Why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Traditionally, the number one answer has been, “homosexuality.” More recently, some who believe there is nothing wrong with a gay lifestyle have answered, “hospitality.” In my study of this chapter and of the book of Genesis in general, I believe that both answers are right—and both answers are wrong. But before I explain why, let’s first turn to Scripture.

Up to this point, though Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin has been clearly noted, what exactly that sin was hasn’t been spelled out. The first mention that something was amiss is found in a parenthetical note in Genesis 13. After noting that Lot chose the fertile plain near Sodom to live in, we’re told “This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.”[1] Though ominous, this doesn’t indicate why the LORD wrought such destruction. A couple of verses later we’re told more generally, “Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.”[2] But, again, we’re not told what exactly that great sin was. The next mention is found in the passage from Genesis 18 we considered last week when the LORD told Abraham , “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me….”[3] But again, neither the reason for the outcry nor the nature of the grievous sin are provided.

So let’s turn to Genesis 19 to try and get a better idea as to why the LORD found it necessary to destroy these two cities. Beginning with verse 1, we’re presented with a scene that is reminiscent of the one we saw in chapter 18 when three men—who turned out to be the LORD and two of his angels[4]—appeared to Abraham. This time Lot, his nephew, is the focus as we’re told, “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.” Though the LORD was no longer with them, these are the same two angels that we saw leave for Sodom when Abraham remained behind to speak with the LORD.[5] And whereas the LORD and the two angels first appeared to Abraham “in the heat of the day,”[6] here “two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening.” Lot was sitting at the “gateway of the city” rather than at the entrance of his tent but when he saw the angels—whom he, like Abraham, no doubt took to be men—Lot, as did Abraham, “got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.”[7]

Next, Lot, too, sought to take care of the men saying, verse 2, “My lords,… please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”[8] Lot offered them a place to freshen up and stay before continuing with their journey the next morning. Again, Lot couldn’t have known that the two men were angels nor did he know why they had come. Initially, the angels turned him down as they answered, “No,… we will spend the night in the square.” Yet, as stated in verse 3, Lot “insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house.”[9] And, as did Abraham, he ended up offering them not only a place to rest but also “prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast,[10] and they ate.”[11]

And then we see why the men of Sodom were considered to be “wicked” men who sinned “greatly” against the LORD;[12] whose sin was “so grievous” that an outcry against them and Gomorrah had reached the LORD.[13] For as stated beginning with verse 4, “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 to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’” The behavior described here is an abomination at a number of levels. First and foremost, the intent was group rape by men “both young and old.” And rape, whether same-sex or heterosexual, is a sin of violence and hatred. It’s a horrific perversion of the “two becoming one”[14] we see in Adam and Eve. Second, the men of Sodom were violating the Scriptural teaching of caring for the foreigner and stranger. The purpose of such hospitality is that others might come to know the God who made them in his image, who made them for himself. So, for example, we see taught in 1 Kings,

41 As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name—42 for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.[15]

So we see that an evangelistic emphasis is grounded in Old Testament teaching. And whereas both Abraham and Lot had acted in accordance with the way in which God desires us to care for the foreigner and stranger, the men of Sodom were doing just the opposite. Rather than care for the strangers, they sought to violate them; rather than act in a way that pointed them to the goodness of the LORD, their actions displayed that they belonged to their father, the devil, for they sought to carry out the desires of him who “was a murderer from the beginning.”[16] Their actions were in keeping with the devil who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”[17] The men of Sodom cared nothing about the LORD’s good desires for them and others; they sought only to satisfy their own evil desires.

Now to his credit, Lot sought to stop the men from carrying out such evil. As stated beginning with verse 6, “Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, ‘No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.’” So far, so good. Lot confronted the men with the evil of their wanton act. But then he took a huge misstep as he went on to state, verse 8, “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.” This part of Lot’s actions clearly aren’t in keeping with Scriptural teaching. No doubt Lot panicked. Finding himself surrounded by an angry, threatening mob—and perhaps reflecting a culture that valued men more than women[18]—he made a rash offer. He told the mob to take his two virgin daughters and do with them as they desired. Whereas Lot had done right in seeking to protect the men, he did wrong in neglecting to protect his own daughters.

The mob, however, had no interest in Lot’s daughters. Their lust was squarely aimed at the two men. As stated in verse 9, they replied, “Get out of our way,… This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” The fact that even after a quarter century of living among them Lot was still considered a foreigner suggests that Lot had kept to himself throughout this time, refusing to partake in the evil behavior that surrounded him. For their part, the men weren’t appeased by his offer but instead “kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.”

