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All right, good morning. Go ahead and grab your Bibles open up to Genesis chapter 18. We’ll be starting in verse 16. This morning, and get through most of chapter 19 as well. So Genesis 18, as you’re turning there, one of the questions we’ve been asking throughout this series is simply can we say that God is good, that God is loving? If he condemns people to a fiery torture for eternity? We picture hell in our minds. The devil is there he has a pitchfork. Of course, you know that from reading something? It’s not the Bible. But he’s got a pitchfork, and he’s got the tail and everything and he’s poking them, and they’re desperate to escape, and yet they are not allowed to? How could a loving God do that? It’s a question that is very much on the lips of our culture. If you’ve had evangelistic conversations with your friends and your neighbors, you know that it is also a question that is on many of our minds, even as believers, and even if we try to sweep it under the rug, to bury the skeletons in the backyard, in the hopes that no one will remember they’re there. It might feel when we look at the doctrine of hell, like you really got just two options at this point. On the one hand, you could and many have ditch hell. And of course, with the authority of Scripture for love is God feel good every so common in our culture today, or the other option is to be that fire and brimstone, bible thumper, who almost seems to take a perverse delight in condemning people to hell, there’s more hatred, it seems than love coming from him or her. Are those are only two options? I don’t think so. I think it’s possible, we’ve got it all wrong, there isn’t another option. And it’s the only option if we’re going to take the Bible seriously as we aim to do here. And that’s what I’m hoping to show today. My goal here is weird. Usually, I have a main idea, I don’t have a main idea. I’ve got a goal I’m giving you my goal, right, is that you will be able to say at the end of this, I understand the necessity and rightness of hell, which is ambitious, I will grant I’ll make it even more ambitious. My hope is that you can see that hell itself is an act of love. God toward the world. Very ambitious. I’m not sure I’ll do it. But hopefully we can get part of the way there at least to do that. We’re going to look at the judge and see that he’s right. When we look at the judgment, we’re going to see that it’s deserved and necessary. We’re gonna look at the judge and see that that includes all of us that we must respond as a result. Let’s start by looking at the judge. Genesis chapter 18. We’ll start in verse 16. I’ll read you the end of the chapter. When the men got up to leave, they looked down towards Sodom, and Abraham walked along with him to see them on their way. Then the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I’m about to do, Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation and all nations on earth will be blessed through him, for I’ve chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the weight of the Lord by doing what is right. And just so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him. And the Lord said, the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sins so grievous, that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know. Men turned away and went towards Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said, Well, you sweep away the righteous with the wicked. What if there are 50 righteous people in the city? Well, you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the 50 righteous people in it. Far be it from you to do such a thing to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked, like Far be it from you will not the Judge of all the earth do right? The Lord said, if I find 50, righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake. Then Abraham spoke up again, now that I’ve been so bold as to speak to the Lord, that I am nothing but dust and ashes. What if the number of the righteous is five less than 50? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people? By find 45? There, he said, I will not destroy it. Once again, he spoke to him what if only 40 earphone there? He said, For the sake of 40 I will not do it. And he said, May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak what if only 30 can be found there? He answered, I will not do it. If I find 30 there. Abraham said now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, but if only 20 can be found there. So for the sake of 20, I will not destroy it. And he said, May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only 10 can be found there? He answered, for the sake of 10 I will not destroy it. When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left and Abraham returned home.
