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Explosions January 28, 2011

Posted by frewon9 in Inspirational.
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In action movies, the heroes walk away from explosions in slow motion without looking back.   at MTV Movie Awards, Andy Samberg did one of his famous digital shorts, a music video clip with Will Ferrell as Neil Diamond, titled COOL GUYS DON’T LOOK AT EXPLOSION. Cameo by Director J.J. Abrams on the keyboard solo. Creative!

The Very First Account of such reaction that coin the term due to its Awesomeness don’t look back at it.

From the Bible. Sodom & Gomorrah

we learned the three reasons why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.  First, they had sinned greatly against the Lord.  Second, they refused to repent.  And third, they lacked a covenant to protect them.

Today we’re going to put it all together: the tectonic plates, the mercy, righteousness, and judgment of the Lord, the sins of Sodom, and God’s protective covenant with Abraham.  All of these things work together to make today’s story one of the best known and least understood of all the stories in the Bible.

There are two common ways for a valley to form.  One way is for a river to flow continuously for thousands of years until it cuts a deep channel.  Another way is if two tectonic plates pull away from each other.  When this happens, the ground between them subsides, getting deeper and deeper.

The Jordan Valley, which is a tiny portion of the Great Rift Valley, was formed in this way.  As the African tectonic plate pulled away from the Arabian plate, the Jordan River sank lower while the land on either side rose higher.  In today’s story, those tectonic plates will slide apart a little more and whatever is trapped beneath them will escape.

The massive crack where those two, enormous tectonic plates meet is known as the Great Rift Valley.  It begins in Syria, cuts south through the Sea of Galilee, passes between the countries of Israel and Jordan, under the Dead Sea and further south where it separates the Sinai peninsula from Saudi Arabia.  From there, the Great Rift Valley turns southeast through the Red Sea, and due south into Africa where it slices through Ethiopia and ends in Mozambique.  Altogether, the Great Rift Valley is over 4,000 miles long.

That’s 4000 miles of one side of a tectonic plate rubbing against 4000 miles of another tectonic plate.  Can you imagine the force of pressure between them?

Neither can I.

But at least we can understand the angels’ urgency in getting to Sodom to warn Lot.  When those massive plates moved, who but God would be able to hold them back?

The plains of the Jordan, which spread out on either side of the Jordan River were well-watered in Abraham’s time.  Lot loved the plains of the Jordan because of its rich, fertile beauty and he chose to live among the five cities of the plain which were located in a cluster at the southern end of what we now call the Dead Sea.

The section of the Great Rift Valley where the cities of the plain were located was only ten or twelve miles long.  Before Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction, the edges of this section of the African and Arabian plates were jagged, and fit neatly together, like puzzle pieces.  But when they moved, the jagged sections pulled apart leaving a hole between them called a pull-apart basin.

When they pulled apart, three things happened.  First, the flammable gasses trapped within the thick walls of the tectonic plates were released.  Second, the gasses caught fire and exploded.  Third, the explosion caused the earth and minerals underground to explode into billions of tiny pieces.  This is called a pyroclastic explosion and the minute fragments of rock and soil are called pyroclastic ash.

What gasses were released in the air over the beautiful Jordan valley?  What minerals and chemicals mixed with the fresh water of the Jordan?  What was in the ash?

The Bible gives us several clues.  You remember Genesis 14 mentioned tar pits?  “Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them . . .”?  Well, I looked up “tar pits” in the World Book Encyclopedia to see what else I could find out.

I discovered that when tar appears naturally in the soil, you can expect to find flammable gases trapped in the ground beneath.  Natural gas.

The ancient Romans called the Dead Sea, Lake Asphaltis, because of the big globs of tar and asphalt which floated to the surface every time the earth quaked there.  In 1834 there were two small earthquakes near the Dead Sea.  After the first one, a chunk of asphalt drifted ashore on the southern end of the Dead Sea which was so huge, the local Arabs carried three tons of it away to market.  Three years later, after another tremor, a mass of asphalt floated up through the waters of the Dead Sea the size of a house!

What else was trapped in the earth beneath Sodom and Gomorrah?  Well, you know the old adage, “what goes up must come down”?  When dealing with explosions the reverse is true, “what was down, will go up”.  Genesis 19:24 says, “Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens”.

In a pyroclastic explosion like this one, ash can be propelled several miles into the air.  When Mt. St. Helens exploded, ash was shot 14 miles straight up going 60 miles per hour!  Now, Sodom and Gomorrah’s explosion wasn’t that big, but it certainly shot up with enough speed and force that all people could see (and smell), were the fire and burning sulfur coming down.

