified during those 7 years. Human history is drawing to a close.
Furthermore, every time there is some major change in God’s program on earth, there are signs and miracles to accompany the change (e.g., when God brought the Jews out of Egypt).
Rev 11:7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,...
In any case, the beast rises up from the pit to kill them. So, despite their great powers, they will still be killed in the Tribulation.
Rev 11:8 ...and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is symbolically [or, spiritually] called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.
There are disagreements as to whether this will be the modern Rome or the modern Jerusalem. Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, but under the authority of the Romans.
In any case, Sodom brings great sexual deviance into the picture whereas Egypt represents a non-Christian religious world empire, one which is generally hostile toward Jews and Christians. The king of the end times will reject God and he will reject the desire of women (Daniel 11:37)—and therefore, he will be a perfect representative of Sodom and of Egypt. He himself will expect to be worshiped.
There are times in our history that it would have seemed unfathomable for these two witnesses to be killed, whose sole crime appears to have been, speaking the truth. However, with what we have observed in Muslim countries as of late (I write this in 2012), the idea of seeing them display the dead bodies of Christian evangelists does not seem too weird for them. We do not know if those in the end times who follow this king are Muslim; however, if the Tribulation came to pass over the next 10 or 20 years, then that would likely be the case.
Rev 11:9–10 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.
By simply being evangelists, these prophets so upset the heathen that they had to destroy them, and after destroying them, they celebrate and even exchange presents (for which we have recent contemporary precedent).
For most of us, the idea of celebrating the deaths of innocents is abhorrent; however, there are cultures living today who, if they kill a family of Jews, they will celebrate it as a great victory of Allah.
The cartoon gives a contemporary example of people who are very offended by such things as a nativity scene (particularly in front of a school, state building, or whatever) but have no problem when far more vile things are made public.
Simply telling the truth—simply speaking the gospel of Jesus Christ—is so offensive so that, people in the Tribulation will celebrate the deaths of the two prophet-evangelists.
This completes our study of Sodom in the New Testament. It was named in at least 5 different contexts, but with a clear reference back to the Sodom (and Gomorrah) that we have studied for many lessons. Next time we will look at how the Old Testament uses the example of Sodom.
Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament
We have just completed a brief study of the mentions of Sodom in the New Testament; and now we will see how it is spoken of in the Old Testament. These lessons will be slightly longer than usual, in order to complete this section in a relatively short time.
In this first increment, we will have a look at what Moses says about Sodom (and Gomorrah), which would have been about 400 years after the fact. As we did previously, we will back up far enough to get the context of a passage, and follow it out to a satisfactory end.
Sodom and Gomorrah lay in ruins for the entire history of ancient Israel, as a warning to them of God’s judgment.
Moses, in his final sermon to the people of Israel, warned them against idolatry and warned them that the destroyed city of Sodom is a witness to God’s wrath:
Deut. 29:16 "You know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed.
Israel had traveled along the eastern border of the land that God was going to give to them, and they were going to enter the land from the east, after they had gotten just north of the Dead Sea. In order to do this, they had to travel through several different countries which bordered the Land of Promise.
Deut. 29:17 And you have seen their detestable things, their idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, which were among them.
What the Israelites were supposed to notice is how these nations, many of which they had to defeat militarily as they traveled north around the Dead Sea, worshiped idols which they had made with their own hands. In God’s sight, such things are detestable.
Deut. 29:18–19 Be sure there is no man, woman, family, or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations. Be certain that there is no root among you bearing poisonous and bitter fruit. When someone hears the words of this oath, he may bless himself in his mind, thinking, 'I will have peace even though I follow my own stubborn heart.' This will lead to the destruction of the well-watered land as well as the dry land. (HCSB)
This root that bore poisonous fruit was their idolatry. It is this poison of worshiping another God that would destroy the people of Israel from within. Some Israelites refused to give up this idolatry and it plagued them throughout their history.
A good modern example of this is Mary-worship or pope-worship among some in the Catholic church. Mary statues hanging in a car in order to be protected—this is idolatry. Jesus should be worshiped; men should not.
Peace in this passage, refers to peace with God; and some believe that they can have peace with God, even though they give into the arrogance of their own thinking. If the nation as a whole turns against God in this way, God will destroy all sectors of their economy—those sectors which are doing well (the well-watered land) and those which are not (the dry ground).
This certainly has a contemporary application: when we as a nation turn away from God, all of these things which we have placed our faith in will be destroyed.
The number of believers in the United States is waning; and the number of believers who understand much about the Word of God is a small fraction of believers. There are churches in the United States that base their church doctrine on liberation theology, which is communist revolutionary propaganda (which was quite successful in South America); we have churches where the sin of homosexuality is excused and even celebrated.
Deut. 29:20 The LORD will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven.
Those Jews which fall into idolatry are in danger of having their names blotted out of history. The lives and families of the Jews are closely tied to the earth and to the Land of Promise. Many of these family lines will be continued into the Millennium. Moses here warns that some will not. In fact, some families will come to a complete end.
Deut. 29:21 And the LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.
There is a section in Deuteronomy of the curses and the blessings, which is what Moses has just taught the people (Deut. 28). This was presented in a somewhat different format in Lev. 26 where Moses lays out the stages of national discipline for Israel.
Deut. 29:22–23 And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the LORD has made it sick-- the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath—...
If one generation fails, the next generation is suppose to rise up, recognize this failure, and return to God.
In the southern portion of Israel is Sodom and Gomorrah (and Admah and Zeboiim), the cities which God destroyed with fire and brimstone. These cities, now destroyed and the land desolate, were to stand as a warning to the people of Israel. It appears that this destroyed piece of land stood as a warning for many centuries after Abraham and Lot. Even Josephus mentions it, and he wrote history in the first century a.d. Therefore, for the entire history of Israel, they were able to view the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah and know that judgment that God brought upon those cities.
Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote in the first century: "God then cast a thunderbolt upon the city, and set it on fire, with its inhabitants; and laid waste the country with the like burning, as I formerly said when I wrote the Jewish War. But Lot's wife continually turning back to view the city as she went from it, and being too nicely inquisitive what would become of it, although God had forbidden her so to do, was changed into a pillar of salt; for I have seen it, and it remains at this day." (Flavius Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. Book 1, chapter 11, section 4; http://www.ccel.org/). It is difficult to argue against an ancient historian who actually saw the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah with their own eyes.
Salt in the land made it impossible to grow anything in that land. So the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah stood for a very long time—at least for 2000 years. And it was always there. When the Jews doubted the power and justice of God, they could take a trip down to Sodom and Gomorrah and view the destruction with their own eyes. Furthermore, we know this to be true throughout the history of Israel because author after author; speaker after speaker referred to it. These books of the Bible and the testimonies therein would not have been accepted as true if a trip to that area yielded no signs of divine devastation.
Deut. 29:24 ...all the nations will say, 'Why has the LORD done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?'
Israel is supposed to be forewarned, so that other nations do not look at Israel as a nation which has been destroyed by the Lord’s anger. Sodom and Gomorrah stood for many years as a testimony to God’s wrath (Moses writes this about 400 years after the time of Abraham and Josephus would later be an actual witness to the devastated remains of Sodom and Gomorrah 1500 years later after Moses). Moses here looks down the corridors of time and says that nations for centuries would look at Sodom and ask, “What caused God to be so angry with these cities?” However, Moses is applying this to Israel in general; not to Sodom and Gomorrah. If Israel turns away from God, then God would destroy them in His anger, and nations for years would ask, “Why has Yehowah done this to the land of Israel?”
Deut. 29:25–26 Then people will say, 'It is because they [the people of Israel] abandoned the covenant of the LORD [their contract or agreement with God], the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt, but they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom He had not allotted to them.
People will recognize that Israel abandoned the covenant which God made with them, and understand that, this is why they have been destroyed as a nation. Their covenant was with the Revealed Member of the Trinity (Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate form).
Although God gave bits and pieces of this covenant at different times to different people (to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David), it was a covenant between God and the people of Israel).
Bear in mind that, while Moses delivers this warning to the Jews, these Jews have not yet actually entered the land. Moses is warning them about the destruction of their nation that did not yet exist if they turned away from God and His covenants with them. There is no nation Israel when Moses delivers this message.
However, Israel would fall into idolatry on many occasions. To update this concept, idolatry is not just worshiping a god other than Jesus; idolatry can simply be putting other things before God and the Word of God—your career, your desires, your family, material things, and, of course, any false system of spirituality or any lying philosophy (like humanism).
Deut. 29:27–28 Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.'
Therefore, the curses which Moses delivered to them, the curses which would be recorded in a book, would befall the nation Israel. The curses on Israel, recorded in at least 2 different places, are the stages of national discipline that God uses to warn Israel that they are drifting away from truth.
You may have noticed the word book. This is the word çêpher (סֵפֶר) [pronounced SAY-fur], which means missive, book, document, writing, scroll, tablet. It occurs once in Genesis (Gen. 5:1) and then almost 200 times after that (e.g., Ex. 17:14 24:7 32:32 Num. 5:23 1Kings 11:41). This word does not really emphasize the material from which a scroll, tablet, or book was made, but emphasizes more that it was a writing receptor, just as an engraving tool emphasizes its function rather than the material from which it is made. Strong’s #5612 BDB #706. Moses was to write down that which God told him, and this was to be preserved (see Ex. 24:7 Deut. 17:18 Joshua 1:8).
The greatest stage of discipline for Israel was being defeated militarily and then being removed from their land. Nothing is a great discipline than for Israel to be taken off of the land which God will give to them. We know this as the 5th stage of national discipline (which R. B. Thieme, Jr. called the 5th cycle of discipline).
God judged Sodom; and He will judge His people if they engage in similar behavior.
Moses also wrote a song for Israel (Deut. 31:30), in which he again speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah:
Deut. 32:20–21 And He said, 'I will hide My face from them; I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness. They have made Me jealous with what is no-god; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no-people [that is, those who are not My people]; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
Again, God is provoked to anger by idolatry, where the Jews worship that which is not God instead of worshiping God. One may reasonably assume that anything that you place before God is an idol of sorts. So, our idols today may not be what we bow down before and do obeisance to, but they can certainly be the things in our lives which we value more than God.
Let me caveat that with, the Bible is not anti-possession; the Bible is not telling you to give all of your possessions to the poor and then to wander about homeless looking for God. It is a matter of priority, and whatever you put before God (or before the teaching of Bible doctrine) is your idol. As Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt. 6:24b). See also James 4:4 1John 2:15. Too many people take Jesus’ mandate to the rich young ruler, to sell all his goods, give the proceeds to the poor, and then to follow Him (Matt. 19:21); as something all rich people should do (liberals try to use this to convince conservatives that the rich ought to be taxed more—if they really thought this, then they would be demanding that the rich be taxed at 100%). That is a complete misunderstanding of that meeting, as well as wilfully ignoring the context (Matt. 19:16–22). We know that the Bible is not against having possessions, as Abraham, David and Solomon were all quite rich. At no time, did God come to them and say, “Well, if you want to be perfect, you need to sell all this stuff and give the money to the poor.”
Back to Moses, speaking as if for God:
Deut. 32:22 For a fire is kindled by My anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
V. 22 speaks of the spreading judgment of God over Israel (and, by application, over us).
Although Moses is writing these words, he is doing it in the power of the Holy Spirit, and speaking from the standpoint of God. In fact, that is one of the keys to the book of Deuteronomy: that Moses, while empowered by the Spirit, was speaking the Word of God. In Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, Moses was very careful to quote the words that God was speaking. By the book of Deuteronomy, what Moses said which was recorded was inspired Scripture.
God through Moses is addressing Israel in His anger.
Deut. 32:23–24 "'And I will heap disasters upon them; I will spend My arrows on them; they shall be wasted with hunger, and devoured by plague and poisonous pestilence; I will send the teeth of beasts against them, with the venom of things that crawl in the dust.
This is the discipline that God lays upon Israel: natural disasters and war. The Jews would suffer hunger and disease. In the modern era, for client nations under discipline, this would be recessions and depressions. Attacks by beasts and snakes today are relatively rare, but this today may be carried over to natural or personal disasters.
Deut. 32:25 Outdoors the sword shall bereave, and indoors terror, for young man and woman alike, the nursing child with the man of gray hairs.
God’s judgment would reach all, young and old, men and women. When facing great national discipline by God, there is no peace. People are afraid of outside armies and people are afraid of the danger of crime within their own country. In fact, the discipline is so great that, many people will live in a state of fear or paranoia concerning their own lives and the world around them.
Deut. 32:26–27 I would have said, ‘I will cut them to pieces; I will wipe them from human memory,’ had I not feared provocation by the enemy, lest their adversaries should misunderstand, lest they should say, ‘Our hand is triumphant, it was not the LORD who did all this.’ "
Obviously, God is now speaking of intense discipline, where He destroys large segments of a population.
However, God must also take into consideration that, those who would overrun Israel would do so, believing their gods to be more powerful than the God of the Universe. He cannot allow that, of course.
Deut. 32:28 "For they are a nation void of counsel, and there is no understanding in them.
The key is understanding. The key is knowledge of doctrine. When a nation lacks the love of the truth, these things herein described befall them.
Deut. 32:29 If they were wise, they would understand this; they would discern their latter end!
What does it mean to be wise here? It means to understand Bible doctrine. It means to be able to look around and to discern what is happening to your nation as a whole.
We can see this generation by generation. In the 1950's, both Democrats and Republicans were anti-communist; and the family was exalted as a part of the popular culture (which represents divine establishment). As a result, this was a relatively peaceful and prosperous time in our history. The Billy Graham revivals attracted hundreds of thousands of people, and millions by means of television.
The 1960's was filled with people who had become anti-establishment, anti-authority and anti-marriage. A significant number of people began to pursue eastern religions and many indulged in drugs. As a result, the United States began to have trouble within and without. There was lawlessness, riots in many major cities, and failure abroad in foreign policies and war.
Deut. 32:30 How could one have chased a thousand, and two have put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up?
God points out (through Moses) that one man could chase 1000 because the Lord is with him. If that is no longer the case, then the Lord is no longer with you. This indicates success on the battlefield.
Deut. 32:31 For their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves.
The Rock, of course, is Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18 Eph. 2:20 1Peter 2:5–6). Their rock is what the heathen nations trust in, that which is not-God.
Deut. 32:32–33 For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison; their clusters are bitter; their wine is the poison of serpents and the cruel venom of asps.
The power of Israel’s enemies comes from the vine of Sodom and the fields of Gomorrah. At this time, these fields were lain waste; nothing could be planted there. The few things that grew produced awful tasting fruit. The idea is, the rejection of God by the heathen comes from the vine of Sodom; it is produced in the fields of Gomorrah. That which the heathen produces is akin to bad fruit coming from the fields of the destroyed Sodom.
Drinking the wine made from the grapes of Sodom and Gomorrah is like drinking the poison of serpents.
Deut. 32:34–35 "'Is not this laid up in store with Me, sealed up in My treasuries? Vengeance is Mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.'
God will bring vengeance against those who have done harm to Israel. All Israel needs to do is to turn toward the Lord.
Deut. 32:36 For the LORD will vindicate His people and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free.
God will vindicate Israel on many occasions, and eventually in eternity.
Deut. 32:37–38 Then He will say, 'Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge, who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise up and help you; let them be your protection!
These are the false gods; the gods that Israel depended upon when in reversionism (a state of reverting back to their lives as unbelievers); the gods which their enemies depend upon in their own state of evil.
God is saying, if Israel depends upon another god than Yehowah, then let that false god rise up and protect them.
To make this statement more relevant to today: let those things which you put before God rise up and save you from historical disaster or from divine judgment. “Let your disastrous economic policies and humanism rise up and save you, O United States.” (If Moses were speaking to us today).
In the United States, we are teetering on the brink of great disaster. We have the greatest military in the world spread throughout the world; but then, a century or two ago, Great Britain ruled over about a fourth or fifth of the entire world, and now they are a tiny nation teetering on the edge themselves.
One tiny event would destroy us: the United States dollar is accepted all over the world. Our current debt level and our out-of-control spending, along with quantitative easing (printing money out of thin air) could cause the dollar to lose strength and to even be rejected as payment; and the United States would fall into an economic crash as we have never seen before. However, at the root of this is spiritual decline. What has protected us over the past few decades has been the spiritual growth of our very small pivot (believers who are maturing spiritually or have reached spiritual maturity).
Deut. 32:39 "'See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god beside Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand.
There is no other God besides Yehowah (Jesus Christ). There are no pluralities of ways to go to God (Buddhism, Islam, etc.); there is only one way, and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). This is a principle repeated many times in the Bible. If you understand how you are saved, then this makes perfect sense. If Jesus is just some religious teacher to you, then you are not saved, and the idea of exclusivity confuses you. Jesus did not come to simply teach us a better way to behave. He came to die for our sins.
Deut. 32:40 For I [God] lift up My hand to heaven and swear, As I live forever,
Now God the Son is speaking, and He is making a vow that all of this is true, based upon His eternal existence.
Deut. 32:41–42 if I sharpen my flashing sword and My hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and will repay those who hate Me. I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh-- with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired heads of the enemy.'
God would destroy His enemies, including the long-haired reversionists.
Deut. 32:43 "Rejoice with Him, O heavens; bow down to Him, all gods, for He avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on His adversaries. He repays those who hate Him and cleanses his people's land."
All are to bow down before God the Son, who avenges the blood of His Own and cleanses the land of promise (from reversionism).
Again, reversionism, is a believer reverting to his unbeliever ways; or a person who understands the laws of divine establishment and reverts back to anti-establishment thinking. He is a dog returning to his vomit (2Peter 2:22).
We will cover a brief history of Israel as well as the time and place for the prophets in this lesson along with the sermons of Isaiah, when he speaks of Sodom (and Gomorrah). He spoke about Sodom and Gomorrah enough times to warrant an entire lesson.
In order to understand the rest of the prophecies found in the Old Testament which relate to Sodom and Gomorrah, it will be helpful to know some basic history of Israel.
The 4th stage of national discipline is being ruled over by another country.
The 5th stage of national discipline is being removed from the land of promise by a foreign power.
Sodom went through these stages of discipline before God removed the city and her population from history as a city-nation (the 6th stage of national discipline, which is not applicable to Israel).
Books of the Bible
Abraham moved to the land of Canaan, as God had told him to do. At age 100, he fathers Isaac, who is heir to the promises God made to Abraham. Isaac has twins, one of whom—Jacbob—is heir to the promises. Jacob has 12 sons. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jacobs sons and daughters-in-law are Jews, heirs to the promises of God.
Joseph, a son of Jacob, is made prime minister of Egypt. Because of a drought, his father and 11 brothers move to Egypt.
At some point, the Jews become enslaved to the people of Egypt and remained their slaves for about 400 years. .
No Scripture written. References to this in several places in the Bible.
After the Jews have been enslaved to the Egyptians for the larger portion of 400 years, Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt and they spend 40 years in the desert. God uses that time in the desert to administer the sin unto death to the adults who left Egypt.
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
After 40 years in the desert, the Jews moved into the Land of Promise (also called the Land of Canaan) and that land became Israel. They took the land by military force. There was no king in Israel during this time period.
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the first portion of 1Samuel
Israel was a united kingdom under kings Saul, David and Solomon. The Ark of God was separated from the Tabernacle before Saul; and David later brought the Ark to Jerusalem. The Temple is built by Solomon, and the Ark and the Tabernacle were kept there at Solomon’s Temple.
1Samuel 2 Samuel 1Kings 1–11 1Chron. 10–2Chron. 9
Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes
Song of Solomon
The northern kingdom (Ephraim, sometimes called Israel, and later known as Samaria) separates from the southern kingdom (Judah). Both nations continue as two separate countries; but both are client nations to God.
Jonah, Amos and Hosea minister mostly to the northern kingdom; Obadiah (?) and Joel to the southern kingdom.
Assyria administers the 5th stage of national discipline to the northern kingdom (i.e., the people are removed from their land and killed or made slaves).
Judah continues as an autonomous kingdom and client nation to God. However, during this time, Assyria threatened Judah in the same way as it threaten the northern kingdom, and it was the people who responded to Isaiah’s ministry which led to the neutralizing of the threat of Assyria (2Sam. 19:35 Isa. 37:36).
2Kings 18–24 2Chron. 10–36
Prophets: Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Habakkuk.
Nineveh, the capitol of Assyria, was destroyed by the Babylonians. The city of Nineveh may sound familiar because Jonah was sent there by God earlier to sound the warning of national discipline, and the people responded positively. However, about two centuries later, the people rejected God and were destroyed.
See the book of Jonah
The 5th stage of national discipline is administered to Judah: Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonians after two previous deportations of Jews out of Judah. The Temple and city walls of Jerusalem are destroyed.
Esther, Daniel, Ezekiel (?)
The Temple was rebuilt, and the Jews resided in the land of promise, but under a variety of rulers (the Persians, the Greek or Macedonian empire, the Egyptian empire, the Syrian empire). They never came out from under the 4th stage of national discipline during this time period.
Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
Old Testament canon closed around 400 b.c.
The Jews appear to have briefly emerged from the 4th stage of national discipline and were under the Maccabean empire for about a century.
The Old Testament was both codified and translated into Greek, which would have been the dominant language in Israel.
63 b.c.–70 a.d.
The Jews were ruled over by the Roman empire. Herod rebuilds the Temple. The Romans finally administer the 5th stage of national discipline to the Jews in a.d. 70, and they destroy Herod’s Temple.
The New Testament
The dates above are sometimes approximate and many came from The Narrated Bible.
You may find it helpful to look back at this table when reading through the words of the various prophets.
Also, here is a chart of the prophets, so that you can keep them straight in your mind.
9th century b.c.
8th century b.c.
7th century b.c.
6th century b.c.
6th century b.c.
5th century b.c.
To Gentile Nations
To the Northen Kingdom (Israel)
5th stage of national discipline applied to northern kingdom in 721 b.c.
To the Southern Kingdom (Judah)
(9th cent. b.c.)
(6th cent. b.c.)
The Exile (in the heading) refers to Judah, the southern kingdom.
Exiled (removed from the land) in 586 b.c.;
Returned to the land 516 b.c.
Dates were taken from the NIV Study Bible notes. Some of the dates require more nuance than is found in this chart. The NIV Study Bible lists Hosea simply as the middle of the 8th century b.c.
The notes for the NASB place Obadiah as an exilic prophet. His time period is disputed. The time period of Joel’s prophetic ministry is also disputed.
You may notice that there a lot more prophets coming to the southern kingdom than the northern kingdom. The northern kingdom was plagued with apostasy, which is why they were removed under the 5th stage of national discipline. There was more positive volition toward the Word of God down south, so the prophets spoke primarily to those in the south.
It is worth noting that there are missionaries (prophets) who went out to gentile nations and cities. The gospel message of the God of Israel would have gone out probably throughout the world.
