Saturday, February 07, 2009

Genesis 18-19: Sodom and Gomorrah: Christ destroys, remembers and saves beyond expectation

The Pentateuch is foundational to the gospel. So many of the key aspects of Christ's purposes are first laid out here... this among many other reasons is why I'm loving working through Genesis during 2008/9. Matt and I are up to Genesis 18-19 - a famous story, but what's going on?

The bookends of the narrative are about sons, in 18v1-15 anad 19v30-38. Abraham and Sarah are promised (again) a son, this time within a year. This son will bless the world but they laugh and the prospect of it finally happening. They continue to wait. At the end of the story we find Lot, also without sons, and his daughters get him drunk and sleep with him, leading to the birth of two sons Moab and Ben-Ammi from whom the evil Moabite and Ammonite people come. By contrast to the promised son these sons will be a curse upon God's people, though some redemption will come when Ruth the Moabite joins the people of God. No-one looks good in these incidents though the fruit of the events in Lot's cave are particularly condemning.

The major events in between are summarised in 19v29 to capture what this word is aiming at.

1. Christ, having eaten with Abraham, brings him into his divine counsel. This is the way of the kingdom of God - sit at the table with Christ.

2. This allows him to know the meaning of the destruction of Sodom, and reveals a principle that the presence of the righteous might save the wicked.
3.We see the wickedness of Sodom. Angels go to investigate and are soon under seige from the mob. They lack hospitality (Ezekiel 16v46-49) and are sinfully sensual (2 Peter 2). Sodom is a byword for evil and rightly so. They are bad but Ezekiel will say Israel became far worse, and gospel rejection is even worse (Matthew 11v23-24). Lot, self-subjected to great turmoil in his soul (2 Peter 2) tries to overcome evil with evil, offering his virgin daughters to appease them. Calvin observes that he should have "endured a thousand deaths" rather than resort to such measures. The mob says that righteous Lot has become the judge of Sodom.
4. The angels enact divine salvation, as with Noah, shutting the door to protect Lot's household. His prospective sons-in-law think that divine judgement on Sodom is a joke and so will perish. Lot lingers but the angels seize him and physically remove him from death with his wife and daughters. Sent out to salvation. Lot's wife is drawn back to sin and "looks back" (Luke 17v31-33) and perishes, turned into a pillar of salt.
5. Sodom is overthrown by Christ.

And the summary comes - 19v29 - Christ overthrows Sodom, remembers Abraham and (so) sent Lot out. Abraham had learned that Christ would spare a wicked city if even 10 righteous were found there. There were four. Sodom should have perished, taking the righteous away with the wicked. Yet, Christ exceeds this grace. He is just to punish, and excessive in grace - removing Lot to life. This grace should have taught his daughters to see that Christ could continue Lot's line and so kept them from sin, yet led by their father to hide and retreat the consequences are terrible.Still we wait for the promised son to arrive but Christ's salvation plan is in action.

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