Genesis 19:12-29

12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place!

13 For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.”

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.

15 When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.”

16 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.

17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that [b]he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”

18 Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords!

19 Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die.

20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.”

21 And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken.

22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar.

24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.

25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord.

28 Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.

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 had dwelt.

The ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah are probably hidden beneath the waters of the shallow southern end of the Dead Sea, which has risen greatly in recent years and now coves a much larger area than formerly. Ruins of a festival center on a neighboring plateau, where inhabitants of these cities may have gathered, have been discovered. Archaeological examination proves that the center was used for centuries but abandoned after Abraham’s time. — Scofield, page 29.

On the other hand, archaeological explorations within the past decade have shown that, at the time of Abraham, there were five large cities on the eastern side of this southern portion of the Dead Sea … If these are indeed the cities of Lot’s time … Each city was located along one of the fresh-water streams coming down from the eastern hills into the Vale of Siddim and on into the sea. Each was situated on a high outspur overlooking its “wadi,” so that it could control the river and the water below. The five cities were apparently very prosperous and supported a very large population (the tombs that have been uncovered indicate probably over a million individuals had been buried in them). The word “Siddim” seems to mean “cultivated fields,” indicative of the extensive agricultural system developed on them by the five-nation confederacy. — Morris, page 352.

In an atmosphere of emergency, the angels offered to spare Lot and his family, including even the men of Sodom that had married some of his daughters. The angels told him plainly, however, that his family would have to leave the city altogether, because it was about to be destroyed.

Lot then went out again to find his daughters and their husbands, to carry them the warning. … However, he had long since lost any influence with them, and they simply ridiculed him, completely refusing to take his warning seriously. So far as the record goes, he didn’t even bother to warn his own sons, presumably because they were so deeply involved in the … wickedness by this time that he knew it would be useless. —Morris, page 350.

“The Lord being merciful unto him,” the angels insisted that they leave, actually pulling them by the hand! … Again, however, Lot tries to compromise. … He beseeches them to allow him to move into one of the smaller cities, Zoar, and to spare that one city. … It is pitiful the way Lot begs for the opportunity to continue to be at least somewhat comfortable in the world, stressing that Zoar was such a small city (the name itself means “small place”) that it couldn’t hurt too much to spare it. — Morris, page 351.

It seems possible … that God triggered an earthquake along [a] great fault [the “Great Rift”] at this time, which released and exposed to the atmosphere vast quantities of combustible hydrocarbons and sulphur. At the same time, God sent “fire from heaven,” which ignited the mixture in a great explosion and devastating fire. … The “fire and brimstone” that fell from heaven possibly refers to the burning gas and sulphur that were blown into the air in the explosion and then fell back to the earth throughout the region. The most likely naturalistic explanation for the ignition of these materials probably would be that of a simultaneous electrical storm, in which case the lightning itself could also be described as “fire from heaven.” …

Since natural physical phenomena, divinely timed, so seem adequate to explain the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, perhaps we should interpret the story in this way. The personal connection of God and the two angelic messengers with Sodom’s destruction in itself tends to suggest that the “rain of brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” was actually supernatural. — Morris, pages 354-355.

[Regarding Lot’s wife] It seems probable that this brief statement [She looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt] (not referring to either God or angels, but containing only a matter-of-fact summary of an event), simply records a natural calamity that over took this woman as she very reluctantly followed her husband and daughters out of Sodom.

When the Lord Jesus Christ, talking of the events to occur near the time of His second coming, referred by way of illustration to the event, He said: “Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:32-33). The implication is that Lot’s wife was seeking to hang on to her life in Sodom and that, consequently, she lost her life in its destruction. The word “looked back” has the connotation of “looking intently.” It might possibly be rendered “lagged back,” or maybe even “returned back.” In any case, she was not with her husband and daughters, so that only she perished. One possibility is that the explosions in the region threw great quantities of its salt deposits into the air, and that some of these fell on her and buried her under an great pile of salt. Another is that she was buried by volcanic ash or other materials and that, gradually, over the following years, her body became petrified, “becoming salt” in a fashion similar to that experienced by the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum when they were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. — Morris, pages 355-356.

God could destroy the whole of Sodom with all its wealth and all its men, women, babes, and cattle, but one filthy man he could not destroy with Sodom. He could not even destroy Sodom as long as [Lot] lingered in it. That Lot had become besmirched with Sodom’s slime the last part of this chapter clearly shows, but God calls him three times in 2 Peter just in the sense of justified, and God reverently speaking, cannot destroy a justified man. He cannot go back upon His own justification, nor can He first exact pay from the Surety and Substitute, and then from the person covered by the Surety. The just Judge of all the earth cannot do this. What a volume of comfort lies here in regard to the eternal security of the believer; and what a volume of teaching in regard to the pre-tribulation rapture of the believers. We can bank upon it that it is a rule of God’s blessed Book and in all His actions that in all judgments He thinks first of the safety of the justified, and He cannot destroy the justified with the wicked. — Bultema, page 52. 

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