CHAPTER 3: SODOM AND THE LAST DAYS
According to Gen. 18:17-19, the reason God told Abraham what He would do with Sodom was because Abraham would teach others, and his descendants would teach others. This implies that Sodom's destruction was to be a special lesson for all generations. And 2 Pet. 2:6 says the same- Sodom was to be a perpetual "example unto those that after should live ungodly"; in this sense Sodom was "set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7). The fire was "eternal" in the sense that the example of destruction was to be to all generations. This paves the way for Sodom's destruction to be understood as a particularly significant type of the last days.
Our Lord clearly understood
the destruction of Sodom as being typical of the events of the second
coming: " As it was in the days of Lot...the same day that Lot went
out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven...even thus shall
it be in the day when the son of man is revealed. In that day, he which
shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come
down to take it away...remember Lot's wife...in that night there shall
be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other left"
(Lk.17:28-34). Not only is the city of Sodom representative of the world
of the last days, but Lot's calling out of Sodom by the Angels is typical
of our being 'taken' by Angels to meet the Lord.
It is a breathtaking
thought that all the intricate typology of the judgments on Sodom
has been worked out for our benefit- the generation who will be
alive at the second coming. To a lesser extent, the believers of
the first century could have seen that the story of Sodom also represented
the judgments to come upon Jerusalem in AD70. An impressive group
of Old Testament prophets had associated Jerusalem with Sodom: Is.1:10;
Am.4:11; Dt.29:23; Jer.23:14; Lam.4:6; Ez.16:46. Jer. 4 and 5 are
prophecies which have relevance to Israel's latter day judgments
(Jer.4:28=Mt.24:30). Jer.5:1 seems to allude to God's requirement
for their to be some faithful men in Sodom to prevent its destruction:
" Run ye to and from through the streets of Jerusalem, and
see...if ye can find a man...that seeketh the truh; and I will pardon
it" . This associates Sodom, Jerusalem and the last days. As
the faithful remnant were miraculously allowed to leave Sodom, immediately
unleashing the Divine judgments by doing so, the faithful Christian
remnant were allowed to leave Jerusalem just before the final Roman
onslaught of AD70, doubtless spurred on by their Lord's command:
" Let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let
them which are in the midst of it (Jerusalem) depart out" (Lk.21:21).
The reference to fleeing to the mountains would have suggested a
conscious allusion back to the command to Lot to flee out
of Sodom " to the mountain" (Gen.19:17).
As a result of Abraham's
intense prayer, believing that this coupled with the spiritual preparedness
of others really could change God's stated purpose, the judgment
of Sodom need not have come. So with Jerusalem in AD70, had there
been a suitably large, repentant 'remnant' those horrific judgments
could have been avoided. Despite the definite associations of Jerusalem
with Sodom in the prophets, the Old Testament also uses Sodom as
a symbol of total, permanent destruction of the type which has not
and will not come on Jerusalem, the future capital of the Kingdom
(Dt.29:23; 32:32; Is.13:19; Jer.49:18; 50:40; Am.4:11; Zeph.2:9).
It is for this reason that Paul makes the point that for the sake
of the tiny group of Jews who did still hold and practice the truth,
Israel would not suffer the judgments of Sodom in totality (Rom.9:29
cp. Is.1:9). This would indicate that there will also be a latter
day Jewish remnant which will stop the faithless Israel
of today receiving the judgment of permanent destruction. But of
course for the individuals of both natural and spiritual Israel
who have consciously rejected God, " it shall be more tolerable
in that day (of judgment) for Sodom" than for them (Lk.10:12).
Jer.20:16 has a graphic description of the people of Sodom screaming
out in anguish, both mental and physical, as the judgments of God
fell upon them: " The cry in the morning (when the judgments
began, Gen.19:23,24), and the shouting at noontide" . This
is in reality a picture of the rejected in the last days.