So this story actually opens on a note of grace. We remember that Abraham has chosen Abraham out of all people on earth, to bless him and also to make him a blessing to all All nations. In fact, if you were to look back at the start of chapter 18, you would see that this is when God comes to Abraham and says, the child of promise is coming. By this time next year, you’re gonna have a baby, even though you’re 100, your wife has 90, a baby is coming. And that’s how the the blessing will come to all nations through the you and through your people. So there’s this note of grace immediately. In fact, it even goes a step further, remember that God calls Abraham a friend. And so he does what friends do, which is he then confides in his friend, and says, there’s a problem. There’s a serious problem, a great outcry has gone up against Saddam. These are the prayers of those who are suffering, because the sin of Sodom is grievous, it stinks to heaven, and it merits destruction. Now in love What happens next, because God is, of course omniscient, and God knows what is in the hearts of all people at all times. And yet you see him here, still showing Abraham and us how careful he is to confirm the truth of these rumors that have reached him. He goes out of his way, to show that his judgment is not capricious, but weighed carefully, I’m gonna go down, I’m gonna check it out. I’m gonna see if this is actually what’s going on inside him. Or if there’s been some exaggeration in these prayers, his judgment is accurate and informed. What’s interesting next, then, is that God doesn’t mention what will happen to Saddam, he does not say I’m about to destroy this place. Just so you know, Abraham knows that it’s coming. Because he knows that it would be right. If the outcry against Saddam is correct. If the sin is that bad, and this is what should happen. Of course, God should judge this town. That’s not quite as obvious to us today. Is it? I mean, it sure there’s lots of wrongdoing, still, we see it all over the place every bit as much as there was back then. But can’t God just, you know, forgive and forget the way we do. I think in that skepticism, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of judgment, as if it were only punitive, and not restorative. At the same time. I’ve been making the case throughout this series that we all actually long for judgment. We don’t call it judgment, we call it justice. But they mean the same thing. So we’re constantly crying out for justice in this world we want I’ve said it this way before, it’s not my phrase, but I like we want God to kick the hell out of Earth. We want the hellish SNESs of this existence, gone. And we talked about things like genocide and human trafficking and you you look at the headlines are like, Please, Lord, would you do something about this? We are asking for judgment. I’m just not sure that we’ve thought through exactly how that will come. How is God going to get the hell out of Earth? How will he eliminate it? I mean, take something like racism, I think most of us would agree we’d prefer that not be here anymore. Racism is not an element. It’s not like helium and hydrogen, and we can just cut that part out. Racism is an attitude in people.
Well, now this gets harder, doesn’t it? Like what do we do evil is not a substance. And that’s so important by law because that means God did not create evil. Some of us have that character in our minds to God’s creation was perfect. And then we wrecked it. We’re the ones who corrupted God’s good creation, because we take very good things that God has created like sex, and food and authority, we pervert them for our own ends. So as others have said before me that means that evil is an adjective, not a noun. So important. Evil is an adjective, not a noun. It’s not that sex is bad, it’s illicit sex. It’s a gluttonous appetite, or an impressive authority. Unless we forget that corruption, the ability to pervert God’s good gifts is inside of all of us. And strong within all of us. That’s one of the things we talked about in the series as well. You might remember the point I made I think, was back in the series on Oza. We said, you know, we want God to deal with genocide. Yes, but then Jesus says things like but if you got anger in your heart, that’s murder. Like that’s incipient murder, right there. Oh, no. And we want God to deal with sex trafficking, but you know, even look at someone lessly that’s, that’s adultery. And so we saw the problem is that God takes our sin much more serious. See than we do. And so all of a sudden, there’s a target on our backs as well. We are a part of the corruption of God’s good creation. And let’s not forget, as let’s not forget Nadal banaba, who, like them, we so often presume upon grace, and get overly familiar, even careless with the things of God. We are constantly minimizing our sin, and in so doing, minimizing God’s holiness, but Abraham understands both. And that’s why he understands that judgment is rightly coming. But He intercedes just the same. But he knows that God’s judgment isn’t capricious. God just showed him that. So he knows that God won’t wipe away the innocent with a guilty. The key question, the key phrase, and that passage I just read is, will not the Judge of all the earth do right? He’s pleading with God on the basis of God’s character, what he knows about the judge. And so he affirms what he knows to be true, God will not act unjustly. How could he justice is his nature. His judgment is right. Now, we struggle with this, of course, because that’s not true of humans. And so we project our shortcomings on to God, of course, our anger is so often selfishly motivated, and therefore unrighteous, but not God’s never. So if even 10 righteous people are found, and you can picture Abraham at that point, and we’ll see in the rest of the story here in a moment, he’s like, counting up lots family in his head. And he’s going, okay, they had to have like, one good conversation with one family in town, and we’re golden. So that’s what he’s doing is he’s argument got to this point, and you say, but if even 10 righteous people are found, Sodom will be spared. It’s incredible. The judge is right. where Abraham lands he only ever does what is right. He’s slow to anger. He’s careful to judge and he is loving, and merciful. That’s the first piece we must grasp if we’re going to get the rightness of hell. This is a judge we can trust and contrast to ourselves. Let’s look now though, at the judgment itself. And I’m going to be longest here by a long shot, by the way. But let me read chapter 19, verses one to 13.