General layout from:
These two charts can be accessed from here and downloaded and printed:
Isaiah warns of the 5th stage of national discipline.
This section will include a passage in Romans which looks back to this sermon of Isaiah’s.
Isaiah began his ministry while the northern kingdom was still in existence, but it was about to go out under the 5th stage of national discipline. Isaiah’s ministry was to the southern kingdom. Isaiah speaks about Sodom and Gomorrah as well:
Isa 1:1–7 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against Me [these are the children of Israel]. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master's crib, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.’ Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil. Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
Isaiah is speaking, but God is speaking through him. The people of Israel have continued to rebel against God. They act with less intelligence than an ox or a donkey, both of which at least know their owner. But Israel does not know God, the Founder of nation Israel.
Isa 1:8–10 And the daughter of Zion is left like a temporary shelter in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
This is the very first chapter of Isaiah, and already, he is speaking of Sodom and Gomorrah. God preserved a remnant of Israel (called the daughter of Zion), or else they would have been like Sodom and Gomorrah—completely wiped out.
Paul will quote this passage in Rom. 9, where he explains, in part, the place of Israel in the Church Age, and the transfer of Godly responsibilities from Israel to the church.
Rom 9:6–13 It is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, but not all of them are children of Abraham because they are his natural offspring, but, "In Isaac shall your Seed be called." This means that it is not the children according to the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are considered to be his [spiritual] offspring. For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son." And not only this, but when Rebekah also had conceived by one, by our father Isaac (for the children had not yet been born, neither had done any good or evil; but that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who called,) it was said to her, "The elder shall serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." (OT references: Gen. 21:12 18:10 25:23 Mal. 1:2)
In the change of dispensations, God will be working through the church and not through the nation Israel. Paul explains that, the key even to the Jewish race was regeneration and not being genetically related to Abraham. You had to have a relationship with God as Abraham did, not a genetic relationship with Abraham, in order to be a true Jew.
We will study this later in the book of Genesis, but Abraham already had a son (Ishmael) by Little Egypt (Hagar), but he is not the spiritual heir of Abraham. It is Abraham and then his son Isaac, who is about to be born (in our study) who are the heirs to God’s promises. And then Isaac will have twins—one will be a Jew (Jacob) and one will not (Esau). And, looking at Jacob and Esau objectively, Esau was probably a much nicer person than Jacob was—but the line of promise goes through Jacob. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all regenerated through faith in Yehowah Elohim, as were Jacob’s sons, who head the 12 tribes of Israel.
People do not have a relationship with God because they are of the physical seed of Abraham. They are called because of their faith in the God of Israel (which is why, for instance, Rahab the Prostitute, Ruth the Moabitess, and the Queen of Sheba—all gentile women—were made righteous.
Rom 9:14–15 What shall we say then? Is there not unrighteousness with God? Let it not be! For He said to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." (Ex. 33:19)
Paul asks the question, Is God unrighteous? When God chose Jacob over Esau, does this make God unrighteous? God’s grace is a matter of His righteousness. God gives us grace because we have trusted in His Son. Jacob, despite his many shortcomings, wanted to be heir to the promises of God; Esau did not. These promises stretched out far after Jacob’s lifetime (these are the promises which we have studied that God made to Abraham). They had value to Jacob; these promises did not have value to Esau.
Now, there will come times when it will appear that God has cast Israel aside:
Rom 9:27–29 Isaiah also proclaimed with great emotion [this] concerning Israel, "Though the number of the sons of Israel is as the sands of the sea, a remnant shall be preserved. For He is bringing the matter to an end, and cutting short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work on the earth." And as Isaiah predicted, "If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah." (Isa. 10:22–23)
What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? They have no posterity; there is no one who lives after them. They were completely destroyed. However, if God had not been gracious to the Jews, they would have been like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, God maintains a remnant of Jews even now, even those who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior. This is why today you know a number of Jews but you do not know any Edomites (descendants of Esau). And, quite obviously, you do not know anyone who was descended from the people of Sodom or Gomorrah, because all of their inhabitants were destroyed.
Then Paul lays out exactly what differentiates the gentiles through whom God will work as over against the Jews, through whom God will not work:
Rom 9:30–31 What shall we say then? [Simply this]: That the Gentiles, who did not attempt to become right with God [by how they lived] were made right with God, and this was the result of their faith [in Christ]. But the Israelites, who were attempting to become right with God by [conformity to] the law of Moses, never achieved [this righteousness] by that law. (AUV–NT)
The key is faith; the gentile believer has a righteousness bestowed upon him because he has exercised faith in Jesus Christ. The Jew who is not saved has tried to obey the Mosaic Law, which he is unable to fully keep. The Gentile, who did not try to keep the Mosaic Law, but believed in Him who justifies the ungodly—that gentile is saved (Rom. 4:4–5).
Rom. 9:32 Why? Because they did not [attempt to do it] by faith [in Him], but by trying to fulfill all the requirements [of the law]. So, they stumbled over “the stumbling stone,” [i.e., the Jews refused to become obedient to Christ. See I Pet. 2:6-8]. (AUV–NT)
Jesus Christ is the stumbling stone. The key to regeneration is having faith in Him. However, the Jews instead have stumbled over Him while attempting to keep the Law of Moses. Jesus fully kept the Law of Moses; legalistic Jews stumble over Him, as they try and fail to keep the Law.
God has graciously allowed a remnant of Israel to remain. If not for that, because of their sinfulness, Israel would have been like Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed as a people forever.
Israel will reap the evil of their own sin, as did Sodom.
Both the nation Israel and the nation Judah (the northern and southern kingdoms) were often acting against God. Most often, that was illustrated by their pursuing other gods of other nations.
Isa 3:8 For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.
Isaiah ministered to the southern kingdom, Judah, warning them of the 5th stage of national discipline. Israel sins openly against God; they proclaim their sin as Sodom did, indicating that they did not even try to hide it.
Isa 3:9–10 For the look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.
All the calamity that was brought upon Israel was because they brought this evil upon themselves.
It is one thing to sin; it is completely another to sin out in the open as though it is a good thing to do (picture a gay pride parade at this juncture). We all sin; but it is far worse to sin and for that to be something that you take pride in.
God will judge unbelieving Jews, both in time and eternity. God will judge Babylon.
Isaiah warns Judah in Isa. 13:
Isa 13:9, 11 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
Isaiah warns of the coming 5th stage of national discipline. The 4th stage is when a foreign entity comes into the Land of Promise and reigns over Israel; and the 5th stage is when a foreign power removes the Jews from the land that God gave them.
Isaiah is speaking for God here. It is not unusual for a prophet to suddenly begin speaking in the 1st person, as if they are God. Since God the Holy Spirit is speaking through the prophet, what is said is direct communication from God to the people of Israel.
Isa 13:13 “Therefore I will make the heavens tremble [Isaiah is speaking in the place of God], and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of His fierce anger. And like a hunted gazelle, or like sheep with none to gather them, each will turn to his own people, and each will flee to his own land. Whoever is found will be thrust through, and whoever is caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives raped. Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold. Their bows will slaughter the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children.”
The discipline which Judah, the southern kingdom was facing, is described above, the most graphic aspect being, having their very children dashed into pieces. This is all because the Jews of Judah had turned away from God.
However, God will deal with those who have brought this harm against Israel:
Isa 13:19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
Babylon is the geographical location and for a time, it was known as the Chaldean Empire or the neo-Babylonian empire (626–539 b.c.). Prior to this, Babylon was ruled over by the Assyrians.
Although Babylon had been under the control of several groups of people, this was because it was a great geographical area at one time (this is the modern-day Iraq). Babylon, ruled over by the Chaldeans, will, according to Isaiah, become like Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you know any Chaldeans or Babylonians (or, Assyrians)? And yet, Babylon was, at one time, the greatest city of the world, and the Chaldeans and the Assyrians were two of the greatest kingdoms in the history of mankind.
What Isaiah is saying is, God is going to overthrow the splendor and pomp of the great Chaldean Empire, and that great empire and its great city and its inhabitants will completely disappear from history. Today, most people could not go to a map of Iraq and say, “Here is where the city of Babylon used to be.” At the peak of the Chaldean empire, Isaiah says they will be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah (meaning that they will be removed from history as a people).
This would be very much like saying that New York City will become vacant and desolate, with wild wolves inhabiting the buildings. Babylon was long-established as the capitol of the world, as per human viewpoint.
But this is, In fact, what God said about the city of Babylon:
Isa 13:20–22 It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance. Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.
In the next lesson, we will see Jeremiah’s warnings to Babylon, and then see how these prophesies were fulfilled historically.
The previous lesson has the basic history of Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel )the northern kingdom) along with a list of the prophets and the time of their ministries. This is provided for historical context.
Unlike other faiths, Christianity (and true Yehowah worship before it) is based first and foremost upon actual historical events. You take away the historical background, and there is nothing upon which Christianity stands. Our God is real. He created the universe; He takes an active part in the lives of individuals and in the lives of nations. These nations are real and all of the events described throughout the Old and New Testaments are actual historical incidents.
You may have wondered in the past, why are there four gospels? This is because, these gospels provides us 4 separate witnesses to the historicity of Jesus Christ, Whose life, public ministry and death on the cross should have gone unnoticed (if He were merely a man). Even as a religious figure, Jesus taught for a very short period of time, over a very limited geographical area, and He wrote nothing down Himself. That there is any history of such a man is both remarkable and unique; that there are 4 separate histories of Him written by His contemporaries is quite amazing. Two of the gospels were written by eyewitnesses and two were composed by men who had close associations with eyewitnesses. Is there anyone before the printing press who had 4 biographers who either knew the subject of their biography or knew people who personally knew him? My guess is, no.
You may not realize it, but before Jesus, there were at least two “messiah” figures and in the 1st century, there were as many as five. After Jesus, there were one or two dozen more claimants. We know little or nothing about these men because they were not God come in the flesh (John 1:1–3, 14). Given the smattering amount of information that we have of these various men, Jesus should have been similarly remembered (from human viewpoint). His public ministry was quite brief and over a very limited geographical area. But there are 4 biographers and 12 Apostles who fearlessly proclaimed the name of Jesus, even though, when He had been grabbed up by the Romans in the Garden of Gethsemane, most of these same disciples gutlessly ran for their lives. As a result, we know about the true historical Jesus and precious little about the false messiahs of Israel.
Similarly, the Age of Israel is based upon 3 real historical figures—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—whose lives and history should have passed over unnoticed, as these men were not kings or famous men in any way. No one memorialized them on a wall or a stele. They were 3 ranchers who lived in Palestine at the beginning of the second millennium b.c. We only know about them because of the Word of God, which God preserved. Built upon this foundation of these 3 real men was the nation Israel—a real nation with a real history recorded in the Bible.
No doubt, you have heard many times that, the history of the Bible is contradicted by the ancient history that we know and by archeological finds that we have made. This is not actually true. Whereas there are a few places where the history of the Bible does not match exactly with ancient history, that does not make the Bible wrong. The documents upon which we base ancient history are much less trustworthy than the Bible. We also have the testimony of noted historian Will Durant, who wrote: The discoveries here summarized [in his first volume of “The Story of Civilization”] have restored considerable credit to those chapters of Genesis that record the early traditions of the Jews. In its outlines, and barring supernatural incidents, the story of the Jews as unfolded in the Old Testament has stood the test of criticism and archeology; every year adds corroboration from documents, monuments, or excavations...We must accept the Biblical account provisionally until it is disproved. This is a man who did not believe in supernatural events, who was, insofar as we know, not a Christian or a devout Jew, but who knew far more about ancient history than you and I and our closest 100 friends and associates put together. He stands by the historicity of the Old Testament—including Genesis, except for the supernatural events. I will tend to take the testimony of a dispassionate historian who has written 11,000 pages on ancient history before I take the word of some skeptic who has a web page of 20 2-page documents, most of which he cut and paste from another webpage.
Jeremiah speak of the destruction of Babylon.
Jeremiah, who prophesied about 100 years after Isaiah, also spoke against Babylon and tied their end to Sodom and Gomorrah:
Jer 50:35–43 "A sword against the Chaldeans, declares the LORD, and against the inhabitants of Babylon, and against her officials and her wise men! A sword against the diviners, that they may become fools! A sword against her warriors, that they may be destroyed! A sword against her horses and against her chariots, and against all the foreign troops in her midst, that they may become women! A sword against all her treasures, that they may be plundered! A drought against her waters, that they may be dried up! For it is a land of images, and they are mad over idols. Therefore wild beasts shall dwell with hyenas in Babylon, and ostriches shall dwell in her. She shall never again have people, nor be inhabited for all generations. As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring cities, declares the LORD, so no man shall dwell there, and no son of man shall sojourn in her. Behold, a people comes from the north; a mighty nation and many kings are stirring from the farthest parts of the earth. They lay hold of bow and spear; they are cruel and have no mercy. The sound of them is like the roaring of the sea; they ride on horses, arrayed as a man for battle against you, O daughter of Babylon! The king of Babylon heard the report of them, and his hands fell helpless; anguish seized him, pain as of a woman in labor.”
From Wikipedia on Babylon: Under Alexander [the Great], Babylon again flourished as a centre of learning and commerce. But following Alexander's death in 323 BC in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, his empire was divided amongst his generals, and decades of fighting soon began, with Babylon once again caught in the middle.
The constant turmoil virtually emptied the city of Babylon. A tablet dated 275 BC states that the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to Seleucia, where a palace was built, as well as a temple given the ancient name of Esagila. With this deportation, the history of Babylon comes practically to an end, though more than a century later, it was found that sacrifices were still performed in its old sanctuary. By 141 BC, when the Parthian Empire took over the region, Babylon was in complete desolation and obscurity. Or, as Isaiah prophesied: Babylon will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance. Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged. Isaiah spoke around 700 b.c. when Babylon was probably the greatest city (in human terms) on earth. Most historians agree that the Old Testament canon was closed out around 400 b.c. (a translation from the Hebrew into the Greek was made around 200 b.c.); and we find this prophecy fulfilled even after that.
Because of the shifting Euphrates River, now much of the city of Babylon is today under water.
As an aside, there are a few prophecies here and there which some historians and skeptics nitpick, and some claim that the prophecy came after the event. However, a prophecy like this cannot be explained in this way. We know the history of the Old Testament, when it was closed out, when it was translated into other languages, and that the Jews believed it to be divinely inspired. Either these prophets made a tremendous number of lucky guesses, or, the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God.
Josh McDowell devotes a chapter of Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Volume I to Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment. Since our topic is specifically Sodom and Gomorrah, we mention the fulfillment of these prophecies when related to Sodom and Gomorrah.
God gives those on negative volition and under discipline a second chance, and they still do not turn toward Him.
Amos (public ministry circa 750 b.c.) also mentions Sodom and Gomorrah with regards to the northern kingdom (Israel):
Amos 4:1 "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria [the northern kingdom, also called Israel and Ephraim], who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, 'Bring, that we may drink!'
Amos, speaking for God, identifies the recipients of his message as the cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria. Bashan is the northeastern portion of Israel, where the tribes of Reuben, Gad and a half-tribe of Manasseh originally settled. These are well-fed, fat cows, indicating that God has taken care of those in the northern kingdom.
Amos 4:2–3 The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks. And you shall go out through the breaches, each one straight ahead; and you shall be cast out into Harmon [possibly, a high fortress?]," declares the LORD.
God warns them that the King of Assyria will remove them from their land like a fish is removed from water. The breaches refer to holes in the city walls made by the Assyrian army; however, it is not altogether clear what Harmon (a transliteration) stands for (according to BDB, it means high fortress).
Amos 4:4–5 "Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!" declares the Lord GOD.
Bethel and Gilgal are in the northern kingdom. Amos lists God’s grievances against them above, spoken in irony.
Amos 4:6 "I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me," declares the LORD.
The idea is, they will find it easy to clean their teeth, as God will not give them any bread to eat. This marks the beginning of corporate discipline on the northern kingdom.
Amos 4:7–8 "I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither; so two or three cities would wander to another city to drink water, and would not be satisfied; yet you did not return to me," declares the LORD.
Holding back rain, to an agricultural economy, is an economic recession. Depending upon the severity of the lack of rain, this appears to be the 1st stage of national discipline (as found in Lev. 26). This is God disciplining the northern kingdom for their evil. It is God trying to gain the attention of those living in the northern kingdom. Sometimes He uses a recession in order to do that.
As a client nation to God, we in the United States are also subject to similar sets of discipline—which could include crop failures, but is more likely to be a recession coupled with great natural disasters.
Amos 4:9 "I struck you with blight and mildew; your many gardens and your vineyards, your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured; yet you did not return to Me," declares the LORD.
Destruction of their existing crops is more discipline and warning of greater discipline to come. This sounds like the 2nd stage of national discipline (I have not yet enumerated the first 3 stages ). This is a natural disaster which has great economic impact on Israel.
Amos 4:10 "I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, and carried away your horses, and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils; yet you did not return to me," declares the LORD.
At this point, we appear to be up to the 3rd stage of national discipline, where there is widespread sickness and defeat in battle. The other acts of discipline continue and even intensify along with these things.
Amos 4:11 "I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning; yet you did not return to Me," declares the LORD.
This is the 4th stage of national discipline. God overthrowing some of them as He overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah—you will recall that first the kings of the east defeated these cities and were dragging the people off into slavery when Abraham rescued them (Gen. 14). Many of the inhabitants of the northern kingdom have been similarly rescued, and yet they did not return to God.
In the Old Testament, the Jews had this rich historical record of what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19) and the stages of discipline that God reserved for Israel (Lev. 26). If they knew Bible doctrine and knew what was going on all around them, they could easily match the prophecies and historical trends to their lives. We are able to do much the same thing, as long as we know these things. And Jesus said to them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (Matt. 16:2–3). The believer with doctrine in his soul ought to be able to watch a news broadcast or pick up a newspaper and understand where a nation stands with regards to God’s blessing or cursing.
As an aside, you will note that I spend a great deal of time speaking of the importance of knowing Bible doctrine; of knowing God’s Word. That is because we are in the epoch of conscience. Adam, as the federal head of the human race, ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Right and Wrong); and that meant that we entered into a world of moral decisions, by choice. We need to know what that morality is because we have, by imputation, also chosen to take of the fruit of that tree.
Let’s take an analogy: when your child is age 1, you do not make any attempts to teach him fundamental morality, because he is still in innocence, despite having a sin nature. However, around age 3, you begin to teach your child some fundamental concepts of right and wrong. You cannot just let a kid do whatever from age 2 on up, because that will have some horrendous consequences. You have to teach him, which involves knowledge and a vocabulary (which vocabulary always begins with the word no).
Similarly, we as believers in Jesus Christ must also learn with knowledge and vocabulary what is right and wrong. You cannot just allow a person to believe in Jesus and then do whatever comes natural after that. Believers have sin natures just as unbelievers do. What comes natural is often sin and human viewpoint thinking. Hence the need for knowledge of Bible doctrine. The believer who just goes off on his own after salvation is just like a 2-year old who is given complete control of his moral choices from that point on.
Back to the final verse in Amos:
Amos 4:12 "Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!"
God warns them of the coming 5th stage of national discipline which will come upon them.
The people of the southern kingdom to become like Sodom and Gomorrah to God as had already happened to the northern kingdom.
There is a big difference between Isaiah and Jeremiah—the people of the southern kingdom listened to Isaiah and they were not destroyed. However, a century later, Judah, the southern kingdom, did not listen to Jeremiah, who was also proclaiming God’s judgment. Therefore, the southern kingdom would suffer the 5th stage of national discipline during Jeremiah’s lifetime (as did the northern kingdom).
Jeremiah (public ministry between 626–580 b.c.) speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah:
Jer 23:9 Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the LORD and because of his holy words.
The prophets are saying things which are false.
Jer 23:10 For the land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land mourns, and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up. Their course is evil, and their might is not right.
In the Old Testament, and adulterer is often used symbolically to stand for Israel or Judah going after different gods than Yehowah.
Jer 23:11 "Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the LORD.
Those who are supposed to teach the truth have turned against God. Evil, in the Bible, often refers to human viewpoint thinking.
Jer 23:12 Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery paths in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall, for I will bring disaster upon them in the year of their punishment, declares the LORD.
These prophets live in darkness. God will bring disaster upon them for lying to His people.
Jeremiah speaks of the false prophets in the northern kingdom (Samaria):
Jer 23:13 “In the prophets of Samaria I saw moral bankruptcy: they prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray.
This would have occurred in the past, and this was something that Jeremiah and the people who listened to him were aware of. When Jeremiah spoke, a century had passed since the northern kingdom (Samaria) was taken into captivity by the Assyrians.
He also warned about the false prophets in the southern kingdom:
Jer 23:14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns away from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to Me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah."
Committing adultery is generally a reference to the Jewish people worshiping (chasing after) a false god.
The evil practiced by the prophets in the southern kingdom actually supports the evil behavior of the people of Judah, so that they have become to God like Sodom and Gomorrah (you will note that Jeremiah, like the other prophets, speaks as if God is speaking through him).
Jer 23:15–17 Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: ‘Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, 'It shall be well with you'; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, 'No disaster shall come upon you.'"
But God warned them that, if they follow the false prophets, the prophets who tell them that everything is fine, their prophets will become like Sodom and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will become like Gomorrah.
We have one more set of prophecies involving Sodom and Gomorrah to examine.
It ought to be quite remarkable as to just how foundational the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is. We have spent 20 lessons on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and about a half-dozen lessons on where this destruction is later referenced in subsequent Scriptures. It is with Sodom that we first have an illustration of the 4th and 5th stages of national discipline (being controlled by an outside power; and then being driven out of your homeland by an outside power). Sodom illustrates the 6th stage of national discipline as well (the complete destruction of the people of a nation).
Please bear in mind that all of these sermons by the prophets concerning Sodom and Gomorrah would have meant diddly-squat had not the people known about Sodom and Gomorrah, having the very evidence of the destruction of these cities right before their very eyes.
God, through Jeremiah, laments the future destruction of Judah:
Jeremiah also wrote Lamentations, and he spoke of what would happen to Zion, which is a metonym for God’s people, the Jews:
Lam 4:6–8 For the chastisement of the daughter of My people has been greater than the punishment of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, and no hands were wrung for her. Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, the beauty of their form was like sapphire. Now their face is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets; their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as wood.
The discipline that they would face would be greater than the punishment of Sodom. However, God would always allow a remnant of Jews to remain on this earth.
The wringing of the hands indicates great sadness for the destruction of Sodom that no one felt. The princes named here refer to the leaders of Judah, who were, at one time, attractive to both God and men (in their souls), but now were repulsive. One can no longer tell that these are the people of God.