Zeph.1:17,18 has a series
of allusions to Sodom, indicating that its destruction prefigures that
of Israel in the last days: " They shall walk like blind men (as
the Sodomoites did), because they have sinned against the Lord ("
the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord" , Gen.13:13)...neither
their silver nor their gold (cp. Sodom's wealth) shall be able to deliver
them...the whole land shall be devoured by the fire" (Zeph.1:17,18).
being a type of latter day events, it is not surprising that Scripture
provides a wealth of detail concerning Sodom. The Genesis record
summarizes what we glean from later revelation by saying that "
the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly"
(Gen.13:13). " Before the Lord" recalls the earth being
" corrupt before God" prior to the flood (Gen.6:11), another
clear type of the last days. Indeed their sin being " before
the Lord" may hint that Lot (or Abraham?) had preached God's
requirements to them, and therefore they were consciously disobeying
Him. Thus Rom.3:19 speaks of the world becoming " guilty before
God" by reason of their having the opportunity to know God's
word (cp. Rom.2:12,13).
The specific sin of
Sodom is well known- confirmed by the repeated emphasis on "
the men of Sodom" in the record. The grossness of their perversion
is shown by their clamouring for the Angels, who doubtless appeared
as good looking young men, " that we may know them" (Gen.19:5).
Lot's response " I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly"
and his offer of his daughters to them (Gen.19:7,8) clearly shows
their intention. In the light of this, Jude warns the believers
that their punishment for this was what awaited those of the new
Israel who threw off their
responsibilities. " As Sodom and Gomorrha...giving themselves
over (implying this was a conscious apostasy?) to fornication, and
going after strange flesh, are set forth an example" to us
(Jude 7). In passing, it should be noted that all Jude's examples
of Divine punishment involve people who were responsible to God,
by reason of knowing His ways. Is Sodom an exception?
There can be no doubt
that the sexual aspects of Sodom's sins have great similarity to
the moral filth of our present world. But significantly it was not
this aspect which our Lord chose to highlight when speaking of how
" the days of Lot" typified those of His return. Instead
He spoke of those things which were more likely to ensnare His people:
" They (as well as our present world) did eat, they
drank, they bought, they sold, they planted,
they builded" (Lk.17:28). Their obsession with daily
activities without an awareness of God was as bad as their other
sins; a point we would do well to be aware of. However, their eating
and drinking must have been to gross excess- Ez.16:49 defines "
the iniquity of Sodom" as being " fulness of bread"
among other things. Some lavish Christian lifestyles frequently
feature " fulness of bread" - but because it is not perceived
as a gross sin, this unhealthy similarity with Sodom slips by unchallenged.
" They bought,
they sold" suggests that Sodom was a major trading centre,
rapidly increasing in wealth; " they planted, they builded"
(Lk.17:28) implies a real boom town. Such success resulted in the
people being proud and haughty (Ez.16:49,50); the wealth created
at the expense of others brought about " abundance of idleness
in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand
of the poor and needy" (Ez.16:49). It is these aspects of Sodom
which are so precisely matched by our self-centred, money mad world.
As our Lord realized, it is these aspects which are most likely
to ensnare the child of God. Yet Sodom's people were not completely
unaware of their religious conscience. Jeremiah likened the false
prophets of Israel who
effectively taught that sin was service to God to the people of
Sodom, suggesting that they too said the same (Jer.23:14). This
is another hint that the people of Sodom had some degree of responsibility,
as have latter day Israel
whom they typify (1).
The calling of Lot out
of Sodom is a type, on the Lord's authority, of our calling away
to judgment. His position immediately prior to the Angels' coming
must therefore connect with our situation now. We will see as this
study continues that Lot was in no way as spiritually strong as
he ought to have been, nor as enthusiastic for the Lord's coming
as his complaining about the evils of the city recorded in 2 Pet.2:7,8
might lead us to think. The very fact that he chose to live in the
area whilst Abraham steered well clear of it is testimony enough
to his worldliness (Gen.13:10,11). The offering of his two daughters
to the Sodomites also betrays a certain unspirituality (Gen.19:8).
The fact that Sodom's fate was revealed to Abraham rather than Lot
may also be significant.
Despite this, Abraham
evidently rated Lot's spirituality- his conviction that Lot and
his family must comprise at least 10 righteous people must have
been the basis of his prayer for Sodom's destruction to be nullified
(Gen.18:32). And so in the sight of the ecclesia, the high spiritual
status of latter day believers may not be questioned- and yet the
Lord's coming may find us seriously unprepared, as it did for Lot.
