Lesson of Infamous Cities
THEY were thriving cities, each with its own king. Suddenly, in one day, they were destroyed by fire and never rebuilt. This happened about 3,900 years ago.
Nevertheless, one of these infamous twin cities had a name that to this day is preserved in a number of languages by a word that bespeaks depravity—Sodom. The other city was Gomorrah.
So complete was the destruction of these cities that not even a pile of ruins can be pointed to as marking their respective sites. The New Encyclopædia Britannica says about the two cities: “Probably now covered in the shallow waters south of al-Lisān, a peninsula near the southern end of the Dead Sea in Israel.” It may be noteworthy, therefore, that divers exploring this part of the sea reportedly found what appeared to be a wall. To understand more fully what happened to these cities of ill repute, we must go back to the time that they were flourishing.
Conditions in Sodom
One evening, two strangers entered Sodom. The prosperous men of the city saw them, but no native extended a welcome. Finally, Lot, a God-fearing man who had settled in the area, arrived. Catching sight of them, he insisted on their staying in his home for the night. Before Lot and his visitors were ready to retire, the house was surrounded by a mob. The depraved people of Sodom, from boy to old man, demanded that the visitors be turned over to them. Why? They wanted to rape them.
Yes, Sodom was a place where any visitor might be sexually assaulted. The inhabitants had no regard for the rights of others and were bent on satisfying their selfish desires and passions. Surrounding peoples were greatly distressed about the serious violations of human decency. This resulted in a general outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible states that the complaint was not overlooked by “the Judge of all the earth,” Jehovah God.—Gen. 18:20, 21, 25.
The presence of the two strangers in Sodom was not a mere coincidence. According to the Bible record, they were angels who had been sent there to warn Lot and his family to get out of the city before its destruction. Lot and his two daughters did escape, but his wife perished because of failing to heed angelic direction for a successful flight.—Gen. 19:1-26.
The Biblical account fits the available archaeological testimony. During the period in which the Scriptures place the residence of Lot in Sodom, the area was fertile, with “freshwater flowing into the Dead Sea in sufficient amounts to sustain agriculture.” (Encyclopædia Britannica) The Bible says: “All of it was a well-watered region before Jehovah brought Sodom and Gomorrah to ruin.”—Gen. 13:10.
Moreover, the Ammonites and Moabites, the descendants of Lot’s daughters, settled territory near the Dead Sea, and this, too, is confirmed by archaeological evidence. Hence, we are not dealing with a myth but with an event of history.
Lessons for Us
This history contains important lessons for us. About 2,000 years after the infamous cities ceased to exist, the Christian disciple Jude wrote: “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, after they in the same manner as the foregoing ones had committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use, are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.”—Jude 7.
News reports leave no question about the fact that ours is a time when the deeds of Sodom not only are increasing in alarming proportions but are gaining ever greater acceptance. This, too, can be a warning lesson for us. The people of Sodom were proud, well-off materially and felt that they were in no danger of a day of reckoning. They were callous, having no regard for the poor and afflicted. (Ezek. 16:49, 50) Does not this describe many today who lead a life of sexual debauchery?
Lot’s prospective sons-in-law treated the announcement regarding the imminent destruction of Sodom as a joke. (Gen. 19:14) But it was no joke when they themselves perished in the destructive fire.
The Most High simply will not tolerate wickedness to time indefinite. He has set a day of reckoning for all the nations. (Acts 17:31) This day of reckoning is drawing perilously close. As Lot and his daughters had to flee from Sodom, all who desire to escape the destruction coming upon this entire godless system must avail themselves of God’s arrangement for salvation or deliverance.—Luke 17:28-32.
This arrangement is outlined in the Scriptures and is open to all persons, regardless of their present moral standing, if they desire to bring their lives into harmony with Jehovah’s ways. Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area will be pleased to share this important information with you by means of free home Bible discussions.