The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 
When God finished speaking to Abraham in the hills of Hebron, “the Lord went his way” and Abraham walked back toward his camp in the falling darkness. About the same time Abraham arrived back in camp, the two angels arrived at the city gate of Sodom for the city’s final dark night. By noon the following day, the town and several of its allied villages would be nothing but a pile of smoking rubble. That evening, Father Abraham must have tried to process what he learned from his mountaintop experience with YHWH. He now knew God could condescend to take on human form to communicate with his people. He knew Sodom and its allies were beyond redemption. Abraham stopped arguing their case when it became apparent there were no righteous people there. He knew where the math was going. He knew the cities were destined for destruction.
In his soliloquy of chapter 18, God told us he was informing Abraham of this coming destruction because of Abraham’s place in salvation history as the one through whom blessings for all the nations would come. Also, Abraham, as God’s prophet, was to instruct his chosen family in the ways of God’s righteousness and justice. What better teaching tool than the rubble of these vile cities to show what all sin deserves from the hands of the perfectly holy and righteous YHWH? By sunrise, Abraham would have a visible display of God’s righteousness and justice in action, something only the Noah Family had previously seen. A foretaste of the final and terrible Day of the Lord was at hand.
As the angels approached the gate of Sodom, they had managed to travel about 18 miles (or 40, depending on where Sodom was located along the Dead Sea) in record walking time. Evidently, they had used supernatural means to arrive. Down in Sodom, even the end of the day was still warm at this lower elevation. Lot is still sitting outside the gate, “the spacious area where people lounged by the towers and guardrooms of the city’s entrance and gossiped and did business. Lot’s position in the gate indicates that he was a major player in Sodom.” To be inside the gate is to be behind the walls and cut off from what little breeze might be blowing. To get any “air conditioning,” one either climbed to the home’s roof, or went to the city gate.
Moses records Lot’s movement towards his life in this putrid city. First, he had “moved his tent as far as Sodom” (13:12). Next, he is said to be sojourning in Sodom (14:12). Now, in our text, we find him “sitting in the gate of Sodom.” Lot had made it into the upper echelon of Sodom social and business circles to be worthy to sit in the gate of the city, even though he was a sojourner (v. 9). Lot didn’t have to make the long journey from Ur with Abraham, but he must have been caught in Abram’s vision and enthusiasm. He prospered materially, and presumably spiritually, while he remained with his uncle. Lot is regarded everywhere in scripture as one who was righteous because he trusted in the Promised Seed. Peter calls him, “righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard).”
Lot may have returned to the city life (although what passed for a “city” in backwater Canaan was nothing like living in Ur), but he still had a strong commitment to the Near Eastern ideal of hospitality. “The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, ‘My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.’” Like his uncle, Lot recognized something about these two men was special in the same way believers today might recognize someone they’ve never met before might also be known by Jesus.
The angels’ refusal of his hospitality shocked and frightened Lot. It wasn’t unusual for travelers to enter a city to spend the night within its walls. By custom, they were free to do so. But this was putrid Sodom, a town so demonized nobody was safe in the town square after dark. Custom demanded that you offer strangers a bed for the night. It also demanded that you accept such an offer (24:23; Judges 18:2; 19:4-21). So, frightened Lot “pressed them strongly” (v. 3). The word has a sense of Lot grabbing their arms and pulling them along toward his house. Once there, Lot “made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.” As best he could on short notice, Lot rolled out the red carpet for his guests.
ATTEMPTED ASSAULT (4-9)
In 19:5, the men of the city demand to know Lot’s guests: Bring them out to us, that we may know them. In Semitic languages like Hebrew, the verb translated know can refer to both sexual intimacy and to mere acquaintance. That has led some to argue “that the sin of the Sodomites is a violation of the rules of hospitality. Because he is only a sojourner, Lot has exceeded his privileges. Since he has no authority to monopolize the time of these visitors, the men of Sodom request the opportunity to meet and get to know these two outsiders.” Such attempts to remove sodomy from Sodom are ridiculous at best. Lot offers his virgin daughters to the angry mob to “know.” The context demands this be read as attempted homosexual rape.
Homosexuality was common among the Canaanites (Lev. 18:22, 24; 20:13, 23). It was embedded into the culture of classical period Greece and, later in Paul’s day, in Roman culture. When the serpent-dragon enticed Adam and Eve to be their own gods, he invited them to chose for themselves whatever they thought was good. All of us human beings since that moment have self-centeredness hardwired into our motherboards.
Our basic input/output system tells us to pursue our own ideas of what we think is good – to worship ourselves as our own god. The end result of this condition is that what God calls a perversion of his natural laws, our little “kingdoms of me” reject. Not only do we reject his good, we demand that others approve of our evil choices. When humans reject God’s revelation for our own observation, God gives us over to our wants. He unties the rope and lets us drift into the current toward the great waterfall of self-destruction. So, Paul wrote in Romans 1:
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.
