New European Commentary

 

About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan


Deeper Commentary

 

19:1 The two angels came to Sodom at evening- The third Angel was the one who dialogued alone with Abraham in Gen. 18:22.

Lot sat in the gate of Sodom. Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them. He bowed himself with his face to the earth- Lot sitting "in the gate of Sodom" (Gen. 19:1) has been seen as an indication that he held some prominent public office in the city's administration. Yet despite this, he evidently maintained his separation- although this seems to have created suppressed bitterness amongst his colleagues, which they gave vent to in their sudden persecution of him just before the Angel came. They complained that he was "a judge" (:9). Note how initially Lot lived in the smaller "cities of the plain", and then "pitched his tent toward Sodom", resulting in him eventually settling within the city (Gen. 13:12). One wonders if he kept his tent in the loft. Ps. 1:1 seems to allude to Lot's progressive apostacy, speaking of the righteous man not walking, standing or sitting with the wicked- in other words, the righteous man will learn from Lot's mistakes. The way Lot progressively moved Eastwards has to be connected with a strange theme in Genesis of all the apostates moving ever further East (Gen. 4:6; 11:2 RV; 13:11; 16:12 RVmg; 28:9). This is not the only indication in Scripture that many latter day saints, whom Lot represents, will not be spiritually fit when their Lord returns. This gradual slump into worldliness to the spiritual detriment of his family (the wife, sons and possibly other daughters refused to truly leave Sodom) is not difficult to see matched in the present ecclesia. The material prosperity of Lot just before his short, sharp persecution period at the Lord's 'coming', matches Israel's prosperity in Egypt just before their holocaust started (Gen. 47:11). The wealth of the latter day ecclesia may well be proof in itself, in the light of these types, that we are heading for a like tribulation period. 

Yet 2 Pet. 2:7,8 reveals how Lot "vexed (Gk. 'tortured') his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds". Seeing that he failed to influence his family to properly appreciate the sins of that city, and that he was so attached to it that he was unwilling to leave, this must be interpreted as little more than the sort of middle class, respectable 'tut-tutting' that present day Christianity abounds with. After all, he had chosen to live there, he did not have to stay, and the record of his choice of Sodom in Gen. 13 spotlights his unspiritual, worldly thinking in this regard when compared to Abraham, the stranger and sojourner. Whether this assessment of Lot's character is felt to be correct or not, it must surely be accepted that there was a serious dualism in his position which has strong similarities with ours today- vexing his soul about the sins of the surrounding world, and yet increasingly involved in it and greatly benefiting from it materially, at spiritual cost to himself and his family. Lot was effectively willing to betray his daughters to the men of Sodom, pointing forward to the Lord's prophecy of how in the holocaust to come, many will betray each other (Mt. 10:36), family life within the ecclesia will break up; a spirit of dissension will fall upon natural and spiritual families. The reason for this will be rooted in a lack of true spiritual concern for the family in the easier years of this present life. Not for nothing does Paul warn against marriage in the last days (1 Cor. 7:28).

19:2 And he said, See now, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, stay all night, wash your feet, and you can rise up early, and go on your way. They said, No, but we will stay in the street all night- There are such distinct similarities between the record of Abraham meeting and entertaining the Angels and how Lot does likewise. They both bow to the visitors (:1) and personally entertain them, and are solicitous for their welfare. Both of them entertained Angels unaware (Heb. 13:2). As noted with Abraham, Lot was on one level "unaware" they were Angels, but on another level he surely was.

19:3 He urged them greatly, and they came in with him, and entered into his house. He made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate- The Angels who visited Lot in Sodom wanted initially to lodge in the street, but they were persuaded by Lot to change their plans. And who is to say that to some extent this isn’t possible today, too? This connects with the theme encountered in chapter 18, of God being open to dialogue with men. The reason they wanted to stay in the street was perhaps to protect Lot, but they went to a plan B in the face of his insistence. The "feast" with unleavened bread was a sign of fellowship. To break bread together was from earliest times a sign of fellowship, and had religious significance. Always the Lord's people had an open table, as exemplified supremely by the Lord Jesus. There was no test of the worthiness of those who presented themselves.

One difference with the entertainment of Angels by Abraham is that Lot's wife plays no role in it, unlike Sarah. We are left to conclude that she was not of one mind with him about the matter. The way she longed for Sodom even after leaving it, despite the attempted rape of their visitors, indicates that she was very much in line with the local thinking rather than spiritual thinking.

19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter- The double emphasis upon "the men" is in the context of their demand for sex with the attractive male visitors. As the Angels had entered at "the gate" (:1), the whole town knew of their arrival. But their desire to rape them was not pure lust, it was also xenophobia. The whole city is implicated as evidence of the fact that not even ten righteous could be found within it.


19:5 They called to Lot, and said to him, Where are the men who came in to you this night? Bring them out to us, that we may have sex with them- The specific sin of Sodom is well known- confirmed by the repeated emphasis on "the men of Sodom" in the record. The grossness of their perversion is shown by their clamouring for the Angels, who doubtless appeared as good looking young men. Lot's response and his offer of his daughters to them (Gen. 19:7,8) clearly shows their intention. In the light of this, Jude warns the believers that their punishment for this was what awaited those of the new Israel who threw off their responsibilities. "As Sodom and Gomorrah... giving themselves over (implying this was a conscious apostasy?) to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth an example" to us (Jude 7). In passing, it should be noted that all Jude's examples of Divine punishment involve people who were responsible to God, by reason of knowing His ways. Is Sodom an exception? Perhaps Lot had preached to them. 

There can be no doubt that the sexual aspects of Sodom's sins have great similarity to the moral filth of our present world. But significantly it was not this aspect which our Lord chose to highlight when speaking of how "the days of Lot" typified those of His return. Instead He spoke of those things which were more likely to ensnare His people: "They (as well as our present world) did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded" (Lk. 17:28). Their obsession with daily activities without an awareness of God was as bad as their other sins; a point we would do well to be aware of. However, their eating and drinking must have been to gross excess- Ez.16:49 defines "the iniquity of Sodom" as being "fulness of bread" among other things. Some lavish Christian lifestyles frequently feature "fulness of bread"- but because it is not perceived as a gross sin, this unhealthy similarity with Sodom slips by unchallenged. 