It’s at this point that the two men who were inside intervened as they, verse 10,  “reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.” Having rescued Lot, they went on to ask, verse 12, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” Thus we see that the outcry against Sodom had been justified and well deserved. And the LORD’s solution to the dilemma Abraham had proposed was resolved in a way that he had never considered. For Abraham seemed to have wondered how God’s holiness—his inability to abide sin—could be reconciled to his justice—his fair administration of his law. If he destroyed the wicked cities, this would be in keeping with his holiness but not his justice for righteous Lot would be destroyed along with the wicked; but if he spared the wicked cities for Lot’s sake, this would be in keeping with his justice but not his holiness. What the LORD did instead was to rescue Lot by taking him away from the city—thereby expressing his justice; and then destroying the cities’ wicked inhabitants—thereby expressing his holiness.

Well in response to the angels’ words, verse 14, “Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were married to 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.” As a result of their disbelief, they and two of Lot’s daughters would perish. For unlike their father-in-law, Lot’s sons-in-law were not righteous—that is, unlike Lot and Abraham, they didn’t believe the LORD and thereby have their belief credited to them as righteousness.[19] But Lot did believe God. His faith in God, his righteousness, is evidenced by his warning his sons-in-law even though he himself seemed to be having a difficult time grasping the magnitude of what the angels had told them. For, as stated in verse 15, “With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.’” But rather than run, verse 16, Lot hesitated so that “the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.” As we continue to see, time and again, God is merciful to those who belong to him, to those who believe him, to those who seek to do as he commands.

Knowing the full gravity of the situation, the angels continued to urge Lot to hurry. As stated in verse 17, “As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, ‘Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!’” But it appears that yet again Lot was struggling for rather than flee, he said to them, verse 18, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and 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. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” Now keep in mind that Lot wasn’t a young man. If uncle Abraham was 99, it’s likely that Lot would have been between 69 and 79 years old. The thought of running away, even to save his life, was daunting to him.

And so we see the LORD yet again express his mercy to Lot. As stated beginning with verse 21, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.”[20] Now at least Lot and his two unmarried daughters arrived at Zoar by sunrise, verse 23.[21] But apparently, Lot’s wife had stayed behind and looked back, becoming a “pillar of salt”[22]—perhaps due to sulfur that rained down upon her.[23] For as stated in verse 24, “…the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.”

This portion of the chapter closes by returning to Abraham who early the next morning saw the aftermath of what had taken place. As stated in verses 27–29, he “returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.” God remembered Abraham. God acted on Abraham’s behalf for Abraham had been concerned for his nephew, Lot. In his holiness, God had destroyed the rampant evil that epitomized Sodom and Gomorrah; and in his justice, God had spared righteous Lot and the members of his family who had similarly believed God and heeded his warning.

And with this, I want to return to the question with which I opened: Why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? What was the nature of the evil they committed that merited such devastating destruction? I’ve suggested that the answers of “homosexuality” and “hospitality” are both correct and incorrect. They’re correct in that the men of the city displayed both homosexual behavior, albeit run amuck, and they had no sense of caring for the foreigner for they sought to gang rape the men—who were really angels. But both of these answers are incorrect in that the wickedness displayed wasn’t simply about either homosexuality or lack of hospitality.

I think the challenge that we who are living in the United States in the 21st century have in understanding this passage is two-fold: On the one hand, over a relatively short amount of time, we’ve experienced a sea change as to how homosexual behavior is viewed by our society. Culturally we’ve gone from condemning such behavior to embracing it; on the other hand, many people of faith have too often viewed homosexual behavior as the worst possible sin anyone could ever commit. I remember once challenging a student who wrote in a paper, “God is able to forgive even homosexuality.” Why “even,” I asked him? In other words, by his wording it was evident that though he viewed homosexuality as being the worst possible sin, God could forgive even that. But what I’m going to suggest is first, that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was more pervasive and rampant than both lack of hospitality and homosexuality; and second, that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to treat those who commit the sin of homosexuality as Jesus himself might.

So let me turn again to the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. As already noted, concerning Sodom we’re told that from the time that Lot first went there its people “were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.”[24] And, 24 years later, the sin of both cities continued to be so grievous that an outcry against them had reached the LORD.[25] And what is evident in Scripture is that Sodom and Gomorrah became proverbial in describing excessive sin of all kinds:

So, for example, speaking of Jerusalem and Judah, Isaiah states, “The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.”[26] Isaiah speaks to the wrongness not only of sinning, but of relishing one’s sinful behavior, of “parading” one’s sin before others.

