July 10, 2013 In the book of Genesis we’ve seen how God created all things in six days, and how all these things were corrupted by sin when Adam ate from the tree of knowledge. Suddenly everything was under a curse. But God wasn’t taken by surprise: in Revelation (13:8) we learn that the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) was slain before the foundation of the world. In other words, before Adam took that first bite, God had a plan! The life of Abraham shows us a big part of that plan. When Adam sinned, everything was subjected to futility, but God chose Abraham from all the people of the earth, and He established His covenant (or His promise) with him. The promise is that God will take this idolater (Josh. 24:2), this Gentile really—he’s no different than anyone else, and He’ll bless him and make his name great (Gen. 12). God will credit him with righteousness, so that he and all his descendants will be redeemed from the curse of Adam. So God leads him from Ur (his hometown) to Canaan (the Promised Land), and Abraham waits there for many years. He’s still waiting for the birth of a son through his 90 year old wife, but God (in chapter 18) has promised it will happen in about a year. And now we come to chapter 19 where we have this little interlude where we see the destruction of Sodom. Now, you’ll remember that Abraham’s nephew, Lot, lives in the city, so Abraham has asked God to spare it if He can find just 10 righteous people living there. And God agrees to this, and then He turns to leave towards Sodom. This is where we pick up today: And there came two angels to Sodom at even; These are the same two angels who were with God in chapter 18. They had continued on their way down while Abraham plead for the city and they arrive at evening, and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; 2And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. 3And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.
So, things have changed a little since we last saw Lot. In 13:12 we read that he “pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Now we see that he’s got a house in Sodom. He’s made himself a little home here. He’s got a real house with a real door, and he sits at the gate of the city with the rest of the men; he’s come a long way from living in a tent just outside town. But at what cost? Moses tells us that even when he first arrived the city was exceedingly wicked (13:13). And he doesn’t know it yet, but by the end of the night he’ll lose all he’s earned. Not too many nights from now his home will be a cave. But for now everything seems fine, and he knows the wickedness of the city, so he invites these men to his house before anyone can do anything to them. When they refuse he presses them greatly to change their minds—he knows the character of the men of Sodom and he won’t take no for an answer. So, the men agree to go with him, and he shows them the same hospitality Abraham had; he feeds them and washes their feet and gives them a place to rest. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: 5And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. The men of Sodom are so exceedingly wicked that they surround the house and demand to rape Lot’s guests. I get a creepy feeling thinking about it—they called out to him from outside while he was inside. It’s almost like a horror movie. You can picture Lot and everyone sitting in the house having just finished their meal when they hear some shouting outside. They stop to listen and realize what the men are saying. They get a look outside and realize that every man in the city is there with such wicked intentions. What a feeling of hopelessness! Well Lot has to do something:
And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
Isn’t it amazing he calls them “brethren?” I guess living with them for 10 years gave him a special sympathy. It looks like he’s going to try to talk some sense into them, but then he does something even more astounding than what they’ve done: Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. “If you have to rape someone, rape my two daughters.” Can you believe it? “Do to them as is good in your eyes.” Put yourself in his daughter’s shoes for a minute—I
imagine they just looked at each other in horrified shock! There’s not even really a need for commentary here, is there? It’s despicable. But these men don’t want the daughters; they want the men: And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: “You’ve been here, what, 10 years? You came in a tent, and now you think you’re ready to rule over us?” now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. I can’t even imagine what that could be. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. That is, they pressed with much force or exceedingly upon Lot. They’ve had enough, and they’re not waiting around anymore. When Lot won’t give the men over peaceably, they decide to tear down the door and have their way by force. Now freeze the frame. Put yourself in that doorway. You can feel the demonic wickedness—an entire town has come to rape two men. Lot had to know his life was probably over. No one in that house was going to make it out alive, But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. 11And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door. So now the Sodomites are blinded both spiritually and physically. But isn’t it astounding that they’re still looking for the door? They wearied themselves to find it! We hear complaints that our times are worse than ever before, but this is pretty bad. Sin has always been totally depraving. And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: 13For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen [to grow or become important] great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. It’s time to leave because the sin has reached its measure, and God’s about to destroy the city.
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And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.
This word for mocked is the same word used for Abraham and Sarah when it says they laughed, and it’s the same word used for Ishmael when it says he mocked Isaac. Lot warns his sons-in-law, but they think he’s crazy.
And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.
Anyone who stays will die. It’s time to get out now.