"They bought, they sold" suggests that Sodom was a major trading centre, rapidly increasing in wealth; "they planted, they builded" (Lk. 17:28) implies a real boom town. Such success resulted in the people being proud and haughty (Ez. 16:49,50); the wealth created at the expense of others brought about "abundance of idleness in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy" (Ez. 16:49). It is these aspects of Sodom which are so precisely matched by our self-centred, money mad world. As our Lord realized, it is these aspects which are most likely to ensnare the child of God. Yet Sodom's people were not completely unaware of their religious conscience. Jeremiah likened the false prophets of Israel who effectively taught that sin was service to God to the people of Sodom, suggesting that they too said the same (Jer. 23:14). This is another hint that the people of Sodom had some degree of responsibility, as have latter day Israel whom they typify. 

19:6 Lot went out to them to the door, and shut the door after him- Lot was willing to die in order to save the Angels. There is an intended similarity with the entrance door to the ark which was also opened and shut (Gen. 6:16), and the Angelic defence of the "door" of Israelite houses in the night of Egypt's destruction (Ex. 12:22,23). The same two Angels had also stood at the "door" of Abraham's tent (Gen. 18:1,2,10 s.w.). There is without doubt a correspondence between Abraham and Lot, but it seems the similarities are more to point a contrast between the two men, in which Lot comes out negatively.

 19:7 He said, Please, my brothers, don’t act so wickedly- Lot thought that he had authority over them, as a judge who sat in the gate of the city. But their anger and lust was beyond respecting anybody. Perhaps it is specifically this incident which Peter has in mind when he writes that Lot was "distressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked" (2 Pet. 2:7), and Peter even implies that it was because of this that he was "delivered". There is no other Biblical example of Lot being "distressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked" in Sodom. It was on behalf of Abraham's intercession that he was delivered, but confirmed in another dimension by this act of genuine distress at their wickedness. Although Lot is presented as weak, this heat of the moment response was indicative of his genuine distress at their wickedness.

19:8 See now, I have two virgin daughters. Please let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them what seems good to you. Only don’t do anything to these men, because they have come under the shadow of my roof- This is really indefensible, and is a deep reflection of Lot's weakness and yet also of his desire to somehow do the right thing on another level. On a psychological level, the daughters took their revenge later by making Lot drunk and sleeping with him. This is absolutely psychologically credible, and confirms the veracity of the Biblical storyline here presented.

19:9 They said, Stand back! Then they said, This one fellow came in to live as a foreigner, and he appoints himself a judge. Now will we deal worse with you, than with them! They pressed hard on the man Lot, and drew near in order to break the door- The sense in which they felt he was a "judge" was in that Lot had told them that gang rape was "wicked". They were furious that he criticized their moral standards. We can assume that they intended to rape and murder Lot, and yet their passion for the Angels was unabated, and they attempted to break the door down to get in.

19:10 But the men reached out their hand, and brought Lot into the house to them, and shut the door- The same word is used of the Angelic shutting of the door of the ark (Gen. 7:16). Salvation was to be within the house, prefiguring the ecclesia in the last days; for a brief moment as the judgments are poured out on this Sodom like world, we too shall be shut in behind a door (same Hebrew phrase, Is. 26:20). "Reached out [their] hand" is used of Noah in Gen. 8:9.

19:11 They struck the men who were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves to find the door- Zeph.1:17,18 has a series of allusions to Sodom, indicating that its destruction prefigures that of Israel in the last days: "They shall walk like blind men (as the Sodomites did), because they have sinned against the Lord ("the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord", Gen. 13:13)... neither their silver nor their gold (cp. Sodom's wealth) shall be able to deliver them... the whole land shall be devoured by the fire" (Zeph. 1:17,18). "Blindness" is literally 'dazzling'; the Angels showed their Angelic faces, and the light blinded the Sodomites. The similar blinding of Saul and Elymas was to bring them to repentance, and perhaps even at this late stage, the Angels were still seeking to elicit repentance. Truly we should never give up with people.

The smiting with blindness in a latter day context suggests Zech. 14:12, where this is the plague with which God punishes those who have come against Jerusalem. In this case Lot would represent a feeble-faithed Jewish remnant in the last days, unsuccessfully pleading with others to obey the Lord's call.

19:12 The men said to Lot, Do you have anybody else here? Sons-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whoever you have in the city, bring them out of the place- Perhaps they were mindful of the condition that ten righteous could save the city. And yet they reason as if the destruction of the city is already certain, and that ten would not be found. The destruction of Sodom is paralleled with that of Babylon; "Come out of her, my people" (Rev. 18:4,5) is based upon this call. But Lot could 'bring them out', just as Noah is presented as the saviour of his family. "Whoever you have" is in AV "Whatsoever thou hast". All that we have, finally, is our believing, saved family members. And that should be our focus. Nothing material can be salvaged from this life.

It is recorded that Lot only went to speak with his sons in law, and that the daughters who came with him were young unmarried girls who were still living at home, rather than  speaking to his married daughters (Gen. 19:14). There is no mention of his speaking to them or his sons- perhaps because he knew that spiritually they were too far gone to be interested? It is possible that his speaking only to his "sons in law" rather than directly to his daughters also indicates a lack of urgency or comprehension of the seriousness of the situation.

19:13 For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown so great before Yahweh that Yahweh has sent us to destroy it- The language is similar to that of Gen. 15:16 about the sin of the Amorites becoming "full". There are limits to the moral declension which God will tolerate. When the eretz was "full" of wickedness, the flood came; and when the sin of Sodom grew to a certain point, this was the trigger for judgment. It is hard to imagine that our world has much further to run until it reaches that trigger point. Angels sent to destroy points forward to the "destroyer" Angel sent to destroy at Passover, with a minority saved by grace.

