Today’s devotional may not be a popular one. It discusses the wrath of God. Many people do not like to talk about God’s wrath. I’ve heard people say, “My God would never send someone to Hell.” There are people who can only see Him as the fire and brimstone God and they hate Him for it and they call Him a god of hate. A few people think God chooses some people to hate and that He is wrathful only to them. Some people think that a wrathful or vengeful God doesn’t fit into the image of God as love. And they completely dismiss the idea that a loving God could also be a wrathful God.
Imagine a Righteous Judge. Now imagine the case before Him: Two men came into a city known for its debauchery. On the night these men arrived, the population, especially the male population took notice of them and decided to rape them. Although one man in the city took them into his home and tried to keep them safe, this horde of men followed them to the house. They beat the door and tried to break it down to get at the visitors but couldn’t. When the hero tried to reason with them and begged them to stop, they accused him of judging them and continued trying to get the visitors so they could have their way with them. They were bent on the gang rape and nothing, short of God could stop them. Let’s read the case beginning with verses 1-11.
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house.5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
Now what should the Righteous Judge do to the mob of men, which was made of up every man in that city except for Lot? Should he show them mercy because they were just following their natural desires? Would it be loving of Him to say, “Good and evil are objective, morality is up to you, so if you think it’s right to rape and murder, then it is right for you?” Where would the love be? What about the victims? Where is their justice? What about the perpetrators? Shouldn’t they pay for their crimes? A loving God loves enough to take vengeance against those who have done wrong. A loving God keeps no secret about who will pay the price for wrongs committed in this world.
Sin is not the individual wrongs every person commits. Sin is the state of the world in which every person falls short of the perfection of God (Romans 3:23). The payment required by God for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Every person has to pay it. But God loves the world so much that He sent His Son, He who is God, perfect and righteous came and paid the debt He did not owe (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:21). He took the death sentence that each of us owe. He rose from death and conquered sin and death so that we have a choice (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). We can accept the gift of Jesus payment for our sin or we can pay ourselves.
The wrath of God is an expression of God’s love. If no one had to pay for evil of the world, then we would live in a place much like Sodom where a mob of men bent on rape and murder could be considered the standard. Where people felt they had the right to hurt others in the name of personal desires. A place where there was no such thing as right and wrong. So the Lord acted. First He saved Lot and let gave Lot a chance to save others. Verses 12-14 read,
Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
Lot tried to rescue his future sons in law, who had been among the mob. They had the chance to be saved, but they chose to mock Lot rather than believe him. How many people do we know like that in our lives. If we love them, we want them to be saved from God’s wrath, even if it means ridicule. They don’t see it as love, they called it judgement, or they call it foolishness. It is love to tell people that Jesus loves them and wants them to be saved from The Day of Wrath and become instead the Bride of Christ. Do you love them enough to put up with their derision so they can join you for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb?
Verses 15-17 continue the tale.
As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”
The time of God’s wrath was nearing and Lot was lingering. Maybe he didn’t really believe it would happen so soon. Maybe he loved his home and was sad to leave it all behind. One thing is certain, he didn’t know what his future held and he was afraid. The angels took the family by the hands and took them out of Sodom and told them to run so that the destruction wouldn’t fall on them. Verses 18-26 reads,
And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. 19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then theLord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Lot and his family made it to Zoar in time, but Lot’s wife was not the committed and righteous person her husband was. She looked back on the city. I wonder if she thought to herself, “I’d rather be there under the sulfur and fire partying with them than bored and breathing in Zoar.” Whatever the case, God gave her what she wanted. She incurred the wrath of God which she chose and became a pillar of salt. Verses 27-29 read,
And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.
The destruction of those cities was seen throughout the surrounding areas near and far. All the people who had cried out to God over the wickedness of those place saw the answer to their prayers. God avenged them.
Do you trust God enough to understand that His love has to include His wrath? Do you have people you need to go to and tell them that The Day of the Lord is near and they can be saved? Don’t they deserve the chance to hear it, even though they may think you’re ridiculous for believing it?