LESSON 16 – The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah – Genesis 18-19

  1. Discussion (FYI- If you have younger children, it is not necessary to describe the content of the sin of the people of Sodom.  The evilness of the people is established in the earlier chapters. Skip 19:5-11, if you don’t want to discuss the sin of fornication and homosexuality at this time. )
    • Read 18:1-15.  Who came to Abraham in the heat of the day? (The Lord appeared to him. Then he saw three men standing nearby.) What does Abraham do when he sees the men? (He rushes out to greet them, offers water, feet washing, refreshments. He tells Sarah to prepare bread and his servant to kill a choice calf.) What clues does the text give us that these are not ordinary visitors? (Abraham’s extreme hospitality, vs. 10 refers to the Lord speaking – as if He was one of the visitors.) What prophecy does the Lord give about Sarah? (That when He returned at about the same time next year, Sarah would have a son.) What is Sarah’s response? (Since she was listening at the entrance of the tent, she heard this and she laughed to herself, and thought that it would not be possible because they were both too old to bear children.) The Lord asks Abraham why Sarah laughed and then what important question did he ask Abraham? (Is anything too hard for the Lord?) Then He restates His promise that when He returns she will have a son. How did Sarah feel and what did she do as a result? (She was afraid and denied laughing.) The Lord corrected her, “Yes, you did laugh.”
    • Read 18:10-33.  The men now get up to leave for Sodom. What reason does the Lord give for telling Abraham what He is going to do? (He knows that Abraham will direct his people and descendants to keeping the way of the Lord – doing what is right and just. He wants Abraham to know about God – that God is both merciful and just – so he can tell others. He is also giving Abraham a chance to be an intercessor.) Abraham realizes that the Lord is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  What does he ask God for and on what basis? (Abraham asks if the Lord would relent from destroy the city if 50 righteous people were there. He reminds God that He is just and righteous and could not do such a thing as to treat both righteous and wicked people the same.) When Abraham reduces the number from 50 to 45, how does he show his respect for God? (He acknowledges that he is being bold and that he is but “dust and ashes”. I.e. not worthy to ask.) How many times does Abraham lower the number and where does he stop? What is God’s answer each time? (He goes from 50, to 45, to 30, to 20, to 10. God says will not destroy the city each time.) The Lord leaves and Abraham goes home. Meanwhile the two other men (angels) have gone on to Sodom (vs.22).
    • Read 19:1-3.  In this chapter the two men are identified as angels.  They get into Sodom in the evening. Where is Lot when the men arrive? (He is sitting at the gate.) Does this have any significance? (People who sat at the gate of a city in those times were usually city officials, such as judges. Evidently Lot has an important position in the community.) Lot invites the angels to his home.
    • Read 19:5-11. [NOTE: This is the section to skip for young children.] Have your children (older, of course!) describe in their own words what happens when Lot brings the angels home. Who prepares the meal of unleavened bread? Why not Lot’s wife, like Sarah did for Abraham? (Possible answers: Lot prepared the bread because he knew who they were. Unleavened bread was a symbol of holiness; leaven was a symbol of sin.  Lot’s wife is not a believer in God.) When the men of the city come to the house and ask to have sex with the visitors, what terrible suggestion does Lot make? What does this tell you about Lot? (Possible answers: Lot offers his two unwed daughters to the men, so they would not harm the visitors. Lot is willing to allow a terrible sin to occur to keep another one from happening.  He is not trusting God for deliverance.) The men at the door realize that Lot is reprimanding them and they turn on him and treat him disrespectfully and threaten him as well.  They press against Lot and try to break down the door.  How do the angels solve the problem? (They blind the men. Interestingly enough, this does not cause anguish or remorse in the citizens of Sodom; they just grope around trying to find the door.)
    • Read 19:12-29.  The angels tell Lot to get all of his people out of the house, because they are going to destroy the city. Who does Lot try to convince to leave with him and what is the result? (Lot tries to convince his two sons-in-law to go. They think Lot is joking and do not take him seriously.)  As dawn came, the angels urged Lot to take his wife and 2 daughters and leave. (Lot’s other 2 daughters evidently stay with their husbands.) How does Lot respond? (vs 16-He hesitates.) Where do they tell Lot and his family to go? (the mountains) What do they tell them not to do? (look back or stop) Lot still can’t stand to do what they ask. He entreats the angels to let him go to a small town instead. They give Lot permission, but tell him to hurry. What other thing do they tell Lot in verse 22? (That the judgment would not come until Lot was out of the way.) What happens to Sodom and Gomorrah? (vs 24 burning sulphur rains down from heaven on them) What happens to Lot’s wife? (She looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt.) In verse 27 we go back to Abraham who sees the smoke of the destroyed cities. Why does God save Lot according to verse 29? (God remembered Abraham. It was for Abraham’s sake.)
