November 12th, 2021 – Friday Later Evening
“Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” ~Genesis 19:24-25
These two verses probably fit into the “most terrifying passages in the Bible” category, wouldn’t you say? It is one thing to have an army come and exterminate you and raze your cities or even to have a fire break out that destroys your livelihood and region, but it is quite another matter to have a “natural” disaster of supernatural proportions come from the LORD God Himself!
Look at how this scene is described: First, it says the LORD “rained” brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah; this is the same word used for raining water, hail, or manna. Second, the brimstone mentioned here was probably sulphur; sulphur is flammable and gives off a toxic gas (sulphur dioxide) when burning. This double trouble (the [likely] burning element and the gas), combined with the fire mentioned above would have led to a horrible end for those in the path of such an inferno. In addition, the area may have contained bitumen, or asphalt, pits (see Genesis 14:10) which could have ignited in the firestorm, further exacerbating the horror and destruction.
Thirdly, this passage twice speaks of the devastation as coming from the LORD – He is the One who rained brimstone and fire, and He rained it from Himself – out of heaven. This wasn’t a “natural” disaster or some odd coincidence; it was from the LORD and by the LORD’s authority and fierce wrath. Fourthly, and finally, it is clear that the judgment of the LORD was final for the entire region. Sodom, Gomorrah, the valley, the people, and even the crops were completely and utterly wiped off the face of the earth; even today, the exact location of these places is not clear – though more recent archeology has revealed areas that bear the marks of a total and fiery destruction. The LORD’s wrath towards sinful Sodom & Gomorrah was not only just, righteous, and terrible; it was also perfect and complete.
What can we learn from this awful display of the wrath of God? Well, it ought to instill in us a literal fear of God! Since He never changes, His wrath towards sin also never changes; apart from the atoning and redeeming work of Christ on the cross, we would have no hope. Our sin utterly warrants the full and complete wrath of God, but, Jesus took that wrath upon Himself so that God would be glorified, we would be saved from that wrath, and so that we might enjoy fellowship with God forever.
There is at least one more application, however; looking at such a terrible sight and pondering the plight of those poor people ought to stir up within us the heart of our compassionate and merciful God. It is true that they deserved every bit of the blazing judgment they bore, but wouldn’t it have been much better if they had repented? Do you pray for the lost in your life? Do you long for their brokenness and repentance? Do you live and speak the truth of Christ to them? Judgment is indeed coming, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah will be nothing compared to experiencing the wrath of God for all of eternity. May our hearts break, not only over our own sin, but over the plight of those who do not know Christ.