Types and Shadows — Sodom and Gomorrah

But on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Luke 17:29-30

The Lord Jesus often used symbols, types and shadows to teach us lessons about prophetic realities to come. In His famous discourse on the end of the age, Jesus draws our attention to two primary allusions from the Old Testament.

  1. The judgment of the ungodly by flood in Noah’s day
  2. The judgment of the wicked by fire in Lot’s day

If the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah give us any indication about the Day of the LORD when Christ is revealed from heaven, then it is certainly worthy of deeper study.

Storing Up Wrath

Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

Genesis 18:20-21

To avoid conflict, Abram and his nephew, Lot, had separated their wealth and settled in opposite directions. While Abram chose the land of Canaan, Lot chose the fertile plain on the eastern side of the Salt Sea and settled in Sodom. In that day, the cities of the plain were lush with fresh water and rich vegetation, which obviously appealed to Lot.

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)

Genesis 13:10

There was only one problem. The people in these cities were extraordinarily godless, for “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD” [Genesis 13:13]. The depravity of these people was manifest most prominently in their extreme sexual degradation — namely the defiling of their bodies with the perverse practice of homosexuality.

We discover some time later (Genesis 18-19) that the LORD could bear the sin of Sodom no more. God had waited patiently, giving the people of Sodom and Gomorrah a chance to repent. Instead, they only persisted in sin and continued to store up for themselves more and more wrath for their coming judgment.

God’s wrath is described in the Scriptures in several different ways. In the Hebrew, the words most commonly translated for wrath are חֵמָה (chemah) or עֶבְרָה (ebrah), which suggest an overflowing fury that has been building over time.

In the Greek New Testament, there is one distinct word translated “wrath” that is unique from all the others. It is the word ὀργή (orgé), which again refers to the settled and righteous indignation of God toward the wicked. Paul uses this word in his epistle to the Romans.

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

Romans 2:5

Notice Paul refers to “the day of wrath.” God’s wrath (orgé) is always associated with the Day of the LORD and the coming of Jesus Christ to judge the ungodly. It is a distinct kind of wrath. It is a settled wrath that God has allowed to build over time as He withholds judgment. It is His final wrath and outpouring of anger that is almost always expressed by an all-consuming fire.

The point is that God’s wrath — His orgé — is not some capricious, erratic impulse — likened to a quick-tempered outburst of anger — but rather it is the gradual culmination of God’s long-suffering with sin that finally builds and boils over into the complete outpouring of His anger.

The LORD gave Sodom and Gomorrah more than enough time to repent and turn from their wicked ways, but in the end, His eyes could no longer look upon their sin. Jesus Christ is warning us with the very same message today. There is a day when God’s mercy and patience will cease, and His wrath will be poured out on the earth in flaming fire, just as it was upon Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Righteous are Not Appointed to Wrath

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 — NKJV

Now that I have established the Biblical meaning of God’s wrath — especially in how it was foreshadowed in the fiery destruction Sodom — I need to clarify what the Bible means when it says that the righteous will not suffer the wrath of God. Much confusion and many elaborate eschatological views have emerged from a fundamental misunderstanding of this one verse — 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

The Apostle Paul plainly states that those who are sealed and secured in Christ Jesus can be 100% certain that they will not be consumed by the fire of God’s all-consuming wrath — namely His orgé. Notice that this is the exact Greek word that Paul uses in this passage, which is connected to a very unique type of God’s judgment and more specifically to the Day of the LORD.

So what does this verse mean?

#1 — We are Saved from the Fires of Eternal Hell

First, this means that all who have believed in Jesus Christ will not suffer the eternal wrath of God’s punishment in the fires of hell. Don’t forget that the wrath of God is most completely expressed in His all-consuming fire, which precisely characterizes hell.

Paul again says in Romans, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God [Romans 5:8-9].

Notice again that this passage in Romans 5 uses the Greek word orgé when speaking of our being saved from God’s wrath. So when Paul says that the righteous are not destined for wrath, he primarily means that we are not destined for eternal hell.

We are saved from hell! Saved from the second death! AMEN!

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:14-15

#2 — We are Saved from God’s Direct Wrath on Earth

When we study the Bible, we discover that God is very precise and specific in His ability to pour out wrath on the wicked, while at the same time preserving and protecting the righteous. There are numerous examples of God directly judging the ungodly and wicked in wrath, while at the same time rescuing the righteous. Here are some of the most obvious.

  1. Noah saved through the flood
  2. Israelites protected through the plagues in Egypt
  3. Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16
  4. Joshua protected from the hailstones in Joshua 10
  5. Sealed remnant preserved during Babylonian invasion in Ezekiel 9

And of course, the most obvious example is the one we are studying here, which is Lot being rescued out of Sodom just prior to its destruction. Once again, the timing is telling, especially when we understand that Lot’s rescue from Sodom is a foreshadowing of the return of Christ and the Day of the LORD.

If by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly7and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.

2 Peter 2:6-9

God’s people always have endured suffering, persecution, and tribulation, and the last generation will be no different. The righteous will go through the great tribulation, but believers will not be the objects of God’s wrath. Not only is God able to rescue us from trials if He so chooses, He also is able to keep us and protect us from suffering His wrath.

#3 — We are Saved from the Day of Wrath

But on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

Luke 17:29-30

Here we discover a valuable insight from the Lord Jesus that cannot be overlooked. Notice how Jesus says that God destroyed Sodom on the very same day He rescued Lot out of the city, and then He tells us that it will be exactly the same on the Day when the Son of Man is revealed.

If we are to take the word of the LORD at face value, then we can draw the following conclusion. In the same way Lot was saved and removed from Sodom the very same day that God poured out His wrath in fire and brimstone, then the righteous will be removed and delivered from the earth on the very same day the Son of Man is revealed in flaming fire.

This is precisely why Paul encourages us “to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” [1 Thessalonians 1:10].

Furthermore, just as the LORD sent His two angels into the city to literally snatch Lot and his family away to safety just prior to the outpouring of His wrath, so the Scriptures affirm that God will send out His angels across the earth to gather the righteous on the very same day He comes to judge the earth with fire.

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.27And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

Mark 13:26-27

So the rapture of the church occurs on the day the Son of Man is revealed from heaven in flaming fire. The rapture of the church is at the same time as the resurrection of the dead and the return of Jesus. It is on this day — the Day of the LORD — when Jesus will pour out the totality of His wrath in flaming fire.

Jesus affirms that His final wrath — orgé — will come when the Son of Man is “revealed.” There is only one revelation of Jesus Christ. That is why it is called “the” revelation of Jesus Christ. It is singular. He is only revealed from heaven once — on the Day of the LORD.

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

Revelation 14:9-10

And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords

Revelation 19:14-16

So when the Scriptures speak of God’s people being delivered from the wrath to come, ultimately it is speaking about God’s wrath poured out on the ungodly when Jesus comes.

The words of Paul confirm this once again.

To grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed … And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, 2:8

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