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Why was Sodom destroyed

by Don Costello  
6/19/2008 / Bible Studies

Why Was Sodom Destroyed?

It is fitting that a Biblical teaching about homosexuality should begin with the Biblical record of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Such a teaching should focus on what the whole Bible says, not just Genesis 19. I believe "the cities of the plain" were destroyed by God because they were "wicked sinners before the LORD exceedingly", Gen.13:13. Though underneath that fact is a list of sins and characteristics that are not mentioned by Moses in Genesis, but are mentioned by other Biblical writers such as Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Peter, Jude and others. The whole counsel of God must be taken into account to get the whole picture that God wants to show us.
The first time Sodom is mentioned in Scripture is Genesis 3:10-13.

"And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly."

Luke writes in Luke 17:28 that Jesus said, "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;" The descriptions from Genesis 13:10 and Luke 17:28 show that the area before its destruction was a thriving area, a stark contrast to what it is now the Dead Sea, surrounded by a very barren and dry wilderness. Verse 13 describes the moral character of the inhabitants of Sodom in not so glowing terms. "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." It is significant that the Bible includes this in its first mention of Sodom is a very significant fact.

The second time Sodom is mentioned is Genesis 14 and the plundering of all 5 cities of the plain by the kings of Mesopotamia. After Abram returned from a successful rescue of Lot, there is an interesting dialogue between Abram and the King of Sodom in Genesis 14:21-23.

"And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up my hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:"

There is a hint of contempt in Abram's response that is unmistakable and can be explained by the knowledge that the cities of the plain already had a reputation of being "wicked".

The third time Sodom is mentioned is Genesis 18:20, 21, where the LORD God himself says, "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know." This third time that Sodom is mentioned is extremely important because it gives us a definite mile marker in the timeline of when the destruction of the cities of the plain occurred. During this visit of Abraham by the Lord and two angels, it is promised that Isaac would be born a year later and this was the day previous to the destruction of the cities.

All of these passages lead up to the famous verses in Genesis 19 where the Biblical record of the destruction of Sodom is located.

The Judgment of Sodom

Genesis 19:1-3 "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; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered in unto him, and entered his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat."

This visit was uneventful until after the meal and before they turned in for the night. It was then that things turned ugly, when a mob of Sodom's citizens gathered outside the door. It is possible that before the mob ever gathered outside his door, that Lot began to realize that these individuals he was entertaining were not mere men. Whether he knew it when they first entered the city I don't know, but it is possible that not long after their meeting Lot realized their true identity. It is a fact though that unless God allows us to know an individual is an angel we will be clueless. In Hebrews 13:2 this is made clear, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Given the ominous task the angels were sent into Sodom for I don't believe their identity was hidden to Lot.

Genesis 19:4-7 "But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly."

Someone may ask, "Why would Lot declare these people were behaving "wickedly" if all they wanted was to "know", or get acquainted with, the men that came to visit Lot?" Well, the meaning of the word is not to just "get acquainted with". The Hebrew word for "know" in verse 5, according to Strong's Concordance , is "yada" (3045). It is a primitive root word and it means, "to know". In Scripture it is used in a great variety of senses; figuratively, literally, euphemistically, causatively, and inference. In Exodus 2:4, it is translated "see" and it means to acquire knowledge. In Job 5:25, it is translated "know" and means "to know by experience". Examples of each sense where this word is used are too numerous to mention here. But it is clear in what sense the word is used in Genesis19:5. In William Gesenius's Hebrew-Chaldean Lexicon , it is listed as a "euphemism for sexual intercourse". It is used this way in Genesis 4:1, "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain," Likewise in Genesis 4:17, "And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch" Gesenius writes, "verbs of knowing are frequently employed for this euphemism in other languages." He then lists examples in Syrian, Arabic, Ethiopian, Greek, Latin, Italian, and French.

Some advocates of homosexuality say that Lot was responding to the threat of the gang rape of the men that were visiting him and that even homosexuals would condemn that. In reality, Lot was responding to the homosexual nature of the rape. This is bolstered by the fact that he offered his two virgin daughters to be gang raped by the crowd instead of the crowd gang raping the men who came to visit Lot.

Given the homosexual description of Sodom in Chapter 19, there are a couple of New Testament passages that need to be included that will increase our understanding about life in Sodom. The first passage is 2 Peter 2:6-8.

