“…suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” - Jude 1:7
Introduction: The Water & the Fire
“…God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;” - 2 Pet. 2:4
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.” - Matt. 10:28
“And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;” - 2 Pet. 2:5
“…the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” - 2 Pet. 3:6-7
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” - 2 Pet. 3:11-12
Set Forth for an Example
“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” - Luke 17:26-27
“Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” - Luke 17:28-29
“Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” - Luke 17:30-33
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” - Jude 1:7
“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;” - 2 Pet. 2:6
A Glimpse of Hell on Earth
“…and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” - Rev. 14:10-11
“…These both were cast alive into a Lake of Fire burning with brimstone.” - Rev 19:20
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the Lake of Fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” - Rev. 20:10
“…the Lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” - Rev. 21:8
Sodom was suddenly consumed with fire because the Lord made a visit to the City that day (Gen. 18:21, Ex. 33:1-6). The “feet” that Abraham washed in the early afternoon then walked through the Cities of the Plain in the evening time. It was then that the Cities they were lit up with an “everlasting fire” and heated like a “furnace” (Gen. 18:4, 19:28, Jude 1:7, Dan. 3:23-25).
Sodom & Gomorrah became Hell on earth! The same kind of fire that is eternally burning in Hell was employed by God to consume “the Cities of the Plain” in the days of Abraham & Lot (Gen. 13:12, 19:25, 29). Do you see it? This is our chance as mortals to look into eternity! This is our moment in time where we can behold the wonders of an “eternal fire” (Jude 1:7). We will never comprehend what is happening below, in the infernal dungeon of hellfire, if we don’t look here, at Sodom & Gomorrah, to discover what it was like for them to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire in real time (Jude 1:7).
Ashes, Brimstone, Salt, & Burning
with many of them having been dug up over time by looters.
Of course, Lot would like to think that he was making a difference in Sodom. He would tell you that he was making a good impact upon society (Gen. 19:1, 9). Clearly, Lot didn’t see the futility of his efforts. Nor did he realize that he and his family were in grave danger! Society there was governed by hedonistic pleasure and lawless recreation, and Lot wasn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon. He had already given his two daughters in marriage to Sodomites (Gen. 19:14)! Lot wasn’t changing Sodom. In reality, Sodom was changing Lot! This much is clear in the testimony of Scripture.
Lot was outrageously corrupt in his convictions. His moral compass was broken. The unholy City that deceived him err long defiled him! No decent father would give his newly betrothed virgin daughters to a raging mob of lustful Sodomites, while saying to them, “do ye to them as is good in your eyes” (Gen. 19:8). This kind of thinking comes from the toxic influence of bad company. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Cor. 15:33).
First, Sodom attracted Lot. Then, Sodom corrupted Lot. Meanwhile, Sodom enchanted Lot’s wife and perverted Lot’s daughters. The man lost everything in the end! Lot’s wife died and his daughters got him drunk and raped him (Gen. 19:31-38). Lot’s misery didn’t end there! The incestuous grandchildren that would be born from this nightmare scenario were cursed (Gen. 19:37-38).
Think about it! It all began with one look towards Sodom and Gomorrah. The attraction was strong. The appeal was alluring. The Edenic scenery and the promise of prosperity was enough for Lot to willingly suffer the gross immorality of the people, even though they “vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2 Pet. 2:7-9).
“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the Garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.” - Gen. 13:10
“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;” - 2 Peter 2:6
“And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:” - Deut. 29:23
that fertilizes the farmland for years to come.
Remember Lot’s wife? She wasn’t the only one who turned into “salt” on that dreadful day of judgment (Gen. 19:26, Lk. 17:32). The Cities of the Plain were turned into the same thing! Of course, we are not talking about Sodium Chloride, commonly known as Table Salt (NaCl). The “salt” in this case is Calcium Sulfate (CaSO4). This is what Moses was referring to in Deuteronomy 29:23 when he spoke of the “brimstone, and salt, and burning” that filled the terrain of the Cities around the Dead Sea.
