There is still ‘HOPE’ for WICKED PEOPLE today: "Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt." (Gen. 19:24-25, 29)
The above passage reveals God’s judgment on two prosperous cities - Sodom and Gomorrah - that were inhabited by grossly wicked people. These cities in the east stand as symbols of divine judgment for collective wickedness (Gen. 13:12). What was once a well-watered, fertile region is today barren, full of tar pits, mounds of asphalt, and uninhabitable! These ill-fated cities remind us that wickedness will not go unpunished. They are witness to the fact that God not only judges sinful individuals, but also entire cities and their surroundings. God’s judgment through ‘brimstone and fire’ indicates that maybe a meteorite shower had literally burned up the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah!
What led God to destroy these cities so utterly? The sin of homosexuality ranks high in the list of the transgressions of the people, and today, the name of Sodom has become synonymous with the sin of homosexuality (or, sodomy). However, we should understand that their sexual perversions were not the only cause of the destruction of Sodom. In Ezekiel 16:49-50, God describes the sin of Sodom as “pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness”. All these sins had intricate relationship with one another as too much to eat and too little to do led these wicked people into pride and gross sexual immorality.
The New Testament reminds us that in spite of his apostasy, Lot was a “righteous man” (redeemed) "who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)" (2 Peter 2:7-8). However, if it were not for Abraham, Lot would have died with the other inhabitants. God did not find ten righteous people, but He spared Lot and his wife and daughters for the sake of Abraham.
After the tragic end of Sodom and Gomorrah we read that “God remembered Abraham” (19:29). The Word in Life Study Bible provides us with five important lessons (from this incident) to show us that there is still hope for wicked people today:
- Prayer makes a difference. Abraham shows us that we need to pray for cities, as he did (18:22–33). Abraham prayed persistently for an entire city, believing that nothing was too hard for the Lord (18:14). Though he could not save the city, he could ultimately save his nephew and his two daughters from God’s judgment.
- People count. Ten righteous persons living in Sodom could have saved that city based on Abraham’s negotiations with God (18:32). They would have acted as salt to preserve that city where evil ran amuck. Even though Sodom was filled with wickedness, God would have saved it if He had found even a handful of more righteous people. Let us not forget that God spared Zoar for the sake of one righteous man, Lot (19:16–22).
- God is sovereign. God’s decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah but preserve Zoar shows us that He is ultimately in control over everything.
- Pride goes before a fall. Sodom was destroyed not only because of sexual sin (Gen. 19:1–17; Jude 7), but because it had pride and a surplus of wealth, yet failed to care for its poor and needy (Ezek. 16:48–50).
- Fleeing from the city does not avoid sin—it only spreads it around. The behavior of Lot and his daughters after fleeing from Sodom shows that sin is not confined to the city; they exported Sodom-like immorality to other places as well (19:19–22, 30–36).