Sunday, March 05, 2006


Genesi 18:16-33

GENESIS 18:16-33

OCTOBER 23, 2005

Good Morning! And welcome on this fall day. We are continuing on our journey through the book of Genesis. Last time we began in Genesis 18 with the story of the three “angelic” visitors. We talked about how the evidence indicates at least one of these was a “Theophany” or “Christophany”, that is… a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord in human form here on earth. I told you that it is my opinion that the other two visitors were the Archangel Michael and the angel Gabriel. We saw God repeat to Abraham his promise of a son born to Sarah. We heard Sarah laugh, which was not a sin, then lie about it, which was. Today we shall see the end of that visit and the events that were to follow immediately after. Let’s start with reading the next part of the passage.

Genesis 18:16-22. Read.

We have here a narrative that hints at the impending doom that is come. First we see something of the eastern hospitality we talked about in our last lesson.

Genesis 18:16. Read.

Abraham makes sure his guests are safely on their way and will escort them off his property holdings. It’s significant I believe that to look towards Sodom, even for angels is indicative that they will go there. Many of us “look toward” sin. We like to observe it and maybe play with the idea of the sin, but tell ourselves that is as far as we will go. But to look toward the temptation is to start on the journey to arriving at the destination. Thus it is called “the lust of the eye”.

Genesis 18:17,18. Read.

While it’s true Abraham had a relative, his nephew Lot, in Sodom, God did not give this warning for that reason. It was because “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.” Those few people will be saved only on the condition that he intercedes for them. But for him to know the intercession is needed, the Lord has to make it plain.

Genesis 18:19. Read.

I am told that the Hebrew is rendered more literally into English here: “For I have known him in order that he may command…”. So God is showing great confidence in Abraham not because he is a great man of high integrity, though he certainly is; but for what God is intending to do through him. We see again the double-edged sword of predestination and fee will. Abraham is to be great because God has chosen and guided him, and yet Abraham had to choose to be the man God would want to choose and work through.

Genesis 18:20. Read.
This verse carries an implication that would be easy to miss. There is a cry going up to God, as the blood of Abel cried out to God from the ground. Yet that is only part of the verse. The second part says “and because” so there are two things going on at once in Sodom. A cry is going up AND grievous sin is occurring. The cry is going up to God BECAUSE of the sin. The sin itself is not the cry.

Genesis 18:21. Read.

The people of Sodom are to be put on trial. An omniscient God already knows what is happening. He is not going to discover if rumors are true but to offer the suspects the opportunity to prove to him in the flesh that they will continue their horrible sins.

Genesis 18:22. Read

This verse can be confusing. How can they simultaneously go toward Sodom, but Abraham stand before the Lord and detain him? The answer is in Chapter 19:1 verse one. It shows two angels arriving in Sodom at Lot’s house, not three. Abraham detains the Lord as the others go down to warn Lot. The Lord will not appear to Lot in physical form. I believe verse 33 will show the end of the Theophany and the Lord will continue in spirit.

Genesis 18:23-33. Read.

Here we see in Abraham the godly role of intercessor being fulfilled. We also see the classical eastern method of argument and persuasion, even bargaining, if you will.

Genesis 18:23. Read.

I will quote The New Bible Commentary about this verse.

“Abraham had a clear conception of the moral character of God. (As with) his exclamation, ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (v.25), in which he revealed his knowledge of the universal sovereignty of God. Abraham was no tribal chieftain worshipping a tribal god.”

Now Abraham commences to intercede with God for the lives of those in Sodom. I’ve already read the gist of the argument and will point out just a few things. One is the phrase in verse 25. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

MacDonald has this to say about it, “There are many mysteries in life for which the truth of verse 25 is the only satisfying answer”.

When our hearts are in pain and we can’t see the reason for suffering or other things that God has allowed, we must submit our reason to his and accept that the Judge of all the earth ALWAYS does right.

So humbly, yet with boldness Abraham intercedes for the people of Sodom in his famous countdown. It is an example of how we should approach God in intercessory prayer if we want to be effective. I speak not of the countdown, but of humility and boldness with its basis in the righteous character of the one who is the Judge of all the earth.