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening and Lot was sitting in the gateway the city, when he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. My Lords, he said, please turn aside your servants house, you can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning. Know The Answer, we will spend the night in the square. But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house, he prepared a meal for them baking bread without yeast and they ate. Before they had gone to bed. All the men from every part of the city of Sodom, both young and old, surrounded the house, they called a lot. Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out so that we can have sex with them? Not went outside to meet them and shut the door behind them and said, No, my friends don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you. And you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof. Get out of our way they were applied. This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge will treat you worse than them. They kept bringing pressure on lot move forward to break down the door. The men inside reached out and pulled that back into the house and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the door of the house young and old with blindness that they could not find the door. The two men said a lot. Do you have anyone else here sons in law’s sons or daughters or anyone else in the city who belongs to you get them out of here because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry of the Lord against his people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it. This is an absolutely horrific story. Of course I shudder even to read a story like this, especially given the prevalence of sexual violence in our culture today. But I tell you what, you read a story like this and you can’t escape the conclusion that sin is grievous. Or how could anyone do this or want to do this that there’s this dehumanizing instinct that is simply appalling. When we treat people as less than people for our own sake, they become objects for our pleasure or comfort or whatever else it may be here the issue is sexual perversion. But there are many, many, many other shades of this kind of injustice. We read about them throughout the Old Testament. In fact, we read about them throughout the Old Testament, even in speaking about Saddam, like we focus so narrowly on the sexual perversion of Saddam, that is not how the Old Testament treats it. Here’s the zekiel 16. Speaking of what went wrong there. Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom. She and her daughters were arrogant. overfed and unconcerned anyone else getting nervous reading that because those are three words that fit American culture really well, don’t they? Arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned they did not help the poor and needy, they were haughty, and did detestable things before me. That’s a whole lot of injustice. That’s a whole lot of dehumanization, no wonder the outcry against them was great. There are so many suffering at their hands. Is anything different today? Of course not. Again, just scan the headlines. We live in Saddam, all of us, because Saddam lives in us, all of us, encoded social needs. And earlier. One who resisted communist rule in the Soviet Union was sent to Siberia as a result, Nobel Prize winner in literature, he said, the line between good and evil does not pass right through the borders of countries, it passes straight through every human heart, and that every is key it is every human heart. Look at verse four, again, who is engaged in this wickedness, all the men from every part of the city, both young and old, this is comprehensive, everybody is engaged in this. And everybody is engaged in injustice in some form or another that includes you and me. So every time we are crying out to God for justice, let us not forget that people are calling out to God for justice, because of how we’ve treated them. We are the subject of some of these prayers.
So, so often our concerns with the doctrine of hell with the doctrine of God’s judgment, it’s like we’re asking God pleading with God to cut out the cancer of sin in this world, we just want him to do it without pain, and not in my heart, or the lives of the people that I like standing around me. But you know, everybody else has said, if you could take care of that we have such an incomplete view of what it is that we’re asking God for. We need to open our eyes wider. What we want is what the Old Testament calls shalom, which is so much more than peace. It is the wholeness. It is like an enriched fabric of society. That’s how God created us to be human flourishing without exploitation. That’s what we’re asking God for when we say how long Lord was my eyes look on injustice forever. That’s what we’re asking for, to want that to want Shalom for people is loving. It’s loving to ask God for that, that we would pull the injustice out of the world that is true of God to that God wants us to experience Shalom instead of injustice is an expression of His love towards us. That means his love and His justice are not in tension. There are flip sides of the same coin. God loves his people too much to leave us in this current existence. Here’s the way Tim Keller makes the same point. He says when we think of God’s wrath, we usually think of God’s justice. And that’s right. Those who care about justice get angry when they see justice being trampled upon, we should expect a perfectly just God to do the same. We don’t ponder how much his anger is also a function of His love, and goodness, God loves everything he has made. That’s one of the reasons he’s angry at what’s going on in his creation. He is angry at anything or anyone that is destroying the people and world he loves. This is the key part. So it makes no sense to say I don’t want a wrathful God, I want a loving God. If God is loving and good, he must be angry at evil, angry enough to do something about it. And that’s what God aims to do. He aims to do something about our current hellish existence, the experience of how on earth that we know now I keep mentioning how, even though God simply destroys Saddam, we don’t read anything about what happens to them in the afterlife. We don’t read that they were condemned to that fiery torture for eternity. So why do I keep talking about how we got to turn the corner here a little bit? It’s because we just studied Jude, and you all remember everything I said about Jude?