It seems Jeremiah and Ezekiel likewise, on the eve of the coming
of the Lord's day in their times, had to be taught that they
had a far too exalted view of the state of the ecclesia. What latter
day similarities with how the faithful remnant of today perceive
Lot sitting " in
the gate of Sodom" (Gen.19:1) has been seen as an indication
that he held some prominent public office in the city's administration.
Yet despite this, he evidently maintained his separation- although
this seems to have created suppressed bitterness amongst his colleagues,
which they gave vent to in their sudden persecution of him just
before the Angel came: " This one fellow came in to sojourn,
and now he will needs be a judge" (Gen.19:9). Note how initially
Lot lived in the smaller " cities of the plain" , and
then " pitched his tent toward Sodom" , resulting in him
eventually settling within the city (Gen.13:12). One wonders if
he kept his tent in the loft. Ps. 1:1 seems to allude to Lot's progressive
apostacy, speaking of the righteous man not walking, standing
or sitting with the wicked- in other words, the righteous
man will learn from Lot's mistakes. The way Lot progressively moved
Eastwards has to be connected with a strange theme in Genesis of
all the apostates moving ever further East (Gen. 4:6; 11:2 RV; 13:11;
16:12 RVmg; 28:9). This is not the only indication in Scripture
that many latter day saints, whom Lot represents, will not be spiritually
fit when their Lord returns. This gradual slump into worldliness
to the spiritual detriment of his family (the wife, sons and possibly
other daughters refused to truly leave Sodom) is not difficult to
see matched in the present ecclesia. The material prosperity of
Lot just before his short, sharp persecution period at the Lord's
'coming', matches Israel's prosperity in Egypt just before their
holocaust started (Gen.47:11). The wealth of the latter day ecclesia
may well be proof in itself, in the light of these types, that we
are heading for a like tribulation period.
Yet 2 Pet.2:7,8
reveals how Lot " vexed (Gk. 'tortured') his righteous soul
from day to day with their unlawful deeds" . Seeing that he
failed to influence his family to properly appreciate the sins of
that city, and that he was so attached to it that he was unwilling
to leave, this must be interpreted as little more than the sort
of middle class, respectable 'tut-tutting' that present day Christianity
abounds with. After all, he had chosen to live there, he did not
have to stay, and the record of his choice of Sodom in Gen.13 spotlights
his unspiritual, worldly thinking in this regard when compared to
Abraham, the stranger and sojourner. Whether this assessment of
Lot's character is felt to be correct or not, it must surely be
accepted that there was a serious dualism in his position which
has strong similarities with ours today- vexing his soul about the
sins of the surrounding world, and yet increasingly involved in
it and greatly benefiting from it materially, at spiritual cost
to himself and his family. Lot was effectively willing to betray
his daughters to the men of Sodom, pointing forward to the Lord's
prophecy of how in the holocaust to come, many will betray each
other (Mt. 10:36), family life within the ecclesia will break up;
a spirit of dissension will fall upon natural and spiritual families.
The reason for this will be rooted in a lack of true spiritual concern
for the family in the easier years of this present life. Not for
nothing does Paul warn against marriage in the last days (1 Cor.
Having been told
to bring his " sons in law...sons...daughters" out of
the city (Gen.19:12), it is recorded that Lot only went to speak
with his sons in law, and that the daughters who came with him were
young unmarried girls who were still living at home, rather than
speaking to his married daughters (Gen.19:14). There is no mention
of his speaking to them or his sons- perhaps because he knew that
spiritually they were too far gone to be interested? It is possible
that his speaking only to his " sons in law" rather than
directly to his daughters also indicates a lack of urgency or comprehension
of the seriousness of the situation. The Angels' words are full
of exhortation: " Hast thou here any besides?...whatsoever
thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place" (Gen.19:12).
