God: Merciful and Just 1-14
a. We Need to Make Right Choices. As we get started I want to go back to this idea of the difference between Abraham and Lot. We’ve seen this already in the choice of where to live. Lot chose to move toward Sodom and Abraham took the land of the Canaanites, as he was commanded. Two men that chose two different paths. Lot looked with his eyes and Abraham looked with faith. In a few scenes later we found Lot living in Sodom as he is captured when the kings raid the city. Abraham rescues Lot, but Lot returns to the city of Sodom. In verse one of chapter 19, we find Lot sitting at the gate of Sodom! The gate is where business was done and the leaders of the city would sit and make decisions. We’ll see this in chapter 23 when Abraham seeks to buy land to bury Sarah. He meets with the leaders, and specifically Ephron, at the city gate. The transaction is made in the hearing of all those at the gate. So this is where we find Lot. He has not only moved into the city he has become enveloped into its culture. He’s doing business there and he is accepted there. Where is Abraham? He is overlooking the city and interceding for it. What has caused the difference? Obedience. God called and Abraham responded. Lot had choices put before him and he is reluctant to obey. God’s consistent work on Abraham and his willingness to accept that has caused these to lives to diverge.
b. We Need to Listen to Mercy. In verses 2-3 we find the angels, who were the men from the previous chapter, enter Sodom. Lot sees them and in the typical Middle Eastern hospitality, he invites them to spend the night at his house. They refuse but he insists that they come home with him. They finally agree to go and he prepares a feast for them and they eat. None of this is by accident because we will see that the angels have a two-fold mission: investigate the sin of the people and rescue Lot.
After the meal, as they were getting ready for bed, all of the men of the city, both young and old, gather around the house of Lot. They demand that Lot bring out the two men so that they may know them. Over the years there has been an attempt to reinterpret what is happening here. The common new view of this text is to say that the men of the city wanted to just get to know the new visitors to their town and Lot is keeping them from being hospitable, thereby denying their cultural duty to be good hosts to strangers. But if we are honest with the text, we know what is going on here. This is speaking of homosexual activities and that activity is condemned. They wanted to know the men in the way that Adam knew Eve. This act is condemned in scripture. Our writer of this text, Moses, clearly knew this. He also wrote down Leviticus 18. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. 24 “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean.” In the gospel, Jesus defines proper sexual relations as between one man and one woman in marriage. Paul in Romans picks up the same ideas. In chapter 1, Paul says that homosexual activity is the sign of a debased mind. And in 1 Corinthians he says that those that make a practice of that activity will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Why does this matter? One, because this sin was fully involved in the cultures of the time. Homosexual behavior was present in most cultures at the time and yet, it was condemned here in Scripture. This is not a cultural idea. Exclusivity in marriage between one man and one woman was countercultural at the time and still is. This also matters because if you noticed, all the men were wanting to participate in this activity. The idea of identifying as heterosexual or homosexual was foreign to the ancients. They didn’t think the way people are being conditioned to think today. This was a learned behavior.