Ezekiel (public ministry 593–570 b.c.) mentions Sodom several times in the same sermon. He speaks for God in this diatribe against Judah, the southern kingdom:
Ezek. 16:36–37 Thus says the Lord GOD, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them, therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness.
Ezekiel is speaking metaphorically. All of Judah’s lovers would be the false gods which Judah embraced instead of their God. Uncovering Judah’s nakedness is showing Judah to be morally bankrupt for rejecting the husband (God) of her youth and pursuing after these meaningless lovers.
Ezek. 16:38–41 And I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. And I will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare. They shall bring up a crowd against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. And they shall burn your houses and execute judgments upon you in the sight of many women. I will make you stop playing the whore, and you shall also give payment no more.
God, through Ezekiel, speaks of very harsh judgment which would come against the southern kingdom.
Ezek. 16:42–43 So will I satisfy My wrath on you, and My jealousy shall depart from you. I will be calm and will no more be angry. Because you have not remembered the days of your youth, but have enraged me with all these things, therefore, behold, I have returned your deeds upon your head, declares the Lord GOD. Have you not committed lewdness in addition to all your abominations?
The days of Israel’s youth refers back to better times; for instance, when the generation of promise entered into the land; or the people of Israel under David and Solomon. Remembering means that they think back to the relationship between God and Israel—they remember the truths taught to Abraham and to Moses and to David. They remember Bible doctrine. However, the problem is, they do not remember any of these things; they do not know who they are; they do not know Who God is.
Ezek. 16:44–47 "Behold, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you: 'Like mother, like daughter.' You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and her children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. And your elder sister is Samaria, who lived with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. Not only did you walk in their ways and do according to their abominations; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways.
The Jews hated the Hittites and the Amorites; they even looked down on Samaria, which had gone out under the 5th stage of national discipline. And they particularly despised Sodom as being incredibly corrupt. However, God is saying that the Jews in the southern kingdom were equally corrupt. They are just like the people that they despise. This is a terrible insult to the Jews.
Ezek. 16:48–50 As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, they had an excess of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.
The sins named here are being prosperous, but without giving any care to the poor and needy. The implication is that, Judah (and Sodom) had both enjoyed great prosperity; but that they were heartless in their prosperity. Their heartlessness was proof of their rejection of God.
Ezek. 16:51–54 Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed. Bear your disgrace, you also, for you have intervened on behalf of your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. So be ashamed, you also, and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous. "I will restore their fortunes, both the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes in their midst, that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all that you have done, becoming a consolation to them.
Remember, Samaria is the northern kingdom and God, through Ezekiel, is saying that those in the southern kingdom have committed far more sins. Ezekiel is warning Judah about the fast approaching 5th stage of national discipline (which occurs during Ezekiel’s life).
Ezek. 16:55–57 As for your sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former state, and you and your daughters shall return to your former state. Was not your sister Sodom a byword in your mouth in the day of your arrogance, before your wickedness was uncovered? Now you have become an object of reproach for the daughters of Syria and all those around her, and for the daughters of the Philistines, those all around who despise you.
Sodom being a byword meant that many people knew about Sodom, its destruction; and that it had entered into even day-to-day language.
Returning to your former state is essentially the definition of reversionism, a term coined by R. B. Thieme, Jr. They have reverted to their former evils; they revert back to their human viewpoint thinking. They are the dog returning to his vomit (Prov. 26:11 2Peter 2:22), to see if perhaps there may have been some worthwhile goodies that he left behind.
Ezek. 16:58–60 You bear the penalty of your lewdness and your abominations, declares the LORD. "For thus says the Lord GOD: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, yet I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant.
Religion, in that day, was often closely related to the phallic cults and with child sacrifice.
Allow me a tangent here, because some people read this and think, well, this has no relationship to me or to my society today. However, it does. Just because the phallic cults are not associated with religion anymore, does not mean that this is not a problem in our society. We live in a highly sexualized society where we have actually affected the age at which girls enter into puberty in my own lifetime. Our pagan worship of sex in this society is the phallic cult, but in a different incarnation.
In many Muslim countries, children are raised for the earliest age to hate Jews, Israel and the United States. They learn from cartoons at the earliest age to desire to be martyrs for their country and for Islam. Some children are even used as suicide bombers. This is modern-day child sacrifice.
The covenant spoken of in the Ezekiel passage, is the Palestinian covenant, where God has given a land grant to the people of Israel. This also takes in the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants.
Ezek. 16:61–63 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. I will establish My covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD."
You will note that God will atone for the sins of Judah—that is the cross of Christ. Judah is undeserving of what God does for her, just as we are undeserving of what God does for us.
Prophets, on many occasions, spoke of judgments against other nations. Zephaniah (public ministry between 630–620 b.c.) on Moab:
Zephaniah is going to tell us what will happen to the country of Moab. Actually, we have stopped our march through Gen. 19 and have not come to Moab yet. Moab will be descended from one of Lot’s daughters and Lot himself. At the end of Gen. 19, there will be two acts of incest which will result in the tribes of Moab and Ammon. Preview of coming attractions: Lot’s two daughters will have sex with their father in order to bear children; and those children will become heads of the nations Moab and Ammon, mentioned in this passage.
Zeph. 2:9–11 Therefore, as I live," declares the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "Moab will become like Sodom, and the Ammonites like Gomorrah, a land possessed by nettles and salt pits, and a waste forever. The remnant of my people will plunder them, and the survivors of my nation will possess them. This will be their lot in return for their pride, because they taunted and boasted against the people of the LORD of hosts. The LORD will be awesome against them; for he will famish all the gods of the earth, and to him will bow down, each in its place, all the lands of the nations.”
Moab and Ammon would eventually go the way of degeneration, and they would be destroyed.
Moab seems to have disappeared from history, although, at one time, it was a fierce nation that David faced in battle; a nation which had its ups and downs with respect to Israel. However, after being taken captive by the Chaldeans, there never appears to be a time when these people or this nation ever existed again as independent entities.
According to ISBE: At a later date Moab was overrun by the Nabathean Arabs who ruled in Petra and extended their authority on the east side of Jordan even as far as Damascus (Josephus, Ant., XIII, xv, 1, 2). The Moabites lost their identity as a nation and were afterward confounded with the Arabs, as we see in the statement of Josephus (XIII, xiii, 5), where he says that Alexander (Janneus) overcame the Arabians, such as the Moabites and the Gileadites. Alexander built the famous stronghold of Macherus in Moab, on a hill overlooking the Dead Sea, which afterward became the scene of the imprisonment and tragical death of John the Baptist (Josephus, BJ, VII, vi, 2; Ant., XVIII, v, 2; Mark 6:21-28). It was afterward destroyed by the Romans. Kir became a fortress of the Crusaders under the name of Krak (Kerak), which held out against the Moslems until the time of Saladin, who captured it in 1188 A.D.
Jeremiah (public ministry between 626–580 b.c.) mentions Sodom in His judgment of Edom. Edom is a country which is founded by Esau, who is the twin brother of Jacob, one of the patriarchs (Jacob is the son of Isaac who is the son of Abraham). God would love Jacob, but He would hate Esau, even though these men are twins (Mal. 1:3 Rom. 9:13, which passages we have already studied).
Jer 49:17–18 "Edom will become a horror. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its disasters. As when Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring cities were overthrown, says the LORD, no man will dwell there, no man will sojourn in her.
According to The Wycliffe Bible Commentary on Obadiah: Soon after this time, Edom was pushed out of her ancient home by the Nabatæans, so that she had to move to the west side of the Dead Sea. Hebron was made the capital of her new home in south Judah. The Maccabees, especially John Hyrcanus (c. 125 BC), subdued and Judaized the Edomites (that is, they learned about the Redeemer-Creator God, Yehowah). Both the Edomites, who later rejected the Messiah of the Jews; were finally destroyed with the Jews in 70 AD by the Roman general Titus. However, this does not appear to be exactly the case.
Clarifying Christianity had the following information about the fulfillment of this and other prophecies in the Bible against Edom: The history books tell us that Edom did OK for perhaps a hundred years after their final warning from God's prophets. Then, during the fifth century (400-499) B.C. the "Edomites" were overwhelmed by other Arab groups. In turn, these groups were taken over by the Nabatæans, who started living in the area sometime around 312 B.C. By the way, the Nabataeans, not the Edomites, are the people who cut the temples in the sandstone walls of Petra. Under the Nabataeans, the city of Petra flourished until 106 A.D., when the Romans conquered Petra. From that time it slid into disuse, to the point that Edom was almost uninhabited from the 7th to the 12th century A.D. It revived slightly in the 12th century when the crusaders built a castle there called Sel. Afterward, it remained so forgotten that it had to be rediscovered in 1812 by Swiss traveler Johann. L. Burckhardt.
As you can see, by all of the references made to Sodom and Gomorrah throughout the Old and New Testaments, this is a very significant event, and something that all nations from that area could relate to. This is why we spent a great deal of time on Gen. 14 and 19, as these chapters are, in many ways, foundational to God’s dealings with nations.
With this, we will return to Gen. 19 to complete this chapter in the next few lessons.
At this point, we return to Gen. 19, to see the epilogue for the life of Lot. First of all, this will be the final historical note on Lot. We will not follow him to his death; we will not follow the lives of his daughters, except to find out that they will have two sons by incest. Finally, and we will find out nothing about the sons personally, except for their names, and, in later books of the Bible, their descendants, and only as they interact with Israel.
Apart from a few later mentions in Scripture, this will be the final narrative of Lot’s life.
Gen 19:30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters.
We are given precious little information about Zoar, apart from it being small and not too far from Sodom and Gomorrah. Zoar, as a destination city, is God’s second choice for Lot. You may recall that the two angels were leading Lot and his family out of Sodom, and they were told to evacuate to a set of mountains, and Lot asked if he could go to Zoar, which was closer, instead. Gen 19:17–22 As soon as the angels got them [Lot and his family] outside, one of the angels said, "Run for your lives! Don't look back and don't stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away!" But Lot said to them, "No, my lord--please. Your servant has indeed found grace in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness by saving my life. But I can't run to the mountains; the disaster will overtake me, and I will die [that is, “The mountains are too far away and I will die trying to get to them.”]. Look, this town is close enough for me to run to. It is a small place. Please let me go there--it's only a small place, isn't it?--so that I can survive." And the angel acquiesced, saying, "All right, I'll grant your request about this matter too, and will not overthrow the town you mentioned. Hurry up! Run there, for I cannot do anything until you get there." Therefore the name of the city is Zoar [= tiny, insignificant].
Zoar both describes the town and the spiritual impact that Lot has had in his life.
However, at this point in the narrative, Lot has left Zoar, the city which he begged the angels not to destroy, so that he could live there. It is possible that Lot observes similar lawless behavior in Zoar. Maybe he did not quite catch it at first, but after living in Sodom, thinking back on all that happened, and then seeing similar things occur in Zoar, Lot probably figured that moving out of town was his best choice. Or, perhaps his life just sucked in Zoar. Remember, Lot came to Zoar with just the clothes on his back and Zoar was a city that possibly should have been destroyed by God. This would suggest that Christian kindness was not what Zoar was known for. Whatever the case, Lot left Zoar. This was not God’s place for Lot, and Lot eventually agreed with God.
Notice the incredible change of fortune. Not but a few decades ago, Lot of was rich—so rich that his stuff could not be kept separate from the possessions of Abraham, his uncle, so that they had to separate (Gen. 13:1–11). And now, Lot is living with his 2 daughters in a cave, outside a small city where their life was not quite working out. Furthermore, it appears that they have no real prospects for the future. That is, they are left with a day-to-day existence trying to just scratch out a life, and not much of a life at that.
Gen 19:30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters.
We do not know why Lot was afraid of the people in Zoar. I suspect that their sexual sins were similar to those in Sodom, although they may have had a different brand of sexual sin. It is not out of the question that Lot was afraid for his daughters.
In most Muslim countries, women cannot just wander about—particularly in western dress—or they made find themselves being subject to rape, the men being “overpowered” by their own sexual lusts. It is possible that this was the case for Zoar. However, the Bible never specifically tells us this why Lot was afraid.
Why didn’t Lot go to stay with Abraham? My guess is, Lot had too much pride. They parted as equals, but Lot came to find out that he was blessed because he was closely associated with Abraham. His blessing was with Abraham and not off somewhere else. The few cattle they disagreed about—who cares about that? They were inconsequential by comparison to the life that Lot now leads. Lot’s servants could have allowed every dispute to go in favor of Abraham, and Lot would have been a 100x better off had he stayed with Abraham.
The lesson to us is quite simple: Abraham followed Yehowah God and he was greatly blessed; Lot did not (although he believed in Yehowah God), and God allowed him to live, but not extravagantly. God preserved Lot, but not on the basis of his own spiritual life.
Perhaps Lot could not face his Uncle Abraham. Perhaps he was ashamed. So, Lot’s solution was to live in a cave with his two daughters.
For some people, what follows is going to be confusing. God has just destroyed Sodom and 3 other cities because of the sexual degeneracy of the people there. However, Lot and his two daughters are going to commit a sin which is quite shocking (at least, for most people). God is going to let this sin go, more or less. At least, God is not going to rain down fire and brimstone upon Lot and his daughters. So, as we study this, ponder on the difference between the sins of Sodom, which we have observed already, to the sin of incest which will follow.
Gen 19:31 And the firstborn said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth.
Lot’s daughters desire children. Even though God has rescued them from certain doom, they see their lives as meaningless, and they desire children, even though they are not married. It is the eldest sister who puts this plot together.
She makes the observation that, given their current circumstances, no man is going to come and marry them. This could refer to their station in life, living in a cave, and to the fact that Lot has no ability to provide a dowry for them.
Furthermore, it is obvious that they have no faith in God and no understanding of blessing by association. They have lived under blessing by association for decades, and they did not see it. When they were with Abraham, they were rich; and now that Lot chose to separate from Abraham, they have become poor to the point of destitution. Their relationship with Abraham was the key to all of this, and he does not live that far away.
As an aside, there is a parallel here between the relationship of Lot and his two daughters with Abraham, and our relationship with Jesus Christ. The closer Lot was to Abraham (a shadow image of our Lord), the greater his blessing. The further away Lot was from Abraham, the less blessing that came his way. His life was preserved, but little else.
So it is with our lives and Jesus Christ; the closer He is, the greater our blessing; the further away that He is, the less blessing we receive. Even as believers out of fellowship, we receive some consideration (grace) from God, but it is sometimes minimal (illustrated by God sending two angels to rescue Lot and his family from Sodom).
Now, this is an option which these women do not appear to even consider: why not go to their great uncle Abraham and say, “Whatever you need us to do, we will do. Whatever job you can provide for us, we will do that. You want us as slave girls? We will do slave labor then.” Abraham is well-connected, and he is well-respected. Their association with him would have probably brought them husbands. But this apparently does not occur to them.
Also, there is one aspect of their relationship to Abraham which is not found in the Bible: what did Lot say about Abraham? Given the time period that Lot has been separated from Abraham, his girls would have been children or possibly into their late teens when living with Abraham. What their father Lot said about Abraham would have had a lot of impact on how they felt about Abraham. I cannot say that Lot spoke evil of his Uncle Abraham to his girls, because that is not recorded in Scripture; but moving to live with Abraham does not seem to even be an option with these women.
People who are out of fellowship and have little or no spiritual growth cannot make simple decisions which make sense. Living in a cave and having sex with their father? This is their decision? This is their solution to their circumstances? Only women trapped in human viewpoint would make such a decision; and yet, people do this every day. People make the same decisions in their lives over and over again, decisions which harm their very psyche, and yet, they cannot seem to make good decisions regarding their own lives.
Now, you may say, “Well, their idea of committing incest is just foolish; anyone should have known better.” However, remember that they lived in a highly sexualized society—not one like we have, as these women were still virgins—but heavily sexualized nonetheless. So we do not know exactly what their societal influences had been, but if homosexual rape had become some kind of sport to these people, then who knows how far they had wandered from truth and in which direction.
There are distortions of sex in all societies and with many peculiarities confined to that society or geographical area. A woman in western clothing might find herself subject to rape in a Muslim country; homosexuality may be promoted in other areas, promiscuity in another. My point here is, the way that sex was distorted in that time and place can be very specific as well as, to our way of thinking, very odd. As we have studied, in Sodom, homosexual rape had become a sport of sorts, attracting the entire town (of men) to observe the rape.
Back to this idea that Lot’s daughters have that incest is a good idea. Have you ever noticed that you find it quite simple to solve the problems of the lives of other people, but your own problems seem to be far more difficult? In fact, solving the problems of others is often just common sense. Most of that has to do with the fact that, you do not have the weaknesses of that other person or their human viewpoint thinking (in that area). So it should be obvious to us, that there are a variety of other things that these women might do to have children legitimately; and that Lot has so many options other than living in a cave—the chief sensible option is just to go to Abraham. However, since they have ruled out the most sensible, logical, divine viewpoint option, what remains is, human viewpoint solutions—solutions that, in our society, we find repugnant.
No doubt that pride plays a part in all of this. Lot separated from Abraham, and, 20+ years later, Lot has nothing but the clothes on his back and he lives in a cave, while Abraham is still rich and prosperous, and will live another 75 years on top of all that. After being such a colossal failure in his own life, Lot probably could not even face his Uncle Abraham.
Gen 19:31 And the firstborn said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth.
There is a time frame here that is not carefully laid out. Did all of this occur over the space of a week or so? Is the narrative staying with Lot and his two daughters over the period of a few months or a few years? We are not told how long it was before these women came to this conclusion.
It is interesting that these women have just witnessed something that most of us will never see—the raining down of God’s wrath upon 4 cities to where they are destroyed along with all of the people and even all of their crops and foliage—and yet, they do not believe that God is capable of bringing men into their lives in order to preserve the family line.
Gen 19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father."
The older sister is suggesting incest. Although this may seem like a bridge too far, they have lived among a sexually promiscuous people as well as with very aggressive homosexuals. So their norms and standards, whatever they were when living with Abraham and company, were quite distorted at this point, and incongruous to our own.
Their cover story is, they want to preserve the seed of their father; however, like many women at that age, what they really want is to have children. Therefore, they hatch a plot. Not only do they hatch a plot, but they carry it out quickly.
It is important to note that no talk of God’s will or God’s plan is a part of their conversation. How God figures into all this is ignored. Two angels sent from God just rescued these women from certain destruction, destruction that they saw with their own eyes, and yet, they cannot seem to integrate God into their thinking and reasoning. They had no doctrine in their souls; they completely lacked divine viewpoint. They had no soul assets to guide them.
Gen 19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father."
Interestingly enough, even without public education, these women knew something about wine and sex and children. I realize that, if you are a liberal and reading this, you are wondering, “How is that even possible?” How do these women know about sex when they have not gone to an American school with sex education? However, people knew about sex long before public education came along. When it is time, people will figure out sex. We have never had a generation die out because they could not figure out sex.
In fact, all of the ills that sex education in the public schools purport to cure—reducing teen pregnancy and reducing venereal diseases through education—these problems have actually skyrocketed hand-in-hand with the increase of sex ed in our schools. And the liberal solution is: more sex education; because, obviously, the kids are not getting enough. Even though this ought to be obvious to any person who has eyes or has seen a news report that sex ed will lead to experimentation, human viewpoint thinking says, “We need more education about sex in our schools because the amount that we have isn’t yet enough.” When a government program does not work out well, human viewpoint thinking is, we need to expand that program.
It is always fascinating to see how a society’s mores evolve. Schools were originally designed so that people could read and understand the Bible; that was the primary thrust of most early education in America, because people understood that, the more a person understood the Bible, the better that would be for society as a whole.
Now, over the past century or so, public education has evolved to a point where, the Bible is very nearly a banned book in schools, but sex ed is rampant (as is sexual experimentation, teen pregnancy and venereal disease among teens). In the realm of societal norms and standards, it ought to be obvious how that has affected us, but it isn’t.
Nevertheless, despite not having a quality American education, these women knew that with enough wine, they would lower the inhibitions of their father in order to commit incest with him. Obviously, they understood that sexual intercourse would result in becoming pregnant.
Gen 19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father."
Bear in mind that these women spent at least 23 years living in Sodom, so it is apparent that whatever moral standards they had were changed dramatically. We have no idea what they did as ladies in Sodom, apart from the fact that they appear to be promised to be married.
Despite all that these two women are doing, two things in their favor ought to be noted: (1) they are still virgins, which puts them light years ahead of most teens today and (2) when the angels came and told them to leave Sodom, they left. So, quite obviously, what they are doing is both wrong and gross; but people, believers in fact, make lousy decisions all of the time, when they ought to know better.
However, despite all that they have seen, neither woman speaks about God when making this decision. This indicates to us that, Lot did not teach them enough about their God. This is no doubt, in part, because Lot had very little interest in God himself.
Gen 19:33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
That very night, after putting this plot together, these girls get their father drunk, with the purpose of having sex with him.
Apparently, Lot was so drunk that he did not know when his firstborn daughter came into his bed or when she left; but he was not so drunk as to keep him from functioning as a normal male.
Throughout most of this chapter, this word to lay down is used to indicate having sexual relations. Here, the older sister is said to have sexual relations with her father.
Now, let me say something about one or two translations. The word used here is a euphemism for having sex and this word is more often used for a person simply laying down. Since this is a euphemism, then using a euphemism to translate this word is most appropriate. Translating this to make love is ridiculous (as the New International Reader’s Version does)! They did not make love; Lot was barely involved, and this does not signal the beginning of some great love affair between a father and his daughter. The older sister understood enough about sex to understand what was required to get pregnant. This is what happened. Retaining the euphemism to lay down with or to lay down by is what most translators should have done (and most correctly use a euphemism for sex here).
So far, we have studied:
Gen 19:30–33 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father." So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
The eldest daughter appears to have come up with this idea, and she has gone first. Now it is time for her younger sister to follow suit.
Gen 19:34 The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, "Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father."
The firstborn still calls the shots here, even though these are adult women. If Lot is an old man, but still able to procreate, these women are probably in their 30's or 40's (as a guess). Because of what has transpired in their lives, they have gone past the age when it is likely that they will marry; and yet, they are still able to bear children.
The older sister, in speaking to the younger, tells her what to do. She uses two imperatives here, which suggests a pattern of behavior which has continued for a long time.
Have you ever noticed that, when someone has a lousy idea or wants to do something wrong, that they don’t like to just keep this to themselves, but they want to involve others in this lousy idea? People who sin generally do not like to sin alone, but they like to involve others. So the older sister is not going to do this on her own; she gets the younger sister to agree to this.
Gen 19:35 So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
It is not clear how much Lot recalled from the night before. The Bible tells us that he did not know when the older sister came into his bed or when she left. The same is true here of the younger sister. This appears to be an idiom that indicates that he recalls nothing from these nights of incest.
Gen 19:36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father.