Lot seems to have gone to Sodom for material ends- our Lord holds
up his wife as an example of those who love the materialism of this
world more than the reality of his Kingdom (Lk.17:31,32). But the
Angels speak of spiritually prepared people as being the only real
possessions Lot had: " Whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring
them out" . This surely underlines the importance of "
exhorting one another daily, and so much the more as ye see the
day approaching" , showing how in a healthy ecclesia we all
belong to each other. Those who choose to separate themselves from
this bond and their responsibilities to their brethren, either by
geographical or other forms of isolation, surely cannot take these
The men of the city
had their pent-up feelings of despite and jealousy towards Lot released
by the coming of those Angels. This gave rise to their persecution
of him before he was finally called away; during that period the
Angels asked him to make a desperate 11th hour appeal to any who
had the slightest inkling of spirituality. Whilst it is not possible
to press this typology exactly, the fact that Lot was under persecution
before being taken away by the Angels may be significant in a latter
day context. Note too that just prior to his removal he was involved
in active preaching. Section 3 gives good reason to believe that
we will be enduring a period of persecution just before the Lord's
coming, and that there will be active witnessing during that period.
Lot's persecutors being smitten with blindness creates the eerie
picture of him walking through the streets of the city visiting
those whom he hoped would heed the call, with his incensed enemies
unable to lay hold on him. This doubtless required faith on his
part; and all this fits in nicely with the implications to be considered
later that there will be especial help made available during this
witnessing period. However, Rev.11:8 speaks of the dead bodies of
these latter day witnesses lying dead in the streets of spiritual
Sodom- indicating that some will die during this great appeal (cp.
But Lot " seemed
as one that mocked unto his sons in law" (Gen.19:14), the Hebrew
idiom implying 'to pull the leg'- i.e. his message was treated as
a joke. Our last appeal to the world will probably meet a similar
response; but it must be remembered that if Lot's leaving of Sodom
represents the calling away to judgment, then those whom he asked
to leave with him may primarily represent other believers. Section
4 outlines a likely scenario of the judgment in which the willingness
to respond to the call to leave the world is an indicator of our
acceptability- those who refuse or delay to obey the call are punished
(after judgment) in the sufferings of the world, whilst those who
voluntarily obey the call to judgment immediately are those who
will be accepted. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins illustrates
this too. Thus Lot's appeal to those who presumably knew the true
God to leave the city may parallel our frantic pleading with weak
believers to immediately respond to the call to leave the world.
Sadly there will be the same light hearted refusal on the part of
The smiting with blindness
in a latter day context suggests Zech.14:12, where this is the plague
with which God punishes those who have come against Jerusalem. In
this case Lot would represent a feeble-faithed Jewish remnant in
the last days, unsuccessfully pleading with others to obey the Lord's
call. " Lot went out" into streets filled with blind,
angry men of Sodom, in order to spread the message as the Angels
requested (Gen. 19:14). This picture of preaching amidst bitter
hostility but with Divine protection recurrs in Rev. 11 concerning
the two witnesses.
Lot's witness completed,
he was told to leave Sodom " lest thou be consumed in the iniquity
of the city" (Gen. 19:15), with " thy two daughters which
are here" . " Are here" in the Hebrew means literally
'to come out'- as if to stress that although living with Lot, they
still had made the conscious decision to leave. The fact that they
did not look back like their mother would indicate a certain degree
of spiritual strength- and perhaps they were still virgins because
they declined to marry " the men of Sodom (who) were wicked
and sinners before the Lord exceedingly" (Gen.13:13). This
command to leave Sodom " Lest thou be consumed in the iniquity
of the city" is clearly one of the source passages for Rev.18:4
concerning Babylon: " I heard another (Angelic) voice from
Heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers
of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" . Note
that it was also an Angel who said this to Lot. Babylon is directly
equated with Sodom in Is. 13:19 and Jer. 50:40. Babylon geographically
and culturally represents the Arab peoples of our last days- and
therefore it is not surprising that related Arab nations like Edom,
Moab and Ammon are also parallelled with Sodom (Jer. 49:18; Zeph.
2:9). This continues a long-standing Biblical theme that the curses
on apostate Israel are the same as those on the Arabs- thus Sodom
is representative of both Jews and Arabs.