    • OPTIONAL: Read 19:30-39. You may cover this section if you have time. It gives the origin of two nations that persecute the nation of Israel later in the Old Testament, the Moabites and the Ammonites.
  2. Application– At the end of this lesson is a commentary by Matthew Henry on 19:4-11 that will help interpret this passage for you.
    • Application for chapter 18 – Many times the things God is asking of us seem difficult, if not impossible. When Sarah hears from the Lord that in a year she will have a baby, she laughs. Her faith is small because she is only looking at the physical reality – their age. But the Lord intervenes and says, “Is anything too hard for God?” When we focus on our problems, try to fix them, fail and get depressed, it is easy to think God has forgotten us.  However, let’s answer the question God asked Abraham and Sarah: Nothing is too hard for God. What famous verse in Philippians does this sound like? (Phil 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”) Is there an area in your child’s life that they find impossible to face or impossible to overcome? What things overwhelm them? Point them to these verses and ask them how the message of these verses can help them. (They need to trust God and step out in obedience, believing that He will strengthen them because He promised.) Share with your child a time when God helped you with something that seemed impossible.
    • Application for chapter 19 – For another view of this story turn to 2 Peter 2:6-8 and read it together.  What word is used to describe Lot? (righteous, just) It’s easy to condemn Lot, but we must not lose sight of the fact that he was a believer.  If he had not been, the angels would not have come to rescue him. He had, however, put himself in a terrible position. What were some the things that made Lot’s life hard at this point? [You can refer to the 2 Peter passage for help as well as Genesis 19.] (Possible answers:  Two of Lot’s daughters were married to unbelievers and were unbelievers as well. He cared about the people there – in 19:7 he calls them “friends” or “brothers”. He is losing everything he possesses. He is alone – none of his family sympathizes or understands his stand for God. He is tortured daily by the sin of those around him. His wife dies looking back and longing for the sinful way of life they left behind. He is afraid to stay and he is afraid to go. Fear rules his life.) Lot has made choices that have brought him this terrible place. But in spite of it all, God does not leave him alone and lets him take part in His judgment on Sodom.  How does this story show both the mercy and justice of God? (Sin is judged – the cities are burned. However, the righteous Lot, is preserved. God keeps His promises!  How have you and your family seen God’s mercy and justice worked out in your lives? (Possible answers:  Christ’s death on the cross makes it possible for me to become part of His family. I don’t have to die for my sins. That is mercy. On the other hand, in this life I must face consequences for disobedience.  That is justice.) How can you show God that you take His judgment of sin seriously? (Possible answers: Repent. Look at your sin the way God does and realize it puts a barrier between you and Him. Confess your sin and ask God for help to change. Make choices that please Him. Don’t be selfish, but put others first, etc.) In Luke 17:32 Jesus tells his disciples to “remember Lot’s wife”? Why would He say that? How can Proverbs 9:10 help remind you to live a life pleasing to God?
  3. Digging Deeper
    1. Homosexuality is rampant in our society today.  Many people, even some Christians, believe that as long as the people are monogamous (have an exclusive relationship) there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual “marriages”. You will probably run into many people who think this way, or you may already have. Write a letter, as if to a friend who is considering this life-style, about what the Bible says about this subject. Use the following as an outline:
      1. Speak the truth in love. (Tell what the Bible has to say, but be loving and not condemning. Be sure to use Romans 1 as well as other Bible passages.)
      2. Warn of the consequences. (What will be the outcome of their choice to go against what God says?)
      3. Encourage them to good behavior. (Persuade them to wait for God’s choice for them; give at least one verse of hope and/or admonishment for them on which to meditate.)
    2. In reviewing your response to crises during the past year, who are you most like in this story: Abraham, waiting? Lot, hesitant? Angels, rescuing? Sons-in-law, joking? Lot’s wife, trapped? [Question taken from The Serendipity Bible, page 61] Tell about your experience as one of the above “types” and then tell why you think you react this way. How does God want you to respond to the crises in your life and in the lives of those around you? Tie all of this together by listing 5 ways you can obey God in a crisis. Give a Bible reference for each.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

