Judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah
Open Your Bible
Genesis 18:22-33, Genesis 19:1-38, Ezekiel 16:49-50, Romans 1:18-25
As I read about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, I couldn’t help but think of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Toward the conclusion of the film adaptation, we see the Pelennor Fields lying in smoky ruins after battle. It’s a scene of utter and complete destruction. I remember watching this scene for the first time, wondering as the camera panned out if there’d be a familiar character still alive among the wreckage. I wanted to see a remnant of the good guys, to know that mercy had been shown to at least one person. Or hobbit. Or elf.
Many of us hear words like “grace” and “mercy” and immediately jump to Jesus and the New Testament. But since we know that Christ is “the exact expression” of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3), it won’t do to consider God in the Old Testament any less gracious or merciful.
God’s mercy is not hard to find in the Old Testament. It’s woven throughout the book of Genesis like a flowering vine, connecting the stories in Christ’s lineage. Even when people continue to make bad decisions that bring about their own demise or widespread catastrophe, God’s desire is for people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). We see the ultimate display of God’s mercy in His Son, Jesus Christ; through the power of His resurrection, there is healing for the world (Isaiah 53:5).
During his exchange with Abraham, God listens to Abraham’s plea and gives the people a chance. “The LORD said, ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake’” (Genesis 18:26). They continue to talk, and that number of fifty is reduced to only ten (v.32). But sadly not even ten can be found. God still saves Lot—Abraham’s nephew and the familiar face Abraham knows and loves. God’s mercy is always there and greater than we expect, even when most people reject it.
Without Christ, it’s our own hearts that resemble that plain of smoking ruins. Even after receiving the Holy Spirit, we still wrestle with sin. We routinely choose to submit to our own will instead of the Spirit. Our sins may not seem as flagrant as those of Sodom and Gomorrah, but we are all sinners in need of grace.
Hallelujah! Christ has broken the curse of sin and death. Even now, Christ—the exact expression of the Old Testament God with whom Abraham bargained and pleaded for the lives of his community—invites us to accept the gift of eternal life. He is for us, and His mercy is greater than we think. Remembering this, may we echo Abraham’s plea for the redemption of our own hearts, our city, and our world.