To put things in perspective, organic material burns and vaporizes at 600-650 °C. The crust of the earth melts at 1200 °C. The hotter it gets, the more things will burn, melt, and dissolve, and as a result more chemical reactions will take place.
“Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the plain were made up of buildings which were constructed from limestone. Limestone is a considered to be a rock. Normally, a rock doesn’t burn to produce ash. Organic materials such as wood burn in the presence of air to produce carbon dioxide, converting the carbon in the wood to carbon dioxide, leaving behind any inorganic material that is present in the wood as ash, which is primarily comprised of silica, calcium oxide, magnesia, and a lesser amount of other oxides. Limestone is calcium carbonate which when exposed to burning sulfur gas will react with the products of sulfur combustion, sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide.
First, the high temperature of sulfur combustion will result in calcination of the limestone, converting it to calcium oxide and carbon dioxide gas. At high temperatures, calcium oxide reacts with the oxides of sulfur (sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide) to produce calcium sulfate, which is the residue left behind in the combustion process. The ash left behind in the combustion of limestone is therefore calcium sulfate, which is a salt.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering
“Plant life is not possible in the brimstone & salt terrains because of the destruction of organic residues by the fire that is produced by burning brimstone. Because of the high temperatures of sulfur combustion, all organic material will be converted into carbon dioxide gas and water vapor. Nitrogen containing organic matter will likewise be converted to NO2, and NO3 gases by the high temperatures of sulfur combustion. Furthermore, the desiccant properties of the salt capture any water that would otherwise be used by plant life.
Calcium sulfate will absorb water in its solid form without actually dissolving in the water up to a point. This water is the water of hydration. The solid is not dissolved in water yet at this point. The solid remains as a solid, but it has moisture in it. There are different forms of calcium sulfate as follows: (1) Anhydrous calcium sulfate CaSO4, (2) Calcium sulfate dihydrate, of Gypsum CaSO4.2H20, and (3) Calcium sulfate pentahydrate CaSO4.5H2O. Because every molecule of calcium sulfate can take up to five molecules of water in its solid form, it is very prone to suck up water into itself, thus it is called a desiccant.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering
“And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.” - Isa. 13:19-22
What about the Dead Sea?
Everything is emptied into the Dead Sea, and from there the minerals have nowhere else to go. The waters above or below land cannot travel upwards in elevation. There is no river or tributary flowing out of the Dead Sea. At the lowest place on earth the water is stuck in place. Moreover, all the runoff waters from the rainfall and especially the flashfloods in the region erode the rocks and bring a large influx of minerals into the Dead Sea.
The waters of the Dead Sea are still and quiet compared to oceans. This increases its vulnerability to evaporation. The intense heat of the desert sun rapidly evaporates the water and leaves behind the salt, steadily increasing the salt content of the entire Sea over time. It happens so fast that the Dead Sea is slowly disappearing, even despite the steady inflow of the Jordan river. Given enough time it will eventually be gone. The salt content of the Dead Sea is the end product. It currently contains 50% Magnesium Chloride, 30% Sodium Chloride, 14% Calcium Chloride, and 4% Potassium Chloride. These are completely different kinds of salts than what is created by fire and brimstone, and the salt that is present in oceans.
The Evidence, Archaeology, Excavation, & Chemistry
“...brimstone, and salt, and burning...” – Deut. 29:23
I’m sure many a pilgrim traveled far and wide to personally examine the infamous “pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:26)! Wouldn’t you want to go and see it? People would have noticed that the Cities of Ash in the form of Calcium Sulfate resemble a salt that is white in color and powdery in texture. The explorers of the region have demonstrated how the stratified layers of ash do crumble into powder upon being taken with the hands.