Verse seven, if you forgot, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion, they serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. So here’s Jude is saying that, that event back then in Genesis 19, where Saddam is destroyed. That’s a picture that’s foreshadowing the final John easement. And so let’s dig in for a moment here and correct some of these characters that we have in our minds about how especially regarding its purpose. Now I am not gonna be able to cover everything. There are some characters we’re not going to touch I mentioned the devil with the pitchfork and he’s, you know, poking people in hell. One of the things the Bible tells us is that Satan is not reining in hell, Satan is himself going to be bound in hell. This is where he is imprisoned and punished. We will talk about people trying to escape like they’re beating on the doors going God, would you please let us out? There is no indication anywhere in Scripture, that that’s what’s happening. I just can’t get into all of that. We’ve talked about some of it before. There are a lot of questions I can’t answer. And there are a lot of arguments I have to make briefly, you need to do more work here. Can I recommend a resource, I would highly recommend Joshua Ryan Butler’s the skeletons in God’s closet withdrawal a lot of what I’m about to say from that book, just so you know, but let’s dig in here. So the primary character that we have about hell that we need to correct if we’re gonna have a proper understanding of who God is, and the rightness of His judgment, is the contrast between heaven and hell, as if there are the two that are in tension. So what happens in that story, Earth is the proving ground. We all live out our lives to try and figure out who based on how they live their lives, or if they believe the right doctrine or something like that. Who gets to take the elevator up? And who’s got to take the elevator down? There’s a problem with this though. Go ahead, get on Bible gateway sometime, Bible gateway.com. Put in the search bar, Heaven space, hell, tell me how many results you get. help you out, zero. The closest you get to Psalm 139. If I go up to the heavens, you’re there. If I make my bed in the depths, you’re there. That’s not hell. There is no verse in Scripture that contrasts heaven with hell. Now type in heaven and earth. See how many you get? If you’re in the NIV? It’s 195. starts by the way in verse one, in the beginning, God created not heaven, and hell, the heavens and the earth. It’s a totally different story than God created heaven and earth to exist together. In Union, like, that’s the picture of Eden when God is dwelling with Adam and Eve, but by our sin, we brought hell into Earth. We lit the fires of hell. We talked about things like the Lake of Fire, if you do a good careful word study on it, what you get there is the smoldering wreckage of our war on God. And that’s a different thing, right? When an enemy force like, makes an incursion into a foreign country, and they attack them, and they’re wiping out the innocents and things like that. And then that army, turns around, defends their borders justly. And that military base is wiped out. It’s just a crater and it’s smoking. Right in the fire still, that that’s the picture of hell. And usually, we cheer when that happens. This is what should we should stop that evil advance. But the problem is, we tore Heaven and Earth asunder by our sin, we were the enemy making the advance and so we get kicked out of Eden. At that point, Adam and Eve, exiled from it. The rest of the Bible, from Genesis three on is about God bringing heaven and earth back together. Go ahead, read the last two chapters, what happens? New heavens, New Earth, and they’re united once more. That’s the whole arc of Scripture right there. The problem is that you cannot have heaven, where how exists. So I said last week, it’s like you flip a light on in a dark room, light and darkness cannot coexist. The light will eradicate the darkness. And the problem here, of course, is that if God were to allow hell in our hearts into heaven, what’s gonna happen to heaven? Well, we already read this story. We know what it looks like. It looks like Genesis three, we rebel, we create Hell on Earth. Once more.