19:14 Lot went out, and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters, and said, Get up! Get out of this place, for Yahweh will destroy the city. But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be joking-  Our last appeal to the world will probably meet a similar response from the "mockers" of the last days (2 Pet. 3:3,4); but it must be remembered that if Lot's leaving of Sodom represents the calling away to judgment, then those whom he asked to leave with him may primarily represent other believers. At the Lord’s coming, the willingness to respond to the call to leave the world is an indicator of our acceptability- those who refuse or delay to obey the call are punished (after judgment) in the sufferings of the world, whilst those who voluntarily obey the call to judgment immediately are those who will be accepted. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins illustrates this too. Thus Lot's appeal to those who presumably knew the true God to leave the city may parallel our frantic pleading with weak believers to immediately respond to the call to leave the world. Sadly there will be the same light hearted refusal on the part of some. 

"Lot went out" into streets filled with blind, angry men of Sodom, in order to spread the message as the Angels requested (Gen. 19:14). This picture of preaching amidst bitter hostility but with Divine protection recurs in Rev. 11 concerning the two witnesses.  

19:15 When the morning came, then the angels hurried Lot, saying, Get up!- "Get up" is the same word Lot uses to his relatives in :14. Perhaps his appeal for them to "get up!" and urgently leave was none too credible because he himself was reluctant to do so. Consistently in this record, we see that Lot was saved by grace. Like his wife, he was reluctant to leave Sodom and failed to perceive the urgency of the situation. He represents God's people of the last days; and we can infer therefore that they [we] will be very weak as Lot was, and saved by grace alone.

Take your wife, and your two daughters who are here- "Are here" in the Hebrew means literally 'to come out'- as if to stress that although living with Lot, they still had made the conscious decision to leave. The fact that they did not look back like their mother would indicate a certain degree of spiritual strength- and perhaps they were still virgins because they declined to marry "the men of Sodom (who) were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly" (Gen.13:13).

Lest you be consumed in the sin of the city- It is apparent that "sin" is sometimes used as a metonymy for 'condemnation for sin'. The AV margin here rightly suggests that "the iniquity" of the city was the condemnation / punishment for their iniquity. And there are other examples in Ps. 7:16; Jer. 14:16 and Zech. 14:19. This isn't just a matter of cold exposition; the reality is that every sin we commit- and we sin daily- is in fact a self-infliction of condemnation upon ourselves. We rather than the Lord are the ones who in essence have demanded our condemnation; His judgment is merely reflecting our own choice. The idea of self-condemnation is perhaps behind the Lord's teaching in Mt. 18:6.

This command to leave Sodom is clearly one of the source passages for Rev. 18:4 concerning Babylon: "I heard another (Angelic) voice from Heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues". Note that it was also an Angel who said this to Lot. Babylon is directly equated with Sodom in Is. 13:19 and Jer. 50:40. Babylon geographically and culturally represents the peoples surrounding Israel of our last days- and therefore it is not surprising that related Arab nations like Edom, Moab and Ammon are also paralleled with Sodom (Jer. 49:18; Zeph. 2:9). This continues a long-standing Biblical theme that the curses on apostate Israel are the same as those on the Arabs / people of the eretz- thus Sodom is representative of both Jews and Arabs.

 

19:16 But he lingered; and the men grabbed his hand, his wife’s hand, and his two daughters’ hands, Yahweh being merciful to him; and they took him out, and set him outside of the city- Lot had been attracted toward Sodom by materialism, and it had consumed most of his family, and almost himself. For despite all he had been through in the last 24 hours, he still lingered, thinking of his wealth, and was saved by special grace alone. He left Sodom with nothing but the clothes he stood up in. Just as we will at our exit from this world. Israel were not to "linger" in leaving Egypt on Passover night (s.w. Ex. 12:39); the urgency of the situation becomes all the more relevant to us once we perceive that the call to leave "Sodom" is not just when the Lord comes, but right now; for we now are not to "look back" as Lot's wife did (Lk. 9:62; Phil. 3:13).

The importance of leaving the world immediately the Angel comes is shown by the consistent impression in the record that the Angels urgently "hastened Lot" (Gen.19:15-17,22), implying that if he did not hurry then he would perish. It was not foreordained that he would not perish- "Arise... lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city... escape for thy life; look not behind (the Hebrew root means 'to delay')  thee, neither stay thou... lest thou be consumed" (Gen. 19:15,17 AV). It is quite possible that the speed of our response to the call will be the proof of our acceptability. The speed of response was the basic difference between the wise and foolish virgins. It was only after he had left Sodom that the Angel said that he could not "do any thing till thou be come thither", i.e. to Zoar (Gen.19:22). Yet Lot "lingered", the Hebrew meaning 'to question or argue', as we see him doing later in the record in his discussion with the Angel concerning the danger of going to the mountain as he had been told, and asking leave to go to Zoar. "Lingered" literally means 'Why?' or 'What!', indicating severe incomprehension on Lot's part. We would be foolish to think that we too will not be prone to a serious sense of incomprehension when the Angel appears. Only repeated meditation upon that moment and a true love of the Lord's coming will stop us being so flustered by the Angel's call that we fail to respond to it with the necessary speed.

Therefore the Angel "grabbed" Lot's hand, a Hebrew word elsewhere translated 'to take courage', and definitely meaning to strengthen or encourage. Angels frequently said to faithful men "Fear not" when they have appeared to them. It is therefore tempting to think that our Angel will speak similar words of strength and encouragement to us on their appearing. The typology of Lot would support this. But we have to remember that in Lot's case the Lord was "merciful unto him"- such grace as was shown to him cannot be presumed upon. "Merciful" certainly carries the idea of pity in Hebrew- if we have had a loving relationship with our guardian Angel now, surely we may look forward to their 'pity' then. Despite all this, Lot's wife still looked back; and 'remember her'. The pull of family and materialism was such for that woman, that all this supreme demonstration of mercy and love was not enough to convince her that nothing else mattered apart from obedience to God.

