Genesis 19

Lot Visited and the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
Genesis 19
Genesis 19. This chapter is a complete contrast to the previous chapter. In chapter 18, three men visit Abraham and have fellowship with him, one of them being identified as Jehovah Himself. In chapter 19, two men visit Lot, and both are angels. They rescue Lot, but they do not relish remaining in the city. Together, these chapters depict two paths and their results. Both represent believers, but they could not be more different. One path is a life of faith, lived in separation from the world and communion with God. The second path is a life of compromise, association with the world, and total shipwreck in the end. Additionally, Genesis 19 gives us the state of the world shortly before judgment falls. “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed [them] all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30). Similar to “the days of Noah” (Luke 17:26), the Lord correlates “the days of Lot” and the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah with the judgment of the world at the appearing of the Son of Man. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, the world today is carrying on in total independence from God, and will be seized by sudden and unexpected wrath, after those of faith are taken out. 

Lot Visited in the Gate of Sodom (19:1-3)

1 And the two angels came to Sodom at even. And Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. And Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them; and he bowed down, the face toward the ground, 2 and he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and lodge, and wash your feet; and ye shall rise up early, and go on your way. And they said, No; but we will pass the night in the open place. vv.1-2 Lot Invites the Angels to Stay. The evening had now come. While three men had visited Abraham, only two visit Lot. The third guest was no doubt Jehovah Himself, as we discovered in ch.18. The Lord could not fellowship with Lot as He had with Abraham. Why? Because of Lot’s associations. The angels found Abraham sitting in his tent door, but they found Lot “sitting in the gate of Sodom”. Those sitting in the gate of a city were those who took a responsible place in leadership in the city. It was a place Lot wanted for himself, but he was really an outsider. In v.8 we find that Lot’s ambitions were not welcomed by the men of Sodom. Were Lot’s motivations all selfish? Perhaps not. 2 Peter 2:8 shows that Lot was himself a “righteous man”, and the wicked deeds of the Sodomites “vexed his righteous soul from day to day”. Perhaps he sought a seat in the gate to try to correct the immoral behavior of Sodom, the sentiments of which he expressed in v.7; “I pray you, my brethren, do not wickedly!” Abraham had more power with God outside the city than Lot had sitting in the gate with the leaders of Sodom. Lot was in an inconsistent position. He wanted the prosperity of Sodom, and was willing to live in it in spite of its evil. This was the end of a course that began years earlier. In ch.3 we read that Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom, but now he owned a permanent house inside the city. Yet Lot immediately recognized the two angels, and greeted them, showing reverence by bowing down. Another confirmation that Jehovah was not one of these two men was that Lot addresses them as “my lords” while Abraham addressed one of them as “Lord”. As Abraham had earlier that day, Lot offers his home to the angels. However, they refuse Lot’s invitation, preferring instead to remain outside the city. They were reluctant to stay in Lot’s house because of where it was. Morally speaking, where is your house? Although you are a believer, do you live in the world?
3 And he urged them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house. And he made them a repast, and baked unleavened cakes; and they ate. v.3 Lot’s Hospitality. Lot insisted that two men visit his home, and showed no lack of hospitality. He even managed to make “unleavened cakes” for the visitors. Leaven in scripture speaks of sin, and unleavened bread speaks of the holy, separate walk of the believer. Lot knew what was fitting to these heavenly strangers, and managed to provide suitable food, if not the feast that Abraham had prepared. But it was incongruous with his walk.

The Wickedness of the Men of Sodom (19:4-11)

4 Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, from the youngest to the oldest — all the people from every quarter. 5 And they called to Lot, and said to him, Where are the men that have come in to thee to-night? bring them out to us that we may know them. vv.4-5 The Wickedness of the Men of Sodom. Perhaps Lot thought his home would be a place of refreshment for his visitors, a haven from the defilement of Sodom. Sadly, this was not the case. Before they could lay down for the night, the wicked men of Sodom surrounded the house. The evil came to him. “All the people” were involved in this. There were not even ten righteous in the city, and this event proves it. Even the young were infected by the plague of Sodomy. There was a wontoness in this sin. The lusts are never satisfied. Something new, whoever these two visitors were, became the object of their lust.
Homosexuality in the Bible.

