Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 4
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
Let’s begin in Genesis, Chapter 18. We’re going to skip a few of those last verses dealing with the rite of circumcision. I like to remember Chapter 18 as one of the most vivid chapters of God appearing in human form to the Old Testament patriarchs.
“AND the Lord (Jehovah, God The Son) appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day (it was summertime evidently); And he (Abram) lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, `My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:'”
What Abraham is doing here is typical of ancient Middle Eastern hospitality (there were no McDonald’s or motels every few miles). The desert was harsh and custom demanded that if you were a native and had ample provisions, then wayfaring strangers would be fed and their water supply replenished before you sent them on their way. So really that is all Abraham is content to do at this point in time. I know in verse 3 the “L” in the word Lord is capitalized in the King James. But I believe in some of the other translations (possibly in the Revised) a small `l’ appears. I would tend to agree with the latter, because I don’t feel that as these three men approached Abraham’s tent he knew one of them was Jehovah. If he did it should be capitalized as it is. However, I find nothing in the next few verses which would give us a hint that, although The Lord was one of the three men, Abraham understood that He was.
“And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on:…”
If Abraham knew this was Jehovah, would he be so ready for Him to just pick and go? I don’t think so. He thought these were three wayfaring strangers who merely needed a rest and some sustenance before they could go on their way. If you want to maintain that Abraham knew Who that was, I have no argument with that either.
“…for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, `So do, as thou hast said.'” In other words, go ahead and prepare the food. We’re ready to partake.
“And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, `Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.’ And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it (This is a Middle East banquet). And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did (what?) eat.”
Remember these are spiritual beings; this is The Lord and two angels. Nevertheless, Abraham sees just three men. This would be a good time for us to go back for a moment, and look at the life of The Lord Jesus after His Resurrection. Turn to Luke, Chapter 24. Some of these things are good to comprehend as there is a lot of ignorance even on the part of believers as to our spiritual state when we get to eternity. Remember we aren’t going to spend eternity in some ethereal, invisible soul state. We are going to be bodily involved. I think as such we are also going to enjoy a lot of the good things which God is going to provide; among them – eating.
In Luke 24 we have The Lord Jesus in the forty-day period after His Resurrection. He has now approached the eleven; He has also talked with a group on their way back to Emmaus. They invited Him in, and He sat at a table with them. It isn’t clear if He actually partook of food, but in Genesis 18 it says it as plain as day.
“And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, `Peace be unto you.’ But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, `Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me (touch me), and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.’ And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy (even though their hearts were filled with joy), and wondered, he said unto them, `Have ye here any meat?’ And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.”
This is in His resurrected body. A lot of people don’t realize this. Some commentators maintain that the Four Gospel writers don’t always write about the same events. Consequently, if they aren’t exactly the same, they are not a contradiction but are all different events. I think Luke 24:36-43 might be a corresponding event. Do you remember when He approached the eleven, and they’d been fishing all night? Sure you do. That’s in John’s Gospel. Turn to it.
“Simon Peter saith unto them, `I go a fishing….'”
What caused him to say something like that? Peter as yet didn’t comprehend that things weren’t all down the drain. There was still much to be done, but he was ready to go back to his old profession of fishing on Galilee. So the rest of them said they’d go with him.
“…They say unto him, `We also go with thee.’ They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.”
“But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, `Children, have ye any meat (any fish?…anything to eat?)?’ They answered him, `No.’ And he said unto them, `Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find….'” They got so many the net almost broke. Now to verse 10:
“Jesus saith unto them, `Bring of the fish which ye have now caught (get the correct time frame – this is after His Resurrection).’ Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, `Come and dine.’ And none of the disciples durst ask him, `Who art thou?’ knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.”
It doesn’t say here that He partook with them, but I think He did. I think they had a glorious breakfast on the shores of Galilee. I don’t think The Lord had to wait for the fish out of Peter’s net. I think The Lord already had fish cooking on the fire when they arrived. All of this is just to indicate that it is not some horrible thought that we are going to be able to eat and partake of food when we get to the new resurrected body, because the lesson is here, clearly and plainly. Jesus ate! Come back with me to Genesis 18 to these three spirit characters, who are all spirit beings but in human form. It is The Lord, and two angels, as we’ll see in the next Chapter. But, they sat down and feasted! There is nothing unusual about that.