“Ancient buildings are made from stone, mortar and limestone. Upon heating, calcium carbonate and calcium hydroxide will lose carbon dioxide and water, leaving behind calcium oxide. Calcium oxide reacts with burning sulfur to form calcium sulfate as follows:
CaO + SO2 + ½O2 → CaSO4
Why not calcium sulfite? The other calcium salt, CaSO3 is not thermodynamically stable above 727 C, thus the burning of buildings that have crumbled, and comprising calcium carbonate and calcium hydroxide, will result in an ash of calcium sulfate.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering
“And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.” - Gen. 19:28
“Bone is comprised of Calcium Phosphate, which reacts with Sulfur Trioxide gas at elevated temperatures to form Calcium Sulfate and Phosphorous Pentoxide. Phosphorous Pentoxide sublimes at a rather low temperature of 360 °C, and thus will not remain with the bone but will be vaporized.
Ca3(PO4)2 + 3SO3 = 3CaSO4 + ↑P2O5
Sulfur Trioxide, or SO3 is created by burning Sulfur to SO2 followed with further oxidation to SO3, which reacts with Calcium Phosphate as per the above reaction.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering
“The physical impact of the dense sulfur balls would have caused the buildings to crumble, causing the people in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to flee from the falling debris. Upon exiting their dwelling places, the people would have unknowingly run into the rainfall of burning brimstone, which would then burn the flesh of the people, and all organic matter from the bones, as the people fall down dead in the streets. The burning sulfur would have converted the Calcium Phosphate in the bones to Calcium Sulfate, which would cause the bones to lose their physical integrity and fall apart from further burning brimstone rainfall, and thus they would crumble into a Calcium Sulfate powder.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering
“The people who were injured from falling debris and rendered unable to flee the buildings, or those who took cover under fallen debris inside the buildings, would have been temporarily shielded from the fire and brimstone in the streets. Instead, they would have died from a chemical exposure to toxic sulfur containing gases. What happens to the bones from there depends upon on how much the consuming fire reached the bodies of these dead people, and how long it consumed them, before the buildings collapsed and buried them under the rubble. The bones could have then been protected from further physical damage through the fallen debris. The bones of these people would therefore remain intact instead of being crumbled into powder.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering
A Physical, Chemical, & Thermal Evolution of Suffering in the Hellish Firestorm of Divine Wrath
“The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God.” - Psalm 9:17
The Physical Effects of Raining Brimstone
Hailstones of sulfur weighing 10 lbs would reach a terminal velocity of 130 mph before striking Sodom and Gomorrah. Hailstones of sulfur weighing 30 lbs would reach a terminal velocity of 153 mph! Brimstones weighing 10 to 50 lbs would reach a terminal velocity ranging from 130 to 169 mph. The rainfall of heavy stones of this density, weight, size, and velocity would bring about a total catastrophe! This isn’t like your average hailstorm of ice in modern times. This would be more like the rain of cannon balls from the sky, like those fired on the battlefield in ancient warfare! The brimstones would crush most things upon impact. Buildings constructed from bricks of limestone would crumble and collapse.
The Chemical Effects of the Gases Produced by Burning Brimstone
Those who were too afraid to go outside, who found themselves hiding in the crevices of collapsing buildings, would then be tormented by the toxic smoke until the liquid fire of the storm increased overhead and they were eventually consumed in their places. The gases alone were capable of paralyzing, overpowering, and killing the entire population. The smoke produced by burning sulfur tormented everyone it touched! Why? Because a chemical reaction took place turning the moisture of the people into sulfuric acid.
