After the night’s dark fears have passed, the light of dawn breaks through, promising peace and happiness. But one particular day in a city called Sodom, dawn came with a vengeance no one anticipated. At the same time that daybreak lit the city, a fire-storm and destruction were coming together, ready to burst forth on the doomed inhabitants.
Suddenly the fearful wrath of Almighty God began to come down as a burning rain of fire. An overwhelming quantity fell, striking all inhabitants. No matter what attitude people had at that point—it would be theirs for eternity. Before the sun set that fateful day, none of the hearts that had been burning with unholy fire were pumping, nor could any pulse be found—even though a few hours earlier their hearts beat wildly with unrestrained lust and excitement. What great danger sin puts man in, no matter what may otherwise seem to be.
The Lord’s anger had been slowly building up as He carefully watched and considered their sin. Sodom’s fate had already been determined back when He told His servant Abraham that their destruction was at hand. He permitted a small delay to get Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family out of the threatening doom first. Unlike man, God doesn’t act according to ungovernable, violent emotion. His vengeance against wrongdoing proceeds according to His law.
Thoughts of God’s terrifying judgments don’t bother those who are asleep. But when His judgment arrives, they’ll suddenly awaken to terrifying reality. Up to this point, the people had assumed that no punishment would be waiting for them after all. They didn’t know the time had come when God would be aroused and forced to show His extreme displeasure over their attitude and actions. He makes no snap judgments or decisions in such situations. Yet nothing hated by God can continue on for long, but will be destroyed suddenly.
We see an example here of what will happen when the Last Judgment comes. It will occur “as it was in the days of Lot” (see Luke 17:28-30). Those who never believed that sin is evil, or what the consequences of it would one day be, will remain unconcerned to their very last day. But God’s Son, by contrast, lets His people know in advance what’s in store for them. He has told them what to expect and when to look for Him. For all who have rejected Him, judgment and destruction will come upon them when they least expect it—as fast as lightning. The sinners of Sodom were confident that God would not punish their sin. But His judgments did come upon them as an unbroken flow of fire and brimstone, happening when they least expected it.
Apparently, those living in Sodom received no warning before the fire-storm was on them, judging by the attitude of Lot’s sons-in-law who refused to leave. Even if there had been advance warning, they would have mocked and not believed it anyway. When God let the rain of fire from heaven go forth, it demonstrated His sovereign power as clearly as it did when He unleashed the flood waters in the time of Noah. During the whole span of human history, the time always comes when judgment must fall against sin. The thoughtless need to pay attention to this warning, because the whole wicked world is under a sentence of doom like Sodom was.
“The Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (Genesis 19:24). The destruction could have been “burning pitch” (brimstone) from heaven that set the asphalt of the region on fire. Or it could have been from a volcano erupting all over the area. Whatever the destructive force was, it was miraculous. The materials used were not supernatural, but God’s intervention was. It was intended to be a deliberate igniting of fire as punishment on the cities of this plain.
Moments were all it took for the fire to fall and bring sudden destruction on all the people of Sodom. It didn’t come up out of hell under them, but down from heaven over them. It amounted to a terrifying storm, accompanied by lightning flashing and torrential sulfur-filled rain falling. In only a moment, it turned “a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein” (Psalm 107:34).
As in the days of Noah “…before the flood they were eating…drinking, marrying…giving in marriage, until the day that [Noah] entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:38-39). This tells us that It will be this way in the end of the world also. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).
Sodom and her sister-cities provide an example of the world in the end, when the Lord will defeat His enemies. Those cities will remain desolate continually, as we can still see today. They are an example of the severe vengeance of God against all sinners who give themselves up to the lusts of uncleanness. They are also a sign of eternal punishment in the fire of Hell and serve as a warning to all people so they will not fall into similar sins. But, before the great day of God’s wrath falls again on those who are ungodly and refuse to repent, He’ll reveal the secret nature of all men’s hearts and lives.
“For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; His countenance doth behold the upright.” “Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone” which are their fate. Another rain of fire will overwhelm the sinful world in the last day, as …an horrible tempest [storm]: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Psalm 11:6-7). Knowing this, now is the time to forsake our wicked ways before the final rain of fire falls in order to be delivered from God’s judgment.
For more information on how to know God personally and avoid His wrath due to wickedness and rebellion, please visit our page titled ‘The Way to God.’
[Additional image credits: Featured image (when applicable) from National Parks Gallery on Picryl]