I recently read a novel by Gerald C. Anderson, Sr., entitled “We Come in Peace”. We Come in Peace was an excellent read and encompassed a unique twist to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. After reading the novel I decided to go to Genesis 18 and read the true story for myself. Like many others I knew the end result but not the entire story. This article will provide a summation of the story and focus on the description of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham’s plea for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord’s mercy regarding Lot and of course, the destruction itself.
The Description of Sodom and Gomorrah
The kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were allied with the cities of Admah, Zeboim and Bela. These five cities, were known as the “Cities of the Plains”, and were situated on the Jordan River in the southern region of the land of Canaan. The Jordan River plains have been compared to the description in Genesis 13:10 of the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was a beautiful land; well-watered and a luscious green; suitable for grazing livestock.
As for the sin and eventful downfall of Sodom and Gomorrah there are two scriptures which describe what Sodom and Gomorrah were up to. The first scripture can be found in Ezekiel 16:49-50 and it says, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen.” Detestable in Hebrew means “of the ceremonially unclean”.
Another scripture describing the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah can be found in Jude 1:7 and it reads, “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”
Abraham, the father of all nations, went boldly in front of the Lord and asked God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction if the Lord found 50 righteous people in the cities (Genesis 18:22-33). His request was granted. Then Abraham decided to become even bolder as he asked the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if 45 righteous people were found. Again, the Lord granted his request.
This conversation with the Lord continued until Abraham negotiated the sparing of Sodom and Gomorrah if ten righteous people were found. Abraham must have believed that there would be at least ten people in the two cities and that they would be spared from destruction. After all, he knew Lot and his family were there and they numbered six. Abraham probably felt there should easily have been four more righteous people. However, he was wrong.
Lot and the Angels
Lot was sitting at the gateway to Sodom when he recognized the angels as they arrived. “My lords,” Lot said in Genesis 19:2, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” The angels said “no” and that they would spend the night in the square. Lot insisted so strongly that the angels changed their mind and came with him.
Before they went to sleep that evening some men came to Lot’s door demanding him to turn over the men so they could have sex with them. The men didn’t know that the men Lot was protecting were angels. These men were intent on doing harm to the angels. Lot went outside to talk the men into not doing wicked deeds to the angels. He was not successful and the men begin to attack Lot.
The angels pulled Lot back inside and struck the men with blindness so that they could not find the door to Lot’s house. The angels then told Lot to gather all of his family and get them out of the city by morning because they were sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot gathered his family. He went to get his two sons-in-law but they did not believe him. Lot had to leave them behind.
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
That morning the angels had to grab Lot by the arm and force him to leave. Lot, his wife and two daughters were instructed to run to the mountains and not look back. Lot pled to the angels because he did not believe he could not make it to the mountains. Instead he asked to be allowed to run to the city of Zoar. Zoar was closer than the mountains.
An interesting part of the story here is that the angel told Lot to hurry and run to the city because he could not begin the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah until Lot reached Zoar. This is clearly a display of God’s mercy and his promise to Abraham. The angels were instructed not to harm Lot or his family because the Lord promised Abraham that Lot would be spared. With the exception of Lot’s wife, who did not follow the angel’s instructions, God kept his promise and Lot and his two daughters were not harmed.
By the time Lot made it to Zoar the sun had rose over the land and the Lord began to rain down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah. Everything was destroyed including the land, the vegetation and all of the unrighteous people. However, as mentioned earlier, Lot’s wife broke the instructions of the angels and looked back as they were running to Zoar. She was turned into a pillar of salt.
This intriguing story of mercy and ultimate punishment continues to interest me. The story showed me there is a point in which God tires of our sin but the prayers of one righteous person can save millions of people even if they are unrighteous. My grandmother use to say, “God hears the prayers of the righteous” and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah demonstrates this as Abraham was able to negotiate with God. God’s love of Abraham was evident has anything Abraham asked he received. And finally, because of Abraham, Lot was spared and if there 4 more people in the cities (other than Lot, his wife, two daughters and his two sons-in-law), Sodom and Gomorrah might still have been standing today.