Speaking of the false prophets of Samaria and Jerusalem, Jeremiah notes, “They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that not one of them turns from their wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.”[27] The “adultery” referred to here had to do with lack of fidelity to God, something that was clearly true of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah who lived according to their own evil ways rather than the righteous ways of God. They, too, were on the side of evil, strengthening “the hands of evildoers” and refusing to turn from their wickedness.

The prophet Ezekiel similarly condemns Jerusalem by referencing the sin of Sodom noting that Jerusalem followed Sodom in its “detestable practices” and “soon became more depraved than they.”[28] He goes on to state what some of those sins were: “49 Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”[29] Arrogance; self-indulgence; indifference to others; lack of concern for those who were poor. Clearly the sins of Sodom were all-encompassing.

Finally, likening Moab and Ammon to Sodom and Gomorrah, Zephaniah notes that they’ll receive the same punishment stating, “This is what they will get in return for their pride, for insulting and mocking the people of the Lord Almighty.”[30] Again, we similarly see the depth and breadth of Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin in their pride, in assuming that their way was better than that of the LORD who made them and in mocking those who chose to follow El-Shaddai, the LORD Almighty himself. They, too, had no love for God; they, too, had no love for Lot or anyone else who loved God.

As we turn to 2 Peter 2, we see Peter making an equivalence between three situations of evil and judgment:

First is that of the angels who sinned, who rebelled against God, and were subsequently sent to hell, having been put “in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;”[31]

Second is the situation during the days of Noah when people living at the time were so ungodly that the LORD ended up destroying them while rescuing Noah and his family, or seven others.[32]

And third, God “condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah” for their ungodliness while rescuing righteous Lot who again, like Abraham, was righteous due to his believing God—for as we’ve noted, he was unrighteous in offering up his two virgin daughters to the men of Sodom. Peter goes on to note that Lot “was tormented… by the lawless deeds he saw and heard.”

So one similarity that exists between the fall of the angels, the people living in the time of Noah, and those living in Sodom and Gomorrah is that they all shared a complete and total disregard for God and his ways. Consequently, all were judged by God. Yet in each situation, those who were not evil were not destroyed:

For after Satan, that ancient serpent,[33] tempted Adam and Eve, the LORD promised to place enmity or opposition between the line of the serpent and that of Eve with Eve’s line winning in the form of an offspring—whom we know is Christ Jesus—that would crush the serpent’s head;[34]

So, too, Noah and his family were spared the destruction upon evil that occurred at the time of the flood;

And, as we’ve just witnessed, Lot and those of his family who were willing to flee with him, were similarly spared the LORD’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

As Peter states in verse 9, “if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.” And who are those who will be judged? Verse 10, “those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh”—that is, those who follow any fallen inclinations that go against God—“and despise authority”—that, is, God’s authority as now recorded for us in his Word. And there may well be an allusion to the men of Sodom’s treatment of the angels in verse 10 when it goes on to state, “Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings.”

In all of this we see that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t simply homosexuality or lack of hospitality for they had so completely given themselves over to their own sinful desires at every level that, unlike the wicked city of Nineveh that repented when God sent Jonah to preach to it,[35] they were hardened beyond the point of caring or repenting. They were so unresponsive to God and his Word that not even Lot had been able to serve as righteous leaven over the 24-year span that he had lived among them. With their evil being this rampant, God chose to destroy those living in Sodom and Gomorrah even as he had wrought destruction upon the evil that existed in Noah’s day.[36]

So, I don’t think that the lesson from Sodom and Gomorrah is that Christians should view homosexuality—or lack of hospitality for that matter—as being the worst sins in the eyes of God for the sins of these two cities were all encompassing. As to homosexuality, though it is clearly a sin in God’s eyes[37] and therefore those who profess faith in Christ are to abstain from such behavior, I think that our attitude to those who struggle with same-sex attraction should be the same as that which Jesus displayed toward sinners he encountered in his day. So we know, for example, that adultery is also a sin in God’s eyes. But when the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in adultery to be stoned as the Mosaic law required,[38] his response was, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” When all who heard ended up walking away, “10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11 ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”[39] What a beautiful expression this is of the truth Jesus taught concerning himself in the previous chapter, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”[40]

Dear sisters and brothers, this, I believe, is how Jesus would have us deal with all sin, including that of homosexuality. In other words, if Jesus didn’t condemn a woman caught in sin, neither should we condemn; but—and we mustn’t miss this second part—we, too, should encourage everyone to leave their life of sin, whatever that sin may be; we should encourage everyone to “Go, and sin no more;” we should encourage everyone to live the lives he made us to live as set forth in his Word: lives marked by holiness—and justice—and kindness—and compassion—and mercy—and seeking and granting forgiveness, seventy times seven times. This is how we can be leaven in this world. This is how we’re to address the reality of sins of all kinds in God’s good, but fallen, creation. We’re to point others to the wonder of God and his redemption found only in his Son.