And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. Lot just doesn’t seem to get it. These men are here to destroy the city. Apparently he takes them seriously, but he’s just not ready to go, so he just sort of stands around to the point that the angels have to take him by the hand and show him to safety. But look at the reason they’re so forceful: “the LORD being merciful unto him.” Over in Second Peter (2:7-9) we read that Lot is considered a righteous man who lives among all these ungodly Sodomites. But He hasn’t shown a lot of righteousness in the story so far. He’s been selfish and faithless, the Sodomites don’t seem to be used to him telling them how to live, and his own family thinks he’s joking or crazy when he’s talking about the judgment of God. But his righteousness (like Abraham’s and ours) isn’t because he’s good in deeds but because the Lord is merciful unto him! These Sodomites will get what they deserve, but Lot will get what he doesn’t deserve. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. 18And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: 19Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: The angels tell him to run for it, but Lot says he can’t make it that far. Even after they blinded the men Lot still doesn’t trust God for provision, so he makes a request:
Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. 21And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. 22Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
This little town is just a few miles away, and it’s just a little one. Lots request is granted, and he’s sent on his way: The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. 24Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 25And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. Nothing at all remained in Sodom. Even the plants were destroyed with all the people. You would think Lot’s family would be happy just to be out of there,
But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Just as Lot had drug his feet in leaving, his wife was lagging behind. She looked back on her home and the rest of her family and friends, and so, she was turned into a pillar of salt. This verse is hard to understand, and I don’t really have a satisfactory answer: Maybe she was instantly turned into a statue of salt or maybe the fire caused the water in the Salt Sea to evaporate and her body was covered with it. The Hebrew word for “pillar” is nearly always translated elsewhere as “garrison.” Maybe the main point is that the “pillar” is something stationary, and we don’t necessarily have to think of a Michelangelo-like sculpture or a Greek column. Anyway, we know that Lot’s wife didn’t make it out alive and that she was recognizable and described as a pillar of salt. 1 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: 28And 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. You can imagine the disappointment he must have felt. He had asked God to spare the city for the sake of 10 righteous, but now he knows there weren’t that many. But the Judge of all the earth had done right (18:25):
Several ancient historians claim to have actually seen the pillar including Josephus, Clement of Rome, Tertullian, and Irenaeus.
And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.
Lot was credited with righteousness, and Abraham had asked God not to destroy the righteous with the wicked. God had done what was right to do—the wicked were punished but not the righteous.
And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
I have a hard time identifying with Lot, but I shouldn’t be so cynical. He’s been through a lot, and who can blame him for being afraid? Still though, “the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid” (Ps. 27:1). Or maybe he feared that God would eventually destroy Zoar too, so for whatever reason, he moved up to a cave to get away. It was now just him and his two daughters: And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: I’m not sure what she means by this, but she’d just come from Zoar, so she had to know there were some men still alive. Anyway, she feels an immediate need to have a child, so she hatches a plan with her sister: Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 33And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Apparently she thought her father would resist unless he was drunk. So she gives him wine, and when he’s basically incapacitated she goes in to lie with him.
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And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 35And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
So the second daughter does the same thing and again Lot doesn’t even know what he’s done.
Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. 37And the first born bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. 38And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day. And you’ll remember that the Moabites and Ammonites were bitter enemies of Israel all throughout the Old Testament. They attacked them and led them astray, and they can be traced back to this “righteous” man named Lot. Well, we’ll pick up again in the life of Abraham next time. For now, let’s close with a few thoughts: #1- Believers disobey when they mix with unbelievers. Lot shouldn’t have settled down in Sodom in the first place. His association with them led him to call them “brethren.” But Scripture says, Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty (II Cor. 6:14-18). #2- We can rest confidently knowing God will save us from wrath. If He could get Lot out of Sodom to save him from judgment, He can save us too. I remember when I used to read Revelation and be scared of all the things written in it. But I know that whatever happens now or in the end times, no matter how bad things get, God has saved me from wrath so that I should live together with Him (I Thess. 5:9). #3- Righteousness is not a product of our works but of God’s mercy. Why did God save Lot and call him righteous? It certainly wasn’t because he was such a good person! We read in the text that he was saved because the Lord was merciful unto him. We are made righteous and saved the same way—“For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). We don’t get what we do deserve because Jesus got what He didn’t deserve. He died in our place so that righteousness could be credited to our accounts, and His mercy is the only way we’ll ever get it.