There are those who say that Abraham stopped too soon. Had he gotten down to just one righteous man, the results would have been different. But God is Sovereign. His will would be accomplished. I will again quote from the New Bible Commentary.

“Great as was Abraham’s faith and courage, his intercession was based on an insufficient principle. Abraham thought in terms of communities; God’s salvation operates in terms of the individual. God was unable to save the city even on the lowest terms of Abraham’s reasoning with Him, but He could be gracious to whom He would be gracious, and displayed this in the salvation of Lot and his family out of the city which, as a whole, was devoted to destruction.”

Before we continue on to Chapter 19 I want to emphasize what I mentioned about verse 21. We already know that the sin of homosexuality, which will take on the name of Sodomy because of this passage will be focused on in the next chapter. Yet the simple acting out of that perversion would not cry out to the Lord, it would rather hide from him. What is crying out? There are, I believe, two things. Innocent blood cries out. The pain of innocent victims cries out. We will see the intent in Chapter 19 to destroy innocence. But there is something else to consider. Where are the children of Sodom? We know from David’s experience with his child’s death in the story from Samuel, that children who have not yet attained the ability to accept or reject God, get to join him. Are we to believe there were less than 10 innocent children in that whole city?

We are faced with the possibility that the megalopolis of Sodom and Gomorrah was so sinful, so depraved, that any child there had had his innocence destroyed or that they had been killed. The signs of pagan depravity are always the sacrifice of babies and the abuse of children. I believe that they were in the process in Sodom of “passing their children through the fire” sacrificing them to Baal or Moloch or whatever other substitute for Satan they had. And the ones who were not sacrificed on altars to those gods were sacrificed to the god of perverted lust. Those, I am certain, were the cries that were going up to Almighty God.

I will point out to you that in this nation, since abortion was legalized we have sacrificed over 43 MILLION infants. We can not put obscenity filters on the computers in our public libraries that children have access to because it violates “freedom of speech”. How long will God wait before he either literally or figuratively rains fire on our nation?

Let’s continue with our story.

Genesis 19:1-3. Read.

The first thing we know about this passage is that Lot was extending hospitality to these strangers without knowing they were angels. This is one of the incidents referred to in the New Testament about “entertaining angels unawares.”

The gate of the city was the open place where business was conducted. You’ll remember from our study of the book of Ruth that it served as a court. It was where the legal business and issues were settled. The fact Lot was there shows he was respected in Sodom and was a leader in that community.

The “street” where the men said they would sleep was the open area inside the protection of the city wall where people who had not been offered hospitality for the night could sleep. It was like a public campground. Lot knew the lowness and vileness of the city and what would happen if they stayed there so he insisted that they come into his house.

Genesis 19:4. Read.

This is still early as they have not yet gone to bed. The scripture emphasizes that ALL the men of Sodom were gathered here. You see, God’s trial has commenced. Will everyone in the city participate in this attack? Yes. Also it is pointed out that both young and old are present. You’ll remember I said the innocence of the young had been destroyed. Here is evidence.

Genesis 19:5. Read.

The men of the city had seen the angels arrive and looked on them with unnatural desire. I have no idea of the appearance of angels in human form, but I can imagine that they were handsome and without blemish and carrying with them a youthful innocence. The devilish perversion that rose up inside these wicked men wanted to destroy that innocence. Yet there is even more. I do not wish to be too graphic, it would be to no point, but hundreds or thousands of men after two victims are not seeking a “romantic relationship.” They want pain and destruction. No human could possibly survive such an attack and they certainly did not intend for them to. I want to say again… depravity INSISTS on death and the destruction of innocence.

Genesis 19:6-8. Read.

It is very difficult to justify Lot’s behavior here. The New Bible Commentary calls it “crude”. MacDonald in his commentary is gentler saying it was “desperate”. No one can imagine that hospitality should be taken to such a length. The only possible excuse I can see is that Lot, who is described later as “righteous” was so familiar with the vile behaviors of the crowd that he knew they had lost all natural desire in a situation like this and would be repulsed at the idea of taking women. Others have suggested that he was using the eastern method of arguing from the point of exaggeration to show them how outlandish their behavior was.

