Scripture Reference: Genesis 18:16-19:29
Suggested Emphasis or Theme: Sin is a word, thought, or act against God.
Memory Verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Upon learning that the Lord was about to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah Abraham bargains with God to spare the city if he could find just ten righteous people. But only one man, Lot, was found righteous and the cities were destroyed. As Lot and his family fled the city Lot’s wife turned and looked back at the city despite being warned not to. She turned into a pillar of salt.
Abraham, the courteous host, accompanies his guests for part of the way on the road toward Sodom. Because of his special relationship with Abraham, the Lord decides to allow him a special glimpse of His plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. The sinful reputation is well known to the people of the area. Sin has become so rampant that the Lord knows that there is no hope that the people will repent.
Abraham must have heard about the sin in the two cities. Years before, when Abraham’s nephew, Lot, moved to the area near Sodom, we first heard about the reputation of the men of Sodom. “The people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.” (Genesis 13:13) Years after Lot moved Abraham and his men had to rescue him from one of Sodom’s enemies. When the King of Sodom wanted to reward Abraham, Abraham refused to take money from the wicked king.
Despite all of this, Abraham knew that the Lord was about to destroy his nephew’s city. Abraham tries to bargain with the Lord. The Lord agreed to spare Sodom if He found fifty righteous people there. Abraham kept lowering the number until the Lord finally agreed to spare Sodom if there were ten righteous people residing there. This seemed like so few people that Abraham must have felt secure that he had saved Lot’s city from being destroyed. The truth was that only Lot and his immediate family were righteous.
When the two angels arrived in Sodom they planned to sleep in the city square. The men of the city were so perverted that Lot knew that the angels would not be safe. He took them into his own home. In Jewish custom, taking someone into your home meant that you were vowing your complete protection. It seems incredible to us that Lot would have offered his two daughters to the men who begged him to send the two “men” (angels) out so that they could have sex with them. Such was the commitment of protection that Lot was offering the strangers. When the men of Sodom attacked Lot and tried to break down his door, the angels pulled Lot inside and struck the men blind.
Obviously, there are not ten righteous people in Sodom. The angels told Lot to gather his family and leave the city. The fact that even the men engaged to Lot’s daughters did not take Lot seriously, shows that Lot had no influence in the city. The people there were so tangled in sin that they would not even listen to Lot.
Lot, his wife and two daughters hesitated. Perhaps they had trouble believing this was actually going to happen. Perhaps they were tied to Sodom and found it difficult to leave their home. The angels grasped their hands and led them away. One of them told them, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere on the plane! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” (19:17) Lot begged to be allowed to stop in the nearby city of Zoar. He was afraid that they could not make it to the mountains in time. The angels agreed to the plan.
When Lot and his family arrived in Zoar, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by burning sulphur which “rained” down from the sky. Lot and his daughters believed what the angels had said. They understood that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed and that they should not look back. They accepted the will of God. Lot’s wife must have been sad that Sodom was being destroyed. By looking back, she revealed that she did not want to leave the sin of the city. When she looked back, she became a pillar (column) of salt (19:26). Hundreds of years later, Jesus uses Lot’s wife as an example of one who tries to keep their old life instead of accepting God’s judgment and will (Luke 17:32-33).
This story underlines the horrible nature of sin. Children in your classes will be too young to discuss the more graphic mentions of homosexuality in the story. They can, however, understand that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah sinned. Your students need to know that sin is a word, thought, or act against God. The people in these cities were so entrapped in sin that they would not even listen to Lot when he told about God. The Lord knew their hearts and that they would not change.
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Bring fishing line or thin string to class today. Unwind it and let the children “tangle” it all up. When it seems to be a hopeless mess then ask them to untangle it. Ask them how long it would take to untangle the string before it could be used for fishing. Discuss the option of just buying new string. “In today’s bible story we are going to learn about two cities whose people kept sinning over and over again so much that they became tangled in sin just like this string. They were so tangled up in sin that they would not even listen when people talked about God. Guess which city that was? It was the city where Lot had moved to. In this story we are going to learn how Lot was very sorry he had ever chosen to live in a place where there was so much sin.
The three visitors who came to Abraham with such good news also had other news. It was not so good. One of the three visitors was the Lord. As the men turned to go to Sodom, the Lord stayed to talk to Abraham. He told Abraham that the people in Sodom were so wicked and evil that He had come to see for Himself if what they were doing was really true. God hates sin very much. Sin is what it means when a person does, says, or thinks something that is against God. The sins of the people in Sodom made God very sad and unhappy.
