Sulfur From the Sky

Gen 19

Just a few days ago we were looking at the wickedness of all the people on earth and God’s decision to start over with mankind through Noah and his family. Today, about 10 chapters later we see two cities so wicked that God is moved to wipe them off the earth. When I first saw the topic of this chapter I was shocked that so soon after Noah, an entire people group was so far from God. I did a little research and found that there were actually about 400 years between Noah and Abraham, which helps me understand a bit better how these people ended up where they did. 

I would like to mention here that in my adult Bible reading years, this chapter is one of my least favorite chapters in the Old Testament. I hate reading about people abusing each other and sick depravity in people’s actions. When this chapter is plucked out of the context of Abraham’s life it seems so off the wall crazy that I wonder why it is included. I strongly suggest that you work your way back to at least Gen 18 to get some framework for this terrible set of events. 

Abraham has a long discussion with God to try to find out if God will be fair to people that might be following Him. So God keeps His word to Abraham and sends two angels to search Sodom and Gomorrah for any righteous people. Lot, who is Abrahams nephew meets the angels at the city gates (which lets us know that he was probably a prominent business man or a government official) and invites them to his home for a meal and a place to stay. (This is customary hospitality in this time period as there were no hotels or restaurants. Travelers relied on townspeople for food and rest when traveling.) Here is where the story gets terribly disturbing. The men of the town surround Lot’s house and demand Lots guests come outside so they can rape them. Lot goes outside to try to appease the crowd by offering the men his two daughters (gasp) but the crowd goes nuts and tries to kill Lot so God Has to intervene to save Lot’s life. God blinds the entire crowd, which shocks and scares the men so much that they give up on their rotten intentions and disperse. Back inside the house, the angels tell Lot to gather up the rest of his family and get out of town before God destroys the city. Lot doesn’t appear to grasp how dire this situation is because he drags his feet leaving and the angels have to grab his hand to hurry him out of the city. God tells him to run to the mountains for safety and instead of being grateful for God’s escape route, Lot asks God if he couldn’t please just go to a little village outside of town instead. God graciously agrees but tells the entire family not to look back as they flee for their lives. Then God “rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. He utterly destroyed the people and every bit of vegetation”…but Lot’s wife looked back and she turned into a pillar of salt.  Good Wednesday morning to you all! 

This is a very sick and demented group of people and in a few short verses I think we get a pretty good taste of why God decides to end the wickedness. There is so much that disturbs me in this passage, it’s hard to know where to start, but every time I read it I am dumbfounded as to why any dad’s solution to his guests (strangers) being harmed is to offer his daughters to “do with as you wish”. Really, this is the best he can come up with? I think Lot’s lame solution had more to do with saving his own neck than protecting his family or strangers. Lot had lived so long in a depraved community of people that his moral compass was broken and useless. I think he allowed his life to be shaped by his community instead living a Godly life and influencing those around him to God. I think he was reluctant to leave when God was trying to save his life because he didn’t want to give up all he’d worked for and accomplished in his town. I think I’m starting to understand why this chapter is included. The struggle to conform to your surroundings, and over time forsake God’s ways is a timeless and universal struggle. So I have to ask myself, am I willing to obey God, or do I choose the attractions of my culture? How much of my cultures ways am I willing to tolerate in my life? Am I consistently evaluating my choices with God’s principles? Let’s let this chapter motivate us to consider evaluating our choices today. Let’s take these next 12-14 hours and be mindful of every choice we can recognize and measure each against God’s principles. Let’s be honest and be willing to look for the truth in what motivates us to choose what we choose.