9/09/2011

God's Judgment on the Unrighteous and the Righteous (Gen 19:1-38)

Gen1819sodom-fire

"So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out..." (Gen 19:29).

Previous passages: Friendship and Intimacy (Gen 18:1-16); The Wonder of Laughter (Gen 18:9-15; 21:1-7); Why God Choose Abraham (Gen 18:19); The Prayer of a True Friend (Gen 18:17-33).
Next passage: Abraham Offers Isaac (Gen 22:1-14).

God's judgment on Sodom is the 3rd major judgment in Genesis after God's judgment on Adam and Eve (Gen 3:1-24) and the flood (Gen 6:1ff). God's judgment infuriates man and rubs them in reverse. Though they are convinced that God's judgment does not exist, yet their resentment, hostility and anger toward God's judgment often seems out of proportion to its "non-existence." Is Santa Claus sending people to hell upsetting? We laugh. But replace Santa with God and the response is intensified.

In the Bible God's judgment is primarily against the violent--those who oppress, distress and destroy others, so much so that the oppressed cry out to God (Exo 3:7). This was how God expressed himself to Abraham: it was a response to an outcry from Sodom (Gen 18:20-21; Ezek 16:49-50).

Lot's story in Gen 19:1-37 shows the end results of a life lived by a basically good man who compromised with the world, unlike Abraham. Gen 19:1-37 regarding Lot is written in contrast to Gen 18:1-33 regarding Abraham. Derek Kidner says:


"The noon encounter in (chap. 18) and the night scene in Sodom in (chap. 19) are in every sense a contrast of light and darkness. The former, quietly intimate and full of promise, is crowned by the intercession in which Abraham's faith and love show a new breadth of concern. The second scene is all confusion and ruin, moral and physical, ending in a loveless squalor which is even uglier than the great overthrow of the cities." (Genesis, p 131)

"By a master-stroke of narrative, Abraham...is shown standing at his place of intercession (Gen 19:27), a silent witness of the catastrophe he has striven to avert. It is a superb study of the 2 aspects of judgment: the cataclysmic, as the cities disappear in brimstone and fire (1-25), and the gradual (26-37), as Lot and his family reach the last stages of disintegration, breaking up in the very hands of their rescuers." (Genesis, p 134)

From Gen 19:1-37, let's examine God's judgment on Sodom in 3 parts:
  1. God's Initiative to Save Lot and Others (1-14).
  2. God's Rescue of Lot and his family (15-22).
  3. God's Severity of Judgment Against Both the Unrighteous and the Righteous is Just (23-37).
I. God's Initiative to Save Lot and Others (Gen 19:1-14)
  1. God's Initiative to Save Lot (Gen 19:1-11).
    • Contrast Abraham's glorious intercession with Lot's corruption.
    • By resembling Abraham, Lot demonstrates that he is righteous, unlike the men of Sodom (2 Pet 2:7-8), and yet...
    • Though Abraham also stumbled, he had a sense of God's calling.
    • Lot didn't go to Sodom in response to God's calling (Gen 13:10).
    • The “gateway” of the city was the place that the local dignitaries sat to set policy for the town. However, Lot has had absolutely no positive effect on the city. It is filled with selfishness, brutality, violence, licentiousness, and oppression, and he is simply presiding over it! (Contrast with Joseph, Daniel, Esther.)
    • Gen 19:4-14 shows why God's judgment is just and not arbitrary.
    • Homosexuality is a sin against God (Lev 18:22-24,29; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9).
    • Lot's awful grotesque suggestion (Gen 19:8) exposes his worldly smarts and corruption.
  2. God's Initiative to Save Others (Gen 19:12-14).
    • God's utmost desire is to save (John 3:17; 2 Pet 3:9).
II. God's Rescue of Lot and His Family (Gen 19:15-22)
  • Lot's heart was so wrapped up in Sodom and cities (Gen 19:15-16,17-22; Jn 6:44).
  • Warning -- if our hearts are attached to the world (1 Jn 2:15-17).
III. God's Just Severity Against the Unrighteous and the Righteous (Gen 19:23-38)
  1. The Cataclysmic Judgment of the Unrighteous (Gen 19:23-26)
    • Gen 19:24-25 is a picture of the final judgment.
    • The Scripture’s view of Sodom and her sin is grim. Over & over Sodom and Gomorrah are pictured in the Bible as archetypes of what the fallen human nature can descend to when God’s common grace is withdrawn.
    • Lot's wife (Gen 19:26; Lk 17:32) is a warning against worldliness.
    • This is a warning to those who reject the gospel (Mt 10:14-15)
  2. The Gradual Judgment of a Righteous Man, Lot (Gen 19:27-38)
    • The tragic ending of Lot's life "proves that those things which men contrive for themselves by rash counsel drawn from carnal reasons never prosper. The Lord at length curses whatever is not undertaken with His approval." ~ John Calvin
    • 4 parts:
      • Lot's salvation (27-29);
      • Lot's situation (30),
      • Lot's daughter's (31-35),
      • Lot's descendents (36-38) and God's grace.
    • Abraham’s prayers was the effectual means of God’s gracious operation to save Lot from destruction (Gen 19:27-29).
    • Doubt and fear rather than faith are driving Lot in his decision (Gen 19:30). Fear and isolation portend spiritual ruin. Why?
    • Lot's great goal in life was affluence and security. Now he is virtually homeless.
    • Getaway sins (1 sin leads to another): Lot’s sins opened him up for other sins: 1) fear; 2) drunkenness, his abuse of wine; 3) isolation from believers. Each opened him up for other sins.
    • Particularly the fear Lot displayed set the stage for this whole sordid incident. He did not trust in God’s promises (Rom 14:23).
    • How could Lot's daughters...? Though Lot had been formally obedient to moral rules, he had always based his life choices on his own self-interest above all. His daughters simply took this philosophy out to its logical conclusion.
    • A warning to all fathers of daughters that we teach them how another man ought to treat them (Gen 19:7,31-35).
    • Never underestimate the impact of worldliness on our children (Exo 20:5). "Lot was able to take his daughters out of Sodom, but he was not able take the philosophy of Sodom out of his daughters." "The story of Lot and his family should provide a sobering reminder that all our decisions are significant, even that of where we live. Our moral environment significantly influences our lives. For this and many other reasons the NT constantly implores the believer to fellowship with those of like precious faith." (J.J.Davis)
    • Despite the fact that Moab and Ammon were enemies of Israel and particularly debauched cultures, Mt 1:5 shows a remarkable sign of the power of God’s grace. Ruth, the Moabitess, became of mother of Jesus Christ himself. No people, no person, is beyond the reach of God’s grace.
Conclusion: The theme of Genesis is that God restores the world lost in Eden through the promises he makes to Abraham. Originally, the world was whole and perfect, but when Adam and Eve trusted themselves rather than God, sin entered the world and disintegration began. Abraham is the beginning of God’s salvation. God calls Abraham to trust him (as Adam and Even did not). Abraham must ‘lose the world to gain the world’. He must be willing to put God ahead of security and status and even home if he is going to become a new people that will eventually bring salvation for the whole world.