“And they said unto him, `Where is Sarah thy wife (I imagine the Lord is speaking)?’ And he said, `Behold, in the tent.'”
We have to get the Middle Eastern setting back in those days. The old patriarch had his own tent. His wives, if he had more than one, had tents out in the back. When Iris and I were privileged to go to Israel many years ago, they let us stop out in the desert at the camp of an Arab Sheik, and that’s how it was set up. He had his tent and out behind were the tents of his four wives and twenty-four kids. I can picture that so vividly here; them asking Abraham where his wife was, and Abraham replying that she was out back in her tent.
“And he said, `I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.”
Now, what are these two people finally realizing? – Who is speaking? You see, for years God has been telling them they are going to be the beginning of a nation of people; kings are going to come out of them.They must have known that only one person had ever said something like that – and, that was God Himself, The Lord. Now I am sure that Abraham, perhaps nor Sarah completely yet, knows who is talking. Sarah heard it and what did she do?
“Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women (Abraham is now 99 and Sarah is 89). Therefore (in spite of all that has been promised) Sarah laughed within herself, saying, `After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?'”
There the small `l’ is correct. She is using the word `lord’ with reference to her husband. In so many words she is saying, “Shall I have pleasure, my husband also being this old?”
“And the Lord (Jehovah) said unto Abraham, `Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the Lord? …'”
When I read something like that, I try to get my class people to put themselves into a New Testament situation. Do you remember when The Lord said it was almost impossible for a rich man to be saved? He said it would be almost as hard to put a camel through the eye of a needle. The disciples responded by saying, “Then it’s impossible for a rich man to be saved?” What did Jesus say? “Why of course not, because with God nothing is impossible.” Nothing!
In light of our present-day science, I am amazed that scientists have such a hard time believing. They can scoff at so much of what the Bible claims to be the supernatural, such as this – a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Yet, scientists tell us that there are black holes out there in space. They claim that these black holes are stars, larger than our sun, which have literally collapsed in on themselves, and have become so dense that they are not any bigger than the head of a pin. They believe that! Yet you can come to a verse of Scripture that simply states something that is no more impossible, and that they can’t believe. Always remember that with our God, nothing, nothing is impossible. You can’t dream of something that is impossible in the eyes of our God. Referring back to Genesis 18:14, if God can do the things that He has already done, is it too hard for him to cause a woman of 90 and her husband of 100 to have a child? Why, it’s nothing!
“…At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
Remember he is already 99, so this is going to take place within the next year as Abraham is going to be 100 when Isaac is born. We’re getting close, now, to the time of the conception.
“Then Sarah denied, saying, `I laughed not (she has to backpeddle, saying she hadn’t laughed, for now she knows Who she is dealing with); for she was afraid.’ And he said, `Nay; but thou didst laugh.'”
This is all within God’s sovereign will. What does the name Isaac mean? – Laughter. That’s what the word `Isaac’ actually means translated out of the Hebrew. He would be a child of laughter.
“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.”
Let’s put a little bit of geography on the map again. Remember that this isn’t according to scale, but should help a little bit. See the map on page 59 again. The Mediterranean Sea coast; the Sea of Galilee, and the Jordan River; the Dead Sea, and notice that the Jordan Valley at the lower end of the Dead Sea, it was well watered. Just a tremendous place for cattle and livestock, whereas up here in the center part of Israel were the mountains. It is up in the mountainous area that Abraham agreed to stay with his flocks, whereas Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom because it appealed to him. It was beautiful and had all of the possibilities for increasing his herds and flocks. So from that vantage point then, from the highlands, The Lord says as He looks toward Sodom:
“And the Lord said, `Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do (referring to destroying Sodom);'” He wants to bring Abraham in on this because he’s been such a man of faith.
“Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?”
Isn’t that something? All the nations in the world, Gentile as well as the Hebrew, can trace their great men back to this man Abraham. From the Old Testament we know that the kings of Israel – Saul, David, Solomon and all the kings, (be they good or bad) were all from the loins of Abraham. But the children of Abraham branched out and encompassed more than just the Nation of Israel. We have already seen that Ishmael is going to be the beginning of the Arab nations. These are all children of Abraham.