God’s judgment of the cities of the Dead Sea plain began long before their physical destruction. It began when he removed his restraining hand of common mercy and allowed them to live in unrestrained sin. The result was not merely the same dishonorable passions found in the rest of the city of man, but unbridled predatory selfishness in every area of their lives – economic, social, sexual unrighteousness and injustice. Before Lot and his household and guests could retire for the evening, the home was surrounded by “the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man” (v.4). Communal rape had become entertainment in Sodom – be it homosexual or bisexual (as in the case of Lot’s future sons-in-law who were apparently part of the mob).
James Boice, in his commentary writes, “in the rest of Scripture Sodom is connected also with a number of other sins: Isaiah 1:9, 10 and 3:9 connect it with blatant indulgence in all kinds of iniquity; Jeremiah 23:14 with lying and adultery; and Ezekiel 16:49 with pride, [surplus] of food, and prosperity combined with the neglect of the poor. But all these texts display the same spectrum of iniquity that Romans 1 describes, in which sexual sins are only part of the larger pattern of corruption in the pagan world. Sodom was not destroyed because it specialized in homosexuality, but because it was a plague center of every kind of depravity, including pride, sensuality, and injustice. Nevertheless, the Hebrew reader would recognize homosexual practice as one aspect of this depravity.”
In Canaanite civilization, sexual perversion was ingrained in the culture. Their demon idols were Baal and his lover Astarte. They were celebrated with eroticism and orgies (Lev. 18:22ff.; 20:13-23). Sexual orientation aside, the Sodomite men’s’ demand to rape Lot’s visitors was anathema to the social norms of ancient Near East culture. In becoming their own gods, the men of Sodom had rejected even the norms of their pagan culture. Why not? If I am my own god, what can possibly stand in the way of what I want. What I want becomes my only law. Lot’s house is surrounded by little gods howling for their own perverted satisfaction. In between the violent mob and those inside his house stands righteous Lot as a mediator. The one who sat in the city’s gate must make his own judgment of what is right and what is wrong. Like Abraham, he gets some of his judgment right and some wrong.
Peter wrote Lot was continually tortured in his righteous soul over the perversions of his neighbors. It’s easy to see why. “Righteous” clearly doesn’t mean perfect. It means he trusted into the Promised Seed. Lot offers the mob his virgin daughters to protect his guests. Any way we examine that offer, it’s still bad. We can speculate he knew the men would refuse to rape his daughters since two men of the mob were engaged to them. Perhaps by doing so, he thought the offer might make the men see how wrong their intentions were.
Regardless of spin, he was using his children, not protecting them. Is it any wonder we find them plotting to use Lot in the next chapter? It’s likely that, even though he was deeply troubled by the culture around him, he married a Canaanite woman. His daughters were betrothed to pagan Canaanites. Later he will fall victim to his daughters’ Sodomite sin and his own self-indulgent drunkenness.
Lot, like many of us much of the time, was a conflicted believer trying to live in the City of Man while maintaining loyalty to the City of God, which the Lord was building around the Promised Seed. Lot had been raised in a large, sophisticated, thriving city in Chaldee. He was not a “country” kind of guy. He loved the comfort, culture, and contacts of city living. At the same time, the moral vileness of Sodom tortured his soul. Like you and me, he struggled with trusting God in a Godless culture.
Lot is a real human being with real problems in the very real world that lies in the power of the evil one (1 Jn. 5:9). Like all believers in the world, he was to live like a ship on the water. He was to be IN the world, but not OF the world. When the water leaks into the ship, it starts to sink. Lot had been taking on water in Sodom for some time. His soul may have been tortured, but he chose to stay in a moral cesspool. However, he still knew good from evil and justice from injustice. He took a stand (v. 7), “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.” The problem was: they were NOT his brothers.
Fortunately for his daughters, Lot’s terrible offer of compromise is rejected by the mob. “9 But they said, ‘Stand back!’ And they said, ‘This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.’” The fact that Lot refused to participate in the sins of Sodom made him a target of their hatred. The apostle Peter wrote, “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you….” In the eyes of those citizens of the City of Man, failure to approve of their sins is unforgivably judgmental. Who is this Lot to judge us? He is merely a sojourner, not a citizen! Jesus told his disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Lot thought that he had been accepted. But when he finally went beyond merely being “tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard” (2 Peter 2:8) to actually speaking out against that wickedness, in however gentle terms (“No, my friends. Do not do this wicked thing.”), he was at once bitterly resented and threatened with even worse treatment than the Sodomites were attempting to inflict on the angels. If you are in this position, you are not winning Sodom. Sodom is winning you, and you must flee. You must flee for your life.