Why then the story of Lot? Sadly, Lot is not the exact opposite of Abraham — he is not wicked, violent, and corrupt. Rather, he is the counterfeit of Abraham. (He fools even himself.) On the surface he seems quite moral and good, but he has refused to put God first. “He is the righteous man without the pilgrim spirit." (Kidner, p. 133.) He refuses to ‘get out’ of his security zones, he refuses to become a spiritual ‘pilgrim’. As a result he is the counter-point to everything
Abraham is. Abraham is called to teach his children and build a strong family
(Gen 18:19, 17:9) but Lot’s family disintegrates.

References: "The Judgment on Sodom" (Gen 19:1-27) and "The Disgrace of Lot" (Gen 19:28-37). 2 sermons by Ligon Duncan.
"Judgment on Sodom" (Gen 19:1-37), What were we put in the world to do? Study guide by Tim Keller, p 145-154

How God saves Lot (150-152):

  1. God initiates (Gen 19:1).
  2. God saves through relationships (Gen 19:12-13, 18:19, 17:9, 7:1).
  3. God empowers (Gen 19:15-16; Rom 3:10; Jn 6:44).
  4. God accepts imperfect responses (Gen 19:18-22).
  5. God works through prayer (Gen 19:29; 1 Jn 2:1-2; Rom 8:34; Lk 22:31-32).
Questions:
  1. The 3 major judgments in Genesis are the fall, the flood, and Sodom. Is God's judgment just or arbitrary? Notice the cataclysmic judgment on Sodom (1-25) and the gradual judgment on righteous Lot and his family (26-37). Does God also judge the righteous (2 Pet 2:7-8)?
  2. How does Lot's wife warn us (Gen 19:26; Luke 17:32; 1 Jn 2:15-17)? How did Lot's sins (getaway sins) open him up for other sins (Gen 13:10,13; 14:12; 19:7,15-22, 30; Rom 14:23)?
  3. How could Lot's daughters sleep with their drunken father (Gen 19:31-35, 7)? What might we learn here as fathers (Exo 20:5)? How did God show his grace even to Lot's descendants (Ruth 1:4; Mt 1:5)?
  4. What could explain the vast difference in the outcome of Abraham's life and Lot's life (Gen 15:6; 13:10)? How is Lot not the exact opposite of but the counterfeit of Abraham?

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