The Word of God expressly condemns homosexual behavior. Whether in the Old Testament (Genesis 19; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13) or the New Testament (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9), homosexual behavior is labeled by God as an abomination, a shame, and self-abuse. Under the law of Moses, it was punishable by death. The broader sin of fornication (sex outside of marriage) includes homosexual behavior, although it generally refers to heterosexual sin. Homosexual behavior is not only contrary to the Word of God, but "contrary to nature". In the west, society has turned 180 degrees on this issue, and has not only embraced but celebrated the homosexual lifestyle. The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis stands as a witness for all time of God's view of this form of wickedness, regardless of what man says. In Romans 1 we find that homosexual behavior is a result of man's rebellion against God. It is something God "gave them up to", allowing them to pursue their lusts as a form of judgment on them. It is interesting that God never connects a person’s identity with homosexuality, only with the sin. When a person becomes characterized by the sin, God calls them “sodomites” (1 Kings 14:24), or "them that defile themselves with mankind" (1 Tim. 1:10) in the same way He calls someone characterized by drunkenness a “drunkard” (1 Cor. 5). Satan has made a successful attack (since 1860’s) of getting society to view homosexual behavior differently. By starting from the premise that our desires define us as people, society began labeling people with a certain "sexual orientation", masking homosexual activity under the label of an acceptable lifestyle. As a result, the sin of homosexual behavior was abstracted, and people were forced to identify with a certain sexual orientation. Many people, including Christians, who struggle with same-sex attraction, fall into the trap of assigning themselves a sexual orientation. This causes them to either give up on moral purity, or else use the shift in societal norms as license for sin. In reality their lusts emanate from the same sinful nature that all natural men have, which is the root of all forms of sin. What they need to hear is the truth of Romans; i.e. that God has a way of deliverance, and that our identity is not in our desires, but in the Person who has laid down His life for us! Is the tendency for same-sex attraction something that a person is born with? This question gets into things that God has not answered for us completely. David acknowledged that "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psa. 51:5). Can God be blamed for this? No. It was "by one man" that "sin entered into the world" (Rom. 5:12). "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man" (James 1:13). The tendency towards a certain sin, in and of itself, is not sin. To lust or act according to that tendency is sin. "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed" (James 1:14). It is important in these matters that our moral standard be drawn from the Word of God, and nowhere else. The western world has abandoned Christian values, and lost all sense of morality. But our standard is not based on the shifting sands of culture, but on the foundation of God's Word, which is forever settled in heaven (Psa. 119:89).

6 And Lot went out to them to the entrance, and shut the door after him, 7 and said, I pray you, my brethren, do not wickedly! 8 Behold now, I have two daughters who have not known a man: let me now bring them out to you; and do to them as is good in your sight: only, to these men do nothing; for therefore have they come under the shadow of my roof. vv.6-8 Lot’s Twisted Thinking. The evil had come to Lot’s house, and he went out to negotiate with the men. He “shut the door after him”, as if not wanted to expose his visitors to what was outside. He begs the men of the city, “I pray you, my brethren, do not wickedly!”. What was he doing calling these men his brethren? “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). A desire to remain in the world to be a good influence is no excuse for fellowship with darkness. Instead Lot was influenced by them, as we see in v.8. Lot had a sense of the total immorality of what the Sodomites wanted to do to his heavenly visitors. He was absolutely desperate to avoid this, and maintain control of the situation. As an effort to distract the men of the city, Lot offers his two virgin daughters to the men. What was Lot thinking? He had sunk to the level of Sodom. The thinking and wisdom of the world had entered Lot’s mind. Rather than call out to God for deliverance, Lot suggests what he views as a lesser evil to avoid a greater one. He was espousing the principle of “Let us do evil, that good may come” (Rom. 3:8). Lot degrades his two virgin daughters in the city, and later in the mountains (vv.30-38) they degrade their father; a solemn consequence of God’s government.
9 And they said, Back there! And they said again, This one came to sojourn, and he must be a judge? Now we will deal worse with thee than with them. And they pressed hard on the man — on Lot; and drew near to break the door. 10 And the men stretched out their hand, and brought Lot into the house to them, and shut the door. 11 And they smote the men that were at the entrance of the house with blindness, from the smallest to the greatest; and they wearied themselves to find the entrance. vv.9-11 The Wickedness of Sodom Displayed at Lot’s Door. What would have satisfied most men (two virgins) served only to anger the men of Sodom; “we will deal worse with thee than with them”. These men cared nothing for Lot. In fact, they despised him; “This one came to sojourn, and he must be a judge?” All of Lot’s efforts had failed. They “pressed hard on the man”, and he was powerless to stop them. It manifested the willfulness of the Sodomites. They would insist on gratifying their lusts. They said to Lot, “Back there!” Man doesn’t want anyone to interfere with his will. Having failed to protect the two visitors from the wicked men of Sodom, the angels now act to protect Lot. The pulled Lot in and shut the door, and blinded the men outside. Did this blindness cause the men of Sodom to retreat? No. They continued, and “wearied themselves to find the entrance”. There was nothing more to be said, and the judgment was fixed.

