The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Genesis 19

Gen 19:1

Gen 19: Lot's faults: Love of wealth, compromise, worldliness, excessive care for relatives, indecision.

"Lot was a righteous man but he moved to Sodom. Although his soul was vexed, he stayed. Finally he lost his influence and had to flee. He probably thought he could change Sodom. But there is ever the danger that before you can bring light to Sodom, you will get used to its darkness. Little by little, sin appears less sinful until the 'light within us becomes darkness' (Luke 11:35)" (NE Rhodes, Jr).

Vv 1-26: Typ our own call to the Judgment Seat: (1) Lot was the only reason the city was preserved so long; (2) Angels came; (3) Lot's wife rejected; (4) When Lot leaves, the "city" is destroyed.

"If he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) -- if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment" (2Pe 2:6-9). "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (1Pe 4:8).

TWO ANGELS: Cp Gen 18:22.

IN THE EVENING: The "day" of opportunity was almost over.

IN THE GATEWAY: In a position of authority: Deu 16:18; 21:19; Job 29:7; Pro 31:23. Lot was an important man in the city. Perh his main purpose was to correct a sinful city. He is called a righteous man in 2Pe 2:7,8. (Ct Abraham, who sat in tent: Gen 18:1.)

Gen 19:2

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it" (Heb 13:2).

WE WILL SPEND THE NIGHT IN THE SQUARE (WE WILL ABIDE IN THE STREET ALL NIGHT): Certainly not an inconvenience to angels (VH 96). Their purpose was to examine the city before destruction: Gen 18:21.

Gen 19:3

Abraham's wife had assisted him in a like endeavor, but Lot's wife is conspicuous by her absence.


Gen 19:4

Under cover of night, the gross wickedness of Sodom reaches its peak: Joh 3:19; Isa 60:1,2. This indicates a customary activity. Lot's hospitality and righteousness were well-known and resented.

ALL: Meaning, probably, all SORTS of people, young and old, small and great (v 11).

Gen 19:8

Perh a suggestion not to be taken literally, but only offered as a rebuke (the men protest Lot's acting as a judge: v 9).

Gen 19:9

AND NOW HE WANTS TO PLAY THE JUDGE: "In this position he 'vexed his righteous soul' (2Pe 2:8). From this we learn that the servant of God has no place trying to solve the world's ills" (PF).

Gen 19:10

AND PULLED LOT BACK INTO THE HOUSE AND SHUT THE DOOR: God pulls us in through the door (Jesus: John 10:1-11) into the fold, and leaves those who are outside and blind (v 11) where they can do us no harm.

Gen 19:11

BLINDNESS: Heb "sanverim" = dazzling, brightness -- the glory of the angels? Perh a blindness to discern Lot's house; thus, they wandered away in a drunken stupor. Their moral and spiritual blindness led them into God's punishment -- a lit blindness. A similar thing happened to the Syrian army who had come against Israel. Elisha prayed and they were smitten with blindness (2Ki 6: 18). Also in Paul's day Elymas the sorcerer was made blind (Act 13: 11).

Gen 19:12

The angels had decided that there was no need to press the investigation any further. They nourish and protect those that belong to God. They are a consuming fire to those who oppose His will: 2Ki 19:35.

Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13; 9:32; 15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:32; 19:12; Act 27:24.

ANYONE ELSE HERE?: Abraham's "10 righteous" (Gen 18:32).

ANYONE... WHO BELONGS TO YOU: "Whomsoever" (RSV). A special opportunity to members of Lot's family, but they must act for themselves. "I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left" (Luk 17:34,35). AV adds for v 36: "Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left."

Gen 19:13

WE ARE GOING TO DESTROY THIS PLACE: "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever" (1Jo 2:17; cp 1Co 7:31). "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2Co 4:18).

HE HAS SENT US TO DESTROY IT: 2Pe 2:6; 3:9-15; Jud 1:7.

Gen 19:14

LOT WENT OUT: Disregarding the dangers of the night (v 5).

JOKING (ONE THAT MOCKED): Jesting. By continuing in the city so long, Lot had forfeited any effect as a witness to others. Similar scoffers in the Last Days: "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this "coming" he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation' " (2Pe 3:3,4).

Gen 19:15

HURRY!: A state of depression seems now to have overtaken Lot: with the greater part of his family lost, his life now seems wasted.

Gen 19:16

WHEN HE HESITATED (WHILE HE LINGERED): Still concerned about his married daughters and their families: vv 12,14.

THE MEN GRASPED HIS HAND AND THE HANDS...: 2 angels = 4 hands = 4 people.

AND LED THEM SAFELY OUT OF THE CITY: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44). "Because of the LORD'S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail" (Lam 3:22). Cp Mic 7:18,19; Eph 2:4-7.

Gen 19:17

FLEE FOR YOUR LIVES: Lot left Abram a wealthy man (Gen 13:5), but he left Sodom absolutely destitute.

IN THE PLAIN: "In the circle", the circuit of cities south of the Dead Sea in those days.

FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS: That is, to the west: Hebron, Mamre, and Abraham's camp.

Gen 19:18

MY LORDS: AV: "My LORD". Orig "Yahweh" altered to "Adonai" by Sopherim (Comp 32).

Gen 19:19

He apparently had gotten accustomed to city life, even the wicked city of Sodom, and was afraid to go to the mountain. It is surely ironic that the same man who had been a wanderer with Abraham earlier now fears to live outside a city wall.