Another view is that he was led of God to make this offer. The Lord had these people on trial and desired to show them as totally depraved, past any hope of any end but destruction. And they so proved themselves.

Genesis 19:9. Read.

The sinner hates and rages at the one who points out his behavior as sin. Today, as the sin of Sodom becomes more accepted and more part of our culture, it has become formalized in law. As we meet today, preachers of the Gospel are imprisoned for “hate crimes” for saying the very things I am saying now. In this case they first call Lot an outsider, their acceptance of him was temporary and forgotten, and they accuse him of presuming to judge. Even as now any condemnation of sinful behavior brings on a reminder to “judge not lest ye be judged”, they railed against Lot.

Little did they know THEY were being judged and the Lord who had come down to see was seeing.

They say they will deal worse with Lot than they would have with the angels. How were they going to deal with the angels? I do not need to specify. Now that attention is turned upon him. It is often said that rape is not a crime of sex but of violence. So they are pressing forward to seize Lot, but remember, he is already outside the door. They intend not only to have their way with him but the verse says to break down the door so they will be attacking ALL within: the angels, Lot’s daughters, and no doubt his wife, servants and all the rest of his family. No one is to be spared. And God will spare none of them.

Genesis 19:10. Read.

But the angels save him. They open the door, reach out and drag him in and shut the door. The mob has already chosen to break down the door. I must presume they’ve snatched up a log or beam to use as a battering ram. If you’ve ever been close to an angry mob, it is a terrifying thing. The collective roaring is like a wild animal and looking in people’s eyes you would think that humanity has retreated from them and only the animal is left. The men of the city were to that point.

Genesis 19:11 Read.

This Hebrew word for blindness appears only in one other place in the Bible.

II Kings 6:18. Read.

It does not mean blindness as we know it. The idea is one of a hallucination or as we say, “my eyes are deceiving me.” It is a confusing of the vision.

Genesis 19:12. Read.

Notice here that they are describing more than 10 people counting Lot, his wife and daughters. God will rescue them even if they are not righteous. If they are willing.
But we know that they had already “turned toward Sodom”. They had chosen the way of the enemy over the way of God. In fact, as God’s Word tells us ALL the men of Sodom were gathered outside of his door that night, unless his sons and son-in-laws were residing in his house they must have been part of that mob also!

Genesis 19:13. Read.

Do you see the progression that has taken place here? The Lord had originally come down to put Sodom on trial. The trial is over. The Lord, here now in spirit, has heard the cries, they have waxed great before his very face and he will release the two angels to do their work of destruction. I am reminded of Daniel’s reading of the writing on the wall. “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

Genesis 19:14. Read.

It was too late for his relatives. They had hardened their hearts. Salvation was offered, but the present pleasure of sin prevented them from seeing the danger they were in. They thought he was making fun of them. I suppose it was the same when Noah preached to the sinners before the flood. Destruction awaited but sin had blinded them and they could not see it. The next verse gives us interesting insight into that.

Genesis 19:15. Read

The angels did NOT say, “lest thou be consumed in the fire from heaven”, but that they would be consumed in iniquity. The point is… the two are the same. Sin consumes like fire. Fire may fall from heaven to destroy sinners, but it doesn’t have to in order for destruction to be accomplished. Sin is its own fire. Ask someone dying of AIDS, or drug addiction or of an alcoholic “wet brain”. Ask the person who has lost the love and affection of his family through self-centeredness or cruelty. The one who has “lived by the sword” and now dies by the sword. Iniquity consumes. That includes secret iniquity.

Whatever is the sin that any of us cherishes today and holds close and hidden, it is consuming us. It doesn’t matter if it is gluttony, or gossip, or lying, or backbiting, or greed, or lust, or bitterness, or stubbornness, or any other behavior that misses God’s mark: it eats inside like a cancer. It spreads and devours and consumes. There is only one sure cure for a cancer… cut it out. Let each of us search his heart today and ask God to shine his light into its darkest corners and illuminate that hidden sin. And not satisfied with that, let us ask him to give us the desire to be rid of it. And not satisfied with the desire let us confess it to him, turn from it and seek his help to put it behind us.
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