Abraham’s Story: Part 4, Genesis 19

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Abraham's Story

“I will bless those who bless you , and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” -Gen 12:3

When the LORD saw for Himself that the lifestyle in Sodom and Gomorrah was every bit as perverse as He had been told, He sent the two angels who were traveling with Him into the city of Sodom. There they happened upon my nephew Lot who lived there. Lot invited them into his home to have dinner with his family and spend the night. When they suggested sleeping in the city square he discouraged them strongly, knowing the men of the city as he did.

After a pleasant dinner, they were suddenly disturbed by a rude knocking at the door. Opening it, Lot was confronted by a delegation of drunken men demanding that he hand over the two visitors so that they could have sex with them. Of course Lot refused, but incredibly he offered them his two daughters instead.

Let me explain that middle-eastern hospitality customs of the day required that a host defend the safety of his guests with his own life if required. Having his daughters ravaged would be less humiliating than failing to protect his guests. Also, Lot knew the sexual preferences of his neighbors and gambled that they wouldn’t be interested in his daughters. And it worked, at least partially. They refused his daughters, but in effect said. “If you’re going to start judging us, we’ll take you as well as your guests.” It was a classic case of overreacting to a perceived affront to their sexual preference, quickly turning a sensitive situation into a potential disaster.

Just in the nick of time, the angel houseguests exhibited some of their supernatural powers, blinding the men so they couldn’t find the door to break it down. Then they warned Lot to collect his family and get out of town immediately. They were about to destroy Sodom for its sinfulness. The LORD had forbidden men from having sex with each other, and the men of Sodom had showed flagrant and continual disregard. To this day anal sex is called Sodomy in lurid memory of these men.

My nephew’s two daughters were both engaged to be married and their boyfriends laughed at the angels and refused to leave. After some hasty negotiating, it was agreed that Lot and his wife and daughters would escape to a little town nearby called Zoar, leaving the boyfriends behind.

Hurry,” the angels insisted, “because we can’t destroy Sodom till we know you’re safe. Run for your lives and don’t look back!” This was out of consideration for me, because the LORD had promised me that in judging Sodom and Gomorrah He wouldn’t destroy the righteous with the wicked.

This act of mercy toward Lot became a model used by the Apostle Peter (2 Peter 2:4-10), and is a strong argument for a pre-trib rapture, rescuing the church before the final judgment of Earth takes place (1Thes 1:10 & 5:9).

Just like you, Lot was not without sin. But he acted in faith on the LORD’s offer of rescue, and like it had been with me and is with you, his faith was credited to him as righteousness. His daughter’s boyfriends received the same offer but refused, and perished with the Men of Sodom.

So it will be at the End of the Age, when those who have accepted in faith the LORD’s offer of rescue will be removed and those who have refused it will remain and perish. (It’s worth mentioning that in your day, evangelist Billy Graham has declared, “If the LORD doesn’t judge the US, he’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”)

By daybreak they were safely hidden in Zoar. The LORD caused a massive explosion over Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities were immediately flattened and burst into flame, destroying everything and everyone. What had previously been a prosperous city on a fertile plain became a desolate wasteland and remains so in your time. But on a clear day when the sun is at just the right angle, if you look down toward the south end of the Dead Sea from the ruins of Masada, you can see faint traces of old foundations beneath the surface of the water. It’s all that remains of Sodom and Gomorrah.

My nephew’s wife loved their home and in violation of the angel’s instructions, couldn’t resist a last longing look at Sodom. The bright light and shock of the blast crystallized her body into a pillar of salt and she died in her tracks.

After a time Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and went to the mountains, afraid to live in a city again. They found a cave above the Dead Sea Valley and dwelt there. Bemoaning the fact that they had no husbands and therefore no children, Lot’s daughters conspired to get their father drunk, have sex with him, and become pregnant. Each of them gave birth to a son, one they named Moab and the other ben-Ammi. These boys grew up to become fathers themselves. From one came the people known as Moabites and from the other, the Ammonites. These tribes inhabited the land you call Jordan and were often at odds with my other descendants, the Israelites. When the LORD sent the King of Babylon to judge the Israelites in about 600 BC, He also had him conquer and destroy the Moabite and Ammonite kingdoms, so in your day, there are no people who call themselves by those ancient names. But the capital of Jordan, Amman, gets its name from one of Lot’s grandsons.

In your day about 70% of the people of Jordan call them selves Palestinians, after another ancient and also extinct group of people, the Philistines, traditional enemies of Israel. In 135AD the Roman emperor Hadrian finally crushed the remnant of Israel and as an insult to my people, renamed the land the LORD had given to me Palestine, a corruption of Philistine. Most ancient mapmakers followed suit and the land became known as Palestine and the few people who lived there were called Palestinians.

The land wasn’t called Israel again until 1948, when the United Nations first recognized the modern nation of Israel. The same stroke of the pen that had years earlier designated Israel as the traditional homeland for the Jews had named Trans-Jordan (later Jordan) as the Palestinian homeland. Funny how no one wanted that land until my people returned there. Now it seems the whole world has an opinion about what to do with it. But that’s a tale for another time.

Next time, history repeats itself as Abimelech, a neighboring King takes a liking to my 90- year old wife Sarah, and we finally receive the son the LORD had promised us. See you then.