Do you ever feel your life is full of contrasts? I mean, some days are just great, everything clicks, and other days everything seems to go wrong? One day you wake up feeling great, optimistic, ready for life. Other days you don’t even get out of bed and you know you’re in a bad mood, going to get worse. Sometimes we’re completely satisfied and others we’re starving, so hungry. One day we rejoice at a wedding and the next we cry at a funeral. Life is like that, we understand life is full of contrasting emotions, events and experiences. Our lesson is a study of contrasts, tremendous contrasts. Not by accident that Gen 18 is placed beside Gen 19, and when we study them back to back the contrasts are striking, most important of all, difference between a walk of faith and a walk of the world, walking by faith in God and walking saturated by the values of the world.
In Gen 18, the divine guests are graciously welcomed; in Gen 19 their very lives are threatened. In Gen 18, an obedient, covenant making household is blessed, in Gen 19 a degraded, vile community is destroyed. In Gen 18 a man of faith shines as an example to us, while in Gen 19 a man of the world falls as a warning to all who will listen.
I. A Divine Meal (Gen 18)
A. Abraham entertains 3 guests Gen 18:1-8
B. Sarah is told the fulfillment of the promise Gen 18:9-15
C. Abraham intercedes to save the righteous Gen 18:16-33
II. A Divine Destruction and Deliverance (Gen 19)
A. Lot escapes the destruction of Sodom Gen 19:1-29
B. Lot’s daughters incestuously produce heirs Gen 19:30-38
1. READ Gen 18:1,2 The LORD – appeared, 3 men. Real visitation, not a dream, not a vision, who were these 3 men? Two main interpretations:
1. God himself and 2 angels. God appearing in human form (Theophany) Text says its’ “the LORD” = Jehovah, Yahweh, Gen 18:1,13,17,20,26,33. Learn in Gen 19 that 2 angels enter Sodom and perhaps they were 2 of the “men” that Abraham entertained.
2. Another view= The three men were a threefold manifestation of God himself=Trinity. Rubelov’s Trinity Icon= world’s most famous Russian icon
This view has been held by the Orthodox church for almost 2000 years. We do see a switch from singular Gen 18:1 the LORD to plural Gen 18:2 3 men, they washed their feet, ate, rested, they asked Gen 18:9 where is Sarah, singular Gen 18:10 the LORD…
“Whatever is going on here is complicated, and Scripture doesn’t give us enough information to be sure we have it all straightened out. This much we can rely on: The three men, or angels, who appeared to Abraham are a visitation by the Lord, God appeared in the form of three persons.” Frederica Mathewes-Green
2. WELCOME Gen 18:2-8
Picture the scene, Abraham is sitting in shade of tent trying to get an afternoon breeze, probably hot, looks up, surprised to see 3 strangers. Gets, up and hurries, he ran to them, bowed down, greeted them warmly. Hard to know if he recognizes their divine nature at this point because a generous reception was common in the Orient at this time. Please stay and they agree-excitement builds, he starts hurrying around and gets everyone else running too. Sarah, Gen 18:6 hurry up, quick starts baking, Gen 18:7 runs to pick out the best calf- to the servant –hurry up and cook it. When the meal is ready, and they start eating, Abraham stands off the side ready to serve them. Cultural custom that Sarah would not be present during the meal, she was secluded, but right behind the tent’s curtain Sarah has her ear right up to the door, listening.
The appearance of the 3 men, the meal, everything that has happened so far has all been building up to the purpose of the visit READ Gen 18:9..this trip is all about Sarah. God is on his way to judge the wickedness of Sodom, but this visit to this household is about an announcement. READ Gen 18:10 When Sarah heard that he immediate reaction was the same as Abraham’s= she laughed (17:17) but her laughter was seemingly skeptical, as if she was thinking “come on, you’ve got to be kidding, that’s not going to happen” because READ Gen 18:13-15 definitely busted, even her cover-up was exposed.
We know that Sarah believed in the promise of a child, even gave Hagar to Abraham to accomplish the promise, and that’s what everyone believed at this point, Ishmael was the heir, but that she would get pregnant? That she at her age would have a baby? How could the promise include her? READ Gen 18:14 is there anything too hard for the LORD?
One of the great questions of the bible.
I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27
For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37
Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
This question, is anything too hard for the Lord, demands a personal response because it’s true that:
Application: I don’t know what your impossible situation is: shaky marriage, you have no relationship with your parents, siblings, impossible to meet your financial obligations, habit that seems too hard to break, job that causes you stress and grief but there seems no way out. Is God asking you this same question? READ Gen 18:17 Most of us have a high view of God, He’s all powerful but do your words and your behavior agree?
Ie My husband is a developer, fall of 2009 fully in the recession; money became “tight” became evident that his job would be ending soon. We began praying for that next job. I prayed Phil 4:19 My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Husband needs to work, too young to retire; I tell him that all the time… I also prayed there would be no transition between jobs. Feb 2010 finished one job on Friday and started another on Monday. I knew God would somehow meet our needs, never really believed He would answer the “no transition” part, I asked but didn’t have faith. I think perhaps God graciously wanted to remind me He could do the impossible, it’s not a matter of can He do this? Is it His will and purpose? Is it what He has promised?
God wanted Abraham and Sarah to believe His promises; He wanted the child of the promise to be a supernatural gift, important that he and she believed in a God that can do the impossible.
Guests start to leave, Abraham walks out with them. Tradition: top of the hills that overlook a long ravine leading to the Dead Sea. God contemplates Gen 18:17-19 shall I tell Abraham, my friend what is going to happen? Yes, because I can trust him to faithfully tell others about Me, My ways, my judgments. Trust is the foundation of all our intimate relationships. Abraham had to know the reason for the destruction so he could explain and warn his children, to tell their children. READ Gen 18:20 what was the “sin” of Sodom?