“Sulfur burns in air to form sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide gases, which are easily absorbed into human beings through the skin, eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs, entering into the bloodstream immediately. Sulfur dioxide reacts with water and oxygen in the presence of heat to form sulfurous acid. Sulfur trioxide reacts with water and oxygen in the presence of heat to produce sulfuric acid. Therefore, the moisture on the skin of the Sodomites would immediately turn into sulfuric acid all over the body in the conditions present at Sodom and Gomorrah. The moisture in the eyes would turn into sulfuric acid in the eyes! The moisture in the nose, mouth, and lungs would also turn into sulfuric acid! It would be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream within minutes according to scientific research (Dahl (1983)). The death of an average Sodomite was accompanied by much suffering due to the extreme chemical effects involving strong acidic reactions in all parts of the human body.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering
“Upon the acid entering into the bloodstream through the lungs, the human heart would pump sulfuric acid to all parts of the body! These acids would cause severe burning and tissue damage in every conceivable place it touches, as the acid reacts violently with water to produce heat (approximately 60% of the body is composed of water), and the burning sensation would then be accompanied by headache, nausea, and vomiting. Upon contact, the destruction of bodily tissues is reported to take place in minutes and the destruction of bones within hours (Cadwell (2018)). Death of the brain cells leads to brain damage, blindness, incoordination, seizures, and death.” – Dr. Preethi Morris, PhD in Nutrition
The Thermal Effects of Raining Fire & Brimstone
During freefall, liquid droplets of burning sulfur would increasingly be displaced from the falling rocks, as molecules of vaporized sulfur would increasingly be displaced from the boiling liquid droplets, and all of it would be on fire. In the presence of a rapidly expanding firestorm, the whole area would begin to behave like an enclosed furnace making the temperatures at the center of the storm – inside the engulfed Cities of destruction – the hottest part of the Inferno of Hell.
“Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” - Psalm 11:6
The sights and sounds are still horrifying in the event that the firestorm was deprived of oxygen. Even if there wasn’t enough oxygen to burn up the trees of various edenic gardens in some parts of a City, the trees and plant life of that area would melt. Literally, the trees in their entirety would melt into a black slimy liquid instead of burning into ash. Those beholden to this scene would find it looking eerily like the pit of Hell, because various pockets in the inferno would be mostly void of fire, albeit surrounded by fire, as melting gardens accumulating into streams of fiery pitch flowing on the ground.
“And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.” - Isa. 34:9-10
Organic material burns and vaporizes at 600-650 °C. The crust of the earth melts at 1200 °C. Seeing that a furnace of burning sulfur can reach temperatures approaching 1600 °C, the activity described in Isaiah 34:9-10 would certainly be present in the Cities of Destruction. Now this brings us to Lot’s wife.
“Remember Lot’s Wife.” – Lk. 17:32
“Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And He overthrew those Cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the Cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” – Gen. 19:24-26
“Sintering is a process whereby the powdery constituents would fuse together to form a dense structure with good mechanical strength and integrity. It would take place when the melting and re-solidification of the calcium sulfate produced from her bones happen ultrafast, with her body in a standing position, so that the sintered calcium sulfate would appear in the form of a pillar before there was a chance for her body to fall down.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering
Jacob did it to mark the place where God appeared to him in the wilderness (Gen. 28:18, 22). Jacob did it again, as a matter of life or death, to bring to remembrance the agreement of peace that he made with Laban (Gen. 31:45-55). Grieving spouses, like Abraham, mark the graves of their dead family members to bring to remembrance the location of their resting place (Gen. 35:20). Samuel did it to set up a memorial of victory, an Ebeneezer, to bring to remembrance how the LORD helped Israel in battle against the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:12). The reprobate, Absalom, did it in a vain quest for immortal glory, wishing that his own name would be held in remembrance forever (2 Sam. 18:18).
Even so, when God made a pillar, it served as a signpost of salvation! The message being communicated is loud and clear: Flee from the wrath to come!
“Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” – Luke 17:32-33
How did God turn Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt? Most materials will either vaporize or sinter together at these high temperatures. 550 °C is the minimum temperature that vaporizes organic material. 876 °C is the minimum temperature for sintering the calcium sulfate. 1,485 °C is an approximate temperature that would allow for ultra-fast sintering in the case of Lot’s Wife.
