Summary: The destruction of sin upon the life of faith
The Spiritual Decline of the Spiritually Inclined
Chapter nineteen of the book of Genesis is an interesting chapter to say the least. It is interesting from the standpoint of a sinful world. It is interesting from the standpoint of God answering the prayers of the righteous. It is interesting from the standpoint of God’s people falling into a spiritual decline that has devastating consequences. And because of these different standpoints within the chapter there are several approaches an expositor can take concerning this chapter.
One could look at this chapter from the standpoint of God’s judgment upon the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sinfulness of Sodom is no surprise as we come to this nineteenth chapter. The book of Genesis starts pointing out the sinful condition of this city back in chapter thirteen. But God’s patience has come to an end, and now he will bring judgment upon a city and a people who have rejected the knowledge of God. Before you begin to think God unjust for his judgment upon this sinful city, let me just point out that when the Lord first pointed out the sinful condition of Sodom back in chapter thirteen he did so probably some twenty or more years before chapter nineteen. The Lord does on act hastily in his judgment, but is patient, not wanting any to perish.
There is a great warning in chapter nineteen for all nations, especially the United States. The hallmark of the grievous sin that consumed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality. Such was the condition that when the two men, who are really two angels, show up in the city, all the men of the city want to gang rape the two heavenly host. This condition of the city that would face the judgment of God should concern us as Americans because the moral condition of our own nation is not far behind Sodom and Gomorrah. I have to agree with one commentator who said, “If God does not judge America, then the Lord will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. ”
Another standpoint one could observe this chapter from is closely connected with chapter eighteen and Abraham’s petition for both the righteous and the unrighteous. Chapter nineteen shows us the results of Abraham’s standing in the gap for the righteous and unrighteous alike.
Before the Lord actually rains down judgment upon the city, he will rescue Abraham’s nephew lot and his family. We often look at the rescue of lot being on the basis of Lot being a righteous man, and that he was, for Peter tells us in his second letter that righteous Lot was rescued from the Sodom. But chapter nineteen reveals in two places that Lot was rescued for other reason than just being righteous.
In verse sixteen we read, “But he hesitated (Lot). So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.” As we will notice later, Lot hesitated to leave the city, but God would have compassion on him and rescue him anyway.
Another reason that Lot was rescued is revealed in verse twenty-nine, “Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.” Abraham’s petition for his nephew Lot resulted in the rescue of Lot. That is why it is important that we stand in the gap for the righteous and unrighteous alike.
I have chosen to approach this multifaceted chapter from the standpoint of Lot, a righteous man, and his spiritual decline. Our study has focuses more on the Life of Abraham and how God worked in his life. But it would be very beneficial to observe Lot’s life, and how he refused to let God work in his life. It would benefit all of God’s people, especially those who may think that spiritual decline is beyond them. Paul warns us of such pride in first Corinthians chapter ten, verse twelve when he says, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” Paul warns us of the possibility of spiritual decline, and the greatest candidates for it are those who think it could never happen to them.
What happened to Lot? How did he end up in a place like Sodom and Gomorrah? How could he stray so far from his great start? The first observation that we must make is that spiritual decline is gradual.
I. The Spiritual Decline is Gradual
As we observe Lot don’t think for a moment that Lot’s condition as revealed in chapter nineteen just happened. The spiritual condition of this chapter was a gradual, but continual decline on the part of Lot.