Lot is probably into his 60's at least. Given Abraham’s age, and when it was determined that he was no longer capable of procreating (around age 100), we may reasonably guess Lot’s age to be between 60 and 90.
Bear in mind that Abraham will live to be 175, so people still lived longer during that time period. Abraham was apparently sexually alive perhaps into his early 90's and sexually dead by age 99. Lot was still sexually alive, and therefore, younger. Given that he was able to be drunk and to perform sexually suggests that he was closer to 60 (age 60 at that time was quite different than 60 today).
For many people, what has occurred here is quite shocking. The daughters caused their father to engage in incest with them. Believers without doctrine and unbelievers would certainly ask, what separates the sins of the people of Sodom and the sins of these two women?
There are two main differences: first of all, the sins of the people of Sodom were repeated. Every time strangers came into town, they apparently would be surrounded, gang raped (probably raped until they died); and much of the town apparently watched and enjoyed these events. This was their reality TV; this was their outdoor sporting event. This apparently occurred so many times, that Lot insisted that the angels stay with him in order to protect them. Therefore, he obviously knew about these activities. The townsfolk were so overcome with lust for these angels (who appeared to be men), that they were willing to do harm to Lot and his family in order to satiate their lusts.
Secondly, these sins had become addictive, as many sins of pleasure are. So the men of Sodom wanted to participate again and again in these sins of rape, violence and voyeurism.
The daughters of Lot did not sin with their father for sexual pleasure. They did not repeat this act again and again and again. What they did was wrong—that is clear—but their sin was not one of degeneracy or of sexual addiction. This sin that they committed did not control their lives forever more (as addictions do).
Gen 19:37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of Moab to this day.
Interestingly enough, the firstborn does not appear to be embarrassed about what she has done. The name that she gives her son is a play on the phrase from a father. From my father would be meʾabi; and from a father would be meʾab. If you look at the end of v. 36, these daughters are pregnant from their father. If that is shortened and the vowel changed, we end up with Moab.
The nation of Moab will play a prominent part in the Bible. God will actually honor this people because they come from Lot and he is Abraham’s nephew. This is again blessing by association.
You may also recall that, when looking at the Old Testament references to Sodom and Gomorrah, there was a clear judgment against Moab.
Gen 19:37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of Moab to this day.
This final phrase is either a gloss or it indicates that this was written down sometime later (say, 100–400 years later). It would be possible for there to be a small family of Moabites in existence 100 years later, which would allow Isaac (or Jacob, or whomever) to record this, either as a gloss or he could have written the entire chapter, adding this comment which is outside of the historical narrative. It is reasonable that Moses eventually put Genesis together from documents which he had, and add this phrase at the end, being quite knowledgeable of the people of Moab.
The book of Genesis is short enough, and the minds of the people of that day were large enough, for this book (and probably the book of Job) to have been preserved by both memory and by word of mouth. That is, the father memorized the book of Genesis up until his time period, and he would teach it to his son. His son (or grandson) may add the words, “He is the father of Moab to this day” and then, at the very end, add things about his own life. The book of Genesis could have been, in this way, passed along through several generations, specifically going through the line of Noah to Abraham, as given in the latter half of Gen. 11 (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
For whatever reason, we do not have the Moabites but we simply have Moab. Let me suggest that we are therefore looking at a family rather than at a nation of people.
Gen 19:38 The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.
Ben-ammi is a transliteration from the Hebrew and it means son of my people. Many times, throughout the Old Testament, this full name will be retained. However, instead of it reading Ben-ammi (which translation occurs only here in this verse) we will read is as children of Ammon or the sons of Ammon. Some translations skip over or ignore the word ben (which means son of) and simply translate Ben Ammon as the Ammonites.
There are two ways to view this: the younger sister had to be talked into doing this, so she is not going to wear the name of her son as a big A on her shirt saying, “Yep, this is my father’s child.” This is somewhat embarrassing to her. So (1) her husband-to-be, who perished in Sodom, was named Ammi and she acts as if this is his son (better to have had sex outside of wedlock than to have sex with your own father); or (2) she simply suggests that the father is from her tribe, and calls him the son of my people. Who knows, maybe she is aggressively saying that this young man will become a people? I doubt that was on her mind; but her son would become a famous people.
Did you notice what was missing in this chapter? The names of these women. We will never know them as anything except as Lot’s daughters. We will know the names of all the wives of the patriarchs, but we do not know the names of Lot’s wife or daughters. We may reasonably assume that these women believed in Jesus Christ (in His Preincarnate form), but that they never grew spiritually. The reason we can assume this is, they were delivered out of Sodom as an answer to Abraham’s prayer. He did not pray on behalf of Lot’s family in particular (even though that was exactly what was on his mind); he prayed for them in principle, calling them righteous (which is a synonym for being a believer in Jehovah Elohim—Gen. 15:6). So, if God delivered these young women, certainly they were righteous, meaning that they were saved. However, they had little or no faith in Jehovah in their lives, despite the fact that He delivered them. Lot’s spiritual impact was minimal and theirs was even less.
What else is missing in this final section of Gen. 19? God’s name or any reference to God. The daughter never discuss whether their acts are wrong or a sin; they never talk about what God may have in store for them; they never even talk about Abraham, their great uncle. They are alive because of their association with Abraham, and they do not even know that.
We have discussed in the past the concept of blessing by association (HTML) (PDF). Many businesses are blessed because there might be a mature believer who is their janitor cleaning out their toilets at night and sweeping their hallways. The business men think that it is their brilliant decisions which has resulted in their great profits, but it may be related to someone whose name they do not even know.
Streets and neighborhoods and cities can enjoy great blessing, but for most of them not to have any idea why. But somewhere on that street, there is an Abraham who has spiritual impact, and God’s blessing to him spills out to everyone else. The same is true of all types and manner of groups of people: schools, families, military organizations, businesses, etc.
Application: Believers and unbelievers alike cannot see what is going on around them. Our relationship with Israel is one of the reasons that we, as a nation, have been blessed. When the Republican party was steeped in antisemitism, who was the standard bearer? Richard Nixon. But when the Republican party shed its antisemitism, the standard bearer was Ronald Reagan. Immature believers and unbelievers do not see this; they do not recognize it.
Always remember what God said to Abraham, 4000 years ago: “I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12:2–3; HCSB). Who is Israel’s greatest ally today? The United States. Which is the greatest and most blessed nation today? The United States.
Application: Along the same lines, there are college-educated children today (and in every generation) who think that the United States is an evil country and that it has so much wrong with it and that, by becoming more socialistic, we can fix it or, at the very least, make it all better. These are unbelievably ignorant and blind fools. There has never been a nation on the face of this earth that has been more prosperous which has offered more opportunity to more people ever. Immigrants come to our country and they work hard; and in the second generation, their children are often wealthy, hard-working and educated. Meanwhile, people who have lived here for 200 years or more whine and say the deck is stacked against them and that the wealthy have taken away all their advantages. These college-educated people are unable to actually observe that, the poverty level in socialist nations is much more dramatic than it is in the United States; in fact, the average person in a socialist nation has less than our poor do. Poor people in North Korea actually starve; poor people in communist countries have historically starved to death, in huge numbers.
Application: There is no excuse for such willful ignorance apart from evil in the soul. Nearly everyone knows an immigrant family; in fact, many immigrant families in various states of progress; and they know, often, of their hard work and values. With the internet, we can look all over the world and find country after country in great turmoil, with a declining prosperity, and always, this is associated with a reduction in the spiritual live of the people, a reduction of Bible doctrine in the land, and a dependence upon the federal government to make things better. Any objective person can see this in country after country after country. And yet, they will point to these degenerating countries and say, “We need to be more like them.” They will point to socialized medicine in other countries, and view it in the most rose-colored glasses terms, thinking that, their government provides free healthcare to their people, and it is as good as ours; so we can do this too. They are unable to see the evil and the failure and the shortcomings of whatever system there is that they want to emulate.
I went out on this tangent because here we have been studying 2 daughters who have just be delivered by God from this great catastrophe; they saw the catastrophe with their own eyes. Everyone that they knew was destroyed in this catastrophe; everything that they knew was destroyed. And yet God sent an angel to them to bring them out. They had to know about their relative Abraham and his spiritual life. They had to know that God, who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and yet delivered them was capable of anything. But, instead of turning toward God, they turned to their own human viewpoint and copulated with their own father in order to bear children.
What was the correct approach? The elder should have said to her father, “Look, since we separated from Abraham, our lives have sucked, and then they sucked more, and today, our lives seem as if they cannot get any worse. We are going to Abraham. There are young men there. Abraham knows God. Abraham is prosperous. If we have to be maids and work in the lowest position, we are willing to do that. Now, you can come with, or you can lay around in this desolate cave foraging for acorns and small game. Your choice.” That would have been positive volition. They did not have that. They took the mess they were in and simply made it worse.
God takes all things and works them together for good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28—and loving God means positive volition toward Him and toward His plan). When we try to work out all of these things with human viewpoint, we take a lousy situation and make it even worse. This is what the two daughters of Lot have managed to do.
Why is it that these daughters do not immediately think of Abraham, their great uncle? Why is he not at least an option thrown out there, offered as an alternative to incest? Let me offer two possibilities: (1) Lot did not teach his daughters divine viewpoint; probably because he did not have any himself. (2) Secondly—and this is conjecture—what do you suppose Lot said about Abraham around the dinner table? Had Abraham been spoken of as a great man who had guided Lot through much of his younger life, then his daughters may have had a favorable enough opinion of him to at least consider going to him as one approach to their situation. However, this is never considered. Therefore, let me suggest to you that, out of personal jealousy, their father Lot talked down Abraham; he gossiped about Abraham, and said evil things about him. Therefore, the idea of moving out of this cave and going to their great uncle Abraham never occurred to these women.
We do not realize how much gossip and running people down can destroy viable options in life, particularly when it is said in front of impressionable young children.
Before we summarize this chapter, Lot’s life, and a few other things, we are going to take one more look at the final verse of Gen. 19:
Gen 19:38 The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.
The final sentence is, again, a gloss. Since we are so far removed from the time period that this was written, we can only speculate as to when these things were added. Did Moses write these things down while in the desert? What sorts of documents did he have? Did he essentially have the book of Genesis in his possession? Did he have several manuscripts that he combined to make the book of Genesis already? We don’t know. But, phrases like this indicate that, at least 100 years later, these additional words were written and added. Someone had to tell us that here is the origin of the Ammonite people today. Whether they were added to the text or whether this represents the text written in the first draft, I don’t know. As I have already said, I believe that the book of Genesis, and probably the book of Job, were passed along verbally for many years. Quite obviously, if you have the ability to remember something, then you do not need to write it down.
Before we carefully examine the authorship of Genesis, let me give you the false theories: (1) Moses wrote the book of Genesis or (2) 4 person or groups of people were involved in the authorship of the Pentateuch.
Moses is the Author:
From the NIV Study Bible: Historically, Jews and Christians alike have held that Moses was the author/compiler of the first five books of the OT.1
The Open Bible writes: Although Genesis does not directly name its author, and although Genesis ends some three centuries before Moses was born, the whole of Scripture and church history are unified in their adherence to the Mosaic authorship of Genesis...The early church openly held to the Mosaic authorship, as does the first-century Jewish historian Josephus. As would be expected, the Jerusalem Talmud supports Moses as author.2
The NASB: No man can claim to know with absolute assurance who wrote the Book of Genesis. Since Genesis is a necessary foundation for Exodus to Deuteronomy, and since the available evidence indicates that Moses wrote these four books, Moses is likely the author of Genesis itself. The New Testament evidence points in the same direction (cf. Especially John 5:46, 47 Luke 16:31 24:44).3
The Pentateuch is a Compilation of Authors:
Liberal theologians, for the most part, came up with the idea that there are 4 influences on the final compilation of the Pentateuch: the Yawehist (J), who wrote the portions which primarily name God with the name Jehovah/Yaweh; the Elohimist (E), who usually speaks of God using the title Elohim; the Deuteronomist (D), who composed most of the book of Deuteronomy; and the Priest (s) (P) who wrote portions which favor the Levitical priesthood. Various editors in years to follow (R, for Redactor), intertwined these texts. This is called Documentary Hypothesis or the JEPD (JEDP) theory. The idea that there were several documents which were later woven together (long after the time of Moses) is a theory which is presented by scholars and intellectuals and is taught in many of our seminaries. Even the original source material is said to have been written long after the events actually occurred.
This theory contradicts common sense, what the Bible says about itself, and what Jesus says about the Mosaic authorship. So, if you hold to this theory (if you have heard about it before), many scholars will agree with you, but Jesus does not.
I do not want to spend any serious time with a false theory of authorship, but if you believe this, or if you are intrigued by this notion, let me recommend Josh McDowell, More Evidence That Demands a Verdict, ©1975 by Campus Crusade for Christ, pp. 117–292. I am quite sure that this has been reprinted in other compilations which McDowell has put together more recently. McDowell very methodically destroys this false view of authorship.
1 The NIV Study Bible; ©1995 by The Zondervan Corporation; p. 2.
2 The Open Bible; the New Living Translation; Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN; ©1996, p. 1.
3 New American Standard Bible, Study Edition; A. J. Holman Company, ©1975 by The Lockman Foundation, p. 2.
After writing most of this lesson, I did an internet search on what people seem to believe today on the authorship of Genesis. Much to my pleasant surprise, many people have taken the view that Genesis was originally written by several authors, and that Genesis pretty much existed in its completed form by the time of Moses or that Moses may possibly have been the final editor of these documents.
Abbreviated Opinion of Website on Authorship of Genesis
they dismantle the JEDP theory, and they take a position sort of halfway between the Mosaic authorship of Genesis and multiple historical authors of Genesis. I have a chart listing the possible authors of the book of Genesis (which would have been written in the mid to late 1990's). There is a very similar chart on this page.
This is a mishmash of ideas and opinions, not necessarily from scholars, but some from people who just had a thought and decided to share it (like the guy who thinks Genesis was written during the exile). However, on this page we have the interesting thought P.J. Wiseman posits the theory that the 'toledoth' indicates authors who were eyewitnesses to the events mentioned in Genesis. This is based on the pattern of writing found on ancient Babylonian tablets predating Abraham where the word translated 'generations of' is used to indicate the ownership or authorship of the clay tablet. This is essentially what I believe, but with some modifications.
Teaches that Moses is the author of Genesis.
Documentary Hypothesis is false; Moses probably compiled the book of Genesis from existing records. This short piece covers the JEPD theory in more depth than I do; and his opinion of the possible Mosaic authorship of Genesis is not far from mine (I certainly allow for the possibility that Moses compiled Genesis from existing documents; however, I lean more towards Genesis to already existing in completed form by the time Moses comes along).
Moses wrote the book of Genesis, possibly from a direct dictation from God on Mount Sinai.
Salemi appears to build upon the 1936 work of P. J. Wiseman, which attributes authorship of Genesis to several eyewitnesses.
Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, with some slight wiggle room when it comes to Genesis.
As one would expect, the weirdest and most liberal theories of the authorship of Genesis are offered up, almost uncritically. The day that I checked, Mosaic authorship or the toledoth theory were not even mentioned. This being Wikipedia, that could change tomorrow.
Hundreds of articles can be found on this subject. These are just a representative few.
I am of the opinion that the original narratives were written (or, more likely, memorized) by the people who experienced them. For many years, I thought was mostly alone in this theory, but the internet has revealed a number of people who believe roughly the same thing. What I have not seen is the theory proven from the Scriptures.
Moses is clearly called the author of the books of the Pentateuch other than Genesis. Moses is called the author of the book of the Law of Moses in Joshua 8:31 2Kings 14:6. Moses is called the author of Leviticus in Ezra 6:18. The Old Testament is referred to as Moses and the Prophets in Luke 16:29, 31 and as the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms in Luke 24:44. Jesus told His audience that they do not really believe Moses’ writings because they do not believe Jesus’ words (John 5:45–47). Furthermore, Moses is called by Jesus the author of Exodus (Mark 7:10 12:26 John 6:32), the author of Leviticus (Matt. 8:4 Mark 1:44 Luke 2:22 5:14), the author of Numbers (John 3:14) and the author of Deuteronomy (Matt. 19:7–8 22:24 Mark 7:10 12:19)—or, at the very least, his authorship is clearly implied in these passages (in each of those passages, a quote from that book is attributed to Moses).
Interestingly enough, Jesus spoke on several occasions about marriage, and referred back to Adam and Eve, but did not reference Moses as the author on those occasions. In fact, this is how it went down:
Matt. 19:3 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible) And the Pharisees came near to Him, tempting Him, and saying to Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every reason?
As occurred on many occasions, the pharisees came to our Lord and attempted to trap Him. The idea was to put Him into a theological hole from which he could not dig Himself.
Matt. 19:4 But answering, He said to them, Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning "created them male and female"?
Jesus quotes from Gen. 1:27, but does not cite Moses as the author.
Matt. 19:5 And He said, "For this reason a man shall leave father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
Jesus cites Gen. 2:24, and the reference is to God speaking. Moses could be called the author here by our Lord, but he is not.
Matt. 19:6 So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.
God, not Moses, speaks of a husband being joined soulishly and physically, and what God has joined, man is not to separate with divorce laws.
Matt. 19:7 They said to Him, Why then did Moses command to "give a bill of divorce," "and to put her away"?
Here the pharisees quote Deut. 24:1 and attribute this to Moses (which is proper, as Moses was teaching).
Matt. 19:8 He said to them, In view of your hardheartedness, Moses allowed you to put away your wives. But from the beginning it was not so.
Jesus agrees that Moses said this, but that was not God’s original intention, for men and women to marry and divorce. This is well and proper, to say that Moses said this, because Deuteronomy is Moses speaking in several sermons to the generation of promise.
Matt. 19:9 And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, if not for fornication, and shall marry another, that one commits adultery. And the one who marries her who was put away commits adultery.
And Jesus has given the only reason to allow a divorce by Moses: fornication.
So, you notice in this passage that Jesus very carefully attributes to some portions of the Pentateuch to Moses, but not that which came out of Genesis.
We have a similarly parsing of authorship in John 7:19–24:
John 7:19 [Jesus is speaking] “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet not one of you does the Law? Why do you desire to kill Me?”
The Law, which begins in Exodus and is concluded in Deuteronomy, is given to the Jews by Moses. God spoke the Law to him (which Moses very carefully isolates from his own writing of narrative in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers); but Deuteronomy is several sermons by Moses to the people of Israel in the final days outside the Land of Promise.
John 7:20 [Some in] the crowd answered and said, “You have a demon [that is, you are nuts]. Who seeks to kill You?”
People in the crowd are making fun of Jesus here. They claim that Jesus must have a demon to make Him think that they want to kill Him (despite the fact that this was in their hearts).
John 7:21 Jesus answered, saying to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel [at it].
Jesus healed on the Sabbath. They could not stop talking about it and trying to determine if it violated the Sabbath.
John 7:22 Because of this, Moses has given you circumcision; (not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers); and on a Sabbath, you circumcise a man.
They circumcise on the Sabbath, and they do not consider that a work. But notice how carefully Jesus speaks of Moses—circumcision is not of Moses but it is of the fathers. The fathers (also called the patriarchs) are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and perhaps Jacob’s sons). So, circumcision did not originally come from Moses, but from the fathers. If you will recall when we studied circumcision, God told Abraham to be circumcised, along with all of his household prior to the conception of Isaac. Later, God told Abraham to circumcise Isaac. So, if you want to be a stickler, this came from God, and not from man. However, Jesus tells them “Not that circumcision is of Moses, but it is of the fathers.” So we are referring not that God told Abraham to be circumcised but that this was recorded (in some fashion) by the fathers originally (and not by Moses). My contention is, this was recorded in their memory and passed down.
So there is no misunderstanding this point, Jesus could have said, “Not that circumcision is of Moses; it came from God” (or, “It was given to Abraham by God”). Jesus says, instead, “It is of the fathers;” who are the patriarchs. So He refers here back to authorship not to the ultimate source (the same is true many times when Moses is cited, even when Moses is quoting the Revealed Lord). In other words, Jesus is attributing the recording of the tradition of circumcision to the patriarchs.
John 7:23 If a man receives circumcision on a Sabbath, that the Law of Moses is not broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man whole and healthy on a Sabbath?”
Note the reference to the Law of Moses; Moses wrote down the Law as given to him by God, but the Law was commonly called the Law of Moses because he wrote it down and taught it to the Jews. So, again, we are not speaking of the ultimate origin, Who is God, but to the one who recorded this information—the patriarchs and not Moses in v. 22 and Moses in v. 23. Jesus did not have to speak so carefully if Moses wrote Genesis, even if God simply dictated Genesis to Moses (as God dictated much of the middle Pentateuch books to Moses). But if Moses was not the original author of Genesis, then Jesus could not attribute the recording of the first circumcision to Moses.
I realize that this is splitting hairs, but in two situations, where Jesus could have easily spoken of Moses as the source for the information in Genesis, He clearly did not. However, elsewhere, where God dictated portions of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers to Moses, Jesus still referred to the human author, Moses as the source. The One carefully splitting hairs is, in truth, the Lord.
Similarly the Apostles referred to Moses as author of the Law (Acts 13:39 15:5 28:23 1Cor. 9:9 Heb. 9:19 10:28), of Exodus (Rom. 9:15—where God is said to have spoken to Moses 2Cor. 3:13–15), of Leviticus (Rom. 10:5 Heb. 9:19), of Deuteronomy (Acts 3:22 7:37 Rom. 10:19 1Cor. 9:9 Heb. 10:28 12:21); and Moses is associated with the book of Numbers in Heb. 3:2, 5. However, when given the chance to call him the author of Genesis, the Apostles did not in Acts 3:25 7:1–16 Rom. 4:1–3, 9–23 9:6–12 1Cor. 6:16 Gal. 3:5–9, 15–18 4:22–26 Eph. 5:31 Heb. 6:13–15 7:1–6 11:8–21 James 2:21–23 1Peter 3:5–6. In most of those passages, a direct reference to Genesis often reads something along the lines of: And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham: "All the nations will be blessed" "in you." (Gal 3:8 quoting from Gen. 12:3; LTHB). When the source for Genesis is mentioned, it is always it stands written or the Scripture says; in every instance referring back to Genesis, it is never, and Moses wrote or and Moses commanded (said).
There are two verses in Genesis that are so personal, that only the person who was there would have written these lines (actually, there are many more than just these). When Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, is speaking of working for his uncle in order to secure the hand of Rachel, the woman he loved, he had to work for 7 years. Gen. 29:20 (ESV) reads: So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. But to him, it seemed only like a day. This is written by a man who loved Rachel, not by someone who recorded this hundreds of years later from reading historical documents. This is a man who looked back, remembered how strongly he felt about her, how much he thought about her; and how every day that he worked, his mind was on Rachel. So those 7 years just zoomed by. Jacob would have said or written that; anyone coming along a few hundred years later would not.
