Genesis 19:1–29: The Covenant Remembrance of Abraham
In Genesis 19, the rubber hits the road. No longer can anyone look at God’s word to Abraham as though it were pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking. Instead, God’s word now rains down from the sky in the form of burning, sulfuric judgment on the wicked. If anyone has been tempted to keep God’s word at arm’s length, toying with the options of belief and unbelief, that time of leisurely consideration has come to an end. The time of asking whether God’s word is true is past. Now, only one question remains: On which side of God’s word will you fall? Will you be saved by God’s promises of grace, or will you be swept away according to God’s sentence of judgment?
The wrath of God against the ungodliness of Sodom and Gomorrah, then, is more than an event in history. What happened against the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is a pattern that tells us something of the greater that will come on the day of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus states twice that the judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah will be more bearable than the judgment that he will bring upon his return (Matt. 10:15; 11:24). The urgent question of Genesis 19:1–29, then, is not ultimately about what happened to those cities, but about what will happen to us. Against the backdrop of God’s righteous wrath against the wicked, what hope do we have that God will save us? Genesis 19:1–29, then, gives us this answer: God remembers the prayers of the righteous when he judges the wicked.
1. How can we be counted simultaneously as unrighteous and righteous? If we are actually righteous, then why do we continue struggling with sin? If we are actually unrighteous, then how can a holy God admit us into his sight? Why must we be wary of our indwelling sin? Why must we remind ourselves of God’s declaration that we are righteous in Christ?
2. What does your war against sin, unrighteousness, and wickedness look like? What sin in your own life are you fighting? What sin are you fighting in the lives of others? If you are honest, how severely are you tempted to give up? Why shouldn’t you give up? Does your struggle against sin really matter? What is the point when you cannot see the fruit of your fight?
3. What does Lot lose because he dwells in Sodom? How does it affect his witness to his family and friends? How does it affect his own love for the Lord? Should we try to escape the wickedness of the world altogether (cf. 1 Cor. 5:9–10)? How, then, do we live in the world without becoming of it? What changes might you make in your life along those lines?
4. In what ways are you tempted to “look back” like Lot’s wife toward apostasy? How do you look back like Abraham, grieving over seemingly unfruitful ministry? How does God look back on his covenant promises to us? On what grounds does God acquit unrighteous people like us? How does God’s remembering keep us faithful through temptation and suffering?