Abraham did not want the Lord to destroy the city where his nephew, Lot, lived. There must be some good people in the large city. “If there are fifty good people in Sodom, would you please let everyone live?” Abraham asked the Lord.
The Lord said, “Yes, Abraham, if there are fifty good people in Sodom, I will not destroy it.”
“Will you keep Sodom safe if there are only forty-five good people?” Abraham begged.
“If there are forty-five good people in Sodom, I will not destroy it.” The Lord answered. Abraham kept asking the Lord to spare Sodom if there were forty, thirty, twenty, and finally ten good people in the city of Sodom. Every time the Lord agreed to spare Sodom.
“Yes,” said the Lord, “if I find just ten good people, I will not destroy Sodom.”
The Lord stopped but the two angels continued on to the city. As the two angels came to Sodom they saw Lot, Abraham’s nephew, sitting by the gate. When he saw the two men approaching, he jumped up and asked them to come to his house for tea. The men went with him and rested at his house. Lot was kind to them. The men realized that Lot was not wicked like the other people living in the city. And, because he was Abraham’s nephew, they told him of their plans. The men told him to take his family and leave Sodom, because they were going to send fire and destroy the city.
When it was close to morning, the men told Lot and his family to leave the city as quickly as they could. Lot tried to get others to stop being wicked. He wanted to save them, too, but they just laughed at him. They did not believe anything would happen to them.
The angels took Lot, his wife, and two daughters by the hand and led them from Sodom. The angels told them they MUST NOT look back to see what was happening to the city. They must run and run as fast as they could to get away. Lot and his family hurried away from the wicked city. They ran to a small city named Zoar. As the sun rose over the land, the Lord sent burning fire over Sodom. It came down like rain on the city. He destroyed all the cities of the plain because He hated the sin of the people. Even the city next to Sodom was destroyed. That city was called Gomorrah. As the fire rose and smoke filled the air, Lot’s wife looked back toward Sodom. She did not listen to the words of the angels. She disobeyed and was turned into a pillar of salt.
God destroyed the wicked cities because He hates sin so much. When people do or say or think bad things, it makes the Lord sad and angry. He wants people to be sorry when they do bad things. He wants to forgive people when they sin. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah sinned so much that they stopped listening to good people like Lot. They did not trust in God. They only wanted to do things their own way.
God will help us do good if we listen to Him. We should read our bibles and learn more and more about Him. The bible tells us how to do good things and make God happy.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Click here to download these illustrations and slideshow. Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- Why did God want to destroy Sodom? Because there was so much sin in the city.
- What is sin? It is a word, thought, or act against God.
- God said He would not destroy Sodom if there were how many good people in the city? Ten
- Who told Lot to leave Sodom? The two angels
- What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? They were destroyed by fire that came down like rain.
- What happened to Lot’s wife? She turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at Sodom.
- Write the word SIN on the white/chalk board. Discuss the meaning of the word. Sin is a word, thought, or act against God. Allow the students to give examples. Be sure give the positive action that is to be done instead. Example: don’t lie—tell the truth. Remember that the bible helps us how to live and does not just give us a list of don’ts.
- Have children act out situations and let classmates guess if the actions are right or wrong.
- (Here’s a fun idea send in by a reader, Mary-je) Divide the children into groups of three–two will be “angels” (complete with halos) and one will be Lot. Lot sits on a blanket and the angels pull across the room to safety. Play a few times so everyone gets a chance to be a puller and a rider.
- To help children better understand the concept of sin in everyday life situations try using this simple conversation starter called “Things Matter”.
- Read 1 John 1:8-2:2 and discuss.
- Help the children learn today’s memory verse. Click here for ways to do this.
- Sing: “Oh Be Careful”
- (Another great idea from a reader, Mary-je) Make little clay volcanoes–since this is one possible way God might have rained fire and brimstone onto the city–and put in baking soda & a few drops of vinegar (colored orange is even more fun). Note from Mary (me): Do think carefully about the orange colour and consider how it could stain clothing and carpet, etc. Perhaps a good outside activity?
- Make a poster with the memory verse on it. Decorate it with paint or stickers.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Abraham bargains with God crafts & activities (Calvary Curriculum)
- Sodom and Gomorrah crafts & activities (Calvary Curriculum)
- Puzzle worksheet (Sharon Whittaker)