There are incidents with Joseph, Abraham’s great grandson (and Rachel’s son) where his feelings are described when he meets his full brother Benjamin again after many years, and how he teared up to meet Benjamin (Gen. 43:16–34). These things were not written by some dispassionate historian hundreds of years later; but they were recorded by the men who actually experienced these things.
So, in my opinion, if Moses assembled or edited together the manuscripts of Genesis, he may have simply added a few extra phrases like, and Ben-Ammi became the father of the sons of Ammon today. Or, someone in a later generation, like Joseph, memorized the words of Genesis, as they were given to him, and he (or someone else) added the phrase, He is the father of the Ammonites to this day. It is possible that the books of Genesis and Job were passed along to Moses verbally—perhaps even by his mother or his sister.
One more thing: it is clear that the people of Moses, the Exodus generation, knew God and knew about God. When suffering under the slave masters of Egypt, they called out to God. This suggests some familiarity with their personal history and Abraham’s interaction with God. If you personally are in some terrible, hopeless jam, then, most likely, you are going to call out to God for help. This does not come from out of the blue; you have to have a reason that you turn toward God. You might say, “Well, I’m saved and the Bible says God loves me.” You have reasons, based upon what you know about the Bible, why you can turn to God for help. The Exodus generation, who were under terrible slavery to the Egyptians, called out to God for help. This had to be based upon something. They will not just call out to God without believing that He will answer if they did not know something about Him. I would suggest that the basis of their faith in God was based upon the book of Genesis. I am not saying that they knew this book well, but that they knew enough to call out to the God of Abraham (Ex. 2:23–24), with Whom they had a relationship both by faith and by birth.
In any case, Genesis (And possibly Job) would have certainly been an end to whatever oral transmission there was, because in the 4 books of the Pentateuch, Moses will be told on several occasions to write things down (Ex. 17:14 34:1, 27). This information would have to be disseminated to an entire nation.
This particular lesson will be inserted into the Introduction of Genesis (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
We have just completed the study of Gen. 19, where Lot’s daughters had sexual relations with their father in order to perpetuate their father’s line. Although they never expressed sentiment about having children, very often this is an innate desire in many women. Perpetuating the seed of their father was very likely a rationalization.
We also took a brief recess to determine who wrote the book of Genesis. Now it is time for us to complete a study of Lot and then move into the next chapter.
Lot, an Addendum
Although, from time to time, Lot’s name will crop up in the Bible, Gen. 19 is the last time that he will be spoken of in an historical narrative. His daughters will not be spoken of again, nor will Lot, nor will these sons, Moab and Ben Ammi. However, their descendants will be spoken of on numerous occasions in the Old Testament.
What we have now, are the very beginnings of the Jews, the Ammonites and the Moabites. God gave grace to all of these peoples, meaning He looked out for them, He provided a plot of land for them, and He preserved them—things which these people did not earn or deserve. This goes back to Abraham and Lot both being believers; and Lot having an association with Abraham, a mature believer.
Although there are many references to Moab and Ammon throughout the Bible, there are only two passages which speak of them specifically as being Lot’s progeny.
God gives specific plots of land to Moab and Ammon.
In Deuteronomy, Moses is speaking to the younger generation to come out from Egypt, the generation of promise, reminding them of the events which they experienced and he put these into a spiritual context.
In the following passage, Moses is speaking to the children of Israel (specifically the generation of promise) before they cross over the Jordan to take the land.
Deut. 2:8b–9 And we turned and went in the direction of the wilderness of Moab. And the LORD said to me, 'Do not harass Moab or contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land for a possession, because I have given Ar to the people of Lot for a possession.'
God reserved a particular plot of ground for the Moabites. There are several reasons for this: Lot is Abraham’s nephew and Lot went with Abraham to the Land of Promise. So, simply as a relative of Abraham’s who is in Canaan, Lot and his progeny are treated in grace by God. Secondly, given that some of what occurred in the line of Lot is recorded in the Bible, this means that Abraham (or Isaac or Jacob) spent some time learning about what happened to Lot and company. Similarly, Lot would have told his daughters and later his sons/grandsons about Abraham. So, there would be some knowledge and wisdom passed down in Lot’s line. Whenever truth is in the soul of an individual, God will vindicate this truth. There will be individuals in these lines who will place their faith in the Revealed Lord and therefore be declared righteous by God.
Furthermore, there will be times that some people in Moab have their heads on straight. Ruth, the Moabitess, aligns herself with Israel, fully discussed in the book of Ruth (which takes place during the very degenerate time of the judges). And, at one time, David had a trusted relationship with the Moabites that he sent his parents to them for safekeeping (1Sam. 22:3–4). However, this trusted relationship changed a few decades later (2Sam. 8:2).
Map of Canaan, Moab and the Negeb. Moses is simply recounting the Jews traveling up north along the eastern border of the Salt Sea, which has occurred over the past year. They would come up from around the southern tip of the Salt Sea (the Dead Sea), and move through the lands of Moab and Ammon.
Deut. 2:17–19 [Then] the LORD said to me, 'Today you are to cross the border of Moab at Ar. And when you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.'
God had given a particular plot of land to the sons of Lot, despite the manner in which they were conceived. And God forbade the Jews from taking their land from them. These are all the details that we know. Did God every appear to Moab or to Ammon? We don’t know. Did God ever tell them, “This is your land; I give this land to you”? Again, we do not know. However, as a part of God’s plan, these plots of land belonged to the Moabites and the Ammonites. As we have seen in previously noted prophecies, there would be a point where Moab and Ammon were destroyed, but their countries did continue on for a considerable period of time.
There did come a point at which, the people of Moab and Ammon and other peoples conspired to destroy Israel. Asaph writes about this in Psalm 83, which is known as an imprecatory psalm. That is, the writer was praying to God, via this psalm, for God to destroy the enemies of Israel.
God will destroy the enemies of Israel, even Moab and Ammon.
Psalm 83:1 “O God, do not be silent.” Do not hold Your peace or be still, O God!
The first phrase is the title of this psalm. The psalmist is not looking to have God speak to him; he wants God to take down Israel’s enemies. Essentially, this is a metonym, where the words for silence, peace, still are the psalmist calling for God to take action against Israel’s enemies (these words listed are all associated with negatives).
There are people who have difficulties with psalms like this, because Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matt. 5:43–47). First of all, given the context, Jesus is speaking on a personal level here, even though what was being taught was, for the Jews to hate the gentiles; particularly the Romans who controlled Judæa when Jesus walked the earth.
Douglas MacArthur, the great general out of WWII, walked this fine line of being able to kill the enemy in battle, but being able to love his enemies at the same time and subsequent to the war. After we destroyed two cities in Japan with atomic weapons, MacArthur ruled over Japan, calling for missionaries and Bibles to be sent to them and other parts of the world which had been defeated in WWII. The idea was, we would restore these nations to their own sovereignty while simultaneously evangelizing them and teaching them the Word of God. MacArthur’s justification was, you either fill the souls of these people with truth, or they will turn to communism to fill the emptiness (vacuum) of their souls. In this way, we preserved their national sovereignty, and gave them the Word of God and the message of Jesus Christ.
This is exactly what our nation should have done. We conquered our enemies decisively, which is completely doctrinal; and then, instead of plundering them and taking all that we could from them, we gave them the gospel and the Word of God, as well as the laws of divine establishment—exactly what we should have done for them. We could not have a more perfect example of how, in a world war, we are to love our enemies.
How we succeeded in Japan and South Korea is exactly how we failed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Leaving the people to wallow in their religion of evil, thinking that democracy was the key rather than the Word of God, is why the United States will ultimately fail in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is even sadder is, these wars were originally presided over by a Christian president who knew history far more than most of the other presidents who preceded him, and yet this simple fact of history eluded him—the fact that solutions are spiritual and/or related to the laws of divine establishment. Solutions are not brought about by introducing a really good political system into the region (in this case, democracy). The problem was not that George Bush was some sort of an evil man; he simply did not know nearly as much doctrine as Douglas MacArthur did. MacArthur perceived that the ultimate solution is spiritual; and Bush believed the ultimate solution to be political. Douglas MacArthur was 100% right in his approach and President Bush was wrong (not wrong in engaging in war, but wrong in not recognizing the spiritual impact of the Word of God on a people).
Psalm 83:2 For behold, Your enemies make an uproar; those who hate You have raised their heads.
The psalmist is calling upon God to be as vocal as the enemies of Israel. They are making all of this anti-Israel noise. The raising of their heads suggests that these enemies are looking over at Israel and thinking about conquering this prime piece of real estate. For a time, their heads are down and they are engaged in their own business; but, suddenly, they lift up their heads and look over to the west, and there is Israel; and they begin to think about taking that which Israel possesses.
Psalm 83:3 They lay crafty plans against Your people; they consult together against Your protected ones.
There are conspiracies and plots devised against Israel; these various nations band together to plot out Israel’s destruction. Israel has great riches and they desire to take these riches from Israel. Incidentally, Israel has all of these great riches because she has been blessed by God.
As an aside, that is the key to our prosperity here in the United States: we are blessed most graciously by God. However, we are beginning to make a series of decisions which could result in severe discipline for the United States. God deals with our nation, taking several things into consideration: (1) the percentage of believers in the United States; (2) the percentage of mature believers in the United States; (3) our relationship with the Jews in general and with Israel in particular; and (4) the application of laws of divine establishment. These things appear to be working in tandem. They seem to become strong together or they seem to flail together. Right now, it is clear that the United States, the greatest nation in the world, is on the decline. The percentage of believers and mature believers is declining; there is a great deal of equivocation between Israel and Palestine found in the United States this past few years; and we are rejecting the laws of divine establishment in our daily lives.
Back to these other nations looking up and thinking about conquering Israel: this is Satanically inspired. If you are ever unsure about where a person is, philosophically and theologically speaking, then ask them their opinion of the nation Israel. Those who believe that Israel is as much at fault as the Palestinians and those who surround Israel, are confused and anti-God. Israel is God’s jewel in the Middle East; and God will restore Israel in the Millennium (Jer. 16:14–15 Ezek. 36 Nahum 2:2 Acts 3:20–21 15:13–16 Rom. 11:1). Today, as a nation, the United States has no greater ally than Israel. There is no nation that we are more aligned with philosophically, politically and theologically than Israel, particularly in the middle east, which is filled with unequivocal evil. And this evil in the Middle East cannot be contained. We can be assured that it will spill over into the rest of the world.
Given that there are many Jews in Israel who do not believe in Jesus Christ, you may ask, what about the spiritual solution? First of all, there are many Christians who live in Israel and, secondly, Israel is a nation which adheres to the laws of divine establishment, because this is their background. Any nation which adheres to divine establishment laws will be great. However, it should also be obvious how precarious the future of Israel is, which becomes even more so, the more that we in the United States move away from divine viewpoint.
Psalm 83:4 They [the nations around Israel] say, "Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!"
The word come indicates an alliance between several nations which hate Israel. It is Satan’s desire to destroy Israel completely and totally; which includes every Jew on this earth. If Satan does that, then God cannot fulfill His promises which He made to Abraham. If God cannot fulfill His promises to Abraham (the very promises that we have been studying), then God is not God.
Essentially, Satan’s strategy in the Angelic Conflict is to show that God is not God; to show that God’s essence is not consistent throughout human history. One way to do that would be to show that God’s promises are not kept. If there are no Jews, then the promises to Abraham and to his seed cannot be kept. This is why there must be and always will be Jews on the earth. No matter how much Satan tries, he cannot destroy the Jews.
It is interesting that these nations said this: "Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!" We all know Jews; but we do not know the ancestors of any of the people who said these things against Isreal. We do not know any Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, Assyrians or Ammonites. These people have faded from history. Even if some of their ancestors still remain, they cannot in any way trace themselves back to these people. The very people who said, "Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!" have been wiped out and they can no longer be found. It is as if they never existed. All we have is a few words here and there in various historical documents; but mostly testimony from the Bible that these people actually existed. By the way, the testimony of the Bible is, do not mess with Israel.
Psalm 83:5 For they conspire with one accord; against You they make a covenant [that is, a treaty]--...
A covenant means that these various nations make alliances with the intention of attacking and destroying Israel (not unlike today). The opposition that these nations show against Israel also reveals their opposition to God. This is how we know the heart of a country; do they hate the Jews? Do they speak out about the Jews? Do they demonize the Jews? Do they band with other nations that want to do the same thing? These enemies of the Jews are also the enemies of God; and the psalmist prays to God to have them destroyed.
And just to make a clear, unequivocal statement to apply this to today: these nations which are clearly enemies of Israel ought to be our enemies as well. If need be, we ought to have the moral will to wipe them off the face of the earth, if necessary.
In my opinion—and I say this not as a prophet, but just as one who reads historical trends—we in the United States are on a collision course with Islam. Although we do not have the moral will at this moment to go to war against Islam, as soon as Iran gets nuclear weapons and the means to deploy them, and then uses them, that could begin a world war where we correctly deal with Islamic countries as our enemies, and very nearly destroy several of them. However, just as it took Pear Harbor to cause the United States to become engaged in WWII, it will likely require a similar incident for us to become engaged in a war against Islamic countries. But, just as you see here, they will band together to destroy Israel. It is in their evil theology and it is in their DNA.
Psalm 83:6–7 ...the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;...
At this point, the psalmist names some of those who have allied together against Israel. Some of the alliances are named: Edom (the descendants of Esau) and the Ishmaelites (the descendants of Ishmael). Moab allies with the Hagrites; there is a 3-way alliance between Gebal, Ammon and Amalek. Moab and Ammon are the descendants of Lot, who have, on several occasions, plotted against the Jews in order to harm them.
Again, we do not know any of those people today. We cannot clearly identify any of their ancestors today. You may say, Well, what about the Palestinians? Aren’t they descended from the Philistines? As far as we can tell in history, the Philistines were Greeks (originally from the family of Japheth). There is no straight line between the Philistines of that era and the Palestinians of today, although some claim that there are. If anything, the Palestinians today appear to come from the people of Shem. However, there is a great deal of discussion on this very topic, with a huge disagreement as to answers.
Psalm 83:8 Asshur also has joined them; they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah
What is interesting is, the children of Lot, Moab and Ammon, appear to be behind much of this. They are the ones pushing for war against Israel, and somehow, through their efforts, these other nations become involved.
Every generation is different. There were times when Israel got along well with Moab. However, the Jews will be the people of God; the descendants of Moab will not be unless they believe in the God of Israel (which many did).
Moab and Ammon occur elsewhere in the Bible, but these are the places where they are specifically related to Lot.
For a more detailed exegesis of Psalm 83 (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
At this point, we have come to the end of Lot’s life in the Genesis narrative. He chose to live among a degenerate people, probably at his wife’s insistence (recall that she looked back longingly during the destruction of Sodom and died there).
We have studied how Lot’s line was perpetuated, and his 4 mentions in later Scripture. It only seems appropriate that we now summarize his life.
This chapter is the last time we will hear of Lot except in retrospect. Here is the Doctrine of Lot.
1. Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Gen. 11:27
2. Lot’s life will be contrasted with Abraham’s throughout Gen. 11–19. They are both clearly believers, but God will continually differentiate between these two men. The idea is, not all believers are equal—not in life (and not in death). Lot has every bit the potential that Abraham has, in the spiritual realm, but he will never act on it.
3. Lot originally moved up the Euphrates river with Abraham’s family, and then went with Abraham to the Land of Promise. It is not clear how much Lot or Abraham really understood about moving to this land that God had promised Abraham. Gen. 11:31 12:4
4. Given that Abraham was 75, Lot was probably anywhere from 20–40 when he moved with Abraham. This is based upon the fact that, when Abraham is fathering Isaac (past when he ought to be able to, at age 99), Lot is clearly capable of fathering children. The Bible is quite careful about documenting the age of Abraham. However, Lot’s age can only be deduced or guessed at. Gen. 18 compared to 19:31–38
5. Lot did acquire a wife, and had two daughters and probably sons, but we know most of that from Gen. 19. Nothing is said about Lot’s wife in Gen. 12:4–5 13:1 when he moved to the Land of Promise with Abraham; so he probably acquired a wife later.
6. At some point in time, Lot developed his own business as a rancher right along side Abraham. Gen. 13:5
7. Essentially, Lot was blessed by his association with Abraham. Gen. 12:3 13:5
8. However, at some point, Lot’s and Abraham’s possessions became so great that, they went their separate ways because they could not keep the overflow of their wealth separated. Gen. 13:5–12
9. Lot chose to live among the people of Sodom (Gen. 13:10–12), whom God saw as being very sinful (Gen. 13:13) and Abraham lived at times among the Canaanites and others who were quite respectable and oriented to the laws of divine establishment1 as well as to Abraham’s God (example: Gen. 20).
10. Similarly, Abraham’s relationship with those that he interacted with was usually quite good (example Gen. 14) where Lot’s could be strained (Gen. 19:9—which is not necessarily a negative reflection on Lot).
11. The people of Sodom and that general area were apparently under the threat of discipline from God, and they had been under the 4th stage of national discipline (controlled and/or taxed by an outside power) and were going into the 5th stage of national discipline (where they would be removed from their land and put into slavery). Gen. 14:1–12
12. When Abraham heard about this, he rescued Lot, the people of Sodom, and was blessed by developing a relationship with Melchizedek, the priest of Salem (Gen. 14:13–24). There was no indication that Lot had any interest in Melchizedek or the interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek.
13. This rescue by Abraham of those which did not deserve it, sets him up as a type of Christ, delivering those who are undeserving of salvation, and then entering into the throne room of God (Gen. 14). At best, by analogy, Lot could be seen as nothing more than the undeserving person receiving deliverance.
14. When God and two angels come to Abraham, they promise him that he would have a child by Sarah in the coming year, and they also tell him of the destruction of Sodom, where Lot and his family live. Abraham prays that God will preserve the city if there are 10 believers there. However, Abraham miscalculated the number of believers there, and God destroyed the city. Nevertheless, God delivers Lot and his family from this destruction, answering yes to the desire of Abraham’s prayer. Gen. 19:1–29
15. So that Lot gets some credit, when the angels came to Lot, he did go out of his way to protect them, and, when the angels told Lot that he had to grab a few things and leave, he did. Gen. 19:1–17
16. However, on the negative side, when Lot’s life was threatened, he was willing to give up his own daughters to be raped. Not to excuse Lot, but it is possible that he simply could not think under pressure. He may have realized, to a limited degree, just how degenerate the city had become; but it is possible that he had never seen this first-hand as he did when the angels and his family were all threatened. Gen. 19:8
17. Further on the negative side, Lot and his family dawdled about somewhat until the angels told them to get their butts in gear; and then, when Lot was told where to go to, he suggested a different destination to the angels (suggesting this essentially in the midst of this judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah). Gen. 19:15–22
18. The last that we hear of Lot directly, in his historic context, is, his daughters will get him drunk, have sex with him, and raise up sons gotten by incest with their father Lot. His daughters did not have enough spiritual training to inquire of God, to think about or talk about God’s will; or to consider going to Abraham as a viable option to their personal poverty. Gen. 19:30–37
19. Lot is essentially mentioned two more times in the Old Testament and twice more in the New Testament. His sons/grandsons, by his daughters (that sounds icky just to type those words) were given a piece of property and God told Israel that they could not take it from them. Deut. 2:9, 18–19
20. Interestingly enough, Lot is not included in the genealogies of 1Chron. 1–9.
21. However, the psalms speak of Lot’s progeny developing alliances with other countries to fight against Israel. Psalm 83:2–8
22. As a result, Moab and Ammon would be destroyed as nations. Jer. 48 49:1–11 Ezek. 25:1–7, 8–11
23. Jesus refers to the times of Lot in Sodom, where people are marrying and giving in marriage, which simply indicates that, the men of that area were simply living from day to day without a relationship with God. He also warns us to remember Lot’s wife, and her choice to look longingly back to Sodom. Luke 17:28–32
24. Peter acknowledges that the sins of the Sodomites weighed heavily on Lot (which may have explained another reason why he watched the city gates for strangers coming into that city). So, despite his many shortcomings, Lot did have some sense of morality. 2Peter 2:7
One might say that Lot lived somewhat of a mediocre Christian life; he often zigged when he should have zagged, and it was apparent, from the actions of his daughters that, although they feared/respected God, they did not really take the time to understand Who God is; and it appears that Lot did nothing to encourage their learning about the character of God, and, in the short time that we studied Lot’s daughters, it was clear that they had almost no truth in their souls.
1 This changed in time; the Canaanites, over the centuries, became more degenerate with successive generations.
Many actual historical incidents and people of the Old Testament are illustrative of great truths. There are two classifications of believers in this life: there are Lot’s and there are Abraham’s.
Abraham listened to God’s promises and he believed them.
Lot appeared to be disinterested in God’s promises or God’s ways.
Abraham went along with God’s plan. When God told Abraham to go from point A to point B, Abraham did it.
To the very end, even when faced with destruction all around him, Lot argued with God’s plan A. He suggested his own approach as an alternative.
Abraham certainly made mistakes and he certainly sinned.
Lot did have his good points. He tried to look out for the angels who had come into Sodom.
Abraham, as a growing believer in Yehowah Elohim, had spiritual impact wherever he was. Those who knew Abraham, associated him with his God.
Lot had a high political position in his city and had little or no impact on those around him. Spiritual impact is real and permanent; political impact is fleeting and temporal.
Abraham prayed on behalf of Lot to save him.
We are not aware of Lot contacting God at any time for any reason.
Abraham’s son Isaac will know divine viewpoint.
Lot’s daughters were filled with human viewpoint. When faced with the problem of having no husbands, and, therefore, no children, Lot’s daughters never consider the will of God or any approach to this problem which involved God’s thinking.
Abraham was greatly blessed, being one of the richest men in the world.
When associated with Abraham, Lot had great wealth. When he disassociated himself from Abraham, his wealth quotient fell to zero.
Abraham, a wealthy man of livestock, is better known in history than anyone else of his era, including kings of countries.
From that era, Lot is also well-known, but probably less so than Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac. Also, most people view him as a failure.
It is reasonable to take the lives of these two men and perpetuate them into eternity. Abraham is called the friend of God and we may reasonably expect that he will be greatly rewarded in heaven.
Lot is a believer, and, as such, he will be in heaven, with God, and eternally blessed. But there will be inequality in heaven just as there is on earth. Lot will represent the other end of the spectrum—whatever eternity has to offer, Lot will certainly have the bare minimum.
There is no equality among believers on this earth. God chose Abraham and his line to bless. God looked after Lot and eventually after his progeny, but their reversionism caused them to be removed from history.