Lot’s Reluctant Evacuation of Sodom (19:12-22)

12 And the men said to Lot, Whom hast thou here besides? a son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and all whom thou hast in the city — bring them out of the place. 13 For we are going to destroy this place, because the cry of them is great before Jehovah, and Jehovah has sent us to destroy it. vv.12-13 The News of Impending Doom. Once Lot was safe inside the house, the angels broke the news to Lot about the impending judgment of Sodom. No excuses could be made. The men were still outside, scratching at the walls of Lot’s house. The angels direct Lot to bring his entire family outside the city, because “we” (the angels) “are going to destroy this place”. The “cry” of the city had already come before Jehovah (Gen. 18:20-21), and now the cry was confirmed. Notice that they speak of what had real value; “Whom hast thou here besides? a son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and all whom thou hast in the city”. The flocks, herds, and other possessions of Lot were worthless now. In a single moment, Lot’s entire life changed. His life’s work was about to go up in smoke. The most important thing now was to save his family. Lot, his wife, at least two sons, at least two married daughters and their husbands, and two unmarried daughters would have made at least ten souls, and God had told Abraham He would spare Sodom if there were but ten righteous. Lot’s family was not righteous.1
14 And Lot went out, and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, Up, go out of this place, for Jehovah will destroy the city. But he was as if he jested, in the sight of his sons-in-law. v.14 Lot’s Sons-in-laws. Lot’s warning to his sons-in-law utterly failed. He had allowed his children to marry men of the city. He wife was totally infatuated with Sodom, and his children appeared to be as well. The sons-in-law thought Lot was joking. He had lived his life in such a way that his warning seemed totally out of character to them. If we love the things of the world, our children will see that. Then when we try to warn them of the coming judgment, they will not believe us because it is completely out of character with how we have lived our lives. How different from what the Lord said of Abraham in the previous chapter; “I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of Jehovah, to do justice and judgment”.
15 And as the dawn arose, the angels urged Lot, saying, Up, take thy wife and thy two daughters who are present, lest thou perish in the iniquity of the city. 16 And as he lingered, the men laid hold on his hand, and on the hand of his wife, and on the hand of his two daughters, Jehovah being merciful to him; and they led him out, and set him without the city. vv.15-16 Lot Lingers, Finally Dragged Out. Apparently, Lot was pleading with his family all night, because when finally the sun began to rise, the angels warned him that to remain any longer would mean that he would “perish in the iniquity of the city”. Still, even as the dawn was rising, Lot lingered. Likely he was lingering over his family who remained in the city, unable to come to terms with the reality that they would perish. Perhaps he was lingering over his home and possessions. In any case, he was lingering in a place that was doomed. Finally, the angels took them (Lot, his wife, and two unmarried daughters) and physically removed them, setting them “without the city”. The expression “Jehovah being merciful to him” shows that, if the angels had not dragged him out, Lot would have died in Sodom.
17 And it came to pass when they had brought them outside, that he said, Escape for thy life: look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain: escape to the mountain, lest thou perish. v.17 Instructions to flee. Once outside the city, the escapees were not to remain there. They were instructed to flee for their lives, indicating that to remain would result in death. They were to go to the mountains, which often speak of communion with God. There were two things they were not to do. First, they were not to look back at the city. What does this speak of? Abraham looked at the city (vv.27-28), but it was a sober look. The kind of look that was prohibited was a look of longing. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15). The second thing they were not to do is to remain in any part of the plain. There were five cities in plain, and they were not to remain in any of them. This speaks of the tendency to exchange one aspect of the world for another. The entire plain was coming under judgment. No place was safe. “The whole world lies in the wicked one” (1 John 5:19).
18 And Lot said to them, Not so, I pray thee, Lord; 19 behold now, thy servant has found favour in thine eyes, and thou hast magnified thy goodness, which thou hast shewn to me in preserving my soul alive; but I cannot escape to the mountain, lest calamity lay hold on me, that I die. 20 Behold now, this city is near to flee to, and it is small: I pray thee, let me escape thither — is it not small? — and my soul shall live. 21 And he said to him, Behold, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow the city of which thou hast spoken. 22 Haste, escape thither; for I cannot do anything until thou art come there. Therefore the name of the city is called Zoar [‘little’]. vv.18-22 Lot Asks for Alternative Destination, Afraid to be Alone with God. Lot was not willing to run to the mountains. He claimed to be afraid that some misfortune would fall on him. How unreasonable! God had just taken him by the hand and removed him from Sodom, why would God allow him to die in the mountain? It was an excuse. Lot loved his life in Sodom, and he couldn’t imagine life alone on the mountain. Mountain-top experiences in scripture are often connected with a time alone with God (Gen. 19:27; 1 Kings 19; Matt. 17:1; Rev. 21:10). Lot was afraid to be alone with God. The mountain, which was a source of fear to Lot, was a place of communion for Abraham. But he also was afraid to live without the comforts of city life, the things that the world can provide. “Behold now, this city is near to flee to, and it is small: I pray thee, let me escape thither — is it not small? — and my soul shall live.” Lot interceded for himself, while Abraham interceded for others. Lot pleaded with the Lord to let him flee to a small city nearby, the fifth of the five cities of the plain (Gen. 14:2). It was small, but it was still in his beloved plain of Jordan (Gen. 13:10), and it was still a city. The expression “and my soul shall live” is very sad. The parallel to Lot today is a worldly Christian. Worldly Christians are not content with the simple disciplines of reading, praying, singing, and meeting will fellow-believers. They must have at least some part of the world. Their soul lives on the things of the world. The Lord was merciful to Lot, and chose to spare Zoar for Lot’s sake. Even worldly Christians, if true believers, will not perish in the coming judgment. “I cannot do anything until thou art come there” might illustrate the fact that God cannot unleash the tribulation judgments until all believers have been removed.

