GENESIS – SERIES NR 18: Flee for your life!
Scripture : Genesis 19
When it is about Sodom and Gomorrah, it is about what the NT calls the
“world”. That means the total system of humanity’s-hostility-against-Christ. Every believer lives therefore every day in the atmosphere of the “world” – to
escape it is impossible, because it is everywhere. The Christian is called to be
in the world, but to be apart from the world – like a boat in the water, but
the water must not be in the boat. Of course, it is easier said than done.
“Friendship with the world IS hatred toward God” (James 4). The Christian is
therefore IN the world-system, but must not be in friendship with it.
In Gen 18 we see how Abraham was OUTSIDE Sodom, but had compassion for the people of Sodom and poured his heart out in a prayer of intercession.
The Lord promised that – if there were as many as 10 believers in Sodom, He would spare the city. But, there were not even 10.
But Lot lived INSIDE Sodom. And he was also a true believer. Daily he was
tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw around him
(2 Pet 2:6-9). He was in Sodom, but Sodom was not really in him.
Yet Lot is not the best example of a devoted Christian. It does not look as
though his witness had much power and influence in his environment. There
were not even 10 believers in Sodom. We also know that – when Abraham
gave Lot the choice – Lot chose the Sodom-district out of self-interest and
personal gain. Most probably he and his family became conditioned to the
atmosphere of the place. To become conditioned does not necessarily mean to partake or approve of things. He was distressed by what he saw happening
around him. However, he did not make an effort to change things around him. He did not break with Sodom, because he had business interests in Sodom.
But yet – in the eyes of the townspeople – he was not one of them. In their view he was an alien. It says so in verse 9.
And that is a good testimony in Lot’s favour – from the mouths of the godless. The worldly person will never accept the person in whom the Holy Spirit lives. Never. If we are acceptable to worldly people, we should be deeply
concerned. Because people who are in revolt against the Lord Jesus, will be
disdainful towards all true followers of Christ.
However, it does not remove the fact that Sodom held a wicked spiritual
bondage on Lot and his family. We see it in his daughters’ wicked behaviour
after they had fled from the city and their mother’s death and after the city was destroyed by fire – how – when they realized that nobody remained who
could be their husbands and they were quite prepared to make their father
drunk and commit the sin of incest with him to become pregnant in order to preserve their family line. It was without a doubt the immoral philosophy of
Sodom that contaminated their thinking – that they could think that something like that was acceptable. The fruit of those shameful deeds was the origin of
the Moabite and Ammonite nations – who were, and remained the bitter
enemies of the nation Israel.
We can clearly sense what serious lessons there are for us in Genesis 19!
It speaks of the danger that God’s children can become conditioned to a
worldly opinion, that our witness can flounder. The danger that we will not
truly realize that people who daily cross our path, are lost sinners – on their
way to eternal destruction. What happened to Sodom, is a warning to US –
that God is serious with His judgment and that hell is a reality. That is why
we can and must not befriend ourselves with worldly people, unless it is our
passion to evangelize them. The command from God is abundantly clear to all reborn people: “Let go of the world! Break off with it! DO NOT let Sodom
into your heart! FLEE for your life!” The angels’ command to Lot is still
reverberating through all the centuries: FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE!
It is also true that Sodom is traditionally associated with the sin of
Homosexual practice. And so it still is. The people of Sodom gave themselves
up to “sexual immorality and perversion” says the Holy Spirit through the pen of Jude in Jude 1:7. They behaved contrary to what nature intended. They
committed PORNEIA, says the same verse. Porneia is the Greek word
describing all sexual activity outside marriage between one woman and one
man. It includes literally everything – homosexual activities also. And because of that – says Jude – Sodom and Gomorrah are an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire (still verse 7).
One can see it illustrated in Gen 19 where the angels of God go to Lot’s
house to lead him out of the city before God’s judgment is executed. The
angels manifested in the form of ordinary people – men. Most probably the
same men who appeared just previously to Abraham. The men of Sodom
immediately gathered round to see if they could not rape them. Not only a
few, but all the men of the city – young and old. They all surrounded Lot’s
house to get hold of the two men. One can hardly imagine something more
gruesome. Not only the levels of homosexual outrage, but immorality in general. Loathsome and revolting. No wonder that Sodom became synonymous of
everything vulgar and detestable. It is a description of the brutality humans are capable of in their revolt against the living God.
However, that was not all. In Ezek 16:49 we read that the people of Sodom
lived only for themselves. That was in fact the root of all the trouble.
Arrogance, haughtiness and unconcern about the needy was the order of the
day. That is the Holy Spirit’s own explanation for the reason why Sodom was
Of course, Sodom is not something far and remote in history. It is still relevant. Because Sodom personifies SIN. It is intertwined with our daily existence. If
you do not break with Sodom, you will go down with Sodom. That is for sure.