Lot therefore was 'taken out' from the city which he had failed to separate from as he should; all by grace. And likewise with Abraham being 'taken out' from Ur by Divine providence, when he ought to have obeyed of his own volition.

19:17 It came to pass, when they had taken them out, that one of them said, Escape for your life! Don’t look behind you, and don’t stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be consumed!- The exit from Sodom was a type of our calling out of the world on the eve of its destruction in the last days; but when we first respond to the Gospel, we are likewise warned not to "look back" (Lk. 9:62; Phil. 3:13). We are to try to live now in the intensity of the second coming, living on a knife edge, realizing that the ultimate issues of eternity are before us. The world in which we live is as Sodom, ripe for destruction. "The mountains" were exactly where Abraham was living, the barren uplands which Abraham had accepted when Lot chose the fertile plain. He was being driven to reconsider that decision he had taken, and to realize how much he had suffered because of it. The whole "plain", the fertile area once so attractive to Lot, was to be destroyed. And so on the eve of this world's destruction, we need to earnestly consider whether we are as Lot or Abraham.

LXX "lest perhaps thou be overtaken together with them" shows that despite Abraham's intercession being a factor in Lot's salvation, he still would have lost that salvation if he chose to tarry longer. "Look" means to view intensely with love or pleasure; that these words were said to Lot must indicate that he was tempted to look on Sodom in that way. There seems to be a pointed contrast with Abraham, who looked at Sodom burning without being punished, presumably because he had no attraction towards it (Gen. 19:28). Thus for all his vexing of soul for the sins of the city (2 Pet. 2:8), Lot was still tempted to love it. Our repulsion at the ways of the world is not necessarily a sign of our spiritual safety- there is an uncanny love within human nature for the environment we know. Thus there can be homesickness for drab streets and scenes which we despised whilst living among them. Such love, taken to its logical end, is a love of the world which militates against our desire to see the end of this age and to enter the Kingdom.

It is amazing that with the clear command echoing in his ears, Lot could ask leave to live in Zoar, a small city of the plain, and not go to the mountain. He clearly failed to appreciate the reality and seriousness of the Angel's coming- and this will certainly be a temptation to us in that moment when the typology of Lot is fulfilled in us. The only way to guard against this is by consciously living our lives now in awareness of the fact that now we have been called to leave the world and its ways, and therefore our whole life now should have the spirit which we will have when we leave this world when the Angel comes. This is confirmed by an oblique allusion which our Lord makes to this Angelic command in Lk. 9:62: "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God". The context shows that starting to plough represents the start of our new life in response to the Gospel call- but the allusion to the Angel's words to Lot show that we should live our whole lives in response to that call as if we are on the way to the judgment, having been called away by the Angel.

It is a breathtaking thought that all the intricate typology of the judgments on Sodom has been worked out for our benefit- the generation who will be alive at the second coming. To a lesser extent, the believers of the first century could have seen that the story of Sodom also represented the judgments to come upon Jerusalem in AD70. An impressive group of Old Testament prophets had associated Jerusalem with Sodom: Is. 1:10; Am. 4:11; Dt. 29:23; Jer. 23:14; Lam. 4:6; Ez. 16:46. Jer. 4 and 5 are prophecies which have relevance to Israel's latter day judgments (Jer. 4:28 = Mt. 24:30). Jer. 5:1 seems to allude to God's requirement for their to be some faithful men in Sodom to prevent its destruction: "Run ye to and from through the streets of Jerusalem, and see... if ye can find a man... that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it". This associates Sodom, Jerusalem and the last days. It confirms the exposition offered on chapter 18- that if only one righteous had been found in Sodom, it would have been saved. And there was one righteous, namely Lot (2 Pet. 2:7). But Abraham set the limit at ten, and God accepted that. As the faithful remnant were miraculously allowed to leave Sodom, immediately unleashing the Divine judgments by doing so, the faithful Christian remnant were allowed to leave Jerusalem just before the final Roman onslaught of AD70, doubtless spurred on by their Lord's command: "Let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it (Jerusalem) depart out" (Lk. 21:21). The reference to fleeing to the mountains would have suggested a conscious allusion back to  the command to Lot to flee out of Sodom "to the mountain". 

19:18 Lot said to them, Oh, not so, my lord- Lot recognized he was dealing with Angels, and yet he felt he could dialogue with them, just as Abraham had done in chapter 18. But given the urgency of the situation, we tend to see his words here not so much as a reflection of his intimacy with God, but rather of his fearful lack of faith.

19:19 See now, your servant has found favour in your sight, and you have magnified your grace, which you have shown to me in saving my life. I can’t escape to the mountain, lest evil pursue me there, and I die- Lot's response to the Angel's call illustrates the contradictions which abound within human nature. He claims to appreciate that the Angel has saved his life, but then goes on to say that what the Angel is telling him to do will result in the loss of his life. Similarly our calling away may well present us with the prospect of apparent pain or loss. He feared that "some evil" would "take me", using a Hebrew word that is not the one usually translated as "take". This one means strictly 'to pursue after and capture', indicating that Lot was all too aware of the Sodomites' desire to kill him, and feared that if he lived alone in the mountains they would easily pursue and kill him. Instead, Lot suggested, there would be more safety in living in the small city of Zoar nearby, which presumably the Sodomites would be loath to invade just to take Lot. Another consideration is that "the evil" (Heb.) referred to Lot's belief that there was some evil, satan-like figure in the mountains which would pursue and kill him there. That belief was so deep that it made him challenge the Angel-saviour even in this desperate moment. And yet for all that wrong doctrine, the Angel still showed mercy and condescended to his misbelief, just as the Lord used the language of demons to those for whom the idea was so entrenched.

