Sodom is a symbol of the ways of this world as opposed to the ways of God
Abraham had just been visited by three mysterious me who turned out to be the Lord God himself and two angels. The visitors leave Abraham and head toward the Jordan River valley. They made it clear to Abraham they were going to visit Sodom and Gomorrah in order to determine if the cities were as wicked as they were reported to be. If so, they intended to destroy the cities because of the wickedness.
Abraham's nephew Lot was living in the city of Sodom, and Abraham had made a bargain with God in order to try to save the city where Lot was living. God had agreed that if he found only ten righteous people living in Sodom, he would spare the city on account of those ten.
When the angels arrive in Sodom, they come to Lot's house. Lot welcomed them into his home and treated them with great hospitality, even though he did not know who they really were.
However, when the people of Sodom found out that these news strangers were in Lot's home, they surrounded the house. They demanded Lot send the "men" out to them so that they could sexually abuse them. Now, Lot refused to do this, and the people of Sodom began to attack the house. As the people of Sodom began to pound on the door, however, the angels stuck them blind, rendering them helpless.
The angels then earnestly and sternly warned Lot of what was coming. "Hurry up and gather anyone in your family," they pleaded. "Get them out of this place, for we are about to destroy this place because the outcry against its people is great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it."
Lot hurried to his sons-in-law and urged them, "Get up, get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
As dawn begin to break, the angels again pleaded with Lot, "Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city." However, Lot hesitated. However, because of the Lord's compassion for Lot, the angels grabbed his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters. They then literally drug them outside the city. As soon as the angels got them outside, one of them said, "Run for your lives! Don't look back and don't stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away!"
The Bible ends the story this way, "Then the Lord rained burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of the sky. He overthrew these cities, the entire plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and whatever grew on the ground. But his wife looked back and became a pillar of salt."
We need to remember how Lot came to be in Sodom. Lot and Abraham had been living together in the land of Canaan. However, their flocks and families had become so large that their herdsmen began to fight among themselves over the resources of the land. Rather than allow the conflict to continue, Abraham suggested they split up and go separate ways. Abraham had even offered Lot the choice of the land.
Rather than allowing the older Abraham to have the choice of the best land, Lot chose for himself what he though was the best. The scripture tells us that gradually Lot moved his tent closer and closer to Sodom until he was living there.
Lot wanted to get something out of Sodom. He was seduced by the wealth and culture. I am sure also that he wanted to put something into Sodom in order to help transform the city. There is even evidence that he became the chief magistrate.
However, two things became true of Lot: (1) He was in Sodom, and (2) Much of Sodom was also in him. We need to ask one thing of Lot, "How much did you really influence the city?" Well, when Lot stood up against the men of the city, they not only ignored him, but were going to overpower him. He also had no influence whatsoever with his own sons-in-law. His uncle Abraham had negotiated for God to spare Sodom for only ten good men, but Lot could not even find that many among his own family.
Lot had also come to Sodom for the wealth. Just how much of that was he left with in the end? Not only did Lot lose all of his material possessions, he lost members of his family, including his wife.
We need to learn from Lot's mistake. Sodom is a symbol of the ways of this world as opposed to the ways of God. When we like Lot try to get the best out of both worlds, in the end, we, like Lot will lose everything, including being a positive spiritual influence on our own family. Be careful what you wish for.
(The Rev. Al Henager is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Heber Springs, Arkansas. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)