Genesis 19:24

ESV Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.
NIV Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens.
NASB Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of heaven,
CSB Then out of the sky the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah burning sulfur from the Lord.
NLT Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah.
KJV Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
NKJV Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.

What does Genesis 19:24 mean?

Finally the Lord's judgment falls on Sodom and Gomorrah. By the literal words of this verse the Lord Himself rains sulfur and fire on these cities "out of heaven." There's no question that Genesis means to communicate that this fire and brimstone came directly from the Lord as His judgment against the people of these cities for their grave sins. While the angels in the prior passages spoke of their role in destroying the city, those seem to have been "team" accounts, with the angels speaking as part of God's planned process for this event.

Human nature often balks at God's wrath. This, as it turns out, is why God went through the very process we see in Genesis; God proves in no uncertain terms that His wrath is justified. The sins of these cultures have been ongoing (Genesis 13:13), and well-known (Genesis 14:22–23). God even allowed Abraham to set his own conditions for Sodom's rescue—an incredibly weak standard which the culture failed to meet (Genesis 18:32).

What were the crimes of these people that made them worthy of destruction? The most obvious answer is found in this very chapter, as every man in the city gathered to homosexually rape two strangers in town (Genesis 19:5–7). Indeed, the modern word "sodomize" comes from its association with this ancient doomed city.

Ezekiel 16:49–50 goes beyond the obvious, though, in listing the other, additional crimes which made Sodom worthy of God's wrath: "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it."

We must not fail to recognize God's indignation with Sodom's lack of care for the poor, her pride and arrogance, her gluttony and sloth, along with the homosexual immorality she became famous for. And we must not forget that, as was the case with Lot, we all depend on the grace of God to save us from His own wrath, through our faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:1–10).

In Scripture, fire and sulfur are associated with God's judgment on earth (Psalm 11:6; Ezekiel 38:22), as well as with His eternal judgment in hell (Revelation 21:8). Peter, specifically, references God's judgment on Sodom as an example of God's readiness and ability to judge the ungodly and to rescue the righteous (2 Peter 2:6–10). To this day, apparently, sulfurous fumes populate this area around the Dead Sea, along with deposits of asphalt. While we don't know for sure that those are directly tied to this divine act of punishment from the Lord, the symbolism is powerful.
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