All this shows an incomprehension of what the Angel had said. Firstly, Sodom was to be destroyed at any moment, including the men whom Lot feared. Either he did not properly believe this, or he thought that God's judgment would not involve total destruction. Secondly, he had been explicitly told "neither stay thou in all the plain (including Zoar)... lest thou be consumed" (Gen.19:17 AV). Insufficient attention to the words of the Angels therefore resulted in his foolish reasoning which almost cost him his life. It is easy to imagine that the moment of the Angel's coming will fill the weak latter day believer, perhaps distracted as he will be by the persecutions of the holocaust to come, with such a sense of confusion and incomprehension that he too will fail to take careful note of what is said to him. A love of God's word now, rejoicing in its detail, is surely the preventive for this.

The connection between the Angels as God's eyes and His hearing of prayer becomes more relevant once it is realized that to 'find grace in God's sight' (eyes-Angels) is equivalent to saying 'please hear my prayer'- see Gen. 19:19; 32:5; 33:10,15; 34:11- at least in Genesis. This again explains why early believers conceived of God in terms of an Angel, as they would have prayed to the Angel and received the answers and other revelation of God from one.

The Angels make things potentially possible, but the realization of their potential plans depended upon Israel's freewill effort. When Lot says that he "cannot" flee from Sodom, the Angel responds by saying that he "cannot" [same Hebrew word] do anything until Lot has left- as if to suggest that the Angel's mission depended upon Lot's freewill decision for its realization (Gen. 19:19,22). The same word is found on the lips of another Angel in commending Jacob that he had "prevailed" (Gen. 32:28)- literally, he had 'coulded'. He had achieved what had been made potentially possible in terms of his relationship with that Angel. Caleb and Joshua perceived that Israel were "well able" to overcome the tribes and inherit the land, seeing that the Angel-hornet had gone ahead and prepared the way; and yet due to Israel's disabling of this possibility at the time, it was in some ways so that God Himself was "not able" to give them the inheritance, because they judged that they were " not able" to take it (Num. 13:30,31; 14:16).

19:20 See now, this city is near to flee to, and it is a little one. Oh let me escape there (isn’t it a little one?), and my soul will live- The Hebrew for "flee" is also translated 'to hide in', carrying the idea of being chased into. Again, his fear of the Sodomites is shown to loom large in his thinking. The Angel had bidden him flee from the Divine wrath that was soon to consume all the cities of the plain. But instead Lot was preoccupied with the fear of human vengeance against him. Such an attitude appears crazy to our cool, armchair analysis of what happened. Yet Lot is certainly a type of the believers who are alive at the Lord's return. There can be no doubting, therefore, that whatever our theoretical willingness now to leave all and follow the Angel, there will then be at least the temptation to get consumed with the kind of double-think that seized Lot's reasoning. He even tried to accommodate his human desires to the desires of the Angel: "Is it not a little one?", as if to imply that there was little wrong with the place spiritually. The Hebrew translated " little one" is also rendered "a short time"- as if to say 'You are asking me to be quick about leaving Sodom- so I'll go to  Zoar, as it won't take long to get there'.

"My soul shall live" is really a reflection of his lack of faith in Divine salvation; he considered that he knew better than God in working out his salvation. All the way through, Lot is portrayed as a man of very weak faith. And yet he was counted righteous, as 2 Peter makes clear.

19:21 He said to him, Behold, I have granted your request concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken- LXX "Behold, I have had respect to thee also about this thing". We see here God's sensitivity and even humility before men; His "respect" of humans in all their weakness. We too should respect people even if they are spiritually weak; and this will affect the language and jargon we use about people. The intercession of one man saved Zoar; and this feeds back into the theme developed in commentary on chapter 18, that the intercession of one man, Abraham, and the righteousness of one man, Lot, could have saved a whole city- but Abraham lacked the vision and faith to actualize it.

The righteousness of a single man [cp. that of the Lord Jesus] wasn't perceived by Abraham as powerful enough. Perhaps Paul had this in mind when he writes in Romans of how for the sake of "the one", the Lord Jesus, many sinners can be counted righteous. And surely God was trying to bring out the same possibility when we read of how Lot asked for the sake of Zoar- just for his singular sake. And God spared Zoar- just for the sake of one man, Lot. Note how the Hebrew word used for "spare" in Gen. 18:24,26 recurs in Gen. 19:21, where God assures Lot that He will indeed spare Zoar [AV "I have accepted"]. We are surely intended to reflect that God would have spared Sodom for Lot's sake too. Perhaps God is alluding to the same point when He says that for the sake of just one righteous man He would have spared Israel in Ezekiel's time (Ez. 22:30). Surely there was one righteous man in Ezekiel's time, not least Ezekiel himself. But there was nobody with the spiritual vision to intercede with God to spare Israel for the sake of that one man; their lack of vision of His grace and pleasure in the righteousness of even one person was akin to Abraham's lack. And are we not intended to see some allusion to Abraham's failure in the way that Moses, just one man, prayed for and received Israel's salvation? And could not Abraham have asked for Sodom to be spared for his own sake, had he had a broader vision of God's grace? Perhaps his legalistic attitude is reflected in his appeal for "the judge of all the earth" to do what was right, in not destroying the righteous with the wicked. He perceives God as legalistic judge, not gracious Father. He asked for justice- not mercy. His basis is that the Judge of all the earth shall “do judgment”- note that “do right” is a poor translation. The Hebrew word translated “Judge” is the same root as “do judgment / justice”. It’s as if Abraham is almost simply observing that the Judge / Justice will of course do justice, and so he’s drawing to His attention that there are in fact just people in Sodom, and therefore God’s justice will surely preclude Him from destroying them. He assumed there were ten people in Sodom who were righteous; but perhaps later Scripture alludes to this by stressing that there is not one truly righteous person, not one (Rom. 3:10). Paul brings out the point that therefore salvation is by grace, not personal righteousness. And in the end, Lot was saved- but only because he threw himself upon God's grace. Yet he too perhaps suffered from Abraham's legalism; it is possibly referred to by the men of Sodom when they complain that he who had come in to sojourn amongst them "would play the judge" (Gen. 19:9). Significantly, Lot's salvation out of the burning Sodom is applied to all God's people in Am. 4:11. His entire people are saved by a like grace.

