A Bible Study and Contemporary Application of Genesis 11-19 by Anne Turner

KEY VERSE: Genesis 19:29 "So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."

Chapter Ten Appendix: Whose Outcry?

Loud Outcry, Quiet Intercession

Why did the Lord say “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great…”? (Gen 18:20) Whose outcry?

Were there men and women of the area who knew of the moral atrocities in Sodom and Gomorrah and cried out to the Lord to judge them? Unlikely. People not living in the cities would not have the vital interest to sustain an outcry against their evils.

Was the outcry that of angels? Let us consider this possibility. There are two types of angels: elect and evil. The evil ones are Satan’s princes who would be involved in bringing about the downfall of the cities. The role of the elect would be to fight against the evil angels and carry out God’ commands, whether that would be to help the people or to destroy the cities. But there is no evidence in Scripture that elect angels are permitted to cry out for the judgment of men. As it is written in Hebrews, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14) They do carry out God’s judgment, but they do not urge it.

So whose outcry was it? Were there poor and oppressed people in the cities crying out for help and justice? This seems plausible. The word, “outcry,” is the same one used when Esther’s uncle Mordecai heard of King Xerxe’s edict that all Jews were to be destroyed. “He cried with a loud and bitter cry.” (Esther 4:1)

The nature of the Sodomite’s sinfulness was described by the prophet Ezekiel some 1,500 years after Lot lived there:

“You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved that they. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen.” (Ezekiel 16;47-50)

Through Ezekiel, God castigated Jerusalem for becoming worse than their Gentile neighbors, and even worse than the Sodomites. When Judah became like Sodom, she was driven out of her promised land. Throughout the Bible, God deals with sinful nations, even his own Israel, by bringing enemy peoples against them.

We know from the passage in Ezekiel that the ruling people of these cities were haughty, overfed, and unconcerned for the poor and needy. Yet as we consider their punishment—compete annihilation by fire, we must ask: Is this a reasonable recompense for overindulgence, stinginess and lack of compassion? Therefore, let us consider one other possible source of the outcry that would touch on the "detestable things" noted by Ezekiel.

A figurative instance of the word "outcry" is found in Genesis 4:10: “The Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.’” Here, God is questioning Cain about the murder of his brother. Abel’s blood— representing the evidence of the murder— is crying out, witnessing against the evildoer, urging that he be brought to justice. The cry reached God as did the cry against Sodom and Gomorrah.

Similarly, the outcry from Sodom could have come from the corpses or damaged lives of innocent children, teens and disadvantaged or weak-willed adults who were the prey of the sexual predators. Those murdererd or whose hearts and souls had been destroyed, shrieked for punishment to fall on the perpetrators.

The collective outcry echoed relentlessly in one ear of the almighty Lord, and then, in his other, he heard Abraham say, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Gen 18:23) The two angels had turned and gone toward Sodom, but the Lord remained to hear Abraham’s intercession.

Nevertheless, it would be necessary to respond to the outcry not only to carry out justice but to preserve the world in Abraham’s day.