"And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, and made them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds."

Although verse 6 does not specify what the sin was, the meaning of verse 6 has to be determined by the whole passage, verses 6-8. Verse 6 clearly says that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their ungodly lifestyle, and their destruction was to be an example to future generations against ungodliness. Verses 7 and 8 give us some light not only what some of the ungodliness was, but also about what life was like for Lot in Sodom. Verse 7 says that Lot was, "vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked". The Greek word for "vexed", according to Joseph Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament means, "to tire down with toil, to exhaust with labor, to oppress with evils, to make trouble for, to treat roughly." The Greek word for "filthy" also according to Thayer's means "wanton acts or manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females." . The only scripture we have in the Bible that describes Lot being affected in such a way is Genesis 19:4-7 where Lot implored the men of Sodom not to behave so wickedly when they desired to have homosexual relations with the men visiting Lot. Getting back to the passage in verse 8 of 2 Peter 2 it goes a little further. As Lot lived among them, what he saw and heard "vexed" him. The Greek word for "vexed" (this word is different from the word "vexed" in verse 7), means "to torture, afflict with pain, harass; in verse 8 it is used metaphorically to examine or scrutinize." It implies the behavior was practiced in front of him to harass him and see how he would react. On a day by day basis the people of Sodom would purposefully do unchaste acts in front of Lot to torment and harass him.

The second passage is Jude 7:

"Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

This is the conclusive Scripture that shows, along with Genesis 18:20,21, Genesis 19: 4-7,12,13, that the homosexuality of these cities was one of the deciding factors in God destroying these cities. The Greek definitions of the words of Jude 7 not only reveal this, but are also rich in the wisdom of God in destroying the arguments of the advocates of homosexuality. For example, "giving themselves over to fornication" is the Greek word ekporneuo, ( ek-out or from; and porneuo-to commit fornication or practice lewdness.) The other phrase, "going after" is very revealing. The word for "going" is aperchomai, and here in Jude 7 it means, "To go after someone, to follow as companions or discipleshaving become devotees of other flesh." The word for "after" is opiso, and it also has the meaning of "following as a disciple or otherwise". The last two definitions will be looked at again in Chapter Two, in the section under the reference Isaiah 1:10-20.

Most people are unaware there were four cities destroyed, not just two. Deuteronomy 29:23 says, "like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger, and in His wrath".

Jude establishes that the homosexual activity was also a characteristic of the other cities as well; "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh"

Genesis 19:8 "Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under my roof."

Why did Lot do this? I do not pretend to understand why Lot would offer his virgin daughters to this mob to be gang raped. It is unthinkable to me that he would do this. But it is a fact that women in most cultures at this time in history were not treated as equals with
men. As I said previously, it is highly possible that by the time the mob gathered outside his door, Lot knew his guests were angels. Lot's actions reveal he believed the situation was completely out of control, so he made the unthinkable offer of his daughters. It also bolsters the point that Lot was protesting more about the homosexual aspect of their request than anything else.

Genesis 19:9-11 "And they said, Stand back. And they said again. This fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now we will deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut the door. And they smote the men that were at the door with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door."

I personally believe that this verse, in light of Jesus' words that as it was in the days of Lot so shall it be in the day when He is revealed, shows the homosexual movement is going to turn violent against the Church. Right now the accounts are few, but they are occurring more frequently.. Probably the best documented and most informing case involved Pastor Chuck and Donna Mclhenny of the First Orthodox Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. Their book, When the Wicked Seize a City, as the cover of their book predicts is "A grim look at the future and a warning to the Church".

Genesis 19:12-14 "And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? Son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law."

The passage in Genesis 19:12-14 is further confirmation of the indictment against homosexuality. In Genesis 18:20,21 it says, "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 whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know." It is obvious the homosexual behavior of the city that the angels witnessed confirmed "the cry". Granted, homosexuality was not the only sin that Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain were guilty of, but there is enough Scripture in the Bible to come to the doctrinally sound conclusion that the homosexual behavior of these cities was the main reason God decided to destroy them.

My name is Don Costello. Ever since I received Christ in November of 1976 I have had a passion to study and know God's word.My wife Melissa and I have 5 children.

My e-mail address is

I have a blog located at:

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