At this point, in Gen. 20, we would expect it to be 3 months later or a year later, and Sarah is pregnant with Isaac and giving birth. We would expect Abraham and Sarah to be dealing with her pregnancy. We would have expected Gen. 17 (where God promises a year from then that Isaac would be born) to go straight to Gen. 21 (the chapter where Isaac is born). However, for whatever reason, Gen. 18–20 is thrown into the middle of this. Gen. 20 is the oddest insertion of them all.
Gen. 17:19, 21 was quite clear: God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year." This means at this set time next year.
In Gen. 18:10–14 The LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?" The LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." (ESV)
Now, even though the ESV translation of about this time next year sounds almost like an exact year, that is not necessarily the exact amount. The Hebrew allows for this to be more than a year, but, given the information about Abraham’s age, at most, we are looking at 14–16 months down the road. Probably the child would be born in the same season that they were in, in the following year. However, Gen. 17:21 is more precise (in the Hebrew).
After making this promise in Gen. 17 and then in 18, God and two angels spoke to Abraham of the impending destruction of Sodom. Abraham intercedes for his nephew Lot who is living there, and we learn about the concept of intercessory prayer as well as the concept of a pivot of believers whose presence preserves a geographical area. In Gen. 19, we have the actual destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah followed by the incest of Lot’s daughters (which acts of incest could have occurred any time after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, unrelated to the the birth of Isaac, which birth is yet future in our study).
However, Gen. 20 is an even odder chapter to find, because in this chapter, Abraham and his wife move to another area—and yet, we do not even know whether or not she is pregnant yet. Her pregnancy would occur a few months or so after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, assuming that these chapters are in chronological order (and there is no reason to think that they are not). Furthermore, this chapter appears to take place over a period of a month or two at least.
God has promised Abraham that he would have a son, Isaac, through his wife Sarah, and, God put a time frame on this. God told Abraham back in Gen. 17:21: “My covenant I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time in the next year." And then all of these things happen—the meal with Abraham and our Lord, the warning of God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the move in this chapter—all of these things falling in between this promise, which has a fairly short timetable, and the fulfillment of this promise.
Gen. 20 is the one more thing that happens to seemingly slow down the promise of God (it doesn’t actually, but it seems to). Abraham and company will pull up stakes and move, finally settling in Gerar. At some point, he is questioned about Sarah and he says that Sarah is his sister. When Abimelech, the king of Gerar is told this, he takes Sarah as his wife, but never consummates the marriage. God comes to Abimelech in a dream and warns him of impending death if he does not return Sarah to Abraham. So he does, but he first chews out Abraham for deceiving him as he did.
When studying the Bible—particularly the psalms—the key to understanding a passage often goes beyond interpreting the verses themselves, but setting up a theme or an outline or a structure. Once that has been established, everything else seems to fall into place. One of the keys to Gen. 20 is in how it parallels Gen. 19, although that is not obvious at first.
Gen. 20 belongs here in the book of Genesis thematically as much as it does chronologically. There are two important parallel themes found in both Gen. 19 and 20. So, it is possible that the final editor of Genesis, throws Gen. 20 in at this point simply as a contrast to what was found in the previous chapter.
We might ask ourselves, after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, “If the rest of Canaan is like this, should it not be destroyed as well?” In Gen. 19, we saw the great degeneracy of Sodom and how that affected the souls of Lot’s daughters, even after Sodom and Gomorrah had been destroyed (they committed incest with their own father in order to perpetuate their name). They showed absolutely no fear of God, no understanding of God’s power and the concept of destiny; they just did what was right in their own eyes. This was after witnessing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah while two angels led them to safety. As an aside, this tells us that a great experience does not advance a person spiritually; what occurs in your soul is what advances you spiritually.
Not all of the people of Canaan were like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. An example of this that comes to the mind of the person compiling this material is the people of Gerar. The king of Gerar and most of his servants will clearly present themselves as believers in the Revealed Member of the Trinity, Jehovah Elohim in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New. God even reveals Himself to this king in a dream. How can God reveal Himself to someone who does not believe in Him?
There is another thematic parallel between this and the previous chapter (actually, previous chapter and a half): Abraham will act as a mediator between the people and God in both chapters. At the end of Gen. 18, Abraham spoke to God about preserving Sodom because of the number of righteous people in Sodom. Abraham began at 50 righteous and continued speaking to God until he was down to 10 righteous people, and left it at that, expecting that Lot and his family totaled 10 believers. Here in Gen. 20, Abraham will also intervene on behalf of the people of Gerar. In Gen. 19, God will honor the desire behind Abraham’s prayer, but not the actual prayer; and in Gen. 20, God will honor both the request and the desire behind the request.
A third parallel theme is, Abraham was more than willing to excuse the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (about which he knew very little at the time), and yet was willing to prejudge the people of Gerar (he will again lie about his relationship with Sarah, thinking these men to all be heathen). Abraham prayed to God not to simply preserve Lot and his family, but to preserve Sodom, which was wholly given over to great degeneracy. However, Abraham simply took it for granted that the people of Gerar—their king in particular—were godless souls which lacked any true concept of morality.
Fourthly, we will note a contrast between the way Lot interacts with the men of Sodom and how Abraham interacts with Abimelech, king of Gerar. Lot knew the people of Sodom for over two decades and even had a position of authority in this city; and yet, when they were overcome with lust, they were ready to kill him. Abimelech barely knew anything about Abraham. He took his “sister” to wife. However, when God spoke to Abimelech, he snapped to and he will become more than accommodating to Abraham.
The insertion of this chapter seems to be very much in keeping with the Hebrew mind. The content of Genesis is as important to them as is chronology. This is reflected in the very way that their language is structured. In the English, we have a clear emphasis on time; our language is based upon a past, present and future verb structure. If a politician sins, we often ask, “What did he know and when did he know it?” The mind of the ancient Jew is not like this. Past, present and future is not the foremost thing in his mind; and the very verb tenses of this language reflect that (perfect, imperfect, and imperative).
This does not mean that the Jewish writers of Genesis were confused about chronology. The writer of Genesis often puts a time frame on a chapter. In Gen. 15:1, we begin with the phrase after these things. We find similar phrasing in Gen. 22:1, 20 39:7 40:1 and 48:1. We have several places in the history of Abraham where the action is tied to Abraham’s age: Gen. 12:4 16:16 17:1, 17, 24 21:5. So, it is not that Jewish writers were oblivious to time and chronology; it simply was not their first consideration or the defining structure for their writings.
It is also important to recognize that this chapter is tied directly to the chapter which follows, which chapter describes and defines much of Abraham’s life while living in the land of the Philistines. We learn about Abraham’s first encounter with Abimelech, how Abraham manages to make the very worse first impression that a believer can make on another person; and yet, God, in His grace, allows Abraham to get past this. In the chapter that follows, we will see another meeting between Abraham and Abimelech, and this meeting will be the result of a very important dispute (important to those involved in the dispute). This will actually define Abraham’s life for several decades, so much of this chapter is the setup for that.
So that there is no misunderstanding, I have not solved the problem of whether this chapter is chronological or simply placed here for thematic reasons. However, we will eventually come to the conclusion that Gen. 20 is correctly placed in time, because of where Abraham is before Gen. 20 and where he is afterwards. Gen. 20 is consistent with Abraham’s geographical moves, which follow a certain chronology. Before Isaac is born, much of the Abrahamic narrative takes place in east-central Judah; and after Isaac is born, Abraham will be living in southwestern Judah. Isaac will be born in Gen. 21:1–4 and the very end of Gen. 21 will confirm that Abraham is living among the Philistines.
There is one more thing that this and the previous two chapters accomplish: they make it seem as if a very long time passes between the promise of a uniquely-born son the Abraham and Sarah and the fulfillment of that promise. There is enough which happens in Gen. 18–20 to nearly forget about God’s covenant with Abraham and about his soon-to-be-born son. This is one of many parallels between the birth of Isaac and the birth of our Lord.
What is happening in Gen. 20 is, Abraham is going to go to a new area where heathen (in his opinion) are in charge, so he will lie about who Sarah is—again—presumably to protect himself. He did this before back in Gen. 12:11–13 and this reveals that Abraham really did not learn anything from that incident.
One of the interesting things that we find in the Bible narrative is, these many parallel incidents which are found throughout the Bible. Over and over again, some incident will occur; and then, 10 years (or 100 years or 1000 years) later a very similar incident would occur, and be recorded in Scripture. As a result, there have been all kinds of theories—the most common by liberal scholars (those who do not believe that the Bible is the Word of God) is, we are seeing the same narrative, but recorded at different times by different people as a result of a different oral tradition; and that this accounts for the differences. However, in our own lives, we have parallel situations which occur. That in no way means that we remember the same incident in two different ways in later life.
Gen. 20 is one of those parallel situations. Abraham had been in this situation before and he mishandled the situation, and, this time, he will make the same mistake. However, what we are to understand is, the Bible is filled with parallels. The relationship between a father and a son parallel God’s relationship with us. When Abraham offers up his uniquely-born son as a sacrifice to God (this is coming in a future chapter), that was a parallel to Jesus offering up Himself on the cross to God. In the psalms, we come across remarkable passages, where the writer seems to be recording his thoughts and feelings about one incident; but that the words that he writes actually look forward to a parallel situation (for instance, Psalm 22, which appears to both describe David when deathly ill and, at the same time, describe our Lord on the cross).
Therefore, God wants to get our attention with these parallel situations in Scripture, so that we are able to recognize other parallels which are pertinent to our lives and our relationship with Him.
You know that Jesus taught in parables and He is the Living Word of God (John 1:1–3, 14). So it is logical that the written Word of God contain real life situations which have meaning beyond the narrative given.
One more thing: it is important to realize that, Abraham has not reached some pinnacle of sinlessness so that God can now bless him with a child. Although, as we get older and more spiritually mature, it is likely that our sins will reduced; but that does not mean that we will ever enter into some kind of sinless perfection. So, what appears to occur right before Sarah gives birth is, there is again another attack upon the line of Abraham and another failure on the part of Abraham.
Genesis 20:1a And Abraham moved from there toward the south country...
We’re not really given any reason for Abraham picking up stakes and moving on, but there are two reasons that come to mind: trading groups that usually pass through there may no longer because the entire Sodom and Gomorrah area has been destroyed. And, Abraham has livestock and they need to be constantly attended to and moved about to those greener pastures.
At some point, someone knew that Lot was still alive. Since we don’t really know anything about Lot after his daughters had sex with him, it is possible that Abraham did not know if Lot was still alive at this point in time. However, at some point, perhaps a few generations later, the presence of the Ammonites and the Moabites became better known; and, obviously, their origins became known as well.
I don’t know what Abraham was thinking or feeling at this time, as it was clear the whole area where Lot lived had been devastated, as there was billowing smoke coming from there (Gen. 19:27–28). We don’t know if Abraham went down there to investigate and found out or if he wrote Lot off as dead, and simply moved to the southern part of Judah. Abraham could have gone through or near that area traveling in the direction that he does.
In any case, Abraham is moving southwest; south, would have been the direction of Lot and the destroyed cities. Now, whether Abraham chose to go this route to first look for Lot, we are not told. If they ever saw one another again, we are not told. It seems unlikely.
Genesis 20:1 And Abraham moved from there toward the south country, and lived between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.
All of this is in what would later become southern Judah. In fact, Shur refers to the desert which is between Egypt and Israel. Kedesh here refers to Kedesh-Barnea, which is about 100 km south-southwest of Beersheba on the boundary line below, below the southern portion of the map below.
Map of Gerar and Beersheba. So Abraham has moved far into the south. Even though this is within the territory of Philistia, Abraham is still within the geographical will of God, because God gave Abraham a huge amount of land, in which Abraham was to walk (Gen. 13:17).
So far we have examined Gen. 20 overall and have concluded that it belongs here both thematically and chronologically. And we have studied the first verse:
Genesis 20:1 And Abraham moved from there toward the south country, and lived between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.
This move could have taken anywhere from a week to a month. I mention the time, as we are in a countdown to the conception and birth of Isaac. Abraham has moved from the east central part of Judah to the southwestern part of Judah. The land that he has moved to is controlled by Philistines.
Genesis 20:2a And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.”
Abraham is near a large city and the king there, Abimelech, has become aware of Abraham’s arrival. He did not know Abraham or anything about Abraham, other than he is said to be traveling with a very beautiful woman (Sarah is apparently quite beautiful despite her age).
This sort of action by a ruler appears to be customary. He would send for the most prominent woman of a caravan, and such an action would apparently establish a peace between the two parties. He got the women and the caravan were at peace with him in the land that he controlled.
Now, this ought to also strike us as unusual: Sarah is still attractive enough to be desired at age 90. Recall that the age of man was higher then than it is now; and that Abraham will live to be 175. Now, my recollection of Suzanne Somers is that, at around age 70, she is still very attractive. This suggests that it is possible, in that day and age, for Sarah to be attractive at age 90. As you will recall, man’s age began to fall after the flood from living 800–1000 years, and, with Abraham, we are down to 175 years. Sarah will live to be 127 years old.
In our day and age, it is typical for a woman to enter into menopause between the ages of 40 and 61. Sarah became menopausal around age 85–90, as she clearly does not see herself as having children when the Revealed Lord told her that she would (Gen. 18:11–12). However, this narrative suggests to us that she does not look like any 90 year old woman that we have ever seen.
Genesis 20:2a And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.”
This is the second time that Abraham has done this. It suggests that whenever he and Sarah went anywhere where there was a prominent ruler, he take this approach. He continued with human viewpoint. Recall that God has promised him a son by Sarah, and that was going to occur in the very near future. We are talking mere months away. And yet, with this deception, Abraham appears to doubt the protection of God.
This tells us that Abraham vacillated between very strong faith (when he allowed himself to be circumcised) and no faith, e.g. here, where he thinks that lying is the best solution. in a previous chapter, we learned his reasoning: that some heathen leader would simply kill him and take his wife (Gen. 12:11–13).
I want you to notice just who is put at risk here: Sarah. This has happened before. If a ruler takes a liking to Sarah or if a ruler decides to take Sarah, Abraham figures that, if they are brother and sister, he will be preserved and Sarah would go into a harem. However, you will recall in the previous chapter that God’s promise to Abraham would be fulfilled in Sarah. She will bear his son. She cannot bear a son to Abraham if she is in the harem of some foreign prince. This would forever call into question Isaac’s paternity.
Abraham should have continued to exercise faith in God; yet he chooses not to.
What is in the making is one of the most important births in human history, and it was designed to not just move the Jewish race ahead to a second generation, but to foreshadow the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ as well. Therefore, Sarah being in a harem is not a part of God’s plan.
Genesis 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech the king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
Even though Abraham has come a very long way, spiritually speaking, he is certainly not a sinless man. Again, he claims that Sarah is his sister and not his wife. Despite her age, Sarah is apparently still a beautiful woman, attractive enough for a king to take as his wife.
Two things that we learn from this: God has given Abraham a beautiful woman who has remained beautiful throughout most of her life. Secondly, Abraham is not living in sinless perfection. He still sins, and God still blesses him.
Now, Sarah is definitely an older woman, but we do have examples today of women who are older, who are quite attractive. Suzanne Somers comes immediately to mind. Furthermore, recall that people from the era of Abraham still lived long lives (Abraham will live to be 175).
Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and He said to Abimelech, “Listen, you are about to die, for the woman whom you have taken; for she is a man's wife.”
It is interesting that God speaks to Abimelech in a dream. This would suggest that (1) Abimelech is a believer in Jehovah Elohim and (2) God is threatening him here with the sin unto death (the sin unto death is where God removes a believer from this life—usually for persistent sin or reversionism; however, sometimes, the sin unto death is used to make an example or an important point, as in Acts 5).
Usually, when there is a doctrine out there which covers the topic, I defer to that doctrine; however, there are at least 3 sources out there, which, individually, present an incomplete picture. Therefore, I have taken their material and put it together below. However, almost none of the doctrine below is original with me.
1. Introduction and definition
1) The phrase "sin unto death" describes the final stage of divine discipline in which God removes from the earth the person who is totally alienated from God. The "sin unto death" is not a particular sin; but it is, rather, a mental attitude of total indifference to and rebellion against the will and purpose of God.
2) The spiritual condition of the person who comes under the "sin unto death" is characterized by continual and maximum carnality (remaining out of fellowship); and this punishment represents God's final step of chastisement to those who are in maximum alienation from God. Only God can discern the true nature of a person's mind, attitude, or volition; and only God knows whether a person is actually implacable and deserving of physical death.
3) The "sin unto death" is described as a principle in 1John 5:16 Psalm 118:17,18 Ezek. 18:21-32.
4) The sin unto death is not a particular sin nor is it a list of sins.
5) There are definite characteristics by which to recognize the conditions which lead to God's applying the "sin unto death":
(1) A persistent, unconfessed sin.
(2) Sin which continues unchecked with no repentance, may bring a person under this category.
(3) The person who persistently ignores Grace, warnings, and discipline may come under the "sin unto death." Lev. 26.
(4) Sin which has a maximum adverse effect on other people (causing stumbling) may lead a person into severe discipline, even to the sin unto death.
1) Illustrations of the Sin Unto Death.
(1) Gen X of the Exodus generation. They are described in Num. 14:26–30 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, "How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Say to them, 'As I live, declares the LORD, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.’ ” See also Num. 14:20–23, 33 Joshua 5:6 Heb. 3:7–11
(2) Nadab and Abihu. Their lines were ended, and Eleazar was not commanded to provide for their lines to be preserved. Lev. 10:1-2 1Chr. 24:1-2
(3) Eli and his sons. 1Sam. 2:12-17,22-36 3:1-21 4:4-18
(4) Saul and his sons. 1Sam. 15:10-35; 31:1-7 1Chr. 10:13-14
(5) Ananias and Saphira. Acts 5:1-11
(6) Hymenaeus and Alexander. 1Tim. 1:20
2) Illustrations of the Sin Unto Death judgment being stayed.
(1) David’s almost dying the sin unto death. 2Sam. 12:13
(2) Hezekiah’s close call. 2Kgs. 20:1-11; Isa. 38:1-22
(3) The Corinthian man who committed incest. 1Cor. 5:5 2Cor. 2:6-11
3) Illustrations of the Sin Unto Death judgment being stayed, then reinstated.
(1) Moses’ deferment (Ex. 4:24) and later judgment (Deut. 32:48-52).
(2) Balaam’s deferment (Num. 22:31) and later judgment (Num. 31:8).
3. Suffering the sin unto death does not mean a loss of salvation. With regards to the incestuous believer in Corinth, Paul wrote: You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1Cor. 5:5). Our salvation is dependent upon Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins. It is not dependent upon the sort of life we lead post-salvation. If you can lose your salvation after God has saved you, then your salvation is dependent upon you. Our salvation is a matter of faith alone in Christ alone; and once we have believed in Jesus Christ, we cannot lose the eternal life which God grants us. John 5:24 Point of fact: I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 2Tim. 2:13 if we are faithless, He [yet] remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
4. There are at least nine descriptive terms for the Sin unto Death in the Bible.
1) Delivered over to Satan (1Cor.5:5 1Tim.1:20 Phil.3:19).
2) Carcasses falling (Heb.3:17; 1 Cor.10:5; Num.14:29).
3) Given over to death (Psalm118:18).
4) Taken away (John 15:2 Acts 5:1-11).
5) Swift destruction (2Peter 2:1, 12).
6) Destroyed by the Destroyer (1Cor.10:10 Jude 5).
7) Crawling out a burning house with clothes on fire (Jude 23)
8) Premature death (Eph.6:1-4 Ex.20:12 Deut.5:16)
9) Sleep (euphemism for death of believer) (1Cor.11:27-32/ Eucharist/ 11:30)
5. There are sins which are not "unto death."
1) First of all, there is a sin not unto death (ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν μὴ πρὸς θάνατον). 1John 5:16–17
(1) The context is a confident prayer ministry based upon our life in Christ. 1John 5:13-15
(2) Intercessory prayer is prescribed for brothers sinning non-leading-to-death sin.
(3) We should never request that any brother is subject to the sin unto death. Such a request is an ἐρωτάω request (1John 5:16b) rather than an αἰτέω request (1John 5:14–16a).
2) A sin which is confessed is not "unto death." God does not discipline us with the sin unto death for a forgiven sin. 1John 1:9 1Cor. 11:31 Psalm 32:5 38
3) A sin which is discontinued is not "unto death." Heb. 12:1 Ezek. 18:21-32
4) The person who responds positively to divine discipline is not involved in the "sin unto death." Heb. 12:6, 11-15
5) The antithesis of death as a purpose-consequence is the glory of God purpose-consequence. John 11:4
(1) Unrepentant, unconfessed sin results in operational death and premature physical death.
(2) Confessed sin restores operational life and extends physical life with the purpose-consequence of God’s glory being achieved.
6. So there is no fear that you might be suddenly subject to the sin unto death, there is a series of steps leading to that point. Heb. 12:5–11
1) Light discipline, called knocking in Heb. 12:5a Rev. 3:19–20 (which is a discipline passage, not a salvation passage, as it is too often incorrectly portrayed).
2) Heavy or severe discipline. Do not faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the lord loves He disciplines and He scourges every son whom He receives (Heb. 12:5b–6). Scourging certainly represents severe discipline.
3) Then the sin unto death.
4) There are exceptions to this, as we saw above with Ananias and Saphira. They were give a very short time to be honest and they chose not to be.
7. Summary and conclusions
1) The OT and the NT provide multiple illustrations for the Sin Unto Death.
2) Illustrations are provided as warnings. 1Cor. 10:1-11
3) The bottom-line cause of Sin Unto Death is idolatry (which is placing something else over God in your scale of values). 1John 5:21
(1) The case of "lying to the Holy Spirit" (Ananias and Sapphira). Acts 5:1-10. Ananias and Saphira pursued the idolatry of approbation-lust (Acts 5:1-11).
(2) The case of persistent carnality while sitting at the Lord's Table. Defiling the Lord’s Supper is the idolatrous practice of eating the table of demons. 1Cor. 10:20-22 11:30–31
(3) Apostasy is the idolatrous practice of living the teachings of demons. Rev. 2:20-24 1Tim. 4:1
(4) The case of disobedience to the Word of God.. King Saul did not kill Agag although directly ordered to do so by God; he insisted on personally offering sacrifices in the place of divinely appointed priests; and he consulted a witch, itself a capital offense. 1Chron.10:13,14 1Sam. 13:9-14
(5) The case of self-righteousness and dependence on man which was perpetuated (case of Hezekiah). Isa. 38
(6) The case of apostasy on the part of a believer. Num. 31:8 1Tim. 1:19,20.
Both accessed February 11, 2013. However, L. S. Chafer taught the sin unto death briefly in his 8 volume set Systematic Theology (Vol. VII, p. 166); which doctrine was expanded upon considerably by R. B. Thieme, Jr. I believe that most of the doctrine above is ultimately original with Thieme.
Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and He said to Abimelech, “Listen, you are about to die, for the woman whom you have taken; for she is a man's wife.”
How did Abimelech become a believer? We do not know, but there is evidence that not only Abimelech believed in Jehovah Elohim, but that many of his people believed as well. We do not know how people were evangelized prior to nation Israel; and we have only a few examples of geographical areas being evangelized after the establishment of nation Israel.
It is clear that the priest Melchizedek was a believer in the Revealed Lord, as we studied back in Gen. 14, and that he had a very active ministry which Abraham supported financially (Gen. 14:20 Heb. 7:4, 9–11). So Melchizedek was likely teaching about the Revealed Lord, the God of Creation; and, as I have suggested before, probably had the Scriptures up to his date and time (which is why Abraham was willing to accept his authority so easily).
This was also a period of time when the patriarchs Shem, Ham and Japheth were either still alive or only recently passed away. Many people would have known the Revealed Lord through them or through their sons (or through their sons’ sons)—all of whom were alive up until about this time in human history. So, even though we have already studied these ten generations going from Shem to Abraham, many of these people are still alive or only recently deceased. Therefore, many people of this era know of the Revealed Lord who destroyed the earth with a great flood and then, later, confounded the language of the people.
How Shem’s Lifetime Overlapped Abraham’s Lifetime
This chart is according to the Hebrew Bible. Recall that the Greek Septuagint has another generation in here of an additional 130 years (if memory serves). The entire chart is found at http://churchages.com/images/ages-of-the-patriachs.gif
We also know other things apart from the Bible concerning this time period. For several hundred years, there seemed to be an emphasis upon determining what sorts of laws man ought to be subject to. When men are with men in close proximity, what things are illegal and punishable by death; what things should be adjudicated in a court, etc. The idea was to rule over the most righteous country. This was important to men as cities began to flourish a few hundred years after the flood. Because there was a great migration and population explosion, mankind had to determine the best ways to deal with large groups of people in cities.
Many of us view rulers today with great suspicion and skepticism, which is generally justified. However, there are a handful of leaders today, and probably a larger percentage in the ancient world, who are concerned with having a righteous and just society, where that which is wrong is discouraged or punished, and that which is good is encouraged or rewarded. Presently, it appears as if the interest is, what kinds of sins can be legalized, regulated, and, most importantly, taxed? If taxing sin were the solution to our financial problems, then California and Nevada would be the two most fiscally solid states in the union. The two states which legalized marijuana usage (I write this in 2013) will find out that hard way that legal dope will cost the states far more than it will bring in revenue (in loss of productivity, increased welfare costs, crime, and traffic accidents). But I digress. My point was, organizing a society in a just and righteous way was important to the leaders of that day (Sodom and Gomorrah being glaring exceptions to this).
Being a righteous man heading a righteous nation was important to Abimelech. He, like most rulers of his day, placed a premium upon honesty.
So far, we have studied the first 3 verses of Gen. 20.
Genesis 20:1–3 Then Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev, and he stayed between Kadesh and Shur. Therefore, he was temporarily residing in Gerar. And Abraham said regarding Sarah his wife, “She [is] my sister.” Therefore, Abimelech the king of Gerar sent [for her] and he took Sarah. Then Elohim came unto Abimelech in a dream that night and He said to him, “Listen, you [are] perishing because of the woman whom you have taken, since she is married to a husband.”
After the promise of having a son in the next year, and after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham and Sarah, who are ages 99 and 89 respectively, move southwest into the territory controlled by Philistines. Abraham uses deception again in order to protect himself (showing a lack of faith in God’s promises and His provision), and Abimelech, the Philistine king, takes Sarah as his own wife. However, God comes to Abimelech in a dream and threatens him with the sin unto death (which we studied in the previous lesson).
Genesis 20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her. And he said, “Lord, will You also kill a righteous nation?
God came to Abimelech in a dream, and Abimelech responded to God, “Lord, will you also destroy a righteous nation?” This would suggest that Abimelech ruled over a nation of believers; or, at the very least, those who adhered to the laws of divine establishment. This would mean that, there had to be information both about the True God and about the laws of divine establishment available to Abimelech. Abimelech had responded to that information with faith in the Revealed Lord.
Please note that God is not giving the land to Abraham right at this point in time. The Land of Promise will be given to Abraham’s descendants. The only portion that was filled with degenerates and needed to have been dealt with was Sodom and Gomorrah. However, the people of this land had not fallen into great degeneracy as a whole. In fact, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah staved off a wider destruction, because the cancer had been removed.
Somehow, Abraham received the Scriptures of God, and I suspect that they were given to him by Melchizedek (they would have likely have been communicated verbally). This is only a theory, and there is no Scripture to back this up. However, Melchizedek is clearly presented as a priest to God in Genesis; and Abraham, in his early life, is said to come from a background that was not ideal.
One of the things which I missed in these lessons was the importance of Gen. 11:31 And Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there. (NASB).
The portion I missed was about entering the land of Canaan. If Terah was simply moving his family to the west and just intended to stop at Haran (Charan), then there would be no reason to mentioned Canaan. However, there is the implication that the true destination was Canaan, but they stopped part way to Canaan in Haran (Charan). Further evidence of this is found in Acts 7:2–3 And Stephen said: "Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, 'Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.' (ESV)
So, Abraham (Abram then) was told back in Ur to go to Canaan. He was also told to separate from his family. However, he moved with his family and they only got as far as Charan and then they stopped. God had clearly asked Abraham to separate from his family, which he was unwilling to do at first. So, despite the many meetings with God, Abraham did not start out doing exactly what God told him to do.
We will also find evidence in the Bible that some in his family were (or became) idolaters (or became idolaters) and turned away from the Revealed Lord.
My point in all of this is, it was not yet time for Abraham to take Canaan. The people of this land were not completely degenerate (apart from Sodom and Gomorrah). This king is a perfect example of a man who believed in the Revealed Lord (and therefore was saved) and it will become clear that his nation is righteous as well.
Abimelech will continue to defend his actions before God in his dream:
Genesis 20:5 “Did he himself not say to me, ‘She [is] my sister’? Furthermore, she also said, herself, ‘He [is] my brother.’ [Therefore] I did this in the integrity [or, innocence] of my heart and in the innocence of my hands.”
Abimelech continues to present his case to God—in this dream. Abraham told him that Sarah was his sister, and she confirmed that relationship.
The word integrity is tôm (תֹּם) [pronounced tohm], which means, integrity, completeness, innocence; safety, prosperity; fulness [for number and measure]. Strong’s #8537 BDB #1070. There were social norms and standards to which Abimelech was holding to. Despite the model of man and wife given to us by Adam and Eve, Abimelech, along with many kings of that era, collected wives. We know, from the Mosaic Law and from the New Testament, that this is not God’s plan for man to collect wives. However, the Mosaic Law had not yet been given. So, in Abimelech’s own estimation, his heart was innocent because these were the norms and standards of his day. He did not have a reason to think differently. He was not contradicting the standards of that day; so he was therefore demonstrating integrity and innocence.
This does not mean that Abimelech is completely blameless. He would have known the example of Adam and Eve. God did not give Adam a harem. God gave Adam exactly one wife. At this point in time in human history, Shem, Ham and Japheth are all still alive or only recently deceased. Therefore, for those who want to know God, would have known about Adam and Eve.
Abimelech claims to be innocent. The word innocence is, niqqâyôwn (נִקָּיוֹן) [pronounced nik-kaw-YOHN], which means, freedom from guilt [punishment], innocence, innocency; purity; cleanness [of teeth]. Strong’s #5356 BDB #667.
Abimelech, according to the laws of his city and according to the norms and standards of his own thinking, was innocent. He saw an attractive woman and he took her into his harem. That was the privilege of the king.
The political class often exempts themselves from the standards they apply to everyone else. Not too long ago, Martha Stewart was legally pursued for having committed insider trading (I think she was charged with something else, but the insider trader led to that point). However, insider trading is something which politicians have done for decades. They know the sorts of regulations or investigations that they might do to this or that business, to this or that sector, and then they buy stocks accordingly, in anticipation of such action. If one followed the average stock portfolio for the average Congressman or Senator, you would find yourself being amazed at how they beat the market consistently; and how they beat some of Wall Street’s best stock pickers. In a similar vein, many politicians buy cheap land, and then, a few years later, by happy coincidence, some public improvement project just happens to occur adjacent to that land, doubling and tripling its value in a year or two. The head of our Senate, Harry Reid, is famous for making money on such land deals. He is a multi-millionaire today, despite making around $200,000/year. He is just such a “wise” investor when it comes to land.
So Abimelech is blameless in the sense that contemporary politicians who pick stocks and make land deals all of the time are innocent. These politicians make investments based upon legislation which they know will affect the stocks and land which they have an interest in, and this was completely legal for many years and politicians of both parties took advantage of this. Abimelech, as king, could take on several wives. Since he works for the public, he can support these wives with public funds (as did David and Solomon). However, before God, this was not legitimate; just as, before God, Abimelech was not completely innocent and pure. In one sense he is; and in one sense he is not. Abimelech, by the laws of his day, was innocent. In the eyes of God, he was not.
Abimelech continues to make the argument with God. Abimelech had very good reason to believe that Sarah was single and available because of what both she and Abraham said.
Genesis 20:6a Then Elohim said to him in the dream, “I—even I—have known that you did this in the integrity [or, innocence] of your heart.
This is an interesting thing that God says to Abimelech. God uses the first word to apply to Abimelech, but not the second. Abimelech was consistent with the laws and standards of his day, he had not violated his own norms and standards, but he was not necessarily completely innocent. Just like the Congressman who has seen great returns on his stock portfolio and land purchases, who may be acting in accordance with the law, so he is adhering to the laws and standards of his time—but he is certainly not completely innocent. He just isn’t breaking the law (which laws, he helped to pass).
So God recognizes that Abimelech is acting within the norms and standards of his day, and agrees to that.
Genesis 20:6 Then Elohim said to him in the dream, “I—even I—have known that you did this in the integrity of your heart. Therefore, I restrained you from sinning with regards to Me. For this reason, I have not given you [the opportunity] to touch [or, violate] her.
God has a specific plan and that is for a new race to begin with Abraham. From him would come the Jewish race. Had Abimelech taken Sarah and copulated with her, this would have sullied the beginnings of the Jewish race (much like the seed of Lot was sullied in the previous chapter through incest). We could no longer be assured that Abraham had fathered the child-to-come. There would have been corruption in this line that God was establishing.
God speaks to Abimelech and acknowledges his reasoning; and adds that, God had not allowed Abimelech to have sexual relations with Sarah. It was God who has kept them apart, although the specific mechanics are not given here.
God intends for Sarah to have a uniquely-born son by Abraham, which is the result of a miracle, and this son is to be separate from all other claims to the promises made to Abraham—that is, that son uniquely will be heir to the promises of God. This child, who will be born will be uniquely able, through birth, to claim the promises which God had originally delivered to Abraham. Therefore, God cannot allow there to be any impurity in Sarah, in this regard. She must carry Abraham’s seed only. There can be no corruption of this line. At this point in the narrative of Abraham’s life, we are perhaps a month away from Isaac’s conception.
Genesis 20:7 Now therefore, restore his wife to the man. For he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. And if you do not restore her, know that you will surely die, you, and all that are yours.”
If you are the kind of person who has a schedule to read through your Bible once every year (or 2 years or whatever), you probably breezed right by this verse and did not notice anything remarkable.
Here is the first time that the word prophet is found in the Bible: Abraham is called a prophet. God did not make up this word on the spot. He did not tell Abimelech, “This Abraham is a gurglesnap” and then later defined it. Abimelech knew what God was saying. Abimelech knew what the word prophet meant, at least to some limited degree (as the revealed Word of God was limited at that time).
The word is nâbîyʾ (נָבִיא) [pronounced nawb-VEE], which means, prophet [true or false]; spokesman, speaker. When speaking of a true prophet of God, he speaks God’s message to man (or he represents God to man). God speaks to the prophet and then the prophet speaks God’s message to man. Strong's #5030 BDB #611.
On the other hand, a priest represents man to God. Jesus Christ is both a prophet and a priest. Note here that Abraham will pray on behalf of Abimelech. When Abraham does this, he is standing in between God and man, acting on behalf of the man in speaking to God. He becomes an intercessor.
There is another word in this verse which occurs for the first time: pâlal (פָּלַל) [pronounced paw-LAHL], which means, to pray, to intercede, to make intercession for, to ask for a favorable determination. Strong’s #6419 BDB #813. This is the first time that these two words occur in the Bible and they are both found here, right in this one verse.
You may not realize it, but finding these words together in the same verse at the same time is very significant. And it is even more significant that these two words are found together for the first time in the Bible in the same verse.
God has essentially warned Abimelech that he was facing the sin unto death. Not only would God take out Abimelech under the sin unto death, but God would have taken out Abimelech’s family as well. There is blessing by association; but there is also cursing by association, which fact is revealed here. So, God warns Abimelech in this dream, and tells him that this Abraham is a prophet and that he will pray or intercede for Abimelech.
If Abraham prays on behalf of Abimelech, he would be acting as a priest, speaking to God on Abimelech’s behalf. A priest represents man to God. Think of him as a defense lawyer, if that helps. So, hidden in this verse is both Abraham as a prophet (speaking for God to man) and Abraham functioning as a priest (speaking to God on behalf of man). This would make Abraham a unique person before God, and in this way, as the intercessor between Abimelech and God, Abraham foreshadows Jesus Christ. Abraham was able to do this. He could speak to God for Abimelech, and God would not act against Abimelech.
This may not seem fair to you. Abraham was the one who was dishonest. Abimelech was just acting according to what he believed to be true. Why is Abimelech at fault? This is a parallel which is set up. Abimelech is simply acting within his own nature according to the laws as they were in that day. In this way, he is representative of all mankind—he is acting according to his own nature. On the other hand, Abraham represents the Revealed Lord. Through Abraham alone could Abimelech emerge from this situation unharmed. Through Abraham alone was Abimelech protected. Don’t get confused; this is all illustrative. Abimelech and Abraham are both believers. We are not talking about a real relationship here, we are talking about a representative relationship; we are talking about a relationship between man and God that is foreshadowed here. We require Jesus to stand between us and God, to intercede for us; and that is what Abraham will do on behalf of Abimelech. Abimelech is already saved; he already believes in the Revealed Lord; but this is done for us today to simply illustrate how Jesus acts as both priest and prophet; He represents us to God and He represents God to us, acting as an intercessor between us and God. Many times in the Bible, there is an intercessor between man and God, and this intercessor illustrates Jesus Christ.
See if you have a better understanding of Rom. 8:33–34 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (ESV) 1Tim. 2:5–6 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (ESV mostly) A mediator is nearly the same thing as an intercessor. He is equal to both parties and he stands in between both parties to reach an agreement.
Because this chapter is often skipped, thinking it to be repetitive, it is actually very revealing and has information which is pertinent to us today.
So that there is no misunderstanding, even though this is all illustrative, what God warns here is real. If Abimelech stands in front of the plan of God, then God will remove him and his family. So, this is a very serious situation. So, this is not some made-up story to illustrate something; this is a true situation—this really happened—and God the Holy Spirit includes this in the narrative of Genesis because it foreshadows the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prophet of God, our Priest and our intercessor, our only Mediator between us and God. 1Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. This is all found right here in this verse, foreshadowing Jesus Christ.
God is preserving the line of Abraham; God is preserving Sarah as being Abraham’s alone; and God is guaranteeing that the son of promise will be born to Abraham and Sarah. The line cannot be corrupted.
So far we have studied:
Gen, 20:1–7 Abraham moved to the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was living in Gerar, Abraham told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar sent men to take Sarah. God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You're going to die because of the woman that you've taken! She's a married woman!" Abimelech hadn't come near her, so he asked, "Lord, will you destroy a nation even if it's innocent? Didn't he tell me himself, 'She's my sister,' and didn't she even say, 'He's my brother'? I did this in all innocence and with a clear conscience." "Yes, I know that you did this with a clear conscience," God said to him in the dream. "In fact, I kept you from sinning against me. That's why I didn't let you touch her. Give the man's wife back to him now, because he's a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you don't give her back, you and all who belong to you are doomed to die." (God’s Word™)
For the second time, Abraham presents his wife Sarah as his sister in order to protect himself. She was taken into Abimelech’s harem, but Abimelech had not yet touched her. God spoke to Abimelech in a dream and warned him.
Genesis 20:8 And Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called in his state department [lit., all his servants], and told them all these things. And the men were greatly afraid.
In the Hebrew, we have 4 wâw consecutives followed by 4 imperfect verbs, which indicates a series of successive actions. Abimelech had to act upon what God told him, and he does immediately. He gets up early to take care of it. His swift and obedient action indicates to me that he is a believer in Jehovah Elohim. The God Who came to him is the Revealed God; and if he obeys what the Revealed God said to him, then obviously Abimelech believes in Him.
Abimelech tells his servants these things, and they are afraid. Now, if his servants do not believe in Jehovah Elohim, then why would they be afraid? They would have thought to themselves, “It is just nutty old Abimelech and another of his weird dreams.” However, these people believe in Jehovah Elohim, in the Revealed Lord, and therefore, they take Abimelech’s word for what has transpired.
Their fear would be based upon recognizing that they are a corporate entity before God. Believers who understand some doctrine know that they can be destroyed as a nation by God, as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, whose devastation was even visible in the time of Josephus.
Furthermore, these Philistines (who are possibly not related to the Philistines who lived in this area during the time of Joshua, the Judges and David) stand in stark contrast to the Sodomites that we have studied. The Sodomites are completely controlled by their lusts; Abimelech and his state department are not. The difference is quite apparent. When the Sodomites showed up at Lot’s front door, they were eaten up with desire. However, when it comes to Abimelech, the king of Gerar, and his state department, they feared God more than the king was willing to give into his own personal desires.
Do you recall how God was not going to take over all of the Land of Promise because the iniquity of the Amorites had not yet reached completion (Gen. 15:16). At this point in time, there were a number of peoples who lived in the land of Canaan who were believers in Jehovah Elohim. They led righteous lives and they believed in the imputed righteousness of Jehovah Elohim. 4 generations from now, that will all change; but, at this point in time, God will not harm them because they trust in Him.
You will note that, not one of the men of Abimelech’s state department steps forward and says, “Look, Abimelech, you just had a bad dream. Let it go and be happy. Don’t worry about it.”
The big difference is, Abraham will pass along his faith to his son, and grandson and great grandson. However, the faith of Abimelech here will, within 3 or 4 generations, die out throughout most of Canaan, leaving great pockets of degeneracy in its wake, which degeneracy will be wiped out the Jews about 500 years in the future from this narrative.
Why does this happen? Why does Canaan go from this point where the king speaks to God in dreams, the people in his cabinet respond appropriately, to the point where, God will tell the Jews to wipe out the people in Canaan?
One big change is, Ham, Shem and Japheth will die, as will their sons and their sons’ sons, etc. The people of the earth will know for a half millennium men who were alive during the previous civilization, men who saw the great flood and some who were even alive during the time of great degeneracy. And suddenly, they will die out, along with several generations all at once.
Furthermore, the Word of God is not preserved by the Canaanites as it will be preserved by Abraham and his descendants.
Genesis 20:9a Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I sinned regarding you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom [this] great sin?
Again, just like before, Abraham, who ought to be seen as a mature believer, misrepresented Sarah as a woman who was not his wife, to his host country. Abimelech has a good reason to complain to Abraham. God had made clear and unequivocal threats against Abimelech and his people, and Abimelech believes God (see Gen. 15:6).
Abimelech does not really understand more than Abraham has deceived him and that this is a pretty big deal. Abimelech uses the verb for sin, asking Abraham what did Abimelech do to sin against him to cause Abraham to bring a great sin upon him.
The verb used here is the normal verb translated to sin: châţâʾ (חָטָא) [pronounced khaw-TAW], which means, to sin, to miss, to miss the mark, to violate the law, to err; to do wrong, to commit a transgression. Strong’s #2398 BDB #306. There are two possible prepositions which could follow this verb which would indicate that Abimelech has sinned against Abraham. However, the lâmed preposition does not necessarily mean that Abimelech sinned against Abraham, but that he has done something which was clearly wrong that may have involved Abraham, but not directly.
Then Abimelech accuses Abraham of bringing sin upon him and his realm. There are at least two related words translated sin, and this is the one which is more rare, found fewer than 10 times in the Old Testament (the verb above occurs about 240 times). Abimelech is not complaining about the guilt or about the judgment against him, but about the sin or offense that Abraham has brought upon Abimelech personally. That is the fact that Abimelech has a married woman in his harem. He holds Abraham responsible for that.
As was discussed previously, Abimelech bears some responsibility because, even though he has a clear understanding of the morality of taking another man’s wife, he has strayed from the morality of one man/one woman.
Genesis 20:9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I sinned regarding you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.”
The word for deeds is maʿăsîym (מַאֲשִׂים) [pronounced mah-ğuh-SEEM], which means, deeds, works, production, that which is produced or done [crops, property, goods]. Strong's #4639 BDB #795. This is a morally neutral term. Abraham has simply done things which should not have been done. This focuses on Abraham’s dishonesty to begin with, his not attempting to speak to Abimelech in private, his not attempting to set things straight. Abraham has just gone along with all of this, and all that he did made it appear that Sarah is just his sister and nothing more.
We fully understand the narrative, which is not as clear to Abimelech. We understand that we need to have an unadulterated line from Abraham to Jesus Christ—this unadulterated line includes a natural born son to Abraham and Sarah. We need to pick up again with the great theme of Gen. 3:15 of the seed of the woman and how important this all is, and where this is leading to. He may know about the seed of the woman, the flood, and the Creator God (Whom he believes in), but Abimelech would not know about God’s promises to Abraham about his lineage. He is completely outside of the loop in this regard. He brought a woman home to marry, and suddenly, God has threatened to kill him. If Abimelech was not so frightened, he would be thinking, “This is really quite remarkable, whatever it is that is going on.”
Genesis 20:10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see that you have done this thing?”
Abimelech is asking Abraham, what did he observe In Gerar that made him think that he needed to lie to him. Abimelech apparently presided over a society which adhered, for the most part, to the laws of divine establishment. This city-state had an adherence to the same God that Abraham had faith in. So Abimelech asks Abraham, “What did you observe that made you think that you needed to lie to me?”
We do not know if there was anything that Abraham had actually observed. He was certainly aware to a limited degree about the Sodomites, but he certainly does not have a clear picture of the other peoples in this land. Some of them, like Abimelech and his state department, appear to be very honorable.
Genesis 20:11 And Abraham said, “Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place, and they will kill me for my wife's sake.