Gen 19:20

A TOWN: Prob Bela (Gen 14:2). See v 22n.

IT IS VERY SMALL: Lot pleads that the sins of a smaller city must be small! Zoar is the place of compromise through weakness of the flesh, and Lot takes shelter there.

Gen 19:22

The preservation of the righteous is more important than the punishment of the wicked.

ZOAR: Ghur-es-Safiyeh: 5 miles southeast of present lake. See Deu 34:3; Isa 15:5; Jer 48:34.

Gen 19:23

THE SUN HAD RISEN: The signal for the release of the destructive forces.

Gen 19:24

Halley 99,100. Slimepits in Siddim: Gen 14:10. Archaeological date: Expos 2:31.

THE LORD RAINED DOWN BURNING SULFUR...: Judgment of the wicked described as a sacrifice: Rev 20:9; Gen 19:24; 2Ki 1:10-14; Psa 37:20; Eze 39:6,17-22.

Gen 19:25

THOSE CITIES: Including Admah and Zeboim: Deu 29:23; Hos 11:8.

Gen 19:26

Lot's wife is never mentioned before he went to Canaan: she is probably an alien, and a bad influence on his family, and (perh) the reason he remained in Sodom. She has no name: "Remember Lot's wife" (Luk 17:32).

"There was no time to waste. Lot and everyone he could persuade to come with him had to flee the city. The LORD was about to destroy the city and if there was any delay, they would be caught up in the destruction that was to come on Sodom and Gomorrah. There was no time to pack their bags, collect their belongings, take souvenirs or mementos -- it was run or die.

"It all came down to a choice of what was more valuable -- life or possessions.

"We have the same choice to make today. Our decision may not be so urgent but it is just as important. We can choose to live for Christ and gain life, or we can choose to live for our possessions and everything that makes life what it is now, and reject the offer of life. The decision is clear-cut. Choose Christ and live, or choose the world and die.

"Lot, his two daughters and his wife chose life when the rest of the city chose to stay and die. But the attraction of what she had left behind was too great for Lot's wife and, we read, she 'looked back and became a pillar of salt.' When we have chosen Christ, let's not look back at what we have left behind, but 'press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me upward in Christ Jesus' (Phi 3:14)" (RP).

This strange miracle -- whether it was an instantaneous chemical transmutation, or a sudden burial by erupting bodies of salt, or a gradual petrifaction process as her body was buried and later transformed in a fall of volcanic ash -- really happened, for the Lord Jesus thus confirmed it, as he did the destruction of Sodom, itself (Luk 17:28,29)! The reason why he commands us to remember it and profit by its lesson is given in the next verse: "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it" (Luk 17:33).

This same paradoxical formula is given by Christ in very similar terminology no less than five other times in the four gospels (Mat 10:39; 16:25; Mar 8:35; Luk 9:24; Joh 12:25), a fact which surely indicates its preeminent importance.

Therefore, one should remember Lot's wife, whenever he or she is tempted to hang on to a comfortable life style in a wicked world. Lot, himself, was a rather worldly minded believer, but when he consented to flee the doomed city, his wife lagged "behind him," and kept "looking back," grieving over the imminent loss of her material comforts and high social position among her ungodly neighbors. Finally, the Lord's longsuffering patience was ended, and her carnal desire to save her old life caused her to lose her whole life. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (sw 'life')?" (Mat 16:26).

In his book "Feminine Faces", Clovis Chappel wrote that when the Roman city of Pompeii was being excavated, the body of a woman was found mummified by the volcanic ashes of Mount Vesuvius. Her position told a tragic story. Her feet pointed toward the city gate, but her outstretched arms and fingers were straining for something that lay behind her. The treasure for which she was grasping was a bag of pearls. Chappel wrote, "Though death was hard at her heels, and life was beckoning to her beyond the city gates, she could not shake off their spell... But it was not the eruption of Vesuvius that made her love pearls more than life. It only froze her in this attitude of greed."

Gen 19:27

Early prayers and devotions: Abraham got up very early to stand before the Lord (Gen 19:27). Jacob woke up with the first light of the morning to worship God after having seen a vision of angels in the night (Gen 28:18). Moses went early to meet the Lord at Sinai (Exo 34:4). Joshua got an early start when he prepared to capture Jericho (Jos 6:12). Gideon made his way at dawn to examine the fleece he had placed on the ground to discern Yahweh's will (Jdg 6:38). Job left his bed at an early hour to offer sacrifices to the Lord in behalf of his children (Job 1:5).

Gen 19:29

HE REMEMBERED ABRAHAM: Cp Gen 8:1. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man: Jam 5:16,17.

Gen 19:30

HE WAS AFRAID TO STAY IN ZOAR: But the angel had told him that it would be safe (v 21).


Gen 19:31

The continuing influence of wicked Sodom!

Gen 19:33

Lot's final condition: drunken, helpless, fearful, lonely, destitute, burdened by a guilty conscience.

Gen 19:36

And the evil influences of Sodom will live on in Lot's two sons/grandsons!

Gen 19:37

MOAB: "Begotten of a father"; dominated by the flesh (Joh 8:41,44).

Gen 19:38

BEN-AMMI: "Son of my people", or "son of my kinsman".

AMMON: "Tribal" or "inbred": a son of the flesh!

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