What was the sin of Sodom? (Genesis 19)

The city of Sodom is an image of sin in the Bible, but not in the way we use the word in English.

In English, the name Sodom is associated with a particular kind of sexual sin. Why are we preoccupied with one aspect of Sodom’s sin? That’s certainly not what Sodom connotes throughout the rest of the Biblical narrative. Of the 48 references to Sodom, you’d struggle to find a handful that focus on sexual sin.

Continue reading “What was the sin of Sodom? (Genesis 19)”

Rescued, but restless (Genesis 19:30-37)

Lot was rescued from Sodom, but for what purpose? What did he do with his second chance?

Lot and his daughters survived Sodom, but their life was so invested in Sodom that they lost everything. He was driven by wealth (13:10-11), and now it’s all gone. All that remains is regret for the wasted years. The little town they fled to holds nothing for them. They seek refuge underground, in the darkness and isolation of a cave (19:30).

Continue reading “Rescued, but restless (Genesis 19:30-37)”

Why was Sodom destroyed? (Genesis 19:1-29)

If God wants to rescue people, why did he destroy Sodom?

YHWH’s attendants are checking out Sodom, in the guise of travellers. How they are treated will indicate whether this place is as bad as reports have claimed, whether the rot has permeated and corrupted everything.

Continue reading “Why was Sodom destroyed? (Genesis 19:1-29)”

Arguing with God (Genesis 18:22-33)

What is prayer? Does it make any sense to try to change God’s mind?

What do you do when you’re mistreated? Things get nasty when people take matters into their own hands to enforce their own justice (Genesis 4:23-24). It’s better to appeal to our sovereign’s authority (Genesis 4:26). But that only works if the king does something about the injustice.

Continue reading “Arguing with God (Genesis 18:22-33)”

Friend of the king (Genesis 18:16-21)

Why did God choose Abraham and his family? Were they the only ones to be saved, or what was his election about?

After enjoying Abraham’s hospitality, the king sends his servants on an errand while he himself stays to discuss matters with his governor. Listen to the delight in his voice as the sovereign talks with his friend: Continue reading “Friend of the king (Genesis 18:16-21)”

The king’s visit (Genesis 18:1-15)

Who were the three characters who visited Abraham in Genesis 18?

Genesis 18:1 says “the Lord” turned up at Abraham’s tent door. The next verse says “three men” turned up. When two of these “men” left (18:22), they’re described as “angels” (19:1). Who are these three figures? Men or angels? Perhaps all three are angels, with one of them speaking on God’s behalf? Or is one of these three men/angels actually YHWH in disguise? Read the commentaries on the Bible, and you’ll find a confusing array of opinions over how to understand this narrative. Continue reading “The king’s visit (Genesis 18:1-15)”

The sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:9-27)

Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-27). What relevance does it have today?

As God Shaddai establishes his covenant with Abraham for the generations to come, he asks for a response. All the males are to be marked as belonging to him, and it is a very personal marking: circumcision (17:10). It’s the sign of the patriarchal covenant (17:11).

We’ve seen the Hebrew word ʾôṯ (sign) three times: Continue reading “The sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:9-27)”

Ecclesiastes: a meaningless book?

How do you take a book that tells you everything is meaningless?

How would you respond if a mature-aged person told you that everything is meaningless? You might conclude, “Well, I guess the poor cynic is right about himself.”

So, is the book of Ecclesiastes meaningless? Or is it a sharp tool to carve away the meaningless layers and sculpt something of significance from our existence? Continue reading “Ecclesiastes: a meaningless book?”

God’s commitment to rule (Genesis 17:4-8)

The covenant with Abraham is all about God’s reign.

The ruler is establishing his covenant with his nation, as yet unborn. He reveals his name: God Shaddai. He gives his servant a new name, a new identity: he is now Abraham: Continue reading “God’s commitment to rule (Genesis 17:4-8)”

Revealing the ruler: God Shaddai (Genesis 17:1-3)

God revealed himself to Abraham as El Shaddai (Genesis 17:1-3). What does this mean?

Abram has already passed through a covenant ceremony that installed him as the earthly servant of the heavenly sovereign (Genesis 15). Abram and Sarai then tried to establish the family through human means, but ended up oppressing Hagar—as human power tends to do (Genesis 16). Following that diversion, the sovereign resumes the business of establishing his covenant with Abram. Continue reading “Revealing the ruler: God Shaddai (Genesis 17:1-3)”