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As in the words of Jeff of our Youth minister…this is some tall cotton.  There are so many elements to teaching on Sodom and Gomorrah it’s hard to sum it all up into one lesson.  It’s even hard to put it into pretty little points that all begin with the same letter like Pastors do.   It’s a mouthful. 

So we’re just gonna put our big girl panties on, don some golashes and jump in.

I LOVE the beginning of this story:  Abraham on top of a hill with 2 angels and God Himself…and Abraham MUST be Baptist…what does he want to do for them?  Feed them.  😉 

 But all joking aside, I want you to PICTURE this with me:  Abraham is entertaining God Himself, face to face.  Close your eyes and imagine what that would look like….that simply blows me away.  I am putty on the floor at the image that portrays to me.  They are having not only a conversation, but they are doing it face to face.  That is at least how I am reading my scripture. 

At the end of this time with God and 2 angels, He says:

17-19 Then God said, “Shall I keep back from Abraham what I’m about to do? Abraham is going to become a large and strong nation; all the nations of the world are going to find themselves blessed through him. Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God‘s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him.”

 20-21 God continued, “The cries of the victims in Sodom and Gomorrah are deafening; the sin of those cities is immense. I’m going down to see for myself, see if what they’re doing is as bad as it sounds. Then I’ll know.”

These verses do a number of things:  it shows us how exactly God works.  He wanted Abraham to know His plans for him (make him a great nation),  shows us the certainty of God’s mercy on us and the judgement on those who continue in their sin, and that God is not a hasty decision-maker, He went for Himself to see the horrors of the city.  And did you see that part there?  Right here….The cries of the victims in Sodom and Gomorrah are deafening look at that….God hears us. 

Abraham stood before God and bargained with Him.  I have to say, this always makes me chuckle abit.  Not out of irreverence by any means, but I laugh at Abraham’s persistance.  God told him He was going to destroy the city, Abraham knowing Lot and his family live there, asks God to spare the city if there are 50 righteous people….then 45….then 40…..then 30…..then 20……then down to the final number of 10.  And after each time Abraham asks, the Lord always responds with:  “I won’t destroy it if there are ……”

That takes some COURAGE!  That takes STRENGTH OF CHARACTER!  That takes…..a right relationship with God.  One that is close and personal.  Oh please, don’t miss that….we can have that same relationship with God that Abraham did way back then with camels and men wearing dresses long robes.  How do you get that?  I wouldn’t pick up the phone and ask a total stranger to spare my city please, but I would ask my Mom.  I would pick up the phone and ask just about anything of my Mom because we have that close relationship.  She trusts me and I trust her.  And we know each other well.  And because of that close relationship, I can go to her with anything I need.  If we have that same relationship with God, we can do the same thing, ask anything in His name….like spare a city, or heal a disease, protect a family, give a baby….do you see what I’m saying?  Does this make any sense, or did I lose you at the big girl panties?

Sodom and Gomorrah was a horrible place.  I can only imagine the filthy things that went on there.  Well….and I probably can only imagine a small portion of it, it was beyond what most of us have ever seen or experienced.  I’ve experienced some ugly in my life, some hurtful things done to me, so I’m not so naive, but the things that went on in THIS place was more than most of us could ever imagine.  It was vile and ugly and Genesis only touches on a few things, but even those things are hard for me to read, much less teach a class of teenage girls!  EEK!

The angels go to Sodom and find Lot sitting at the city gates where he invites them to his home and tells them to stay overnight.  Please notice, they declined, and he insisted strongly.  Do you suppose that Lot knew the city well, and knew inhabitants well?  Lot knew full well what would happen to those 2 angels in human form if they stayed in the marketplace overnight. 

Lot knew where he lived and he chose to stay there.  That is important. 

19:4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”  6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”   9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. And they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.  10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

I just couldn’t type it myself, so I copy and pasted.  I don’t even want to TYPE the vile things they wanted to do….call me a prude if you want to….

What we see in those verses though is God’s mercy on Lot.  Lot and his family were in a horrible city and they all knew it.  They were righteous though, or God would not have saved them, but still they stayed.  Why…..why would you stay in a place that is simply overrun with sin of every size, shape and color?  Why would he keep his lovely wife there?  Raise a family there?   It definitely wasn’t the nice people there….if I happen to find Lot in Heaven when I get there, I’d love to ask him “Why would you stay in a place such as that?” 

AND….oh and this is another thing I don’t understand…..

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”   16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.

Lot hesitated….he knows the destruction of the city is coming, and yet…..he hesitates. 

Did you see what God did though?  The angels grabbed the hands of Lot and his wife and daughters, and LED them out of the city.  Again, God’s mercy on him.  The same mercy God has on us….

I think, in general though, this a story of grace.  It shows God’s unwavering love for us and His desire to rescue us from…..ourselves…..and the situations we put ourselves in….or in the case of Abraham, his family put themselves in, and he prayed on their behalf.  He prayed persistantly, respectfully, but persistantly.

All of us are nasty dirty people.  All of us are horrible sinners that can’t seem to do the right thing all the time.  Some of us, have found God and let Him rescue us from the filth we wallow in. 

I love the picture of a small child playing in the mud, filthy gross from head to toe, but the second that child cries out to their mom, we are quick to pick them up.  We don’t hesitate if they are crying and need help, we scoop them up and love all over them…..and then we hose them off.  😉  God does that same thing for us, He sees us in the gross and crying out to be saved….and He scoops us up and loves all over us.  And through the saving blood of Jesus Christ His Son, we are washed clean. 

And our goal should be:  stay out of that puddle. 😉

God hears us when we cry out….and He works on our behalf for justice….but He does reserve judgement for those who continue in their sin.   That is just the facts….

I’d like to end this blog just a little different.  I wasn’t going to, but God has prompted me twice now to do it, so I’m going to do it.  If I get overwhelmed, I’ll call in reinforcements.  😉

If you have a prayer request that you’d like someone to storm the gates of Heaven with you, please leave me a comment and let me know.  You can remain anonymous if you’d like to, but if you’d like help with something you’ve been dealing with, leave a comment and tell me.  Abraham was persistant.  We can be persistant too.  We can storm too…..let’s get praying….