I was once evangelizing somebody who told me just straight up I don’t want to live forever. I do not want immortality, what you’re offering me here in Jesus. Why? Because she thought it was gonna be like this for eternity. She didn’t want hell forever. I get that because there’s so much hell here on Earth. So to reconcile Heaven and earth, God has to kick hell out in the same way that he cast Adam and Eve out of Eden. The language that’s normally used is God casting sin outside the city. And what do we read in Revelation? Again, heaven is pictured as a as a city there. This corrects another misinterpretation a lot of us have. Right? Hell is not down there. Hell is outside. It’s not an underground torture chamber. It’s an exile outside the city. It says though God has built a protective barrier, a wall around a city to keep hell from coming back in. That’s exactly the picture by the way that Jesus uses when he describes hell. And he’s drawing from Old Testament imagery as well as Jesus, the word he uses for how was almost always Ghana, which was a real place, by the way, you could like find it on Google Maps, if those things that existed back then. But it was this vivid picture of hell like a symbol of how ghanim is the Valley of Ben Hinnom. And it’s where Israel sinned as grievously as anywhere else. This is where they not only prostituted themselves to foreign gods and committed an idolatry, but actually engaged in child sacrifice to those foreign gods, you can’t get a more heinous crime than that. So what the later generations did is they defiled that place where the foreign alters were by turning it into a garbage dump. Now let’s picture what happens in a garbage dump. This is in the age before plastics, you get a whole lot of organic waste in a heap, what are you going to find there pretty soon. Maggots, right. And probably also if you want to kind of, you know, keep it in somewhat smaller shape, you’re gonna light it on fire. Sounds like what Jesus said, quoting from Isaiah, right? Where the worm does not die in the fire is not quenched. He’s looking at it going it’s kinda like that. But let’s think about this then it’s a picture again, to keep the city pure. The people of Jerusalem cast their garbage outside, in the same way that God to keep having a holy will toss sin outside with a worm does not die in the fire is not quenched. Hell is not a place God creates for the wicked. Hell is our trash and our fire. I mean, James even says, The the sins of the speech, they’re set on fire by how itself right here, this is where Hellfire is. And so it’s this boundary that God sets on how far Hal can advance. Like, we want God to protect kids from traffickers, right? Alright, so he erect a barrier to make sure that won’t happen anymore. We want God to protect the poor from those who would exploit them. All right, there’s your barrier. We want God to protect various minority groups from genocidal dictators. There you go. That’s what we have. That’s the walls of this city. Now there are those who will never willingly submit to God. What about them? We’re talking a lot about the people are getting protected on the inside. What about those who are being cast outside, the most loving act God can perform towards those who will never acknowledge his reign is containment so that they cannot continue to multiply their evil deeds. Hell is like a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. At a certain point, evil can go this far and no farther. For those who desire autonomy above all else, God says, Okay, you can have it and they’re handed over to their sin. Romans one says right there handed over to their sin, by the way, that is punishment enough. Because we know what people are like, when you take away the restraining influence of God in their lives with all of us would be. So they’re, they’re handed over to their sin. But outside the city, but outside the city. In fact, here’s revelation 21. And look at this picture again. He’s describing the Heavenly Jerusalem, the new heavens new the new earth, unknown day will its gates ever be shot.
