Sodom and Gomorrah (January 14, 2021)

As the sun rose over the earth, Lot arrived in Zoar; and the Lord rained down burning asphalt from the skies onto Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord destroyed these cities, the entire valley, everyone who lived in the cities, and all of the fertile land’s vegetation. When Lot’s wife looked back, she turned into a pillar of salt. Abraham set out early for the place where he had stood with the Lord, and looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah and over all the land of the valley. He saw the smoke from the land rise like the smoke from a kiln.

Sodom and Gomorrah (January 14, 2021)
Sodom and Gomorrah

Genesis 18:22–19:38, CEB

The men turned away and walked toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing in front of the Lord.Abraham approached and said, “Will you really sweep away the innocent with the guilty?What if there are fifty innocent people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not save the place for the sake of the fifty innocent people in it? It’s not like you to do this, killing the innocent with the guilty as if there were no difference. It’s not like you! Will the judge of all the earth not act justly?”

The Lord said, “If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will save it because of them.”

Abraham responded, “Since I’ve already decided to speak with my Lord, even though I’m just soil and ash, what if there are five fewer innocent people than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city over just five?”

The Lord said, “If I find forty-five there, I won’t destroy it.”

Once again Abraham spoke, “What if forty are there?”

The Lord said, “For the sake of forty, I will do nothing.”

He said, “Don’t be angry with me, my Lord, but let me speak. What if thirty are there?”

The Lord said, “I won’t do it if I find thirty there.”

Abraham said, “Since I’ve already decided to speak with my Lord, what if twenty are there?”

The Lord said, “I won’t do it, for the sake of twenty.”

Abraham said, “Don’t be angry with me, my Lord, but let me speak just once more. What if there are ten?”

And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it because of those ten.” When the Lord finished speaking with Abraham, he left; but Abraham stayed there in that place.

The two messengers entered Sodom in the evening. Lot, who was sitting at the gate of Sodom, saw them, got up to greet them, and bowed low. He said, “Come to your servant’s house, spend the night, and wash your feet. Then you can get up early and go on your way.”

But they said, “No, we will spend the night in the town square.” He pleaded earnestly with them, so they went with him and entered his house. He made a big meal for them, even baking unleavened bread, and they ate.

Before they went to bed, the men of the city of Sodom—everyone from the youngest to the oldest—surrounded the house and called to Lot, “Where are the men who arrived tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may have sex with them.”

Lot went out toward the entrance, closed the door behind him, and said, “My brothers, don’t do such an evil thing. I’ve got two daughters who are virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them whatever you wish. But don’t do anything to these men because they are now under the protection of my roof.”

They said, “Get out of the way!” And they continued, “Does this immigrant want to judge us? Now we will hurt you more than we will hurt them.” They pushed Lot back and came close to breaking down the door. The men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house with them and slammed the door. Then the messengers blinded the men near the entrance of the house, from the youngest to the oldest, so that they groped around trying to find the entrance.

The men said to Lot, “Who’s still with you here? Take away from this place your sons-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and everyone else you have in the city because we are about to destroy this place. The Lord has found the cries of injustice so serious that the Lord sent us to destroy it.”

Lot went to speak to his sons-in-law, married to his daughters, and said, “Get up and get out of this place because the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

When dawn broke, the messengers urged Lot, “Get up and take your wife and your two daughters who are here so that you are not swept away because of the evil in this city.” He hesitated, but because the Lord intended to save him, the men grabbed him, his wife, and two daughters by the hand, took him out, and left him outside the city.

After getting them out, the men said, “Save your lives! Don’t look back! And don’t stay in the valley. Escape to the mountains so that you are not swept away.”

But Lot said to them, “No, my Lords, please. You’ve done me a favor and have been so kind to save my life. But I can’t escape to the mountains since the catastrophe might overtake me there and I’d die. This city here is close enough to flee to, and it’s small. It’s small, right? Let me escape there, and my life will be saved.”

He said to Lot, “I’ll do this for you as well; I won’t overthrow the city that you have described. Hurry! Escape to it! I can’t do anything until you get there.” That is why the name of the city is Zoar.

As the sun rose over the earth, Lot arrived in Zoar; and the Lord rained down burning asphalt from the skies onto Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord destroyed these cities, the entire valley, everyone who lived in the cities, and all of the fertile land’s vegetation. When Lot’s wife looked back, she turned into a pillar of salt.

Abraham set out early for the place where he had stood with the Lord, and looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah and over all the land of the valley. He saw the smoke from the land rise like the smoke from a kiln.

When God destroyed the cities in the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot away from the disaster that overtook the cities in which Lot had lived. Since Lot had become fearful of living in Zoar, he and his two daughters headed up from Zoar and settled in the mountains where he and his two daughters lived in a cave. The older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there are no men in the land to sleep with us as is the custom every where. Come on, let’s give our father wine to drink, lie down with him, and we’ll have children from our father.” That night they served their father wine, and the older daughter went in and lay down with her father, without him noticing when she lay down or got up. The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Since I lay down with our father last night, let’s serve him wine tonight too, and you go in and lie down with him so that we will both have children from our father.” They served their father wine that night also, and the younger daughter lay down with him, without him knowing when she lay down or got up. Both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the ancestor of today’s Moabites. The younger daughter also gave birth to a son and named him Ben-ammi. He is the ancestor of today’s Ammonites.