When Mt. St. Helens exploded the ash covered a three-state area.  Most of the people who died that day, died almost instantly from suffocation when their lungs filled with ash.

Sodom and Gomorrah’s ash contained burning sulfur and rained down on an area large enough to destroy the four cities of the plain: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim.

Genesis 19:27 & 28 says “Early the next morning, Abraham . . . looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land like smoke from a furnace.”

Now remember, Abraham lived in Hebron which was over 40 miles away!  Still he could see the smoke rising from the cities of the plain.

Was there fallout?  Did ash and smoke linger in the air for hours or days?  The Bible doesn’t say directly.  It does say that both Abraham and Lot moved away right afterwards.  Lot, who had begged to be allowed to go to Zoar, who had said climbing the mountain was too strenuous and would kill him, had a change of

heart after Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction.  Genesis 19:30 says, “Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains for he was afraid to stay in Zoar.”

What frightened him?  Was it the thick ash of sulfur and charred fragments of human flesh which settled on the remaining town of Zoar?  Or did the people of Zoar blame him for what had happened?  Who knows?

Abraham moved too.  He moved west, across the mountains away from the stench of burning sulfur, and the blackened smoke of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction.  Genesis 20:1 tells us “Abraham moved . . . into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur.”

So, what else was in the ash?

Salt.  Tons of salt.  I’m not exagerating here, I really mean tons!  Salt, bromine, calcium chloride and potash.

Today, the Dead Sea is the saltiest body of water in the world.  Nine times saltier than the ocean.  Even the soil around the Dead Sea is salty.  Since 1955, an Israeli company called the Dead Sea works has made a business of extracting salt and other minerals from the water and the land around it.  Using a solar evaporation process, they have been able to extract over a million tons of potash alone . . . every year!

When Lot’s wife, who was probably born and raised in Sodom, had second thoughts about leaving, she stopped and turned around to look at her beloved city.  You can’t really blame her.  After all, if two strangers came to your home tonight and told you to leave your friends, family, and all your belongings and get out of town, would you do it?

Maybe, if they were convincing enough.  But pretty soon, you’d begin to wonder about it wouldn’t you?  I mean, maybe this was just a scam, so they could rob you while you were gone.  Was there really any danger?

Judging from what the men of Sodom said to Lot back in town, they still considered him a foreigner, someone whose words should be taken lightly or ignored.  Maybe she was being foolish to take the word of her husband and his new friends.

Then, the earth moved and in a flash, burning sulfur rained down, melting her flesh with its searing heat, and then a raging billow of finely crushed rock and salt blasted against her falling body.  She may have been so close, and the ash so thick that she died where she stood, the salty ash clinging to her melted flesh.

The Bible says she “became a pillar of salt”, so that must be how she appeared to Lot as he watched his wife die.

The Dead Sea gets lower with every shift of the tectonic plates.  Today, its surface is 1,310 feet below Sea level, making it the lowest body of water on the face of the earth.  The northern end, which flourished before Abraham’s time, is an additional 1290 feet deep.  The southern end, the shallow crater created when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, is only 30 feet deep, yet it contains most of the destructive minerals and salt which turned the beautiful ancient Sea of Arabah into the Dead Sea.

The men of Sodom had added to their sin of sexual perversion, violence and corruption of the innocent.  For this they were condemned to die.

Now, let’s see how the angels carried out their assignment, beginning with Genesis 19:10:

But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door.

GEN 19:11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

GEN 19:12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here–sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

GEN 19:14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

GEN 19:15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

GEN 19:16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.

GEN 19:17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

GEN 19:18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please!

GEN 19:19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die.

GEN 19:20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it–it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

GEN 19:21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of.

GEN 19:22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

GEN 19:23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land.

GEN 19:24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah–from the LORD out of the heavens.

GEN 19:25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities–and also the vegetation in the land.

GEN 19:26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

GEN 19:27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD.

GEN 19:28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

GEN 19:29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

If you’re a Christian, God already has a covenant with you which is stronger than the one which saved Lot from Sodom; that means he will do more than simply drag you away from disaster.  If you are willing, he will fill you with his power and authority to stand against it.

If you’re not a Christian, but you’d like to have the protection which a covenant with God provides, then write to me here at Bible Alive! and I’ll tell you how  you can be saved.

And remember, if you have an inquiring mind, I urge you to search through scripture for the truth you’ll find there.  Don’t give up.  Dig  in.  Explore.  You’ll be blessed.  I promise.






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