Abraham saved Lot out of Sodom by his earnest prayer for him; and there is ample reason to think from the Genesis record and his subsequent reaction to the Angel’s invitation to leave that Lot of himself was simply not strong enough. Without those prayers and the concern of Abraham read by God as prayer, Lot may well have been left to suffer the condemnation of the world he preferred to live in. And yet Lot fleeing from Sodom is used in the NT as a type of our latter day exit from the world at the Lord’s coming. Is this not to suggest that the latter day believers will be saved only by grace, they will not be strong and ready to leave; and their salvation will only be on account of the prayers of the faithful? Lot was not without spirituality; but he was simply swamped by the pull of the world in which he had become entangled, not to mention his unspiritual wife. He was the type on which one could have compassion, making a difference, and pull out of the fire. Indeed, it could even be that Jude’s words about pulling a brother out of the fire may be a reference back to Lot being pulled out of the fire that came upon Sodom. Those in his position sin a sin which is not unto death only in the sense that we can pray for them, so that their sin will not lead them to condemnation. But only in this sense is sin not unto death; for the wages of sin, any sin, is death (Rom. 6:23). But in some cases this sentence can ultimately be changed on account of our effort for our brother.

19:22 Hurry, escape there, for I can’t do anything until you get there. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar- When Lot says that he “cannot” flee from Sodom, the Angel responds by saying that he “cannot” [same Hebrew word] do anything until Lot has left- as if to suggest that the Angel’s mission depended upon Lot’s freewill decision for its realization (Gen. 19:19,22). The same word is found on the lips of another Angel in commending Jacob that he had “prevailed” (Gen. 32:28)- literally, he had ‘coulded’. He had achieved what had been made potentially possible in terms of his relationship with that Angel.

19:23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar- Just as God reads the situation of the righteous as prayer even if they don't verbalize it, so God sees the behaviour / situation of the wicked as a cry ascending up to Him, as prayer does. Sodom's cry reaching unto Heaven is the obvious example (Gen. 18:20,21; 19:23); but Ps. 74:23 also speaks of the voice of God's enemies 'rising up' [Heb.] to Him in Heaven.

The rising of the sin invites comparison with the description of the second coming as the rising of the sun in Mal. 4:2; the judgments upon this Sodom like world are to come the moment the Lord returns. "But his wife looked back from behind him" (Gen.19:26) suggests the picture of the wife following behind Lot, filled with remorse at the loss of all she had held dear. Our Lord comments concerning not desiring our "stuff which is in the house" in the day of his coming: "Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever (like her) shall seek (Greek: 'plot') to save his life shall lose it". We can infer from this that she plotted and schemed how to save her possessions- i.e. her 'life', seeing that for her, her life did consist of the abundance of the things which she possessed (Lk. 12:15). These feelings grew so strong that she paused to take a loving, wistful look at the city. Remember that the fire only fell after Lot was in Zoar; therefore the city was looking as it normally did. Their exodus was at night- "the sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar" (Gen. 19:23), so she would have seen the flickering lights of the city in the distance. Compare this with how the virgins of Mt. 25 go out to meet their Lord at night.

As a result of Abraham's intense prayer, believing that this coupled with the spiritual preparedness of others really could change God's stated purpose, the judgment of Sodom need not have come. So with Jerusalem in AD70, had there been a suitably large, repentant 'remnant' those horrific judgments could have been avoided. Despite the definite associations of Jerusalem with Sodom in the prophets, the Old Testament also uses Sodom as a symbol of total, permanent destruction of the type which has not and will not come on Jerusalem, the future capital of the Kingdom (Dt. 29:23; 32:32; Is. 13:19; Jer. 49:18; 50:40; Am. 4:11; Zeph. 2:9). It is for this reason that Paul makes the point that for the sake of the tiny group of Jews who did still hold and practice the truth, Israel would not suffer the judgments of Sodom in totality (Rom. 9:29 cp. Is. 1:9). This would indicate that there will also be a latter day Jewish remnant which will stop the faithless Israel of today receiving the judgment of permanent destruction. But of course for the individuals of both natural and spiritual Israel who have consciously rejected God, "it shall be more tolerable in that day (of judgment) for Sodom" than for them (Lk. 10:12). Jer. 20:16 has a graphic description of the people of Sodom screaming out in anguish, both mental and physical, as the judgments of God fell upon them: "The cry in the morning (when the judgments began, Gen. 19:23,24), and the shouting at noontide". This is in reality a picture of the rejected in the last days. 

19:24 Then Yahweh rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah sulphur and fire from Yahweh out of the sky- The 'raining' invites us to compare this with the coming of the flood, thereby connecting Lot with Noah. They both sinned through wine after their gracious deliverance. Evidence of this has been uncovered by Albright and other archaeologists, finding it superimposed upon a once fertile area: "Evidence of five freshwater oases have been located at the southeast corner of the Dead Sea, obviously used for irrigation to service the cities of the circuit when they were in existence. Adjacent to these oases, on a plain elevated above the level of the Dead Sea some 500 feet (152.4m), there were found the remains of a great fortified enclosure, a high place for religious festivals. According to these archaeologists, the evidence suggests that the population of the area ended abruptly about 2000 B.C. It also showed, that at that time, the area was densely populated, fertile and prosperous".

Abraham prayed for the city of Sodom to be saved for the sake of ten righteous who might be there. He didn't specifically mention what was his heart's desire- that Lot be saved. But God discerned the spirit of his prayer, and saved Lot, even though Abraham 'knew not what to pray for' and asked for the 'wrong' thing in order to obtain what he really wanted, i.e. the salvation of Lot.