Genesis 19:4-11

 

Verses 4-11 Now it appeared, beyond contradiction, that the cry of Sodom was no louder than there was cause for. This night’s work was enough to fill the measure. For we find here, I. That they were all wicked, v. 4. Wickedness had become universal, and they were unanimous in any vile design. Here were old and young, and all from every quarter, engaged in this riot; the old were not past it, and the young had soon come up to it. Either they had no magistrates to keep the peace, and protect the peaceable, or their magistrates were themselves aiding and abetting. Note, When the disease of sin has become epidemical, it is fatal to any place, Isa. 1:5-7. II. That they had arrived at the highest pitch of wickedness; they were sinners before the Lord exceedingly (ch. 13:13); for, 1. It was the most unnatural and abominable wickedness that they were now set upon, a sin that still bears their name, and is called Sodomy. They were carried headlong by those vile affections (Rom. 1:26, 27), which are worse than brutish, and the eternal reproach of the human nature, and which cannot be thought of without horror by those that have the least spark of virtue and any remains of natural light and conscience.

 

Note, Those that allow themselves in unnatural uncleanness are marked for the vengeance of eternal fire. See Jude 7. 2. They were not ashamed to own it, and to prosecute their design by force and arms. The practice would have been bad enough if it had been carried on by intrigue and wheedling; but they proclaimed war with virtue, and bade open defiance to it. Hence daring sinners are said to declare their sin as Sodom, Isa. 3:9. Note, Those that have become impudent in sin generally prove impenitent in sin; and it will be their ruin. Those have hard hearts indeed that sin with a high hand, Jer. 6:15. 3. When Lot interposed, with all the mildness imaginable, to check the rage and fury of their lust, they were most insolently rude and abusive to him. He ventured himself among them, v. 6. He spoke civilly to them, called them brethren (v. 7), and begged of them not to do so wickedly; and, being greatly disturbed at their vile attempt, he unadvisedly and unjustifiably offered to prostitute his two daughters to them, v. 8. It is true, of two evils we must choose the less; but of two sins we must choose neither, nor ever do evil that good may come of it. He reasoned with them, pleaded the laws of hospitality and the protection of his house which his guests were entitled to; but he might as well have offered reason to a roaring lion and a raging bear as to these head-strong sinners, who were governed only by lust and passion. Lot’s arguing with them does but exasperate them; and, to complete their wickedness, and fill up the measure of it, they fall foul upon him. (1.) They ridicule him, charge him with the absurdity of pretending to be a magistrate, when he was not so much as a free-man of their city, v. 9.

 

Note, It is common for a reprover to be unjustly upbraided as a usurper; and, while offering the kindness of a friend, to be charged with assuming the authority of a judge: as if a man might not speak reason without taking too much upon him. (2.) They threaten him, and lay violent hands upon him; and the good man is in danger of being pulled in pieces by this outrageous rabble. Note, [1.] Those that hate to be reformed hate those that reprove them, though with ever so much tenderness. Presumptuous sinners do by their consciences as the Sodomites did by Lot, baffle their checks, stifle their accusations, press hard upon them, till they have seared them and quite stopped their mouths, and so made themselves ripe for ruin. [2.] Abuses offered to God’s messengers and to faithful reprovers soon fill the measure of a people’s wickedness, and bring destruction without remedy. See Prov. 29:1, and 2 Chr. 36:16. If reproofs remedy not, there is no remedy. See 2 Chr. 25:16. III.

 

That nothing less than the power of an angel could save a good man out of their wicked hands. It was now past dispute what Sodom’s character was and what course must be taken with it, and therefore the angels immediately give a specimen of what they further intended. 1. They rescue Lot, v. 10. Note, He that watereth shall be watered also himself. Lot was solicitous to protect them, and now they take effectual care for his safety, in return for his kindness. Note further, Angels are employed for the special preservation of those that expose themselves to danger by well-doing. The saints, at death, are pulled like Lot into a house of perfect safety, and the door shut for ever against those that pursue them. 2. They chastise the insolence of the Sodomites: They smote them with blindness, v. 11. This was designed, (1.) To put an end to their attempt, and disable them from pursuing it. Justly were those struck blind who had been deaf to reason. Violent persecutors are often infatuated so that they cannot push on their malicious designs against God’s messengers, Job 5:14, 15. Yet these Sodomites, after they were struck blind, continued seeking the door, to break it down, till they were tired. No judgments will, of themselves, change the corrupt natures and purposes of wicked men. If their minds had not been blinded as well as their bodies, they would have said, as the magicians, This is the finger of God, and would have submitted. (2.) It was to be an earnest of their utter ruin, the next day. When God, in a way of righteous judgment, blinds men, their condition is already desperate, Rom. 11:8, 9.

 

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