Summary: This passage seems to be an excursus from the life of Abraham. But it offers critical insight to our pilgrimage of fath.
The Life of Abraham, Part 11: Sodom and Gomorrah
In the last lesson the desire of the LORD to find reason to spare the wicked was revealed to Abraham. Abraham’s concern to the LORD’s message that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah was that the righteousness not be swept away with the wicked. This has been a problem throughout all of human history. Indeed, the good have suffered along with the evil. It seems to rain good on the evil and bad on the good. If anything, it looks as though the righteous have suffered evil far more than the sufferings of the evil they have brought upon themselves. To say this has been a problem is actually a dramatic understatement. One of the Psalms laments that he observed that the wicked prospered while the good suffered.
Ultimately, this problem has no earthly solution. It is sufficient to say on God’s part that because there is not a single righteous person that judgment on all people is justified. There is a promise that justice not meted out in this life will be meted out at the judgment seat of God. Truly on the basis of our righteousness, none of us would be spared. If we are to be spared, it is entirely by God’s grace. Abraham’s intercession, as much as it reflects his good character is futile in that no righteous person can be found in any city, no less Sodom and Gomorrah.
We now know that a perfect person who could stand for us in the city of man who came from the City of God makes it possible that the wicked could be spared because a righteous man had indeed been found. Jesus Christ opens the way of faith that through the gift of faith made possible by God’s grace might be given that we might be spared from the judgment. The Day of the LORD of Psalm 118 in which the rejected stone dies in our place and rose again to be put at the apex of the new kingdom, a day in which the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus Christ that we could be spared from the condemnation at the great white throne judgment. Because we have already died with Christ on His cross, our Day of the LORD has already passed. But it remains in the future for those who do not believe.
Exposition of the Text
In some ways, chapter 19 is a detour from the life of Abraham. In fact, he is not mentioned until verse 27 in which he saw the smoke rising from the destroyed cities. He had gone to the same spot he had seen the LORD the day before. He did not know of Lot, his nephew’s fate, but we do. We know Lot and his daughters had been spared from destruction.
The chapter begins with the arrival of the two “men” that had accompanied the LORD and gone on before Him. Lot was sitting at the gate which means he had gained some influence in the city of man. To sit in the gate was not only to be admitted as a citizen of the city, but also that he had influence there. Perhaps he had gained it because of Abraham’s deliverance of the city from the confederacy of the five kings, but nevertheless, he was one of the politicians of the city.
Anyone who is a Christian and enters politics in the secular realm has to feel the terrible struggle between his heavenly citizenship and the demands of the city of man. The New Testament tells of the struggle of the righteous Lot in Sodom and how he was torn in two by the wickedness of the place. The politician feels this in a special way, but we should also be reminded that all Christians feel this awful pull and how to remain true to God as witnesses in the wicked city of man without compromise. And in a democracy in which constitutional power is invested in the choices of the people, this makes us all politicians as well.
When Lot sees them come, he remembers from his youth the law of hospitality. He greets the men with the same offer of hospitality that Abraham had offered. He asked them to come into his house, his fixed abode, in the same way Abraham invited the men to the shade of his tent door. But unlike Abraham who wanted to protect the strangers from the potentially deadly noonday heat, Lot felt the need to protect them from the hateful wrath of the inhabitants of the city. He is alarmed that the men wanted to spend the night in the town square. He knew the men of Sodom and what would happen to them.