Yesterday, in our Genesis Sunday School, we covered the judgment on Sodom found in Genesis 19. You can see the outline here.
There are a few interesting things to note about this story in Genesis. First, it’s probably mostly invoked these days in the debates over homosexuality, and there’s certainly a long tradition of associating Sodom with sinful sexual immorality. In an attempt to argue against this association, some modern commentators point to Ezekiel 16:49 as Biblical evidence that Sodom’s primary sin was not sexual but rather a lack of charity. The men of Sodom were sinning most by not showing love and hospitality to strangers in their midst, instead wanting to harm them. Conservatives shouldn’t reject this argument wholesale. Hospitality really is a point of emphasis in Genesis 18 and 19, as both Abraham and Lot show hospitality to the angels. Furthermore, Hebrews 13:2 seems to be referencing these chapters in Genesis when it instructs us to show hospitality to strangers.
However, it is not exegetically possible to completely distance the sin of Sodom from the sexual immorality which now bears the name “sodomy.” This is because the sin of Sodom was said to be grotesque, worse than typical sin that one might find in the general region. Lot’s seemingly bizarre idea to offer his daughters in place of the angels also highlights the nature of the activity in view (Gen. 19:6-8). Finally Jude 1:7 explicitly connects the sin of Sodom to sexual immorality.
Another point that should not be missed is that the men of Sodom were prideful and took offense at being judged by Lot. “Then they said, ‘This one came in to stay here,and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them'” (Gen. 19:9). This is an all-too common response from people convicted of sin– “Who are you to judge me?” It shows a hard heart that will not bear moral correction.
Sodom is also a picture of eschatological judgment. It is referenced throughout the entire Bible as a type of the final judgment at the end of history, something that sinners can expect to happen to them if they do not repent and find salvation. See Deut. 32:32, Isaiah 1:9, 2 Peter 2:6, among many other places of Scripture for examples of this. The imagery of fire and brimstone (or sulphur) is now associated with Hell because the Bible tells us that Sodom is a symbol of eternal judgment.
Finally, one of the more interesting facts, and one that is easy to miss, is that the entire plains-area around Sodom was burned and turned to salt, just like Lot’s wife. In fact, it became the Dead Sea: “All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea)” (Gen. 14:3). So what we see is that the entire low-lying area was devastated, salted, and then filled with water. The salt content there is so high that nothing can live in it. That is a true picture of eternal judgment, and if we believe that our Bibles are true, then it shows how God weaves His supernatural revelation into our world, including geographical developments.