When God’s People Live Like the World.

Genesis 19 is a hard chapter to understand. It is often misunderstood and misinterpreted as judgment on one particular sin, but it is not. Rather, it should be read as a sub-narrative in Abraham’s story about how God’s people can slip into living like the world.

Righteousness v. Worldliness (verses 1-3)

When seeking to be Light in the world, we learn to befriend lost people without being associated with sinful practices. Lot had not learned this balance. He has become a leader in the wicked city of Sodom, tipped his hat to their immorality, and is rearing his family without biblical guardrails.

Sodom and Gomorrah only existed for less than 100 years, compared to nearby city-states that had existed for nearly 1000. Sodom was the newest city in this wealthy valley. It was an agricultural wonderland, and all the cities were commercially successful. But they were also exceedingly sinful. Ezekiel 16:49 says the three sins of Sodom were pride, gluttony, and laziness. The fourth ‘sin that broke the camel’s back,’ seen in Genesis 19, is pervasive immorality.

Lot knew the sinful activities of his city at night and presses the two visiting angels to come to his house where they would be safe. The people of Sodom were not hospitable to strangers but downright hostile and cruel to visitors. They were protective of their wealth and would not share the opportunity easily when someone wanted to join their city.

Though a compromised Christian, Lot knew what was right and thought he could change the culture by doing social good. He has to protect God’s righteous messengers because he knows his efforts haven’t worked. People don’t change by their own efforts or by being persuaded – only God can truly change hearts and behavior. Our greatest need is not social good but forgiveness.

Proposition v. Proposal (verses 4-11)

In these verses, the story gets very dark. The men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and made an immoral proposition. Foolish Lot tried to reason with them and offered a proposal that seemed like a better option to him, but is still darkness. Often compromised Christians don’t know they are compromising until they are tested. The angels rescued Lot from death at the hands of the mob. The men still tried to get into Lot’s house even after being blinded by the angels. Sin always wants more sin; it can’t help itself. And that’s what every person is like until God changes them. We all stand in desperate need of a Savior.

Opportunity v. Being Opportunistic (verses 12-14)

Lot was allowed to warn his family members of coming judgment. We learn he had given his daughters in marriage to men of the city living in the darkest immorality. They naturally think righteousness is a joke. They would rather stay in their wealthy city, though doomed to destruction, than take an opportunity to repent.

Lot led his family into compromise, and he loses his children to worldly living. In contrast, Abraham stands above the plain, safe from destruction because of his choices. A righteous family life leads to safety and joy. Wouldn’t you rather your children live life to the full?

God’s Mercy & Judgment (verses 15-38)

The chapter ends with a two-phase picture of mercy and judgment. God’s mercy and justice are both unchanging, and they never conflict. God must judge those who don’t know Him and bring consequences for those who do.

Four people of Lot’s immediate family were pulled from the city. Lot still expressed complacency by asking for 1 city to be spared. He just couldn’t let go. Lot’s wife’s heart was still in the city, mourning what she would lose, and she was not counted among the righteous. She stands as a “pillar,” memorial or monument, to the results of wrongdoing and wrong living. This is also a warning to family leaders – your life influences those in your house. Their destiny could be on your shoulders.

In one more sad scene, Lot’s untaught daughters commit two acts of immorality that produce two enemies of Israel that will be in conflict with God’s people for generations. This is the legacy of the worldly Christian – the destruction of their children’s lives.

Application Points

  • God could not even find 10 righteous people among 2 million inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. When we despair of our culture’s darkness, we must note that our society is not nearly as bad as Sodom was. So we must not minister and witness like it is! Abraham looked on the wicked cities with pity. Thank the Lord that our Light still shines bright though our culture gets darker!
  • Lot lost his children because he led them into compromise with the world. Parents, lead your children in righteousness instead, so they can experience the blessings of safety, joy, and abundant life. Which do you think is worth it?
  • Are you a compromised Christian, trying to live with one foot in the world and one in the church? Learn from Lot’s legacy. Is that what you want for your children and their children? Lay aside whatever sin you are entertaining. Quit playing church, and walk with God again!

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • 2 Peter 2:7 – Lot was a righteous man.
  • Ezekiel 16:49 – The three sins of Sodom.
  • Romans 3:10, 23 – All people are sinners.
  • Galatians 5:22-23 – There is no limit to doing righteousness.
A Hymn to Encourage: “A Passion for Thee”

Set my heart, O dear Father, on Thee, and Thee only,
Give me a thirst for Thy presence divine.
Lord, keep my focus on loving Thee wholly,
Purge me from earth; Turn my heart after Thine.

A passion for Thee!
O Lord, set a fire in my soul, and a thirst for my God.
Hear Thou my prayer; Lord, Thy power impart,
Not just to serve, but to love Thee with all of my heart.

Father, fill with Thy Spirit, and fit me for service,
Let love for Christ every motive inspire,
Teach me to follow in selfless submission,
Be Thou my joy and my soul’s one desire.

A passion for Thee;
O Lord, set a fire in my soul, and a thirst for my God.
Hear Thou my prayer; Lord, Thy power impart,
Not just to serve, but to love Thee with all of my heart.