Seeing that Lot’s wife was outside of the City of Sodom at the exterior of the inferno as it was heating up, when she looked back, it was then that the LORD targeted her specifically with an especially intense downpour of fire and brimstone. A finger of fire proceeded out of the mighty storm and touched Lot’s wife! It was a tornado of fire, a firenado, and it proceeded out of the firestorm and descended upon the head of Lot’s wife. It whirled around her to bury and burn her in heat reaching 1,485 °C, and then it lifted off of her as quickly as it came upon her, and this allowed the pillar to cool down and solidify.
“A rain of burning sulfur would have vaporized all the organic matter, entombing her with the rainy deposits of burning sulfur, and converting her bones into a pillar of calcium sulfate salt, as a testimony to all mankind. Bone is comprised of calcium phosphate, along with collagen and marrow. Upon heating, the organic components will burn at 650-700 °C. Once the organic components of the bone are burned up, the bone normally becomes very porous and brittle, having a tendency to crumble. However, if the temperatures are much higher, at 1,300-1,670 °C, the bone becomes harder because of the sintering of calcium sulfate.
The high temperatures and reactive atmosphere present during the exposure of the skeletal remains of Lot’s wife create ideal conditions for the following: (1) the chemical reaction of bone material to form calcium sulfate, and (2) the melting and re-solidification leading to chemical sintering of calcium sulfate. This happens in the presence of calcium phosphate, a constituent of bone which acts as a sintering aid. Adjacent pieces of chemically converted bone fragments can likewise get sintered together when small amounts of additional material such as calcium phosphate or silica are present as sintering aids. Upon sintering, the chemically converted skeletal remains lose their form and turn into a pillar having a dense structure with excellent mechanical strength and integrity.
A heavy dose of brimstone rain must have been responsible for the extreme effect upon Lot's wife when compared to the general population of Sodom and Gomorrah. The impulsive, intense rain of brimstone would have increased the temperatures sufficiently enough to not only convert the bones to calcium sulfate, but also sinter the calcium sulfate due to the high instantaneous heat flux. This may be similar to the heat flux from a laser beam, which is frequently employed to sinter 3D printed powders. The impulse of brimstone rain would not have the sustained, moderate heating effect of a continuous brimstone rain which would have been the case in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Upon sintering the calcium sulfate, her body would have rapidly cooled down because the rainfall was not sustained over a prolonged duration, but momentarily effected by the intense wrath of Almighty God.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering
When and if the Jews become spiritual Sodomites (Deut. 32:32, Isa. 1:10, 3:9, Jer. 23:14, Rev. 11:8), God will then be intensely provoked against them with a desire to totally annihilate them like Sodom and Gomorrah (Hos. 11:8-9). For, in reality, they have sinned worse than the Samaritans and Sodomites by virtue of sinning against a salvific influence of divine light (Ezek. 16:46-56). Nevertheless, it is written that God will not utterly destroy them for His own namesake. The annihilation of the Jews and the Holy Land will indeed be like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (Deut. 29:23)! However, a small remnant will be saved (Isa. 1:9-10, Rom. 9:29). A remnant will be engulfed by the fire and then plucked out of it before being utterly consumed by it (Amos 4:11, Zech. 3:2). In the latter days we will consider it perfectly.
- Dahl, Alan R., Sharon A. Felicetti, and Bruce A. Muggenburg. "Clearance of sulfuric acid-introduced 35S from the respiratory tracts of rats, guinea pigs and dogs following inhalation or instillation." Fundamental and Applied Toxicology 3.4 (1983): 293-297.
- TRIOXIDE, SULFUR. "TOXICOLOGICAL PROFILE FOR SULFUR TRIOXIDE AND SULFURIC ACID." (1998).
- Cadwell, Lindsey M. Macroscopic observations of the effects of corrosive substances on bone and soft tissue when subjected to heating. Diss. Boston University, 2018.