19:25 He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew on the ground- This is mentioned because the fertility of the area had been so initially attractive to Lot. The "all" excluded Zoar; so we have another example of "all" not meaning 'every', in a global sense. The scale of destruction, utter totality, of man and animal and vegetation, recalls the effects of the flood.

19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt- She was walking "behind him", so Lot would not have actually seen her turn into a pillar of salt. As he ceased to hear her footsteps behind him he must have guessed what had happened- but now the Angel's words seemed more vital to him: "Look not behind you". Likewise it will be a sore temptation for us to be side-tracked from our obedience to the Angel's call by consideration for our natural family. Dt. 29:23 and Zeph. 2:9 show that Sodom was turned into an area of salt, which explains why Gen. 19:25 says that the fire destroyed "that which grew on the ground", by making the area salty. This salt was presumably formed through the fire intensely burning the rocks and earth until the elements dissolved into a 'salt'. It is reasonable to think that as Sodom was turned into salt by fire, so Lot's wife suffered the same punishment through a bolt of fire striking her and turning her too into salt. This is a prime example of how the unworthy will suffer the same punishment as the surrounding world which they failed to truly leave. There is good reason to think that their punishment may also involve an element of literal fire, as that of Lot's wife did.

"Remember Lot's wife" suggests that we should meditate upon her position as it has especial warning for the last days. Her leaving of Sodom appears to have been due to the personal influence of Lot her husband, yet ultimately she failed to have that personal desire to obey God. It would not be pushing the type too far to suggest that the wives of latter day believers may feel that they can enter the Kingdom in the spiritual shadow of their husbands. One cannot help wondering whether she left Ur not through personal response to the promises but because the others were leaving. Doubtless her husband's uncle Abraham would have led her and the whole family in regular prayer and meditation during the journey towards Canaan. But somehow the reality of the God of Israel was never allowed to touch her inner being, and the years of the soft life in Sodom would have sealed her spiritual state. It is hard to avoid making the point that many of us may be in a similar position.

Gen. 19:14 RVmg. brings out the likely immediate background to her decision. Lot’s sons in law “were to marry” his daughters. The Lord too perceived that they were marrying and giving in marriage the very day the flood came, and He pointed out the similarities with the Sodom situation (Lk. 17:27-29). Could it not be that the very day of the double wedding, they had to leave? With all the build up to the wedding, Lot and his wife would so wanted to have stayed just another day to see the wedding of their two daughters. It is to the girls credit that they both left. But Lot’s wife had invested so much in it emotionally that she just had to look back.

19:27 Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before Yahweh- He went there to see whether the destruction had happened, whether in fact ten righteous had been found there. He went there in faith, responding to the Angel's words. And he found they had come true. Remember that Abraham was informed of the promised destruction of Sodom by the Angel just after the same Angel had promised the conception and birth of Isaac. It's as if the short term fulfilment of the Angel's words was encouragement that the longer term Angelic prediction would likewise happen; and the yet longer term fulfilment of the promises would also occur. We too find the Father operating in a similar way with us. We are given short term experiences of faith rewarded to encourage our faith in longer term outcomes.

19:28 He looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and looked, and saw that the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace- Of Gog's destruction it is written: "I will rain upon him... great hailstones, fire and brimstone" (Ez. 38:22), associating latter day Gog with Sodom. At the same time, Gog and his supporters will be fighting each other (Ez. 38:21), clearly connecting with Zechariah's prophecy that the local surrounding invaders of the last days will do the same (and cp. Jud. 7:22). God's pleading against Gog with these things is the language of Joel 3:2, again about the destruction of Israel's latter day Arab enemies. The Hebrew word for 'locust' in Joel is almost identical to 'Gog'. All this results in an association between the latter day invaders, the Sodomites, Gog and the northern invader. This prepares the way for the view that " the beast" is a symbolic epitome of all Israel's enemies. 

It is to be expected, therefore, that the fall of Babylon chronicled in Rev. 18 is shot through with allusions back to the Sodom record. The following are the more evident points of contact: 

Babylon (in Rev.)

Sodom

"I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore" (Babylon); 17:2        

Cp. God showing Abraham the judgment of Sodom.

The beast supporting Babylon "was and is not and shall ascend"; 17:8              

Sodom and surrounding cities were strong, then overrun by Abraham, then revived.

"Her sins have reached unto Heaven,  God hath remembered her iniquities"; 18:5

"The cry of Sodom... is great because their sin is very grievous  ... the cry of it is come unto me" (Gen. 18:20,21)

"She hath glorified herself, and lived   deliciously"; 18:7    

"Pride... fulness of bread" (Ez. 16:49)

"Utterly burned with fire"; 18:8  

'Sodom' = 'burning'.

"Her plagues... death... and famine";  18:8

"He overthrew all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground" (cp. "famine"; Gen. 19:25).

"The great city... great Babylon"; 16:19

The city of Sodom.

 

"There fell upon men a great hail out   of heaven" (16:21)                   

"The Lord rained upon Sodom...  brimstone and fire from the Lord          out of heaven" (Gen.19:24).

"They shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment (18:9,10)   

Abraham standing far away and seeing the smoke of Sodom's     burning indicates that the surrounding kings did likewise (Gen. 19:28).

Merchants suffered through  Babylon's fall (18:11-19)         

Sodom was a trading centre (Lk. 17:28)

" ...a great millstone cast into the sea  ... thus with violence shall... Babylon... be found no more at all" (18:21)

Sodom now appears to be submerged in the Dead Sea, to be found no more.