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (19:23-29)

23 The sun rose upon the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 And Jehovah rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven, 25 and overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew upon the ground. vv.23-25 Fire and Brimstone Fall on the Cities. Finally, the judgment fell. As soon as Lot entered into Zoar, the Lord rained “brimstone and fire” on the cities, the inhabitants, the plain, and the crops. The beautiful plain of Jordan that had attracted Lot’s eye many years before was totally consumed. The city of Sodom that had drawn him in, and which contained the majority of his family, was now a smoldering ruin. This is one reason Bible prophecy is important. We can look down the avenue of time, through the light of prophecy, and see the end of this world, with all of its glimmer and glory. “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” (2 Pet. 3:11).
26 And his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. v.26 Lot’s Wife. Lot’s wife disobeyed the command of the Lord in v.17. She looked back with a look of longing. She looked to where her affections were. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). The judgment fell not only on those in the city, but on those whose hearts were there. The Lord’s words to the future Jewish remnant were “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32), but we can apply it to ourselves. Lot was married to a woman that was in love with Sodom. Our companions can have a tremendous influence in our lives. How much Lot’s wife influenced them is unknown, but we can be sure that she was no help to him. As another has said, “You can get your wife out of the world but you cannot get the world out of your wife.” She became “a pillar of salt”. A pillar is an enduring witness for the ages. Her lesson is one for all time. Salt in scripture often speaks of consistency; i.e. “have salt in yourselves” (Mark 9:50). The pillar of salt could be a witness that God is consistent in His ways of judgment. Also, it is believed that the economy of Sodom was based primarily on the production of salt. In fact, that area is still used for obtaining salt and other minerals today. There is a solemn irony in the fact that she was changed into the very mineral which made Sodom rich.
27 And Abraham rose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before Jehovah; 28 and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and lo, a smoke went up from the land as the smoke of a furnace. vv.27-28 Abraham Views the Judgment from the Mountain. Abraham also looked toward Sodom, but it was a very different look. It was look in fellowship with the Lord; from “the place where he had stood before Jehovah”. He saw “a smoke went up from the land as the smoke of a furnace”. It was the fulfillment of all that the Lord had spoken. How different was Abraham’s state from that of Lot. Like Abraham, the friend of God, we can see by faith the smoke of the furnace ahead of time. We believe the prophecies God has spoken about the judgment of the world, and we remain separate (or we should).
29 And it came to pass when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt. v.29 The Salvation of Lot Shown to be for Abraham’s Sake. Now it is revealed that the salvation of Lot was for Abraham’s sake! God is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Abraham’s intercession in ch.18 was effectual! He had power with God; a power that came from a walk of faith, communion, and separation from the world.

