Understanding the Old Testament

Sodom and Gomorrah

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

Too many times I have heard Sodom and Gomorrah cited by people as proof that God hates homosexual conduct. It makes a poor argument, because that is not what this story is really about. (Those people would do better to cite Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:10. But that’s another subject.)

The Middle East has a strong and enduring tradition of hospitality toward strangers and travelers. Genesis 18-19 contrasts the wickedness of the people of Sodom with Abraham’s righteousness by showing how differently they treat three Heavenly visitors—two angels and the Lord, who are disguised as men.

Abraham rolls out the red carpet for them, inviting them to rest and wash their feet while he and Sarah prepare food and drink for them. In contrast, only Abraham’s nephew, Lot, gives the two angels a similar welcome when they reach Sodom. And soon thereafter the men of Sodom descend on Lot’s house, demanding that the two visitors be handed over “that we may have relations [that is, sexual relations] with them.” As in the days of Noah, God felt that He must eradicate such shocking evil.

The extent of the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah is shown in Chapter 18, for there the Lord agrees, at Abraham’s urging, to spare the cities if He can find even ten righteous people there. But ten could not be found, and the cities were destroyed. Only Lot and his family escapedall except Lot's wife, that is, for she disobeyed the angels’ instructions and paid for it with her life. (Genesis 19:17 and 19:26)

Lot would later become the father of the Moabites and the Ammonites, peoples who lived east of the Dead Sea. We will meet them again after the Exodus.

Question to ponder or discuss: Like Lot’s wife, people in the Old Testament frequently suffer when they disobey God or His representatives. Do you believe God still punishes people for disobedience? (Compare John 9:1-3 and Hebrews 12:7.)

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

My book, Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15), is available on Amazon.com as either a print book or a Kindle e-book. Here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074MVHVHP Read Chapter 1 (pdf format)



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