"Her smoke rose up" (19:3)

"Sodom... the land of the plain... the smoke of the country went up" (19:28)

 

We have reasoned that Lot's call out of Sodom represents how the Angels will call us out of this present evil world. Indeed, our Lord said that Sodom represents the world just prior to the second coming (Lk. 17:28). The evident connections with latter day Babylon would suggest that 'Babylon' too represents the world of the last days; " Come out of her my people" (Rev. 18:4) therefore refers to the Angel's plea  to us at the second coming, in addition to any previous historical reference it may have to the Catholic apostasy. The call for the first century Jews to leave Rome or for true believers to come out of apostate systems were pointers towards the ultimate fulfilment of these words, which will be in our leaving this life at the behest of the Angel who comes to call us away. Our obedience then will be the summation of all the previous decisions God's people have made to 'come out' from the 'world' in its various forms. 

If 'Babylon' refers specifically to the powers surrounding Israel, it is possible to see Sodom representing the world under Arab control in the last days, offering great material wealth. Yet the obvious Biblical basis for the language of "come out of her my people" is in the many references to Israel being called on to leave the soft life of Babylon and return to the land during the restoration (e.g. Zech. 2:6,7). In this there is a remarkable similarity with Sodom. The Jews in Babylon maintained their separateness, and yet became heavily involved in the government of Babylon (as witness Daniel and his friends, along with profane history). This is parallel to Lot's position in Sodom. Yet the prosperity of Babylon made the Jews disinclined to leave it in order to go to Jerusalem, as Lot had a similar disinclination. And the easy life of the present world will also seem a greater attraction to the unworthy of the new Israel, when the Angel calls them to go to Jerusalem to meet their Lord. 

19:29 It happened, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the middle of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived- The situation has many connections with the flood, where God likewise "remembered Noah" and saved a remnant from the total destruction which came (Gen. 8:1).

We learn from this verse that Lot had lived in the cities of the plain, until he eventually settled in Sodom. This adds to the impression of a steady slide downwards in his spirituality. It was only by taking all his wealth and family away from him, until he ended up living as a caveman, that he could be saved. Such is the terrible power of materialism and the soft life.

The days of Sodom are to be read as types of our last days. Thus in the type of the last days, the prayers and loving spiritual concern of the faithful remnant really can have an effect on the salvation of our weaker brethren. Note that Abraham's prayer that Sodom would be saved if ten righteous were found there, was not answered; but God knew the real spirit of his prayer, that Lot should be saved, and that God's justice should be upheld in not destroying the righteous with the wicked. It was this which God recognized and answered, even though Abraham had not specifically verbalized those thoughts in prayer. Our true spiritual love for our brethren, expressed in such intense prayer, will likewise be heard in these last days.

The record of Lot's leaving of Sodom (a remarkable type of our 'exodus' at the second coming) has the repeated hallmark of 'haste'. This is found repeated in the record of both the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea. They were told, "You shall eat it in haste" (Ex. 12:11); "they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry" because " the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste" (Ex. 12:39,33). Lot was "sent out" of Sodom by the hastening of the angels. It may be that in some cases our angels will hasten us to leave through their influencing of the surrounding nations (Egypt), rather than through their physical presence.

19:30 Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to live in Zoar- Again, we see Lot being brought back to the obedience he should have made originally. He had been told to flee to the mountain, and now he does so of his own volition. His fearing to live in Zoar was really another lack of faith- in the Angelic promise that Zoar would not be destroyed.

He lived in a cave with his two daughters- This is a picture of his absolute poverty, having been plunged from wealthy affluence to cave dwelling.

19:31 The firstborn said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in to us in the way of all the earth- There were still plenty of men in the eretz, and Zoar was still intact, protected by the promised Angelic deliverance of that city for the sake of one man's intercession, Lot. See on :36.

19:32 Come, let’s make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve our father’s seed- Incest was likely commonplace in Sodom, and the young women were still influened by it, although saved by grace.


19:33 They made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father. He didn’t know when she lay down, nor when she arose- We wonder how this could quite have been the case. To achieve ejaculation when so drunk that there is a memory blackout, and for both women to conceive within 24 hours of each other after only one act of intercourse... all seems a straining of physical credibility. It could be that we have here an example of human perception being stated, without any footnote to the effect that 'this is just how they liked to see it and present it'; we have plenty of examples of this kind of thing when we consider the language of demons and exorcism in the New Testament.

19:34 It came to pass on the next day, that the firstborn said to the younger, Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine again tonight. You go in, and lie with him, that we may preserve our father’s seed- As noted on :33, the physical likelihood of conception occuring from one act of intercourse with a man so drunk that he suffers memory blackout, and both sisters conceiving within 24 hours of each other... is so unlikely that we get the impression that we are reading the agreed version of events which the family agreed to publicize. The simple fact may be that seeing Lot thought little of offering those girls for sex to a gang who wanted to rape his guests... he didn't see too much wrong with sleeping with them himself.

19:35 They made their father drink wine that night also. The younger went and lay with him. He didn’t know when she lay down, nor when she got up- There are strong similarities with Noah getting drunk and apparently being involved in some incestuous sex at the time. It is a sad anticlimax to the life of a man who did show spirituality and faith, despite so much weakness. His life almost comes to this end purposefully, in order to highlight the amazing grace of the statement that in the end, Lot was counted righteous, will be saved, and is to be remembered for how much he detested the immorality of Sodom (2 Pet. 2:7,8). The contrast is so severe that we are driven by it to accept the power of Divine grace.


19:36 Thus both of Lot’s daughters were with child by their father- I have suggsted on :33-35 that those verses are a transcript of the agreed version of events distributed by the family. Perhaps this is the force of the word "Thus", as if to say, "This is the explanation offered as to how Lot's daughters were with child by their father". But this doesn't have to mean that it actually happened as they said; the girls' complaint that there were no males to marry was also untrue, as noted on :31.

19:37 The firstborn bore a son, and named him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day- "Moab" = 'begotten of my father'.

19:38 The younger also bore a son, and called his name Ben Ammi. He is the father of the children of Ammon to this day- 'Son of my own people'; and "Ammon" means "tribal", with the implication "inbred". "To this day" again reminds us the initial purpose of the Pentateuch was to explain to Israel in the wilderness the origins of the peoples with whom they were coming into contact as they approached Canaan.