Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 19:23-25

23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;

25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

Interestingly, the further we get from the beginning of the biblical record, the more rare these grandiose moments become. With Noah we hear about the entire earth being flooded, but with Moses it’s only the Red Sea being parted, and with Jesus it’s only walking over the Sea of Galilee.

Perhaps this is because the human population increased enough that it became simpler for God to topple one empire with another, rather than send fantastic powers out of heaven. Or perhaps it is because the further humanity exists from the Garden of Eden, the less God’s hand is directly shown. Or perhaps the miraculous judgments of God are actually just as prolific as ever, but we do not attribute His hand to them, calling a natural disaster or an epidemic “bad luck” instead of the hand of justice.

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 18:27-32

27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.

30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.

32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

Abraham beseeched the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were fifty righteous people therein, and God had assented. Now we have this sequence where Abraham repeatedly petitions the Lord, seeing if He is willing to spare it for fewer and fewer righteous souls.

It’s natural to see this as a sort of bartering between and Abraham and God, though they are not haggling at extremes and meeting in the middle, as with the typical markets. Instead Abraham is procedurally seeking out the very limits of God’s mercy.

And while Abraham is concerned for the righteous, it is not as if that same concerns is absent from God, Himself. Ultimately God will be even more merciful than Abraham’s final plea asked for. God will only find Lot and his family as being worthy, which is less than ten souls, but He will lead Lot and his family to safety before destroying the city.

Perhaps we sometimes feel the need to convince God to not just be good, but to be very good, like Abraham was doing. And I imagine that He’s rather amused at our concern in those moments, for He is always intending to be much more good than we could even ask for!

Spiritual Analysis- Genesis 18:23-26

23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

26 And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

The Lord had just brought Abraham into His plans, informing Him that Sodom and Gomorrah would soon be destroyed, and Abraham took the opportunity to speak up for any righteous people that might live in that city. Perhaps Abraham’s thoughts were specifically with his nephew Lot, who had gone to dwell in that land.

I examined these same verses back in March, and what stood out to me was how Abraham’s chief concern was not that the guilty might escape their just punishment, but that the innocent might be unjustly condemned. His perspective is focused on the good in the world and trying to save it, rather than on destroying the evil.

Of course God knows better than Abraham the state of the city and what He will find there, but He still takes Abraham’s concern seriously. In this way He shows care for His son’s heart. And even though the outcome will still be the same, He is willing to do what He can to ease Abraham’s mind on the matter.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 6:11-13

11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

In these verses we get a little insight as to what was wrong with humanity at this point: they were filled with violence. Flesh had corrupted itself to the point of destroying itself! What a strange and horrifying phenomenon this is in humanity: that we reach the point of self destruction.

We do this on an individual basis, when we intentionally do the very things that we know will cause us harm, sometimes to the most extreme degree of taking our own life! We also destroy ourselves on a global basis, with the genocide of entire societies and the threat of mutually assured destruction.

These behaviors are the final and great insanity! What other form of life is there that intentionally destroys itself? In fact, as I’ve awoken to the state of my own soul, I’ve spent far less time praying to be saved from others, and far more praying to be saved from myself!

Optimism in a Falling World- Jonah 4:1-3

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

COMMENTARY

In my last post I considered the people of Nineveh, whom God had been preparing to destroy, but then He spared them when they ended up repenting of their sins and returned back to Him.

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
And he said, Was not this my saying, when in my country? Therefore I fled: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
And Jonah couldn’t stand it! This is the first point in the story where it is explained why Jonah initially ran from the city of Nineveh. The natural assumption would be that he was afraid of the people, nervous that they would murder him for pronouncing doom upon them. But it turns out this wasn’t his concern at all. What he was afraid of was that God would show the people mercy!
Jonah wanted those people to die! He didn’t want to warn them about it and give them a chance to repent. He wanted them to stay wicked so that they would die.

Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live
Jonah is a miserable being. Throughout the rest of the book God patiently tries to get through to him, but we never do find out what became of the man in the end.
But my reason for bringing him up is because he is far from the only person to desire vengeance on the world. There are many who are excited to see our falling world burn. And I am not referring to people outside of religion, either. I have heard members of many churches who, like Jonah, were gleefully looking forward to the world getting what it deserved, intending to gloat over the suffering of the wicked.
Such may be surprised when the fiery brimstone falls from heaven and it is centered on their own home!