The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is perhaps one of the most well-known tales from the Bible. It shows that sin can have violent, destructive consequences if left unchecked. Sodom and Gomorrah are two cities mentioned in Genesis and they are certainly the most infamous. Sodom seems to have been the main city in the area, which consisted of not only Sodom and Gomorrah but Admah, Zeboim, Bela, and Zoar as well.
These two cities developed a reputation as being a hotbed of sin and depravity. Because of this reputation, God made a plan to send two of His angels to investigate and see if their sin was indeed as bad as “the outcry that has reached me” (Genesis 18:20-21). If the cities were not as wicked as He had heard, He would know it.
Abraham was visited by the Lord and told of the plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham asked him if He would indeed “sweep away the righteous with the wicked” (Genesis 18:23). He pleaded with the Lord, saying “Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).
He asked if God would not destroy the cities if he could find 50 righteous and innocent people within the cities. God agreed to refrain from destroying the two cities if Abraham did indeed find 50 godly people. Abraham begins to ask if God would spare the cities for the sake of fewer and fewer people until he is asking God to save the cities for 10 people. God agrees that He will not destroy them if Abraham can find 10 innocent people.
God's Angels Visit the Cities
God then sends out two of His angels. God’s angels went into Sodom and Gomorrah and were greeted at the gates by Lot. Lot invited the angels to sit down for a meal and have their feet washed, and they agreed. Lot was a righteous man, a foreigner to Sodom and Gomorrah, someone who was free from the lust and sin of the cities.
The angels went to Lot’s home. Upon seeing that Lot had visitors, men from the city came to Lot’s house and demanded Lot bring the angels out to them so they could “have sex with them”, not knowing that the men were in fact angels of the Lord (Genesis 19:5). Lot had seen the sins of these men, each and every day, and he did not want to meet their demands and leave his visitors at their mercy. He denied the men, asking them to instead take his two virgin daughters. This only angered the men outside Lot’s house and they tried to break down the door, threatening to treat Lot even worse than they would treat the visiting angels.
The angels pulled Lot inside the house, shut the door, and struck the men outside with blindness so they could not make their way inside. They warned Lot that the city would be destroyed, telling him to gather up any sons, daughters, and other family members he had living in the city.
Lot went to gather his family, though his sons-in-law refused to leave with him. His wife and daughters did leave with him, after being reassured they would be looked after by the angels of the Lord. The angels tell them to go to the mountains but Lot instead asks if they can go to the city of Zoar. The angels agree and warn Lot and his family to not look back upon the cities as they leave.
God Destroys Sodom and Gomorrah
Lot and his family set off to Zoar and reach the city as the sun is rising. This is when the Lord started raining down sulfur on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities, all who lived within them, even their crops were all burned and destroyed. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife looked back upon the burning city and she was turned to a pillar of salt. Many Biblical scholars say that this punishment for looking back was because the act of turning her gaze back upon Sodom and Gomorrah shows Lot’s wife still felt a connection with the people in the city, that she identified with or sympathized with them. Her fate is a warning to all who would disobey the Lord’s commands.
The following morning, as heavy clouds of smoke rose up from where Sodom and Gomorrah once stood, Abraham returned. The cities were utterly destroyed, not a single sign of life within them. But God had remembered Abraham’s pleas for the cities and He had saved Lot and his daughters. The cities could not be spared, for they contained not even 10 righteous people, but Lot and his daughters were able to escape and live.
The tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is told to warn of the ruinous nature of sin. The people within these cities were so wicked, so utterly depraved, and offensive to the Lord that they had to be destroyed.