The Evil City of Sodom
1That evening, while Lot was sitting near the city gate, the two angels arrived in Sodom. When Lot saw them, he got up, bowed down low, 2and said, “Gentlemen, I am your servant. Please come to my home. You can wash your feet, spend the night, and be on your way in the morning.”
They told him, “No, we'll spend the night in the city square.” 3But Lot kept insisting, until they finally agreed and went home with him. He quickly baked some bread, cooked a meal, and they ate.
4Before Lot and his guests could go to bed, every man in Sodom, young and old, came and stood outside his house 5 and started shouting, “Where are your visitors? Send them out, so we can have sex with them!”
6Lot went outside and shut the door behind him. 7Then he said, “Friends, please don't do such a terrible thing! 8I have two daughters who have never had sex. I'll bring them out, and you can do what you want with them. But don't harm these men. They are guests in my home.”
9“Don't get in our way,” the crowd answered. “You're a foreigner. What right do you have to order us around? We'll do worse things to you than we're going to do to them.”
The crowd kept arguing with Lot. Finally, they rushed toward the door to break it down. 10But the two angels in the house reached out and pulled Lot safely inside. 11 Then they struck blind everyone in the crowd, and none of them could even find the door.
12-13The two angels said to Lot, “The Lord has heard many terrible things about the people of Sodom, and he has sent us here to destroy the city. Take your family and leave. Take every relative you have in the city, as well as the men your daughters are going to marry.”
14Lot went to the men who were engaged to his daughters and said, “Hurry up and get out of here! The Lord is going to destroy this city.” But they thought he was joking, and they laughed at him.
In four decades of clothes shopping, I’ve never found a department store mirror I agree with. Perhaps that’s why the Bible sets so many people on edge. Mirror-like, with searing accuracy, it reflects the bits of ourselves we dislike most. When Truth and Light peel back the not-so-glad rags of unrighteousness, the image of our own buck-naked souls makes us recoil.
The story of Lot does that. After he made a selfish choice to move his clan to the richest acres in sight, Abraham’s nephew encountered a frequent down-side of “eye-appeal only” decisions. A strangling moral smog blanketed his rich plain. In the ensuing years his entire family succumbed to Sodom and Gomorrah’s polluted culture.
Many people don’t like this part of God’s book much. It reminds us of the times when, like Lot, we lived to satisfy our senses. When, instead of pursuing connection with God, we allowed strings of compromises to erode our morals and cave in our spirits. Times when we risked God’s judgment.
Sodom’s smog seeps through history. Today, at our doors (media, tablets, televisions, SmartPhones…) it howls, “Follow your instincts. Indulge your senses. Do what feels right!” And sometimes we do.
Another dimension affected Lot’s hopeless circumstances, however. Though he didn’t recognize them, a God-sent rescue squad arrived just in time to usher him and his family away from the coming destruction—if they’d cooperate.
God still sends divine rescue squads to those choking in moral smog. When our choices have placed us in grave danger, we may not always be aware of them, but they’re there nonetheless – people, resources, helpers who will lead us out, if we listen.
Best of all, God’s Holy Spirit hovers among us, a cross-shaped rescue plan firmly in place. And only Jesus – God’s pure heir – is able to keep us breathing freely.
Lord of Hosts, free me from the smog of soul-stripping compromise. Embed truth in my heart. Renew my mind. And direct my feet to walk in purity, holiness, and righteousness.
Kathleen began following Jesus at six. The Word and words have captivated her ever since. Her career has included time as a freelancer, columnist, broadcaster, conference speaker, workshop leader and magazine editor. She has authored two books and currently works full-time as constituency and communications assistant for a Canadian Member of Parliament. Kathleen and her husband, Rick, spent thirty years pastoring churches across Western Canada. They have two children and six grandchildren. Publications: Practice by Practice, the art of everyday faith, 2010, Word Alive, Winnipeg; West Nile Diary, one couple’s triumph over a deadly disease, 2009, BPS Books, Toronto; Sunny Side Up, Faith and Life newspaper column, published weekly since 2001. (Also posted weekly at www.kathleengibson.ca/sunnysideup); 90 second inspirational radio spot, Simple Words, airs on a syndicated program in over twenty countries