Cities wide open, anyone can come in, to bow to Christ and who can come anyone can come in, I know they will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there, the glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. This is not for one ethnic group or anything like that all nations are welcome. But nothing impure will ever enter it. nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. At the gates are open all may come in but you have to leave your impurity behind. You have to leave your sin and wickedness behind the doctrine of Hell is a corollary to the doctrine of reconciliation. God reconciling heaven and earth it is. It’s an act of renovation, which again, we know something about here. What is the first thing you do if you’re going to remodel an old house? You rip out the rat. You rip out the part that won’t make it the part where if you leave that in there, the house will collapse in on itself in a short Time for God to rip out the rot in this world is an act of love. And by the way, the problem with the love is God approach that’s so common in our culture today is that it doesn’t ever deal with evil. Evil is unrestrained in that view. So you can talk all you like about feeling the universe’s love. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion love actually is all around us. Right and you’re you’re holding your your newborn baby in your hands go and tell me that love isn’t the atmosphere of the universe, which I think is probably true. But what happens when that little girl that you’re cradling in your arms is stripped away from you by an invading army sent to live in a different country and eventually trafficked? How’s the universe’s love helping you out? Now? What comfort would it be to say to that little girl she’s going in to meet with our clients? You know, in certain moments, you can feel the love creep in. That feels sufficient to you. Whereas you’re out hiking and you’re enjoying the beauty of creation. You certainly can feel God’s love there. But you’re trotting paths beneath which are buried the bones of the slaughtered indigenous. It’s not good enough. The problem with Love is God is that it has no redemptive, restorative or restraining power. And we need all three. The judge is right. And his judgment is necessary. It is an act of love to contain evil so that Heaven and Earth can be reconciled. Once more. Sadly, we got to keep going. We got to look at the judge as well. Me read most of the rest of chapter 19. I’m gonna pause at a certain point, although I’ll comment on the rest of the chapter still, but let me start in verse 14 here. So that went out and spoke to his sons in law who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, Hurry and get out of this place because the Lord is about to destroy the city. But his sons in law thought he was joking. The coming of dawn the angels urged lapsing Hurry, take your wife and your two daughters who are here you will be swept away when the city’s punished. When he hesitated the men grasped his hand in the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them safely out of the city. For the Lord is merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said flee for your lives don’t look back and you don’t stop anywhere in the plane, flee to the mountains or you will be swept away. But lots said to them. No, my lords, please, your servants found favor in your eyes. You have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life but I can’t flee to the mountains. This disaster will overtake me and I’ll die. Look, here’s a town near enough to run to and at a small let me fleet who it is very small, isn’t it that my life will be spared. He said to him very well, I will grant this request to I will not overthrow the town you speaker, but flee there quickly because I cannot do anything until you reach it. That is why the town was called zwaar. But the time lot reaches or the sun had risen over the land and Lord rain down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities in the entire plane, destroying all those living in the cities, and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Early the next morning, Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah toward all the land of the plane, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. So when God destroyed the city’s the plane, he remembered Abraham and he brought lot out of the cat catastrophe that overthrew the cities where lot had lived. We’ll pause there.
As we look at the the judge, what we need to take away from this is that this is true of all of us. We are all of us worthy deserving of judgment. Even the religious folks, because if there were religious folks in Sodom, that’s Latin, his family, they’re the fundamentalist Baptists, the only ones in town, but they’re the ones in town, if anyone was feeling holier than thou, it was them. And yet they’re worthy of judgment. Also, like we can’t say we live in Jerusalem and judge Saddam from a distance because we’ve already seen Saddam dwells within us. This is important because so much of the objection against the doctrine of hell centers on the us versus them mentality that comes with it and that holier than thou attitude. But we know that’s not true. And this is where the objection springs from. There’s a whole lot of hypocrisy among religious folks, isn’t there. One of my closest friends was abused by a priest. One of the writers I respect most in this world, his wife was assaulted by a pastor. We got to deal with that. Is it really just a question of where your church membership is? That’s your get out of jail? Free card? It’s interesting, isn’t it that Jesus reserved his harshest words for the religious. How many times does he say the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of heaven before you religious types. And as a result, you’ll be cast out to the outer darkness where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth by the way, gnashing of teeth. That’s correct another character right there. That’s where part of the reasons we start to think that the people are really desperate to change their circumstances because we think gnashing of teeth is the sign of agony. It’s not it’s a sign of anger. The only other time we read the phrase gnashing teeth in the New Testament, is when the people who are about to stone Stephen, get angry enough with him to stone him, and they gnashed their teeth at him. And