For even 10 righteous people can be a light to an evil society. For the sake of 10, God won’t destroy the whole. And if the whole is beyond saving, which is to say, if the whole is so completely hardened to God—and his Word—and his people that it no longer cares what he has to say, then we can trust our merciful LORD to deliver us who know, love, and follow him, from evil—not because we’re so perfect, no. But because we are righteous in the same way that Abraham and Lot were; because we believe in Christ Jesus who is righteous; because we believe that he died in our place, he died for our sin—all our sin, past, present, and future—in order that we might never be separated from him and the love of our gracious heavenly Father both now and forever, by the Holy Spirit he has given us.[41] And so let us share this good news in Christ—with one another as an encouragement and with those who don’t yet know him in order that they, too, might come to know the depth and breadth and height of God’s love for them.

Let us pray.

 

[1] Genesis 13:10.

[2] Genesis 13:13.

[3] Genesis 18:20–21.

[4] For an explanation of why I’ve identified the three as such, see sermon preached on August 9, 2020, Laughter Transformed, on Genesis 18:1–15, 21:1–7.

[5] Genesis 18:22: The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.

[6] Gensis 18:1: The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.

[7] Compare Abraham’s response in Genesis 18:2b: When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

[8] Compare Abraham’s response in Genesis 18:3–5:He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

[9] It’s possible that Lot was aware of the danger that staying in the square would have posed to the men.

[10] In other words, bread baked quickly.

[11] Whereas Abraham had offered “a little water” to wash their feet (18:4) and “something to eat” (verse 5), he ended up preparing a feast comprised of 36 pounds of the “finest flour” for bread (verse 6), a “tender calf” (verse 7), and “curds and milk” (verse 8).

[12] Genesis 13:13: Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

[13] Genesis 18:20–21: Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 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.”

[14] Genesis 2:23–24: 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

[15] 1 Kings 8:41–43. See also Leviticus 25:35–36: 35 If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. 36 Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.” See also sermon preached on September 2, 2018, God Hears from Heaven and Forgives on Heart, on 1 Kings 8:22–30, 41–43.

[16] John 8:44–45: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!” [Jesus is speaking to Jews who were disputing his teaching]

[17] 1 Peter 5:8–9: 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

[18] A disturbing parallel to this incident, in which a traveler is taken in by an old man, can be found in Judges 19:20–26: 20 “You are welcome at my house,” the old man said. “Let me supply whatever you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.” 21 So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink. 22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.” 23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.

[19] This is the criterion for righteousness first stated concerning Abraham in Genesis 15:6:  “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” See sermon preached on July 5, 2020, Believe God—Be Credited his Righteousness, on Genesis 15:1–6.

[20] A parenthetical note states that “Zoar” means “small.”

[21] Genesis 19:23: By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land.

[22] Genesis 19:26: But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

[23] The Zondervan NIV Bible Study note on Genesis 19:26 observes, “Even today, grotesque salt formations near the southern end of the Dead Sea are reminders of her folly.”

[24] Genesis 13:13.

[25] Genesis 18:20–21: Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 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.”

[26] Isaiah 3:9.

[27] Jeremiah 23:14.

[28] Ezekiel 16:46, 47.

[29] Ezekiel 16:49–50.

[30] Zephaniah 2:10.

[31] 2 Peter 2:4: For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;

[32] 2 Peter 2:5: “if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others.”

[33] Revelation 12:9: The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

[34] The LORD judged the serpent by stating in part, as recorded in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” See sermon preached on January 26, 2020, God’s Compassionate Judgment on Genesis 3:14–24.

 

[35] Jonah 1:1–2: 1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”; Jonah 3:1–3a, 5–6, 10: 1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh….The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust….10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

[36] “Part I” of Deliver Us from Evil was on this topic. See sermon preached on February 23, 2020, Deliver Us from Evil on Genesis 6:1–13, 17–22. In the time of Noah, we’re told in Genesis 5:5–8, 11–13:The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord….11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth

[37] See, for example, Romans 1:26–27: 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

[38] Leviticus 20:10: If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

[39] This account is found in John 8:1–11.

[40] John 3:17. The entire paragraph is worth noting, John 3:16–21: 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

[41] Ephesians 1:13–14: 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.