We can stir up our righteous indignation at this evil mob, and even at Lot. We can get our “come to church and feel good about ourselves” righteousness all juiced up for the day by our relative morality. Or, we can consider these poor people utterly enslaved to their demonic desires who have only a few short hours left before they die a horrible miserable earthly death that will never stop throughout eternity. We could use this story to understand that each and every one of our sins of thought, word, and deed demand the same eternal death sentence by the righteous and just God of Abraham and Lot. If you take the “feel good’” track, you might find yourself thinking you have earned just a little bit of grace because YOU have never committed their particular sins. If you take the “I deserve judgment” track, you might find you hold God’s grace through the perfect person and work of the Promised Seed in a higher esteem this morning. Your call.
So intent was this angry mob on fulfilling their desires, not even angelic intervention caused them to pause in their evil quest. “10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.”  There is dark comedy in this scene as these violent men intent on seeking their own twisted version of “good” exhaust themselves trying to find the door. The story leaves no doubt to us readers that there truly are no righteous men in Sodom but Lot. And his righteous, like ours, is entirely alien, unearned and undeserved.
We can suppose Lot lived in Sodom with mixed motives and mixed feelings. But there comes a time when fleeing sin is the only recourse. That law is given to all of us by the apostle Paul, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We are not instructed to stand and fight it. We are instructed to flee, as Lot is told to do.
“12 Then the men said to Lot, ‘Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.’” It’s always a proper time to flee from Sodom’s sins. The time is now. The need is urgent. The consequences are dire. The angels were not joking. Lot believed them and went out to find his daughters’ fiancés. “Despite the fact that they, along with Lot, had been divinely delivered by God from the eastern kings through the agency of Abraham, despite the fact that they had been struck with blindness that very night, despite the fact that they had seen something of Lot’s righteousness, they rejected Lot’s warning.”
Being steeped in their worship of Baal and girlfriend Astarte, the fiancés found the idea of one true God that was more powerful than their demons and opposed to their self-centered ethics to be ridiculous. Baal and Astarte would never allow some other god to harm their great city or disrupt their ancient culture. The hardened heart, captured entirely by sin, cannot see its own evil and rationalizes away any tinge of guilt left there from God’s law written on it.
Lot returns to his house alone with the faint backlighting of early dawn. Sodom’s final dark night was ending. One of the great themes of scripture is the use of light and darkness. Salvation comes with sunrise (Isaiah 9:2; Malachi 4:1-3; Luke 1:78). Salvation is rightly portrayed in this story. Lot and his family must be manhandled, dragged by force out of the sinful place they willingly lived. They believe destruction is coming. Still, they lingered (v. 16). Lot’s deliverance was forceful grace. It was through no merit of his own. It was entirely undeserved and completely initiated by God.
Silhouetted against the pink eastern sky, two angels run. Each grasps the hand of two humans, pulling them away from the doomed City of Man. Once outside the gate in which Lot sat as a person of influence, they scream at the lingering family. “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” Sitting in the city gate must have made Lot think he had gained a measure of respect in Sodom. But his attempt to dissuade the vicious mob from aggravated sexual assault revealed just how uninfluential he truly was. He was a sojourner not a citizen. It seems as if he wanted to join their club, but they recognized he could never really be a member even if Lot himself at times did not recognize it.
You can live in the City of Man; you can become so entangled in it that you want to join the club. But even when you don’t see the difference between you and them, they will see it. “Who made YOU the judge of US. You’re not part of us!” the citizens of Man’s city will cry. If you belong to the great Covenant Creator God, he will only let you sink your roots so far into the devil’s world before he uproots your life and drags you on your journey toward the New Jerusalem.
The apostle Paul struggled against sinners like Lot. The city of Corinth was little different than Sodom – just more modern and sophisticated. God’s chosen people there struggled with living in that famously immoral culture and with how to be in their world but not of it. In many cases, their ships were floundering from all the worldly water they had let leak in. Paul wrote:
…do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
But there was hope in the midst of his warnings just as there was hope for Lot and just as there is hope for all who struggle in their souls against their old Adam 1.0 hardware running on the new Jesus 2.0 software. The fact that you struggle is evidence of the Spirit’s work in you. Paul added:
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 19:1–17.
 Hughes, 269-270. Kindle Edition.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Pe 2:7–8.
 Hamilton, 34. Citing D. S. Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (London; Longmans, 1955), pp. 4ff. This is also the position of J. J. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual (Kansas City, KS; Sheed, Andrews and McMeel, 1976), pp. 42–50.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 1:22–26.
 Boice, 623; quoting: Richard F. Lovelace, Homosexuality and the Church (Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1978), 100–101.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 19:7.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Pe 4:3–4.
 Hughes, 272. Kindle Edition.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 15:19.
 Boice, 624.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 19:10–11.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 6:18–20.
 Hughes, 273. Kindle Edition.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 6:9–11.