Fireballs: Sodom and Gomorrah
Men of Sodom try to rape angels1 Two angels arrived at Sodom that evening. Lot was sitting at the city gate. When he saw them coming, he got up to greet them and respectfully bowed low to welcome them. 2 Lot said, “Please sirs, let me be your host tonight. Come to my home. Then you can wash your feet, spend the night, and get up early in the morning to be on your way.” They said, “No that’s okay. We’ll just camp out here in the city square.” 3 Lot insisted. So they went home with him. He prepared a huge meal including some freshly baked, no-yeast flatbread, which they ate.
4 But before they got a chance to go to bed, every Sodom man—young and old—surrounded Lot’s house. All the men in the city were there. 5 They yelled out to Lot, “Where are those men you brought home with you tonight? Bring them out here so we can have sex with them.”
6 Lot stepped outside and shut the door behind him. 7 He told the men, “Please, I beg you my friends, don’t do such a terrible thing. 8 I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you instead. You can do whatever you want with them. Just, please, don’t do anything to harm these men because I have offered them the protection of my home.”
9 “Get out of our way!” the crowd shouted. Talking among themselves they said, “This guy came here as an immigrant and now he’s trying to tell us what we can and can’t do.” Turning to Lot they said, “When we’re done with these two men inside your house, we’re going to do even worse to you.” They knocked Lot back into the door, intending to break it down.
10 From inside the house, the two angels reached out and pulled Lot back inside and slammed the door shut. 11 Then they blinded the men outside the door—young and old. In time, the crowd gave up after the blinded men wore themselves out trying to find the door.
Angels escort Lot out of town12 The angels asked Lot, “Do you have anyone else here in the city? Sons, daughters, sons-in-law, or anyone else? If you do, get them out of this town pronto. 13 This is not a social call. We have come to destroy Sodom. The screams of horror coming from this city and about this city are so loud that they have reached all the way to the LORD. He has sent us on this mission.”
14 Lot rushed out of his house to warn the fiancés of his two daughters. “Wake up!” Lot told them. “We’ve got to get out of here right now. The LORD is about to destroy the city.” The men thought their future father-in-law was pulling a prank. 15 At first light the next morning the angels told Lot his time was up. “Get out now! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here with you. If you don’t leave this instant, you will die with everyone else in the city!”
16 Lot hesitated. So the angels—expressing God’s compassion—grabbed the hands of Lot, his wife, and two daughters, and rushed them all outside the city. 17 Once outside the city walls, one of the angels yelled at them, “Run for your life! Don’t stop to look back. Don’t stop anywhere in the plain. Keep running until you get to the hills. If you don’t you will die.” 18 Lot pleaded with them, “Sirs, please, 19 I know you care about me because you have saved my life. But please don’t send me to the hills. I’m afraid of the dangers there. 20 Look at that city over there. It’s close enough that I could reach it. And it’s just a small town. Please let me go there. You can see it’s just a small town, right? But I can survive there.”
21 “Okay,” one of the angels said. “I’ll do this favor for you and I will not destroy that city. 22 Hurry to that little city because I can’t do anything until you get there.” Afterward the town became known as Zoar.
23 The morning sun had risen above the horizon when Lot arrived at Zoar. 24 That’s when the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in a firestorm of burning sulfur raining down from the sky in a lethal spray. 25 He destroyed both cities and all the other cities of the plain, with all the people, animals, and even the crops and fields. The only thing left was scorched earth.
Lot’s wife doesn’t make it26 Lot’s wife didn’t make it. Following behind him, she paused to look back and got caught in the fallout of the disaster. She became a pillar of salt. 27 Abraham got up early that same morning and went out to a place where, earlier, he had stood with the LORD. 28 He looked out across the plain below him, toward Sodom and Gomorrah. The entire plain was engulfed in churning billows of smoke. 29 While God was destroying the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham. So, God led Lot out of the firestorm that obliterated the cities.
Lot gets his daughters pregnant30 Lot was afraid to stay in the city of Zoar, so he took his two daughters and moved to a cave in the hills. 31 One day Lot’s oldest daughter said to the younger one, “Our father is an old man. But he’s all we’ve got. We’re not going to find any other man around here to marry us and give us children. 32 Let’s get our father so drunk he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Then let’s have sex with him so we will get pregnant and our family will live on.”
33 That’s what they did. They wasted Lot with wine. The oldest daughter had sex with him the first night. Lot was so drunk he had no idea when she snuck into his bed or when she left.
34 The next day the oldest daughter told the younger one, “I had sex with our father last night. It’s your turn tonight. Let’s get him wasted with wine. Then you go to bed with them and have sex so you will get pregnant and our family will live on.” 35 That’s what they did. They got him drunk with wine. The youngest daughter had sex with him. Lot was so drunk he had no idea when she snuck into his bed or when she left.
36 That’s how Lot got both of his daughters pregnant. 37 His oldest daughter had a son and gave him the name Moab. He’s the father of today’s Moabite people. 38 Lot’s youngest daughter had a son and gave him the name Ben-ammi. He’s the father of today’s Ammonite people.
Hebrew for “Little.”
Why do you think Lot invited the two angels who were posing as travelers to spend the night in his home after they offered to “camp out here in the city square” (19:2)?
When the men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and threatened to gang rape his two guests, Lot offered the mob his “two virgin daughters” (19:8). Why do you think he would do something like that, which seems so repulsive?
From what we can read in Genesis 18-19, what seemed to be the reason the writer suggests that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah?
There are two popular theories about what may have happened to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Both involve earthquakes in this earthquake-prone land that rests on the edge of a tear in the Earth’s crust. And both speculate that the earthquake tore open pockets of natural gas in this land that is rich in gas and oil. Some suggest that Lot’s wife, famous for becoming a pillar of salt, was actually covered in a fiery spray of salt, sulfur, and other minerals common to the area. Do you think theories like this diminish God, and that we should simply accept the teaching that sometimes God does supernatural miracles?
As though it doesn’t make Lot look bad enough when he offered his two virgin daughters to a sex-hungry mob, the Genesis writer includes another story about his daughters getting him drunk so he would get them pregnant. Their excuse for doing it was, “He’s all we’ve got. We’re not going to find any other man around here to marry us and give us children” (19:31). How do you react to this story and to the reason Lot’s daughters gave for doing what they did?
LIFE APPLICATION. When it came time for Lot and his family to leave, no one wanted to go. They had seen the miracle that the angels had performed by turning the men of Sodom blind. Still, the angels had to drag them out of the city. What do you think makes it so hard to walk away from people or places that are familiar to us, yet dangerous to our spirit and perhaps to our life?