Lot’s Incestuous Progeny (19:30-38)

30 And Lot went up from Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar. And he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. v.30 Lot Dwells in the Mountain. Previously, Lot had been afraid to run to the mountain. But now he was haunted by the judgment that had fallen on the other cities, and cannot remain in Zoar. He ends up living on the mountain in a cave. He had exchanged his tent for a house, and now his house for a cave. By moving to Sodom, Lot thought he was going up, but he was really going down. This is the end of an earthly-minded Christian, to live in the earth, which a cave represents.
31 And the first-born said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the land to come in to us after the manner of all the earth: 32 come, let us give our father wine to drink, and let us lie with him, that we may preserve seed alive of our father. 33 And they gave their father wine to drink that night. And the first-born went in, and lay with her father, and he did not know of her lying down, nor of her rising. 34 And it came to pass on the next day that the first-born said to the younger, Lo, I lay last night with my father: let us give him wine to drink to-night also, and go thou in, lie with him, that we may preserve seed alive of our father. 35 And they gave their father wine to drink that night also. And the younger arose, and lay with him; and he did not know of her lying down, nor of her rising. 36 And both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. vv.31-36 The Incest. Although sibling-to-sibling marriage was not prohibited by God until the law of Moses, parent-to-child relations were known to be immoral. For more details, see notes on Incest and the Gene pool. The actions of Lot’s daughters showed that they had thoroughly been infected by the immorality of Sodom. Lot was worried about some evil overtaking him in the mountains, but never guessed that the true evil was in his own family. This is the last time we read of Lot, until we come to the New Testament where his life is used as a warning to believers, and yet as an assurance that God will deliver His own before judgment falls.
37 And the first-born bore a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 And the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; the same is the father of the children of Ammon to this day. v.38 Moab and Ammon. Lot had lost everything, but now his wretchedness extends into his future. His two sons by incest became the perpetual enemies of the children of Israel for centuries to come. What a sad legacy! The children and grandchildren of Lot are a black mark in history. But contrast, Abraham’s posterity to the third generation was marked by faith and promises; “dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Heb. 11:9).
A Prophetic Application. We can also see a type of some of the themes of prophecy in this chapter, although every detail of the chapter does not fit with the application. We have already seen that the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah is a type of the appearing of Christ, as the Lord tells us in Luke. There are two companies of faith in this chapter: Abraham and Lot. Lot was a man the sought to make Sodom his home, and was sheltered from the judgment by the providential intervention of God. Lot in a certain sense is a type of Israel. Asleep as to the claims of God for centuries, the nation has sought to make this world their home. But they do not fit. The men of this world for some reason resent the Jew, as the Sodomites resented Lot. The Lord will begin to awaken the nation. Like Lot apprised of the coming judgment, the Jewish remnant will turn to the Lord for protection. But not all of the nation will be saved. The mass of the nation, represented by Lot’s family, will continue in unbelief, and will be consumed by the judgment. But Lot himself is spared; he is saved by flight. What confirms this as valid type is the Lord’s words in Luke 17, where references Genesis 19. He gives instructions to the future Jewish remnant to flee in the day of judgment, and issues the warning “Remember Lot’s wife”. We have this unfolded in Rev. 12:6; “And the woman [Israel] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Abraham on the other hand is not even in the plain during the whole scene of judgment. He is on the mountain with God. Abraham is a type of the church, a heavenly people. The church will not be on earth for the tribulation judgments, but will be in heaven, where Christians will functions as royal priests in connection with the faithful remnant on earth (see “elders” in the book of Revelation).23
  1. At one time William Kelly did not see the distinction between the married daughters and the virgin daughters: “Lot meanwhile was brought out, and his daughters without their unbelieving husbands” (Kelly, William. Genesis. Lectures on the Pentateuch). Later he was asked about it and clarified the issue. “It would seem that besides the two maiden daughters in his house Lot had others with his sons-in-law outside, whom he sought in vain to save from the doomed city. In the “Introductory Lectures on the Pentateuch” this oversight is said to have been made. That the confusion has been often made by excellent men is of no weight against the simple force of the word.” – Kelly, William. Questions and Answers. Bible Treasury, New Volume 4. January 1902.
  2. So we have Enoch, the heavenly man, and Noah, the earthly remnant; now we have Abraham the heavenly man, and Lot the earthly remnant. This is a second witness. – Darby, J.N. Hints on the Book of Genesis.
  3. There in the wilderness, in this time of tribulation, God takes care of her. She makes her escape from the tribulation, the figure being employed that she receives this great power of flight, as if the wings of an eagle: and God secures her, not as He did Abraham who saw the destruction of Sodom from the top of the mount, but as He secured Lot who was saved by flight. The people in heaven rejoicing are like Abraham on the top of the mount; while the woman upon the earth is like Lot, saved by God giving her the great wings of an eagle to escape while all this great rage and power of Satan is being displayed. – Darby, J.N. Lectures on the Second Coming of Christ. Lecture 3.