ALTHOUGH THE LORD GOD is a loving and compassionate Father, He is also just and does not tolerate evil. While He rewards those who do good deeds, He punishes those who do evil. What happened to the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah illustrates the terrible consequence of being disobedient or of living in sin, such as immorality.

    “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening. Lot was sitting near the gate of the city. When Lot saw them, he got up to meet them. He bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords, he said,” please come to my house. You can wash your feet and spend the night here. Then you can go on your way early in the morning.”

      “No,” they answered. “We’ll spend the night in the street.” But Lot wouldn’t give up. So they went with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them. He baked bread without using yeast. And they ate. Before Lot and his guests had gone to bed, all the men came from every part of the city of Sodom. Young and old men alike surrounded the house. They called out to Lot. They said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us. …But don’t do anything to these men. I’ve brought them inside so they can be safe.”

      “Get out of our way!” the men of Sodom replied. They said, “This fellow came here as an outsider. Now he wants to act like a judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept trying to force Lot to open the door. Then they moved forward to break it down.

      But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house. They shut the door. Then they made the men who were at the door of the house blind. They blinded young and old men alike. So the men couldn’t find the door.

      The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here? Do you have sons-in-law, sons or daughters? Does anyone else in the city belong to you? Get them out of here. They are going to destroy this place. There has been a great cry to the LORD against the people in this city. So he has sent us to destroy it.”

       Then Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law. They had promised to get married to his daughters. He said, “Hurry up! Get out of this place! The LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

       The sun was coming up. So the angels tried to get Lot to leave. They said, “Hurry up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out! If you don’t, you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

       Lot didn’t move right away. So the men grabbed him by the hand. They also took hold of the hands of his wife and two daughters. They led all them safely out of the city. The LORD had mercy on them.

       As soon as the angels had brought them out, one of them spoke. He said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back! Don’t stop anything in the valley! Run to the mountains! If you don’t, you will be swept away!” But Lot said to them, “No, my lords! Please! You have done me a big favor. You have been very kind to me by sparing my life. But I can’t run to the mountains. This horrible thing that’s going to happen will catch up with me. And then I’ll die.

       “Look, here’s a town near enough to run to. It’s small. Let me run to it. It’s very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” The LORD said to Lot, “All right. I will also give you what you are asking for. I will not destroy the town you are talking about. But run there quickly. I can’t do anything until you reach it.” The town was named Zoar. Zoar means “small.” By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the LORD sent down burning Sulphur. It came down like rain on Sodom and Gomorrah. It came from the LORD out of the sky. He destroyed those cities and the whole valley. All of the people who were living in the cities were wiped out. So were the plants in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back. When she did, she became a pillar made out of salt. (Excerpted from Genesis 19:1-26, New International Reader’s Version)

The tragic fate of Lot’s wife, who was already on her way to salvation but turned into a pillar of salt when she disobeyed the angels’ instruction for them not to look back, shows how crucial it is to follow instructions from God through His messengers. The Lord strictly commands us to carefully observe what He says, without adding to or taking away from it (Deut. 12:32) Failure to fully obey what God commands will result in receiving plagues or curses, and in having one’s name taken away from the book of life in heaven (Rev. 22:12-13).

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