My last blog was about Genesis 19, the Old Testament narrative story which tells of the judgment and destruction of Sodom and of the rescue of Abraham’s nephew Lot, who flees to a place of refuge and thus is saved. In this story are all the elements of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and the purpose of my next few blogs will be to show how this story foreshadows the gospel and how closely this story of Sodom parallels our own place and time.
To review, here are the elements that we can observe in the story in Genesis 19:
- The LORD has determined to judge the city of Sodom because of their sin;
- Before He destroys the city, the LORD sends messengers to warn of the coming judgment and to urge people to flee from the city to a place of refuge;
- Many in the doomed city never hear the message at all and so do not run to the place of refuge; thus, they perish in the judgment;
- Some hear the message, but refuse to believe it and to act upon it and so they do not run to the place of refuge; thus, they perish in the judgment;
- Some hear the message and act upon the message and flee to the place of refuge; thus they are saved from the judgment.
In this blog we will look at the element of the messengers – Before He destroys the city, the LORD sends messengers to warn of the coming judgment and to urge people to flee from the city to a place of refuge.
We read in Genesis 18 that the LORD has determined to destroy Sodom because of their great sin (18:20-32). Because of the LORD’s mercy and grace, however, He sends two angels to go to the condemned city with a message from Him.
Let’s pause to consider this scene. First, all the people of Sodom deserve to perish because they have all sinned against the LORD. Thus, the LORD would be perfectly just if He destroyed them all without a warning. It is an act of grace (undeserved favor) that the LORD sends these messengers to the doomed city. Also notice that these messengers are commissioned by the LORD Himself to deliver the LORD’s message. They are going to Sodom with the mission of declaring the LORD’s message to them.
What is the nature of the message that these angels are to proclaim? There are two main points to the message. Point number one is an urgent warning, that the city is doomed and is going to be destroyed and point number two is that the [LORD, in His mercy has provided a place of refuge and anyone who flees to that place of refuge will be saved from the judgment. Therefore, the] people in the doomed city must escape and flee to the place of refuge.
Let’s pause again to consider this situation. The messengers know something that the people of Sodom do not know; namely, that the people of Sodom are under God’s judgment because of their sin and that God is going to destroy the city. Therefore, the first part of their message is to tell the people of their sin and of God’s judgment on their sin. But the messengers are also to tell the people that the LORD, in His mercy, has provided a place of refuge where they can be safe and can escape the judgment. The messengers are to use whatever means are necessary to compel the people to leave the doomed city and to enter the place of refuge, because they know that to fail to do so will mean certain destruction. The word “escape” appears five times in this chapter to highlight the urgency of the message. “You must escape to the refuge or you will perish!” Thus, the heaven-sent messengers come to the doomed city to rescue those who will flee to the designated place of refuge.
How do these messengers and their message foreshadow the gospel of Jesus Christ?
GOD’S COMING JUDGMENT
In Genesis 18-19, the LORD declares that He will judge Sodom for their sin. But the the bad news of the gospel also makes clear that the Lord will not be patient with the wickedness and sin of man forever and that there is certainly coming a day when He will destroy the entire earth because of the sin of mankind. In that day His full wrath against sin will be fully expressed in the return of the Lord Jesus when He will tread out the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty (Rev. 19:15). We can see that, as Sodom was under the LORD’s judgment for their sin, so we are under God’s judgment for our sin. (See Romans 1:18; etc.)
THE MESSENGERS AND THEIR MESSAGE
As the LORD sent messengers to the doomed city to warn them of the coming judgment and to compel the people to flee to refuge, so in the gospel all believers have been commissioned by the risen Lord Jesus Christ Himself to warn sinners of the terrifying coming judgment and to compel sinners to repent of their sin and to flee to Jesus Christ, the Savior and the only refuge from God’s holy wrath and from His consuming fire.
Notice the similarities between the angelic messengers and the witnesses of the Lord Jesus: Like the angelic messengers, those sent out by the Lord Jesus know about the coming judgment, so they warn those who are ignorant of their great peril. Like the angels, the witnesses of the Lord Jesus have been personally sent by the Lord (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:47-48; John 20:21) and are commissioned to compel men and women to repent and to flee to Jesus Christ for refuge from the coming judgment. (2 Corinthian 5:11-12; Luke 14:23 – Jesus in a parable). In His mercy and grace, the Lord has provided a place of safety and refuge for all who will flee there. In Genesis 19 the place of refuge is “the mountain,” but this is merely a foreshadow of the great and final refuge that is found in Jesus Christ.
APPLICATION 1: As you read the Old Testament, be alert for those stories that point toward the gospel and point forward to Jesus and His work and His kingdom. Here in this narrative about the gross sin of Sodom and its destruction we see the gospel clearly portrayed. Let this add richness to your Bible studies and you search for Jesus in the Old Testament.
APPLICATION 2: For the gospel to be obeyed, it must be proclaimed by faithful witnesses. The Lord is surely bringing a day of reckoning and terrifying judgment, and those who are perishing need to be warned. If you are a believer, how well are you serving as a heaven-sent messenger? Have you accepted your calling as an active, intentional witness for Jesus? Do you know the message about the coming judgment? Do you believe it? Are you adept and comfortable with sharing this message of coming judgment with sinners? Is this a part of your regular evangelism? Since the Lord Himself has sent you into the world to compel people to flee to the place of refuge, are you obedient to that calling? Are you calling people to Jesus as the only place of refuge from God’s holy wrath?
SDG rmb 2/20/2018