When the angels spoke to Lot and told him about the certainty of judgement which was going to come over Sodom, and Lot informed his future sons-in-law about it, they thought he was joking. They thought Lot had lost his mind.
Precisely as it still is today. People laugh openly about preachers who warn
about the holiness of God, the coming judgment from God and the reality of punishment. People think it is the joke of the year.
One can just imagine how difficult it must have been for Lot. What if these
men were not speaking the truth? What if the city was not to be destroyed? What about my work and property and income which are in Sodom? Lot could hear the life and music and merriment of Sodom in his ears, and on the
other side, the words of these two prophets of doom! Should Lot obeyed the two visitors, he would choose total bankruptcy. He was to leave everything and go!
Then we see in verse 12 an inexpressibly wonderful God. He comes and says: “I will save you and take you out before the fire of judgment falls on Sodom. I will do it based on Abraham’s intercession and prayers. I will do it because
of my covenant.”
One would think that Lot could not wait to leave! That he would exclaim:
“I cannot remain in this condition another day!”
But what do we see? A hesitating, lazy Lot. Hesitant and sluggish to leave.
Suddenly feet of lead. He thinks that there is plenty of time to leave Sodom.
However, the two angels think differently. They know: It is a matter of life and death. It is desperately urgent – particularly because God is so merciful.
Here we see an expeditious God and a Christian with lots of time.
Sometimes the Lord is deliberate and Christians in a hurry – they are active,
short-tempered and overexert themselves in the kingdom of God, while the
Lord has not yet moved at all.
But now the LORD is in a hurry, because the burning sulphur is on its way.
Light and darkness cannot mix. But… Lot is hesitating.
Then the Lord grabs Lot by the hand and says: “Flee for your life! Don’t look back. There is no time left. My judgment is about to be poured out. It is
unbelievably urgent for you to get away from Sodom. I CANNOT bring
judgment over the city while you are still here. My children will never go to
hell along with the unsaved. Also do not stop in the plain. Go right up into
the mountains. It is a matter of life and death.”
It was not right that Lot would stop on the plain. The angels say: “DON’T
STOP ANYWHERE ON THE PLAIN! The torrent of lava of Sodom’s destruction
will run down to the plain and find you there and burn you to ashes! Do not stop in the plain and look back! Go directly up into the mountains!”
Do you and I also secretly long for Sodom?
Lot’s wife looked back only once. And immediately turned into a pillar of salt. The Lord’s judgment had found her.
Very often one hears in churches the kind of message that says: “Well, it does not really matter how many times you look back. God is love. God
understands everything. Just don’t take the Bible so literally. God has
understanding for your fallen nature. God has understanding for you sins.. they are only little mistakes, that’s all. The fact that you can actually not
completely surrender to the Lord, is caused by human weakness. He
understands your lukewarm state.”
Naturally, church members enjoy such “feel good” messages and those churches are full. But, alas, that is what anaesthetize people right into destruction.
That is why so many Christians are riding see-saw today. Confess sin and
return to sin. Confess sin and return to sin. Confess the sin and return to the sin. Then out of Sodom, and then back in Sodom! Lot’s wife was OUT, but her heart was still IN!
Double-minded (hypocritical) people do not realize what is written in 2 Peter 2:22. Such a person is like a dog that returns to its vomit. That is what you
and I look like when we want to play games with God’s grace.
“Remember Lot’s wife” Jesus said when He was talking about half-hearted
devotion to Him (Luke 17:32). In God’s kingdom one cannot continue looking
back. We cannot make our calculations based on personal gain. In God’s
kingdom it sometimes feels like a loosing battle, but He offers His children the benefit of ETERNAL LIFE!
Jesus – incidently – believed that Lot’s wife was indeed turned into a pillar of
salt. As opposed to some modern theologians who deny it. They also deny the historical reality of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with
burning sulphur and that it was a miracle from God. “How is it possible that
fire could fall out of the blue sky” they say. “It was probably just lightning, or an earthquake”. But, in the NT it is literally understood. Jesus did exactly that.Therefore, we too understand it literally, because we do not know better than the NT-writers who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, there is one important truth in this part of Scripture – particularly in
the light of the NT – which is applicable to us for today:
The burning sulphur with which the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, was an example of what will happen to all ungodly people – who lived and died outside Christ. That is exactly how 2 Peter 2:6 puts it.
And in Matt 10:15 Jesus was saying to the people that it will be more
bearable for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for those who did not accept HIM (Jesus) and served Him with devotion.
What happened to Sodom, was therefore not the worst that can happen to a sinner.
This is an inexpressibly serious and important warning. Yes, it is something
about which the worldly people laugh and mock, but not so with those in
whose hearts the Holy Spirit is doing a work of grace. Such people take this
Scripture seriously to heart. Repentance literally means to flee for your life.
Flee from sin and the world… and… flee TO the Lord Jesus.
Translated by Marthie Wilson