that is the attitude the unrepentant have towards God through all eternity. But this whole idea of the religious being deserving of judgment also is so clear when we look at lots, family and even lot himself. I mean, did you notice that his sons in law are part of the mob trying to rape these angels? That’s why he goes out to them first, because they’re still there on his doorstep, probably stumbling around in darkness because they’ve been blinded, and yet they pay no heed to his warning. Their response, by the way, is true of many. Look at verse nine, again, when they say who are you to judge? This is our culture. These are our rules. And they think he’s joking. scant us puts it in their fleshly security, they do not believe in divine judgment. But this is not a joke. And by the way, we must never joke about hell can tell you how many times I’ve heard people say to me, Oh, I’m going to hell for that. This is a terrifying thing. We must not joke about it. The sons in law, don’t care. So a lot turns to his immediate family. But his wife betrays her righteousness by casting a backward look. By the way, the angels were quite clear about this. This is like Uzza where we go man, that seems awfully harsh. Were they unclear? Did they not say Don’t look back? Why? Why does she look back she betrays her righteousness, casting this backward look, because she is where so many of us are she can’t loosen her grip on the material. What is burning up back there is her 401k. It’s her family’s business. It’s everything. There’s no insurance. FEMA is not coming Samaritan’s Purse has not shown up for a few 1000 years to rebuild their home. You understand why she is concerned, except that her hope is an earthly things instead of in the Lord who made them. And so she gets routed in place, because frankly, she’d put down roots in this hellish existence. Of course, all this raises the question mark for a lot, doesn’t it? You read Second Peter three times Peter calls him a righteous man tormented and his righteous soul. And yet he has so little effect. We’ve already seen he has influenced absolutely no one in Saddam, we now also see that he hasn’t even made a lick of difference in in his own family’s life. Which means his righteousness is like the righteousness of Noah and Abraham. It is by grace through faith, and does not mean that he’s not without sin. And then what does God say to Abraham, Genesis 15, just a few chapters earlier, Abraham believed God.
That’s what was credited to him, his righteousness, not his good work. Those came later those came as a result of his being accepted by God lot is the same way the good works are just really slow to develop here. So he’s got this faith, but it’s not gripping. And it’s not changing him. In fact, we see this pattern throughout his life, we’re to look at Genesis starting in 12. And just kind of walk through all those chapters, you’d see lot making these kinds of decisions over and over and over again, they come to a point where a lot of Abraham need to separate and Abraham says you can choose first and that goes great. I’ll take the good spot. Not selfless, like Abraham, he’s selfish. And not only that, he he’s attracted to the materialism of Saddam. That’s where he wants to he chooses to live in Saddam, even after he’s captured in a war. That has nothing to do with him. It has to do with materialism of that culture. He still returns home to Saddam, he calls Saddam home. He married a sodomite and his girls are engaged to sodomite men. You see the problem, like many of us lot is simultaneously offended and enticed by others sins. That is like many of us and that he certainly prefers heaven to hell. He’s just not sure he prefers Heaven to Earth. And so he loves this world. You see it in his hesitation, especially the angels have to grab him and drag him out of his own home or else he would have burned up. The Lord. It says in verse 16, was merciful to him. Yes, he was. We see God’s overwhelming mercy and grace, especially considering his whimpering speech in the middle of all this, like God can’t save them in the mountains. God could save him wherever he was standing and still he’s got this issue. So he wants to go to this little town was what Zara means it’s a mini Sodom, where it can continue in a similar life of double mindedness. And yet God in His mercy agrees to spare so far because he’s there. Abraham’s prayer is answered, even though God should have struck this weasel dead, just like he should strike you and me did. We come to lot’s daughters, and I didn’t read that story, because honestly, it’s just so awful. I don’t want to read it. We’ve preached it before, at least, there are no men around because you know, everything just got burned up. So they preserve their line through their father, sons are born to them Moab, which means from my father and Ben on me, which means of my father’s people, son of my father’s people. You see, they learn their lessons from their dad, well, hadn’t they? He treated them like objects earlier. So they treat themselves the same way they were raised in Sodom with Saddam’s values. Parents take note of this. You cannot straddle two worlds and expect your kids to be okay. You’re raising your kids with the Jesus and the world approach. You’re raising kids who will leave. And the destruction is so real. What is lot’s legacy? It’s Moab who entices Israel to sin, the same sin Assad. And by the way, we saw that in the Jude story, because it’s the Moabites, who entice them to sexual sin, when they’re destroyed in the wilderness and Amman produces the false god Molek and he is the one to whom they sacrifice their children later on in the Old Testament, that is lot’s legacy. Righteous, but there is no innocent character in the story. There is not a righteous soul, except lot and even he is compromised, but lot finds shelter from the storm not in his righteousness, but in his faith, which is credited to him as righteousness, and an act of amazing grace and saving lot while judging Sodom. God proves himself just and the justifier of those who believe we are offered refuge from God’s wrath. There’s only one place where we will find safety from the just wrath we deserve. RC sprawl says it exactly right. The glory of the gospel is this, the one from whom we need to be saved is the one who has saved us. Isn’t that what we just read? God off the burn lot up. And instead God plucks out from the fire.
