Summary: Our society is still as depraved as Sodom and Gomorrah was. Does God still judge with disasters in an effort to wake us up?
Read Matthew 24:3-8. The birth pains have begun my friends. Lloyd gave me these rocks that are from Haiti and as I watched CNN this week, I saw hundreds and thousands of people lying dead and alive underneath much larger pieces of rock from collapsed buildings. Bodies scattered on the sidewalks covered with whatever they could find. No heavy equipment to dig people out.
In this country where the average annual income is $560 the ironic picture of the presidential palace lying in ruin beyond lavish gates, made a very powerful statement to me about what’s important in our world.
I have to admit that this was a very difficult week for me in preparing this sermon. I literally felt somewhat traumatized by it. But in the end God gave me a great vision of the church from His word. I’m going to do my best not to traumatize you today, but the fact is that this is a really distasteful part of scripture, especially when we see ourselves and our modern world in it.
Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities in what they called the plains, at the southeast corner of the Dead Sea. There were actually five cities in this area known as the Pentapolis. All were very sinful. Nobody knows the exact population of these cities, but estimates put Sodom at about the 1200 – 5000 range. Probably similar to Killarney in population but in a much more condensed area.
Now I don’t know if God’s judgment is behind the New Orleans flood and this horrendous earthquake in Haiti. What I do know is that these are the two centers of one of the most idolatrous and wicked religions in the world, Voodoo. We think what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah is bad, but here in Haiti this week they are estimating deaths approaching a hundred thousand, far outdoing the destruction in Genesis.
Very few people inside or outside of the church haven’t heard about Sodom and Gomorrah, but not everyone knows why they are so famous, or infamous. Certainly God had something against these cities and as we saw from Chapter 18, God was going to go have a “look for himself” because the stories of their sin were so bad.
So today we pick up the story with the two angels that came with the Lord to Abraham, now getting to the city of Sodom, and that evening as they arrive, Lot greets them at the city gates and the passage describes:
I. The Righteousness of Lot (vv 1-3)
Now righteous is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Lot. Here’s a guy who can’t seem to get enough of this sinful pagan city. Yet we see that even though he is deeply entrenched there now, he doesn’t seem to have fallen into their ways yet, and at least in God’s eyes he is still righteous probably because of his connection to Abram, and how he receives these angels.
First look at:
A. His Position (v. 1a)
What do the angels find when they get to Sodom? They find that Lot has become fully immersed in the Sodomite culture. He’s in a place of prominence at the gates of Sodom (like city hall). This is where the important business of the city took place.
Notice the parallels between chapter 18 where Abraham is sitting at the door of his tent in the country, while Lot is in an urban setting at the gate of the city. The Lord and angels came to Abraham’s place in the light of the day, while they arrive in Sodom at night in the darkness. And also notice that the Lord was with the two angels at Abraham’s but not at Sodom. In him there is no darkness at all and he will not go to Sodom because his holiness cannot fellowship with such evil.
John 3:19, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
No doubt this represents the fact that it was at night that the people of Sodom probably performed most of their wickedness as if they could hide it.
B. His Invitation (vv 1b-2a)
Lot is now established in Sodom, he’s a leader in the community, has a house in the city, no longer a tent outside the gates. In spite of all this he still recognizes the importance of these spiritual men or angels that come to the city. He recognized them for who they were when nobody else did. And he responded appropriately as Abraham did by doing a face plant.