1923 As the sun rose over the earth, Lot arrived in Zoar; 24 and the YHWH rained brimstone and fire from the skies upon Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 YHWH destroyed these cities, all the plain, everyone who settled in the cities, and all that came from the soil. 26 Lot’s wife looked back; she became a pillar of salt.
27 Soon after sunrise, Abraham came to the place where he had stood with YHWH,28 and looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah and over all the land of the plain. He saw dense-smoke rise from the land like the dense-smoke from a kiln.
Lot and what was left of his family arrive in Zoar at a time of sunrise. Barring a miraculous conveyance, this is chronologically a day or two later. There was time to wonder if it has been wise to depart so hurriedly and to leave so much substance behind.
When Lot and family finally arrived in Zoar, YHWH looses fire and brimstone from the heavens through a break in the latest vault protecting the order of our experienced world from the waste of nothingness. A rain of burning stones reverses and buries all that had arisen from the soil—creation reversed. Image here a saltshaker transformed into a volcano and vigorously applied to the area. Burning sulfur all around—no exceptions, no escape.
This is a second deluge, not wiping out the entirety of the world, but a part of it. First a flood of water; second a rain of fire. Since “a fire next time” has arrived it now leaves open any next reversal of life. Readers will vary in their response from any of the Left-Behind books, to weather-caused world-wide famine, to the return of Jesus to save us from a next destruction. A few readers may even reject any further troubles and tootle merrily along.
It should be noted that Lot’s wife was in Zoar when she “looked back.” Popular depictions of this scene have her still on the way to Zoar. This can be used as a folk-explanation of rock formations in that area that resemble a female form, but the storyline better connects this regret of a loss of a past to the next verses of Abraham looking out over this scene.
Abraham, coming at sunrise to the same place he has bargained with YHWH, brings this episode to a first conclusion. Abraham is safe on the highland of Canaan and Lot is momentarily safe in little Zoar. Readers may pause here to imagine what Abraham might have learned about mercy and justice, about political decision-making, and what Lot was experiencing with the loss of his place, property, and wife and married daughters (and grandchildren?). What has been resolved?