I said this when we’re talking about other it bears repeating here, right, I can explain Saddam. Saddam is not complicated. For me, it’s very easy to see that they deserve this and that I deserve this as well. I still can’t explain Calvary. I still can’t explain why that Hellfire fell on Jesus instead of me I should have been in that fire, the punishment we all deserve. Jesus has taken if we will find refuge from his wrath in Christ, that fire that falls now purifies us instead, by His grace, those who believe and have that faith credited to them as righteousness, God makes clear he will conform us to the image of His Son, we will be sanctified, we will be made wholly so that we are actually fit for heaven and go in and don’t need to be cast outside the city. This life then becomes a proving ground Yes, but of what is the place where God does surgery to remove hells spark from our hearts. Because there are only two options Either God has got to remove hell from us or he’s got to remove us from the new heavens and the new earth. We should all be judged because that spark of Hell was within us, destroying the people that God loves destroying Shalom. We all want that boundary wall. We have all asked for it in so many different ways because God’s judgment, because hell is necessary and right. It is an act of love protecting those who love God’s holiness by His grace. If you are here this morning, and you are a skeptic still and first of all, I’m sure I didn’t answer all your questions didn’t have the time we could talk more about this. But if you’re unwilling to admit your sin and guilt me plead with you to receive grace plead with you like the angels pleading with Lot and his family judgment is real, and it is coming. The judges right and the judgment is necessary, but you can be saved. That’s true of most of us here we are sinners. saved by grace. And for you let me leave you with this word I plead with you, would you be like Abraham? Would you intercede for the last? Why did God tell Abraham what was coming? Because he knew it would provoke a response and Abraham, that God would pray that Abraham would pray to him and say, Would you? Would you spare the innocent at least? Why does God tell us what’s coming in the life to come? So that it will break our hearts for those we love, so that we would share this good news with them. Sure, we got more to talk about next week, we’re gonna make things even harder. Because we’re going to look at Jericho, we’re gonna look at Holy War, and we’re gonna look at what happens when sinners wipe out men and women and children, and an act of military aggression. You probably got some questions about that. They’re questions that have a lot to do with this, though. So consider it part two of the sermon, I would encourage you to come back. Of course, I encourage you to come every week. Let’s pray together now. Lord, we have questions. We have all had to questions. Sometimes those questions are about whether or not what you’re doing is fair, those questions fade away pretty quickly. When we look at the world. When we look at our own hearts. The question we’re most likely to ask most often is still how long Lord? Why? Why do we see so much suffering and evil in this world? But we know the answer fart. It’s because your slowness is your kindness so that we have time to repent, so that we can be spared so that we can be fit for heaven before you cast hell out of Earth. So Lord, we pray from here we pray that You would help us to understand who you are right? That we would worship You, as the judge who only ever does, right who judges the nation’s with equity and justice. But also as a God, who is merciful and loving and gracious and patient with us. We pray also, Lord, that You would do that good work in us. There is not one of us here, who at least in a moment of honesty, could not admit how much hell is at work in our hearts, even right now. Would you continue to quench Hell’s fires and form the character of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit in us? And then Lord, would you send us out as imperfect but zealous ambassadors who have been given the ministry and message of reconciliation that in Christ God is reconciling all things to himself?
Hell is very bad news, but there is such very good news available. But uh, speak it winsomely lovingly and boldly, Lord, we pray for your namesake. Amen.