Job 6:1–30, MEV

But Job answered:

“Oh, that my grief were fully weighed,

and my calamity laid with it on the scales!

For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;

therefore my words are stuck in my throat.

For the arrows of the Almighty are within me;

my spirit drinks in their poison;

the terrors of God are arrayed against me.

Does the wild donkey bray when he has grass?

Or the ox bellow over his fodder?

Is tasteless food eaten without salt?

Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?

My soul refuses to touch them;

they are like loathsome food to me.

“Oh, that I might have my request,

and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!

That it would please God to crush me,

that He would let loose His hand and cut me off!

Then I would still have comfort;

I would revel in pain; it will not subside,

for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.

“What strength do I have, that I should hope?

And what is my end, that I should prolong my life?

Is my strength the strength of stones?

Or is my flesh made of brass?

Is there no help within me?

And is success banished from me?

“A despairing man should be shown kindness from his friend,

or he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

My brothers have acted deceitfully like a riverbed,

like the streams of the riverbeds that run dry;

which are dark because of the ice,

and into which the snow disappears.

In time they are scorched; they vanish!

When it is hot, they disappear from their place.

The caravans of their way turn aside;

they go nowhere, and they perish.

The caravans of Tema looked,

the travelers of Sheba hoped for them.

They were disappointed because they were confident;

they arrived there and were dismayed.

For now you are nothing;

you see terror and are afraid.

Did I say, ‘Give to me’?

Or, ‘Out of your wealth, bribe me’?

Or, ‘Deliver me from the power of the enemy’?

Or, ‘From the power of the oppressors, liberate me’?

“Teach me, and I will hold my tongue,

and make me understand how I have erred.

How forceful are right words!

But what does your arguing prove?

Do you mean to correct my words,

and treat my desperate words as wind?

Yes, you cast lots for the fatherless,

and you bargain over your friend.

“And now, please give me your attention,

for surely I will not lie to you.

Turn, I pray, let there be no injustice!

Yes, turn again, my righteousness still stands!

Is there injustice on my tongue?

Cannot my taste discern pernicious things?

Isaiah 8, NLT

Then the Lord said to me, “Make a large signboard and clearly write this name on it: Maher-shalal-hash-baz.” I asked Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah, both known as honest men, to witness my doing this.

Then I slept with my wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said, “Call him Maher-shalal-hash-baz. For before this child is old enough to say ‘Papa’ or ‘Mama,’ the king of Assyria will carry away both the abundance of Damascus and the riches of Samaria.”

Then the Lord spoke to me again and said, “My care for the people of Judah is like the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, but they have rejected it. They are rejoicing over what will happen to King Rezin and King Pekah. Therefore, the Lord will overwhelm them with a mighty flood from the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria and all his glory. This flood will overflow all its channels and sweep into Judah until it is chin deep. It will spread its wings, submerging your land from one end to the other, O Immanuel.

“Huddle together, you nations, and be terrified.

Listen, all you distant lands.

Prepare for battle, but you will be crushed!

Yes, prepare for battle, but you will be crushed!

Call your councils of war, but they will be worthless.

Develop your strategies, but they will not succeed.

For God is with us!”

The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said,

“Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do,

and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.

Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life.

He is the one you should fear.

He is the one who should make you tremble.

He will keep you safe.

But to Israel and Judah

he will be a stone that makes people stumble,

a rock that makes them fall.

And for the people of Jerusalem

he will be a trap and a snare.

Many will stumble and fall,

never to rise again.

They will be snared and captured.”

Preserve the teaching of God;

entrust his instructions to those who follow me.

I will wait for the Lord,

who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob.

I will put my hope in him.

I and the children the Lord has given me serve as signs and warnings to Israel from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies who dwells in his Temple on Mount Zion.

Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?

Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.

Matthew 7:1–20, The Bible for Everyone: A New Translation

‘Don’t judge people, and you won’t be judged yourself. You’ll be judged, you see, by the judgment you use to judge others! You’ll be measured by the measuring-rod you use to measure others! Why do you stare at the splinter in your neighbour’s eye, but ignore the plank in your own? How can you say to your neighbour, “Here—let me get that splinter out of your eye,” when you’ve got the plank in your own? You’re just play-acting! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you’ll see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your neighbour’s eye.

‘Don’t give holy things to dogs. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they will trample them under their feet—and then turn round and attack you!’

‘Ask and it will be given to you! Search and you will find! Knock and the door will be opened for you! Everyone who asks receives; everyone who searches finds; everyone who knocks will have the door opened. Don’t you see? Supposing your son asks you for bread—which of you is going to give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish—which of you is going to give him a serpent? Well then: if you know how to give good gifts to your children, evil as you are, how much more will your father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

‘So whatever you want people to do to you, do just that to them. Yes; this is what the law and the prophets are all about.’

‘Go in by the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction, you see, is nice and wide, and the road going there has plenty of room. Lots of people go that way. But the gate leading to life is narrow, and the road going there is a tight squeeze. Not many people find their way through.

‘Watch out for false prophets. They will come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are hungry wolves. You’ll be able to tell them by the fruit they bear: you don’t find grapes growing on thorn-bushes, do you, or figs on thistles? Well, in the same way, good trees produce good fruit, and bad trees produce bad fruit. Actually, good trees can’t produce bad fruit, nor can bad ones produce good fruit! Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire. So: you must recognize them by their fruits.

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