2.8 The Destruction of Sodom
In the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God presaged the destruction of the Canaanites that He would accomplish 400 years later following the Exodus. It is clear that the justification for God's judgment on this city was a matter of conduct, not of ethnicity:
"The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous" (Gen 18:20).
The type of behavior which was so reprehensible, sexual perversion, is shown in Gen 19:4-9. One of the most interesting passages was Abraham's intercession on behalf of Sodom before a holy and wrathful God. Abraham dared to ask God to spare the city if 50 righteous men could be found in it. God relented, and Abraham pressed his case. They then engaged in a countdown, in which Abraham ran the threshold of sparing Sodom down to 10 righteous men! All was in vain however, because not even 10 righteous men were found in the city. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah by raining sulphur on them (Gen 19:24).
There are several principles in this passage:
a. the prayer of a righteous man can change God's actions
b. God would rather bless the righteous than punish the wicked
c. righteousness, ie. rightness with God, can exist outside of Abraham's natural descendants. Even a Canaanite could be righteous, in theory (otherwise Abraham would not have asked God to spare a Canaanite city if there were righteous men in it).
d. Can a righteous individual exist in the midst of a corrupt culture or nation? Abraham failed to find ten.
e. The reverse is more clearly demonstrated: a debased culture infects even the innocent. Lot may have known God from his past association with Abraham, but his daughters clearly did not. Their incestuous conduct in Gen 19:30-38 was precisely the sort of thing that God destroyed Sodom for!