In modern history, even our own democracy of the last 200 years, many of our great government men have been Jewish? I can remember from when I was in high school, that there was one Jew who went through president after president. His name was Bernard Baruch. A Jew through and through. Every administration kept Bernard Baruch as an Advisor, I think, from World War I. The same thing happened in the European governments. Some of their great men were direct descendants of this man Abraham. So the Word of God is not stretching the point one bit when it says that all of the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him; but, of course, God was looking beyond the politics and the economics. He was looking to the Salvation He would bring about through The Lord Jesus Who, of course, was born a Jew. All of these are foretelling what God is going to do down through the ages of time.
“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the Lord said, `Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now, and see(or prove) whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.’ And the men (that is, the two) turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.”
Now, take your three men who appeared in verse 1. Two are going to start heading toward Sodom, but the third one (or the first one – The Lord) is going to stay with Abraham and finish out the Chapter. These other two men, however, are making their way to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are not going to read verse by verse on the next series of verses. You can do that on your own, however, you have all heard sermon, after sermon, after sermon on them. Here Abraham pleads with the LORD concerning the inhabitants of Sodom. Why is he so concerned? Lot, his beloved nephew, and his offspring are now living in Sodom. So Abraham begins to `bargain’ with God, (I guess is a safe word), saying, “Now Lord if there are fifty righteous in Sodom will you spare it?” Yes. “Forty?” Yes. “Thirty?” Yes. He came all the way down to ten, and The Lord even agreed to spare Sodom if there would be as few as ten believers in that city. But there weren’t!
I think you and I as Bible believers can take comfort in the future of our own beloved land. As long as we still have a relatively strong Christian community which continues to send the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and as long as our nation is still a friend of God’s Covenant people, I think we stand a pretty good chance of surviving. However, any time any of those three things go down the tubes, America has had it. America is ripe for judgment as surely as Sodom and Gomorrah were. We know she is. But you see, if we can take a lesson from this, I think God will spare judgment because of His own people. I know that we who are ardent believers in the Gospel are getting fewer and fewer percentage-wise by the week. Nevertheless, we still have a strong Christian influence in America. As I have already said, we are the lighthouse for sending the Gospel to the ends of the world. Europe doesn’t, Great Britain certainly doesn’t, and we can’t expect the Orient to because they’re saturated, of course, with the eastern religions. So America is the only possible hope of continuing to send the Gospel to the regions beyond. Thirdly, as I have said, as long as we take an official stance of being a friend of Israel, and we do nothing to stab them in the back, I hope and trust that God will continue to grant us our freedoms for a little longer. My prayer is that The Lord will grant me and my wife health and strength, and keep America free until the trumpet sounds. One day soon I think The Lord is going to leave Heaven with a shout and the sound of a trumpet, and we’;re going to be caught up to meet Him in the air. What happens after that is not so much my concern.
In this chapter, I’d like to at least start Chapter 19. These two men, who have now left off with Abraham and The Lord, now make their appearance to Sodom where they are identified. What are they? – angels! The two angels who were part of the three in Chapter 18 now come to Sodom just at evening time. The sun is probably setting, and it is approaching darkness. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, is sitting in the gate. For those of you who do not understand, in the Orient or in the time this setting is taking place, to `sit in the gate’ meant they were the city leaders. So Lot, if he is not the city manager, is at least on the council. We can put it that way. He has become a great man in Sodom. He is sitting in the gate. We can pick this up in secular history as well as in other Bible references. Now he has become an important man in Sodom.
“AND there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them (not realizing they were angels); and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, `Behold now, my lords (small `l’ again, meaning a reference to `master’ or `sir’), turn in, I pray you, into your servants house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways….'”
Do you see that hospitality coming through? Lot knew the Sodomite people had even more at stake than Abraham as he entertained the three. But this was still in accordance with the custom. So he said, “Come in, spend the night in my home, be refreshed, and in the morning you can be on your way.” But poor Lot has a curve thrown at him. What’s the answer? “No, we’re not going to sleep under a roof. We’ll spend the night in the street.”
“…And they said, `Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.'” How would you like to be in Lot’s shoes?