Abraham gives an honest answer here. He does not give a background of Sodom and Gomorrah, insofar as we know. They were extremely degenerate and willing to do anything to get what they want. Abraham had assumed that, because he did not clearly observe that these men believed in Jehovah Elohim, that they could not be trusted as being sufficiently moral.
Abraham apparently has assumed, that God has come to him only, and not to these people. However, based upon what we have already read, it is clear that these people have trusted in the same God that Abraham trusts in. However, the people of Gerard are very concerned for their own well-being when they disobey the Sovereign God. That is strong faith.
As we have already discussed, it appears as though there was a true respect for God in this land. Abimelech woke up in deep fear over his dream; and when he relays this to his state department, they respond in the same way.
In our time, we have trivialized God. We think of Him as our Buddy, our Pal. But God has, on several occasions, wiped out thousands of people and has either ordered or allowed the destruction of millions. God’s threat to Abimelech was real. “Listen to my instructions and do them, or you will die and everyone that you know will die.” That rightly struck fear in Abimelech’s heart.
Noah represented the only uncorrupted line of Adam before the flood. The entire human population had become corrupted and God destroyed all of them, which would have been millions of corrupted beings. So there is no doubt that God would have ended everyone in the house of Abimelech to protect the line of Adam, Noah, Shem and Abraham.
We have a relationship to God through Jesus Christ His Son. There are things which we enjoy in this dispensation that no other believer prior to this time enjoyed. You as a believer can enjoy direct and personal fellowship with God. You may be the most inconsequential person in the world, to the thinking of many, and yet you have a direct and personal relationship with the Person of God.
However, bear in mind that, we are here for a reason. We are on earth with a purpose, and it goes far beyond being nice to people and treating them in the same way we want them to treat us. That is an establishment principle (which makes it valid and important); but it is not the Christian way of life. You can view your place in God’s plan is unimportant, and God may simply choose to take you out of this world, as He did to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–10).
The fear felt by Abimelech and his cabinet members was real and appropriate to this situation. And Abimelech acted quickly to resolve the conflict revealed to him by God.
Genesis 20:12 And yet truly she is my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother. And she became my wife.”
Here, Abraham properly explains the relationship between Sarah and himself; she is actually his younger half-sister. So, on two occasions at least, Abraham told this half-truth about his wife and half-sister, Sarah.
Genesis 20:13 And it happened when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said to her, ‘This is your kindness which you show to me, at every place where we will come, say of me, He is my brother.’ ”
So Abraham formulated a policy early on once he and Sarah left their father’s home. This tells us that what Abraham did in Egypt, when he lied about Sarah, was not just a one-time thing. It was the Abrahamic policy for dealing with heathen. Therefore, it makes sense that we see this situation occur more than once.
Notice what else is implied here: Abraham blames this on God; God is the reason he chose to do this. God caused him to wander from his father’s home.
There is one fascinating thing hidden in the Hebrew which is not generally pointed out in most translations: God is coupled with a plural verb here. Now, that normally is not the case; normally, the plural noun Elohim is nearly always coupled with singular verbs. Elohim can be translated God, god or gods. But Elohim, the Triune God, acts as a Single Entity and a single purpose, and therefore, takes a singular verb—when we are speaking of the Triune God. However, Abraham is actually saying here, “Gods caused me to wander from my father’s home.” That is very odd. It is sort as though Abraham is talking down to Abimelech. Rather than speaking of the one God (the One Who spoke to Abimelech in his dream), Abraham here appears to be speaking of several gods. It is sort of like being around Muslims and referring to God as Allah.
In a way, this Abraham moving west was very much like Americans moving out west in the United States during the gold rush. He felt as if he was going from a fairly civilized land into a rough and tumble country, where nearly anything goes (in Abraham’s perception), so he adjusted to compensate for that. However, Abraham has, on two occasions, come across men who are just the opposite from what he expected. Here, we find King Abimelech, who is a man who fears God; and back in Gen. 14, Abraham met Melchizedek, a priest of God. Both are believers in the Revealed Lord, the Creator of all mankind.
Abraham admits that this is his idea. He has misjudged the host nation in which he finds himself, and he has misjudged the character of Abimelech. In fact, Abraham continues to misjudge Abimelech by using a plural verb with the noun Elohim. By that, he is assuming that Abimelech worships many gods. In other words, Abraham does not yet recognize the legitimacy of Abimelech’s faith.
To me, this is fascinating—that Abraham is still wrong about Abimelech and about his people. He has warmed up a little and recognizes the mistake that he has personally made, but Abraham is not yet ready to simply recognize that they both worship the same God.
So there is no misunderstanding, I am not saying that there are many roads to Rome and Abraham was on one of these roads and Abimelech was on the other. That is not my point at all. There is only one Mediator between God and man; the man Christ Jesus. I am saying that they both worship the same Revealed God, and that Abraham does not recognize that.
So far we have studied:
Gen, 20:1–13 Abraham moved to the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was living in Gerar, Abraham told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar sent men to take Sarah. God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You're going to die because of the woman that you've taken! She's a married woman!" Abimelech hadn't come near her, so he asked, "Lord, will you destroy a nation even if it's innocent? Didn't he tell me himself, 'She's my sister,' and didn't she even say, 'He's my brother'? I did this in all innocence and with a clear conscience." "Yes, I know that you did this with a clear conscience," God said to him in the dream. "In fact, I kept you from sinning against me. That's why I didn't let you touch her. Give the man's wife back to him now, because he's a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you don't give her back, you and all who belong to you are doomed to die." Early in the morning Abimelech called together all his officials. He told them about all of this, and they were terrified. Then Abimelech called for Abraham and asked him, "What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you that you would bring such a serious sin on me and my kingdom? You shouldn't have done this to me." Abimelech also asked Abraham, "What were you thinking when you did this?" Abraham said, "I thought that because there are no God-fearing people in this place, I'd be killed because of my wife. Besides, she is my sister-my father's daughter but not my mother's. She is also my wife. When God had me leave my father's home and travel around, I said to her, 'Do me a favor: Wherever we go, say that I'm your brother.' " (God’s Word™)
About a year before Isaac is to be born, and right after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pulled up stakes and moved to Gerar, which is a Philistine city.
Abraham set up a general policy of how he would interact with the various peoples of the land of Canaan. This was not something that God directed him to do; nor did this mean that he was surrounded by very degenerate groups of people. The only people who were truly degenerate and could not be trusted were those in Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham prayed on their behalf because Lot lived among them. However, there are apparently many other groups of people who are very honorable, many of whom believe in the Revealed Lord and will be in heaven as well.
Despite the way the Abraham generally impugned his character, this is how Abimelech responds:
Genesis 20:14 And Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and men-servants and women-servants, and gave them to Abraham. And he restored him Sarah his wife.
This is quite interesting—Abimelech even blesses Abraham, giving him livestock and slaves, as well as restoring Sarah to him, despite Abraham’s duplicity. Why he does this is easy to explain: God came to Abimelech in a dream and threatened him. This suggests to him that Abraham is an important man in God’s plan; and that his marriage to Sarah is a key component of this plan. We know this to be true because we have studied the previous chapters in Genesis. Most of us know what will happen next. Abimelech knows this to be true because of a dream where God spoke to him, even though he may be sketchy on the other details—that is, why God is this concerned. Insofar as the king knows, he is violating adultery laws, but he is probably wondering just exactly why God is speaking to him about this.
Because the narrative often focuses in on just a few people (like Abraham, Sarah and Abimelech), we often forget that Abraham traveled with quite a large number of servants and employees. Even though the Bible often times seems to present Abraham and Sarah as just a couple with a servant or two with them, it should be obvious that they had quite a number of people still traveling with them. Otherwise, giving them all of these things would be difficult for them to oversee. However, Abimelech knows enough about their caravan that Abraham is able to integrate this into his possessions.
Furthermore, there would have been a large staff under Abimelech, so that he could collect these things and give them to Abraham.
Genesis 20:15 And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you. Live where it pleases you.”
Abimelech is apparently quite shaken up because of his meeting with God. So he tells Abraham to examine the land that belongs to Abimelech. He probably gave Abraham a general idea of what the boundaries were.
This may strike you as odd at first; Abimelech’s life has been threatened, and this is because of Abraham and Sarah. So now he wants to keep Abraham and Sarah around? Abimelech understands, probably far more than most Americans understand, that there are great blessings which come by association. Abimelech knows that Abraham and Sarah are important to God—that they play an important role in God’s plan. God came and spoke to Abimelech personally about them. Therefore, having them nearby is a blessing to Abimelech and to his nation (which is probably a city state with some unincorporated area around it).
Genesis 20:15 And Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you. Live wherever it pleases you.”
Essentially what Abimelech is doing is saying is, “My troops patrol the land 30 miles (or, whatever) in all directions; you choose a place that you like, and my troops will be instructed to give you protection.” Abimelech is offering more than just land to stay on. Since he is king, he must hold this land; in order to hold this land, he must have an army to both hold the land and protect the people on that land. He cannot claim some city 40 miles away that is occupied by Aramæans and say, “Live there, if you want.” He is offering any portion of land that he has taken and that he protects.
Abimelech gives Abraham a free pass on his land, to travel on it wherever he chooses to. Recall that God is giving this huge land grant to Abraham, and it is on God’s urging that Abraham is traveling throughout the land of Palestine. Abimelech assures Abraham that the doors are open for him to travel anywhere in the land that he controls.
Do you see how differently the men of Sodom treated Lot? When they crowded around his house, one demanded, “Who is this foreigner who made himself a judge over us?” And they threatened his life. Abimelech, the king of Gerar, a man who could simply call for a woman to be his wife and she was, treats Abraham with great deference and respect.
In the future, we are going to see Isaac interact with Abimelech (probably this Abimelech’s son); and he will eventually be asked to leave this general area. The problem will not be so much with the leaders of that country, but with the people. So, one generation from now, we are going to observe a perceptible loss of morality and establishment principles from among this people.
Genesis 20:16 And Abimelech said to Sarah, “Listen, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It [is] to you a covering of the eyes, to all that [are] with you, and with all [this], you are reproved [or, made right].”
Abimelech, in making restitution, is somewhat sarcasm with Sarah. “Listen, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver.” Abimelech does not call Abraham her husband.
So Abimelech also has given Abraham 1000 silver coins. It is quite obvious that this face to face contract with God in his dream had quite an effect upon Abimelech.
Let’s just say that these are 1 ounce coins. It is easy to know how much money this is, because metals like silver and gold have intrinsic value, whereas currency and coins have a face value but, essentially, no real value (unless they are composed of metals with intrinsic value). So, if we figure out the value of this silver in today’s terms, that will give us a feel for their value then. Today (2013), an ounce of silver is worth around $50. Therefore, Abimelech is giving them $50,000. I doubt that these could be larger than 10 ounces each, which would make their value $500,000. This gives us a reasonable range for the value of this gift. This could certainly refer to a weight of silver that he is giving them. But, whatever—Abimelech is giving Sarah and Abraham a lot of money here. Remember, all that Abraham has done was to show up and lie about his wife. Other than that, Abraham has offered nothing of value to Abimelech.
The Old English behold means look, listen up, hey. It often draws one’s attention to see if from the point of view of the speaker. The intent is to grab someone’s attention and to say, “Look at this.” This is followed by a masculine singular pronoun, which I have translated as a neuter singular pronoun (as there is no neuter in the Hebrew). It likely refers back to the silver, which is also a masculine singular noun.
A covering of the eyes suggests that Abimelech wants Abraham and Sarah to overlook what has happened. Abimelech has not done anything wrong, but God came to him in a dream and instilled the fear of God in him. Therefore, from his side, Abimelech is doing everything possible to iron things out. If he has done anything which is untoward, then he wants for this to make up for that.
Even though the verb to be is not found in this verse, the words used often come with an implied verb.
The final phrase is: ...and with all [this], you are reproved [or, made right].” With all that Abimelech has done (given them money and livestock and slaves), this should make her right; that is, this should be a more than reasonable compensation for the inconvenience of the separation; and certainly this is done to mollify God as well. This word made right can also mean reproved, corrected; so that, Abimelech is chiding Sarah to some degree. Not only does all of this make things right, but what he has done has subtly reproved Sarah as well.
Genesis 20:17 And Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his slave women, and they gave birth.
The amount of time that Sarah was in Abimelech’s harem had to be long enough for this to be noticeable. My guess is, this took place over at least 1 to 4 month’s time. There needs to be enough time that passes where it is clear that none of Abimelech’s wives are being impregnated and the same was possibly true concerning his livestock. Quite obviously, women do not have to be showing in order for the king to figure out whether or not they are pregnant; if his wife and mistresses have their periods, then no one is getting pregnant.
At the same time, those who are already pregnant are not giving birth. Although that seems to be the focus of v. 17, that no conception took place appears to be the import of v. 18.
It is at this point that I started having a minor problem with the timeline. Remember that God came to Abraham and promised him that he would have a son by Sarah, in 1 year. But then we have Sodom and Gomorrah and then we have Abraham moving into Gerar. Somehow, he has to be in Gerar long enough and his wife has to be under Abimelech’s control long enough for these women not to give birth. When this is combined with the beginning of this chapter, where Abraham is moving about, it is difficult to fit all of this into a 3 month period of time, but not impossible. Essentially, Abraham has to move out for Gerar almost immediately after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Actually, Abraham first went in a southwesterly direction, stopped for awhile at one point, and then moved in a northwesterly direction to go to Gerar. So one must add in a month for traveling as well.
What seems logical is, Abimelech collected women, and he had several women ready to give birth, but, once Sarah was brought into the fold, no one gave birth. It is likely that no one conceived either (since God is said to shut up the wombs in the next verse). This suggests that Sarah may have been under Abimelech’s control for a week or so (maybe as long as a month); and during that time period, some women were ready to give birth, but that never took place. Not as long as Sarah was there. So, women not giving birth gives us an upper limit to the time frame here. When a woman is ready to give birth, this is quite noticeable; and there are only so many days that they can go without giving birth (and it my limited knowledge of this subject can be taxed at this point, it is my understanding that doctors will induce labor at a certain point in most women).
Therefore, no births occurring could be noticeable in a week’s time, depending on how far along the pregnant women of the Abimelech household are. No doubt, within a month’s time, this would be a crisis. Because of this, a reasonable upper limit may be placed on this time that Sarah is in the harem. Therefore, all of this can be placed into a timeline which was given to us by our Lord when He said He would return in a year and Isaac would be born.
God has already given Abraham and fairly specific timetable and this child would be given birth to by Sarah, so we are in a bit of a time crunch here. We are nearly to the point where Abraham is ready to impregnate Sarah (even though they have both expressed some serious doubts about that actually happening), and Sarah is sudden whisked away by Abimelech.
One of the things that we need to learn is, sometimes God’s plan in our life grinds to a halt for a year or two; and sometimes, for many years. Abraham and Sarah’s spiritual lives have come to a halt here because they had been dishonest with king Abimelech. That dishonesty has resulted in Sarah being taken into Abimelech’s harem. God’s plan for them was not on hold for a long time; just for a little while in this instance.
There have been at least two occasions in the past when the plan of God for Abraham was put on hold. God told Abraham to leave his family and move to Canaan, but he did not. He went about three-fourths of the way to Canaan, and he also went with his family. Abraham eventually corrected this, left his family behind, and moved to Canaan. On another occasion, Abraham sired Ishmael, and, for about 13 years, the plan of God seemed to stop for Abraham there as well (we have nothing in the Bible about that intervening time).
Genesis 20:18a For the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech...
Somewhat after the fact, we are told that God had shut up the wombs of the women in the house of Abimelech. Again, this had to be noticeable for it to be meaningful, which suggests that Sarah was at least a week-long guest of Abimelech’s. It also suggests that Abimelech had collected enough wives so that he had several women ready to give birth, and yet none of them did. Some may have miscarried and those who could be impregnated were not.
If the shutting of the womb also refers to these women not conceiving, then Sarah’s stay here has to be at least for a month. Enough time would be given for Abimelech to think he should have been impregnating his women, but it was not happening. For there to be enough time for this to be noted, that would require about a month. Again, this would require a lot of women as well. If Abimelech had but 3 women, it might not be noticeable if none of them is impregnated after a month. But, if he has say, a dozen or two dozen women that he is attempting to impregnate, then, after a month, this would be noticed.
If Abimelech has taken Sarah out of a miscellaneous caravan, which he did; then this suggests that he was quite a collector of women. In other words, this is all in line with the assumptions that we would have to make in order for all this to fit into a timeline of a month or less.
This verse speaks of closing the wombs of the house of Abimelech, so this could apply to any of his grown children and their wives as well. Again, a month’s time would have made it clear that no one is getting pregnant and no one is giving birth.
Genesis 20:18 For the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.
God’s plan was for Sarah to bear Abraham’s child and here we are but a month or less before that conception takes place, and Sarah finds herself confined to the palace of Abimelech. The child of Sarah and Abraham is going to be one of the most important births in human history, and God puts a halt to any similar activity taking place in the house of Abimelech. There cannot be any births and there cannot be any conceptions taking place, so that there is no doubt as to the fatherhood of Isaac (who will be born in the next chapter).
In the past few months, some of the most unusual things have taken place related to the birth of Isaac. The first threat was from the nearby cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose perversion had reached such a startling climax that God needed to destroy those cities. Yet God preserved Lot, Abraham’s nephew, because Abraham prayed for his deliverance. Then we have another perversion that seems to take place almost simultaneously with the conception and birth of Isaac; Lot’s two unnamed daughters decide that sex with their father is necessary in order for them to have children (actually, we do not know the time frame for this, but it could have easily been coterminous with Isaac’s conception and birth). The daughters of Lot will raise up two sons who will become thorns in the side of the descendants of Abraham.
Finally, in this chapter, possibly only weeks before Sarah is to conceive, Abraham foolishly tells all who ask that she is only his sister (indicating that Abraham is not a perfect man by any means), and Abimelech, the king of Gerar, comes in and snatches up Sarah because of Abraham’s lie.
God then shuts up all of the wombs of those in Abimelech’s house, because the one birth which is necessary has been halted by Abraham’s sin and Abimelech’s power.
However, God will begin to fulfill His promises to Abraham in Gen. 21.
Here is the text of Gen. 20 in paragraph form:
Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev and he stayed between Kadesh and Shur. Therefore, he resided temporarily in Gerar. And Abraham said, regarding Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.”
Therefore, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, sent servants for Sarah and took her. Then God came to Abimelech in a dream that night and said to him, “Listen, you will die because of the woman you took, since she is already married.”
Now Abimelech had not come near to her, so he said to the Lord, “Will you also kill a righteous people? Didn’t he himself tell me, ‘She is my sister’? Didn’t she herself tell me, ‘He is my brother.’ Therefore, I did this with the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands.”
Then God said to him in the dream, “I knew in eternity past that you acted in the integrity of your heart. Therefore, I restrained you from sinning with regards to Me. For this reason, I have not given you the opportunity to violate her. Now, therefore, return this man’s wife to him, for he is a prophet and he will pray on your behalf to deliver you from My judgement. And if you do not return her to him, know that you will certainly die, you and all that belongs to you.”
Consequently, Abimelech rose up early the next morning and he summoned all of his officials. He declared all that had happened in his dream to them and the men were very afraid.
So Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What is it that you have done to me? How have I wronged you? Listen, you brought a great disaster upon me and my kingdom. Things which should not be done to anyone, you have done to me!” Abimelech also said to Abraham, “What made you do this thing?”
Abraham replied, “For I thought, ‘Surely there is no fear or reverence for God in this place. Therefore, they will kill me for my wife.’ Also, she is actually my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother. She became my wife. And because God has caused us to move from my father’s home, I said to her, ‘Do this gracious thing for me wherever we go: say with respect to me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”
Abimelech then took sheep and oxen, and both male and female servants, and gave them all to Abraham. He also restored Abraham’s wife Sarah to him. Then Abimelech said, “Listen, my land is before you; live in whatever place pleases you.” He also said to Sarah, “Listen, I have given your brother 1000 silver coins as a covering for your eyes. This situation is being corrected for all who are with you and for all others.”
Then Abraham prayed to God and God answered his prayer by healing Abimelech, his wife and his mistresses, and they were able to give birth. This prayer was required because Jehovah had shut down all of the wombs in the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
When I first began to study Gen. 20, I admit to being somewhat confused. Why is this in the Bible? What does God want us to get out of this? It appears to be a repeat of Abraham’s journey down into Egypt. However, there is much more to be found in this chapter than just that.
1. We find out that Abraham, although greatly blessed by God, is not a sinless person. He makes the same mistake here as he had made before. He is dishonest with his host, Abimelech. He also incorrectly prejudges Abimelech and his people.
2. God does not end His relationship with Abraham simply because he repeats this mistake from before.
3. There are some minor things that we learn—simply how Abraham ends up over in the land of the Philistines, and this helps to explain things which happen later in Isaac’s life.
4. We discover that there are entire nations in Canaan that still believe in Jehovah Elohim, and that, somehow, apart from Abraham, they learned about Jehovah Elohim, they believed in Him, and their nations were based up the laws of divine establishment. This is likely because we are close enough to the flood where Shem, Ham and Japheth may all still be alive, along with their sons, grandsons and great-grandsons (at least within the past 100 years or so).
5. This chapter gives us evidence that, the sin of the Amorites is not yet complete. There will be a time when almost all those in Canaan will turn to idolatry, but that time is not yet come. The King of Gerar clearly believed in God, because immediately after his dream, he gets up early and he begins to deal with the problem of having Sarah in his harem. He wastes no time in obeying God.
6. Not only has the king believed in Yehowah Elohim, but his staff has as well. When the king told them of his dream, they did not say, “Behold the dreamer comes.” They instead feared God. Abimelech’s staff took his dream seriously.
7. We learn from this and previous chapters that God appeared to man either face to face, as he did with Abraham; or in dreams, as He did with Abimelech.
8. Also, we will study two incidents which follow this in time, and we will observe a steady decline in personal honor in the people of Gerar. This helps us to understand why God would have the Jews come into this land and destroy so many groups of people.
9. Unbelievers are capable of morality just as believers are. In fact, what keeps a nation together is believers and unbelievers alike adhering to the laws of divine establishment (HTML) (PDF) (WPD). The closer a nation adheres to the laws of divine establishment, the more that nation will prosper. The laws of divine establishment are simple laws which are as dependable as the law of gravity.
1) A simple example of this is raising a child. The laws of divine establishment prescribe that a family consist of a mother and a father and their biological or adopted children. This is taught in the Bible.
2) A child who lives in a home with his mother and father will fair much better than a child in a home with just the mother. Study after study affirms this. Much has been made of the disproportionate number of blacks in prison; however, if you take and equalize out the number of children who come from two-parent homes for all races, then there is no disproportionate number of minorities in prison. A disproportionate number of single-mother homes results in a disproportionate number of criminals. If one sub-group in a nation has more single mother families, then there will be more children from that subgroup in jail.