We are in a series of blogs 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 these 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 see that some clearly hear the message of coming judgment, but they refuse to respond to the message. Hearing the alarm, they choose to do nothing and thus perish in the fire and brimstone.
Surely it is an astonishing thing to see people who ignore a clear warning of deadly danger and defy all attempts to rescue them. It would be remarkable for someone who lived in a straw house to ignore a fire alarm or for someone who lived in Kansas to laugh at a neighbor or friend who told them that a tornado was closing in on them, but in the case of Sodom we see a response exactly like that. We see those who were warned of the coming destruction of Sodom and who not only ignored that warning, but who also laughed at the one giving the warning.
As we have done previously in this series of blogs, we will take time to review the gospel and see how this refusal to heed the warning fits into it. The gospel declares that judgment and hell await men and women because of their sin. All have sinned (Romans 3:23) and so all are subject to the coming judgment of God. But while God is perfectly holy, He is also merciful, and He has sent Jesus into the world to be the substitute for sinners. Jesus has died on the cross to pay for sins and has risen from the dead to prove that His sacrifice was accepted as payment for sins. Now God has sent out His heralds into the world to proclaim the good news of the gospel, that all who repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will be forgiven of their sins and will have eternal life.
We can see that this narrative of Sodom is an illustration of the gospel. For just as Lot went to his sons-in-law and urged them to flee the city (Genesis 19:14) because it was going to be judged because of its sin, so Christian evangelists proclaim the gospel to warn men and women who are subject to God’s judgment and destruction that they must flee to Christ for rescue and salvation. And just as Lot’s sons-in-law mock Lot and laugh at him and believe that he is just joking around, even so many of those who are told of Christ and who hear the gospel clearly proclaimed ignore the warning and continue to live life without any repentance or faith in Christ and mock the very ones who told them about Jesus’ salvation. These hearers continue to live as if nothing will happen, as if the Lord Almighty, the Holy One of Israel will never judge sin and they continue as if that they will never be condemned and as if hell is where “other people” go. As Lot’s sons-in-law perished in the destruction of Sodom because they did not flee to refuge when they heard the voice of warning, even so those who refuse to believe the gospel warning about God’s eternal judgment for sin and who refuse to flee to Jesus Christ for refuge will perish and spend eternity in hell for their sin.
Thus the key for the herald, for the one who would proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, is to announces the coming destruction and to warn that people under condemnation must flee to Jesus, the only place of refuge from God’s judgment, and, in so doing, the herald must fully expect that those he warns may very well scoff at the message and ridicule the messenger because the hearers do not want to hear the message.
- The herald must be ready to proclaim the message “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2), in friendly groups and in hostile. Potential ridicule cannot deter.
- Since the message is a matter of eternal heaven or eternal hell, the messenger must be serious about their task of proclamation and must communicate with urgent sobriety.
- Lot was ignored and thought to be jesting because he had not set his life apart from the lust of the world. He blended in to the evil life of Sodom. When it came time to be deadly serious about a life or death matter, his sons-in-law thought he was jesting. To avoid this pitfall, build a reputation that is founded on sober truth and eliminates all possibility that you are perceived as trivial or frivolous.
SDG rmb 3/11/2018