The Story of Us, Pt. 8: ‘God’s Mercy in the Middle of Our Mess’
How does God respond to the mess of our broken world? Does He stay away or demand that we clean it up? Pastor Glenn Packiam teaches on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, calling us to see how God meets us in the mess and leads us out. Moreover, the final act of the Story is not judgment but new creation. God is putting the world back together, and He wants to start with you.
Listen to the podcast HERE.
OT Reading: Genesis 19:15-17, 29 (ESV)
NT Reading: 2 Peter 2:4-9 (CEB)
Gospel Reading: Luke 17:28-33 (ESV)
Recap series… (Story of Abraham = Story of Us)
“The Bible doesn’t have anything to say to me.”
- We think God either doesn’t want to have anything to do with messy people
- OR that God is just shaking His head waiting for us to clean it up
- Either way, we’re not sure God wants to have anything to do with our mess
Genesis 19 is a dark chapter (sexual violence, the destruction of a city, incest)
Genesis 19:1-3 (ESV)
“The two angels came to Sodom in the evening [‘evening’: Hebrew = ‘black’…a metaphor of the moral darkness of the city; it will be ‘sunrise’/’morning’ when salvation comes.], and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. [Lot was sitting at the gate; he wasn’t just living near Sodom; he had become a leader in the city.] When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, ‘My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night sand wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.’ They said, ‘No; we will spend the night in the town square.’ 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.”
- Abraham and Lot parallels: Both scenes begin with
- Arrival of messengers
- Greeting by host
- Welcome into the home
- Serving of a meal
- Lot’s hospitality is what he has in common with Abraham, a link to a righteousness unlike the people of Sodom
What happens next…
Genesis 19:4-7 (ESV)
“But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.’ 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.’ ”
- Lot is a leader in the city, but he’s not quite like the inhabitants; he is more righteous than they are.
Sin is tearing God’s good world apart.
- Recap: Gen. 1-2 = God made the world on purpose and with pleasure
- Gen. 3-11 = the world comes apart at the seams
- Gen. 12-19 = even the chosen family is in need of saving! (Abraham out of Egypt, Lot from the kings, Lot from Sodom)
Genesis 19:8 (ESV)
“ ‘Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’ ”
- This is the third time a member of God’s chosen family tries to give up a woman/women in order to save their neck! (Abraham gave up Sarah; Sarah gave up Hagar; Lot gives up his daughters.)
- This may have seemed like the lesser of two evils (Give up his honored guests—who would eventually save them, or give up his daughters?)
Our attempts to fix things are making a mess.
- The chapter ends with Lot’s daughters bereft of their husbands (or husbands-to-be) resorting to getting their father drunk in order to keep their lineage going.
- Abraham is promised land and descendants; Lot is living in a cave, and produces offspring through incest. (Moabites and Ammonites will become enemies of Israel that are somehow in a special relationship.)
- Sin entered the world through the serpent, but it continues in the world through us!
The world is a mess! Our attempts to fix things make things worse! Who shall save us? This is the question the Old Testament leads us to over and over again.
- These are not morality tales of how to behave
- They don’t make great children’s lessons about how to live
- But the do lead us over and over again to trust in the saving grace of God
This chapter can be disheartening if we focus on what the humans are doing.
So lift your eyes: see what God is doing in this chapter:
Genesis 19:15-17 (ESV)
“As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.’ 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, ‘Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.’ ”
God is merciful to meet us in the mess, and to lead us out.
- Where is your mess?
- I’m not promising that it will be rosy again; I’m promising you that God has got you by the hand!
Genesis 19:29 (ESV)
“So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.”
- An echo of how God ‘remembered Noah…’ and saved him and his family from the flood.
- But a more exact parallel would have been, “God remembered Lot…’ This shows us that Lot was not saved for his own sake, and so it is for us
- God keeps remembering….JESUS shows up!
God will be faithful to you because of Jesus.
- Because of Jesus, we have become God’s covenant people.
- You know what that means? It means God is meeting you in the middle of your mess, taking you by the hand, and leading you out.
God is putting the world back together, and He wants to start with you.
- Not a message of escape
- Yes, there is judgment, and through Christ we escape the ‘wrath to come’
- But there is also redemption and preservation and restoration (Why keep Noah and the animals? Why save Lot?)
- Genesis: Sin is tearing God’s good world apart; Revelation: God will put it all back together again.