CHART (listing all biblical references to Sodom’s sin)
These cities had been miraculously rescued by God through Abraham from death and captivity; they had heard the testimony of Melchizedek of “Most High God” given light about the one true God, rejected the way of Abraham, turned back to a wicked, evil lifestyle. When the Lord said “I will go down and see for myself” perhaps Abraham thought Lot lives in Sodom, not only Lot but all those people I met years ago, surely they are not all wicked, surely there are some good people down there. Would God sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What kind of justice is that? God wouldn’t do that, would he? Abraham begins to intercede for primarily for Lot but he is asking in this conversation some big questions about the character and nature of God. Begins asking the lord “would you really destroy the whole city if you found 50 righteous people? READ Gen 18:25 No, how about 45? No, 40? No, 30? 20? Just one more 10? No if there are 10 I won’t destroy. Either Abraham dared not go further and test God’s patience or he thought that surely there were 10 righteous people in Sodom, conversation ends. Lord leaves, Abraham goes home but he has learned
You can be assured God hears and invites your prayers for others.
Throughout this questioning and answering Abraham has been probing to find out what is divine justice and will God preserve the righteous as He deals with wickedness?
That is a comforting and convicting truth. One day all the evil: the sex trafficking, the murders, rapes, child abuse, the tortures will be judged by God- He will do right. He will also save the righteous remnant.
This is the convicting part= you and I are called to live as righteous people, Jesus would save live as “salt and light” in a dark world. We are to teach righteousness to our children so that they will be “salt and light” in their world, so that the world might know God, the Judge of all the earth, does right.
1. City Gen 13:10- beautiful city, luxurious, most likely cultured in the arts of that day, know they were wealthy in business but in God’s sight they were self-indulgent and perverted. They flaunted their sin and were ripe for God’s judgment.
2. READ Gen 19:1-3 Lot knew if these angels were to spend the night in the square they would probably be killed. Sodom by day seemed peaceful but the nights were dangerous.
3. Men of the City Gen 19:4-11 surround the house. Little doubt what the men of Sodom had in mind, the kind of sexual activity which has given its name. Lot’s offer of his daughters to the men to gang rape them instead seems incredible to us- but it’s a confirmation of the perversion of their minds and values to think that this would be an acceptable, to substitute his virgin daughters, God said “enough is enough”, there is a limit to the evil I can stand.
4. Angel’s warning Gen 19:12-13 angels tell him to warn his family to get out of the city, destroyed. Imagine this scene: middle of the night, crowd outside, blinded disperse, Lot goes out back door, runs over to his extended family’s house, gets them up, you’ve got to flee, leave the city, quick, run, it’s going to be destroyed- they laughed at him. He’s had too much to drink, go back home, sleep it off- No one believes him-why should they? He had long ago disqualified himself to be a spokesman for God, they way he lived.
They never listen to those whose walk doesn’t live up to their talk. Lot’s trying to tell his family about God, his judgment on sin, no one believes him.
5. Lot hesitated Gen 19:16 Left to himself, he probably would have perished too. This is where intercessory prayer comes in READ Gen 19:29 The angels had to literally drag Lot and family out of the city.
6. Instructions Gen 19:17 Escape, don’t look back, don’t in the valley, go to the mountains.
7. Lot reluctant Gen 19:18-22 Tries to compromise, not content on escaping with his life, he wants to choose where to go, remarkable the angels agree, lot escaped to Zoar.
8. Destruction Gen 19:24,25 Archeologists tell us this valley was probably full of combustible material, great quantities of asphalt and sulfur even are found in the Dead Sea region. Possible that a great earthquake occurred, accompanied by lightning setting fires and explosions containing burning sulfur and rocks that would have indeed looked like rain from heaven. Massive shaking of this region may have depressed the cities allowing the waters of the Dead Sea to flow over them.
9. Lot's wife looked back Gen 19:26 word really translates she stopped, turned around, looked intently, gazed hard at what she was leaving. She deliberately disobeyed God’s instructions when everything depended on believing and obeying them. Possibly explosions threw great quantities of salt deposits on her and buried her. Jesus would use her as an illustration “Remember Lot’s wife? Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:32) Her heart was attached to Sodom and she lost her life, She died, what a tragedy, but it’s not over yet, the last of the story is the worst.
1. Lot spent the last of his days in a cave in the mountains. Far cry from the tents of Uncle Abraham. Sad ending to a sad life resulting from a series of little wrong choices.
He lost his home, possessions, career, reputation, wife, strength, saved as by fire.
2. Daughters lost all true respect for their father. He had protected their virginity in Sodom, until last night, offered them to the crude crowd. Now, they were isolated from the world, the world as they knew it was destroyed, how could they ever marry and have their own families? Die childless in the cave. Unless…their proposal just proved how the sexual perversion of Sodom had permeated their thinking. They devise a plan to get their father drunk and sleep with him thus perpetuate their family’s line. There’s no shame, no sorrow, no sense of sin, no concept of the holiness of God, they were only living out the moral standards that they had grown up with. How tragic and how convicting thinking of our children growing up in our culture in our times.
3. Result: Moab and Ammon were born, from them 2 nations who became bitter and persistent enemies of Israel.
What a story of contrasts: First you have a man of faith who believes God for the impossible situations of his life, shares his faith w/his household, prays for others, who is on the brink of the greatest and most fulfilling part of his life-compared to a man of the world who has compromised his stand as a believer in the one true God, chose the pleasures of the world over the peace of God, who was saved out of destruction but sacrificed all he held dear, his treasures were earthly, corruptible, temporary. These same choices are before you and me too. Jesus said, Remember Lot’s wife, Remember Abraham.