Of Gog's destruction
it is written: " I will rain upon him...great hailstones, fire
and brimstone" (Ez.38:22), associating Gog with Sodom. At the
same time, Gog and his supporters will be fighting each other (Ez.38:21),
clearly connecting with Zechariah's prophecy that the Arab invaders
of the last days will do the same (and cp. Jud.7:22). God's pleading
against Gog with these things is the language of Joel 3:2, again
about the destruction of Israel's latter day Arab enemies. The Hebrew
word for 'locust' in Joel is almost identical to 'Gog'. All this
results in an association between the Arabs, the Sodomites, Gog
and the northern invader. This prepares the way for the view that
" the beast" is a symbolic epitome of all Israel's enemies.
It is to be expected,
therefore, that the fall of Babylon chronicled in Rev.18 is shot
through with allusions back to the Sodom record. The following are
the more evident points of contact:
I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore" (Babylon);
God showing Abraham the
beast supporting Babylon " was and is not and shall ascend"
and surrounding cities were
overrun by Abraham, then revived.
Her sins have reached unto Heaven, God hath
remembered her iniquities" ; 18:5
The cry of Sodom...is great because their sin is very grievous
...the cry of it is come unto me" (Gen.18:20,21)
She hath glorified herself, and lived
Pride...fulness of bread" (Ez. 16:49)
Utterly burned with fire" ; 18:8
Her plagues...death...and famine" ; 18:8
He overthrew all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which
grew upon the ground" (cp. " famine" ; Gen. 19:25).
The great city...great Babylon" ; 16:19
city of Sodom.
There fell upon men a great hail out of heaven"
The Lord rained upon Sodom... brimstone and fire from the
of heaven" (Gen.19:24).
They shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for
the fear of her torment (18:9,10)
standing far away and seeing the smoke of Sodom's
burning indicates that the surrounding kings did likewise (Gen.19:28).
suffered through Babylon's fall (18:11-19)
was a trading centre (Lk. 17:28)
...a great millstone cast into the sea ...thus with violence
shall...Babylon..be found no more at all" (18:21)
now appears to be submerged in the Dead Sea, to be found no more.
Her smoke rose up" (19:3)
Sodom...the land of the plain...the smoke of the country went
We have reasoned that
Lot's call out of Sodom represents how the Angels will call us out
of this present evil world. Indeed, our Lord said that Sodom represents
the world just prior to the second coming (Lk.17:28). The evident
connections with latter day Babylon would suggest that 'Babylon'
too represents the world of the last days; " Come out of her
my people" (Rev.18:4) therefore refers to the Angel's plea
to us at the second coming, in addition to any previous historical
reference it may have to the Catholic apostasy. The call for the
first century Jews to leave Rome or for true believers to come out
of Catholicism were pointers towards the ultimate fulfilment of
these words, which will be in our leaving this life at the behest
of the Angel who comes to call us away. Our obedience then will
be the summation of all the previous decisions God's people have
made to 'come out' from the 'world' in its various forms.
If 'Babylon' refers
specifically to the Arab powers, it is possible to see Sodom representing
the world under Arab control in the last days, offering great material
wealth. Yet the obvious Biblical basis for the language of "
come out of her my people" is in the many references to Israel
being called on to leave the soft life of Babylon and return to
the land during the restoration (e.g. Zech.2:6,7). In this there
is a remarkable similarity with Sodom. The Jews in Babylon maintained
their separateness, and yet became heavily involved in the government
of Babylon (as witness Daniel and his friends, along with profane
history). This is parallel to Lot's position in Sodom. Yet the prosperity
of Babylon made the Jews disinclined to leave it in order to go
to Jerusalem, as Lot had a similar disinclination. And the easy
life of the present world will also seem a greater attraction to
the unworthy of the new Israel, when the Angel calls them to go
to Jerusalem to meet their Lord.
(1) The responsibility
of Sodom and latter day Israel would suggest that the level of knowledge
that brings responsibility to Divine judgment is much lower than we may
think. It isn't just those who do a correspondence course who are responsible.
If the men of Sodom and latter day Israel will be held responsible, how
very responsible are we, with all the wealth of doctrinal truth
which has been revealed to us. And can there, in the light of even Sodom's
responsibility, be any doubt that anyone brought up as a Christian
can walk away from the call of Christ with no responsibility to future