Promises, Hospitality and Obliteration

Genesis 18-19 goes to extremes: from the extremely hospitable reception Abraham shows the three Visitors, to the extremely inhospitable way the people of Sodom receive God’s messengers, to the extremely effective way God obliterates Sodom and Gomorrah – and even the wife of Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

The Visitors bring news. Perhaps Abraham has been successful in persuading God to move up the timetable on his heir through Sarah; at any rate, the news is that their son will be born within a year. Sarah, listening nearby, laughs at the notion of giving birth at age ninety. Confronted, she lies and says she did not laugh.

But the promise is repeated, along with the question: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Many people regard the next events by asking the question, “Is anything too bad for the Lord to do?”

They want to believe in a nice, American-Santa-Claus-type-God who loves everyone and wouldn’t hurt a flea and gives gifts to all His children and would never, ever have a dark hooded companion like Black Peter who puts coal in stockings or switches the badly-behaved.

They want to forget that the God of Noah saved eight souls through the baptism of the flood that destroyed the remainder of evil humanity around them (1 Peter 3:20). They want to forget that God punished the purely selfish and violent evil of Sodom by raining down sulfur on its inhabitants: men, women, and children for the lack of even ten redeemable souls there. They want to believe that God is fully (or at least sufficiently) revealed in Jesus Christ – and so He is – but they want to forget that Jesus speaks of judgment and eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46); that even insulting anger can lead to a destiny in a fiery hell (Matthew 5:22). They want to believe the first words of 2 Peter 3:9, but ignore the last six.

I don’t know what to say to people who only believe what they want to believe.

Scripture does:

“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” ~ Romans 11:22

But if you only believe what you want to believe in God’s word – about salvation from, but not consequences of, sin – you rob it of half its power.

Though he shows hospitality to God’s messengers, Lot is hardly blameless in this tragic mess of events. Offering his betrothed daughters to satisfy the sexual depravity of the mob at his door – which is demanding the two Visitors as the victims of their homosexual rape – is hardly admirable. He may not look back with longing at Sodom as it is destroyed as his wife does (and turns to salt), but he lives in fear in a cave with those daughters, where he succumbs to wine and their plan for him to father their children.

When that comes to pass, the sons they bear will become the patriarchs of the Moabites and the Ammonites – two thorns in the side of God’s people from that point on.


One thought on “Promises, Hospitality and Obliteration

  1. Ask the Marines in Afghanistan about the consequences of the ancient laws of hospitality. They were (and still are in MANY places) sacrosanct – as bad or worse than child molestation is viewed in our society today.

    Lot had to offer up his daughter — to be unwilling to sacrifice everything to protect one’s guests is an awful offense.

    The Taliban currently use the ancient laws against the Marines by forcing little Afghani villages to hide the whereabouts of Taliban forces just like Lot tried to protect the Visitors. The troops are beginning to learn the ways of hospitality, though — and are thus garnering more and more support.

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