Living Like Lot
By Ron Matsen
The story of Lot is a tale of privilege, provision, and perversion. To begin with, Lot’s name means “covering,” as in a veil that hides the truth of what is inside. That should give you a hint as to the type of person we will find as we explore this enigmatic character. Perhaps there is a pattern to observe here that might give us some insight into those who seem to fall into the traps of the world.
Provision by Association
Lot first appears in the Biblical narrative as the nephew of Abram. After the death of his father Haran, Lot is taken by his grandfather Terah and Uncle Abram. When Abram is 75 years old, he takes Lot and leaves the region of his father. Lot no doubt was aware of the divine visitation of Abram that took place at Bethel where God promises, “To your descendants I will give this land.”
During a time of famine in the land of Canaan, Lot witnessed the provision of God while they were all taking shelter in Egypt. His life was saved because of his association with Abram. Egypt is where both Abram and Lot become rich with “livestock, in silver and in gold.” So, Lot’s wealth also came through his association with Abram. After traveling back to Bethel, where Abram had received the promise of God and built an altar consecrating this place, this newfound wealth soon became a problem between Abram and Lot.
“Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.” – Genesis 13:6,7
Abram, wanting to look after his nephew, tells Lot,
“Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” – Genesis 13:8,9
Prosperity over Purity
We are then told that:
“Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.” – Genesis 13:10,11
Here is where we begin to see the real selfish nature of Lot coming out instead of having faith that God would provide, just as He already had. Lot was even willing to overstep his elder relative to pursue that which was best for himself alone.
While Abram was content to dwell in the land of Canaan,
“Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.” – Genesis 13:12
Sometime after relocating near the city of Sodom, Lot gets caught up in a war between four kings from the East and the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zoar. “They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” Stripped of his possessions, Lot now finds himself a prisoner being carried back with the conquering kings no doubt to be their slave.
When Abram hears of Lot’s plight, he gathers 318 trained servants and mounts a successful rescue of not only Lot but also the king of Sodom. “So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.” When the king of Sodom tries to reward Abram for his daring rescue,
“Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’– except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” – Genesis 14:22-24
Here we see the stark contrast between Abram and Lot most clearly. Lot pitched his tents near Sodom, hoping to get richer, but Abram sets his hope on God’s provision alone. Later, in Genesis Chapter 17, Abram and Sarai have their names changed by God to Abraham and Sarah.
In Genesis Chapter 18, the LORD appeared to Abraham and gave him two messages:
1. Sarah would conceive and have a son.
2. God was going to judge Sodom and Gomorrah
“Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” – Genesis 18:20,21
Two angels are sent to carry out this investigation, and they meet up with Lot.
“Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.” – Genesis 19:1
It is interesting to note that Lot has moved his habitation from the outside of the city to the inside of Sodom. It is also important to point out that he is “sitting in the gate of Sodom.” Sitting in the gate of a city was considered a place of honor. This is a place where the town’s people would bring their questions and disputes before the elders of the city. Therefore, I think it is safe to assume that Lot had risen in political stature within the city of Sodom. Sadly, Lot is following the pathway of self-destruction. The Psalmist tells us, “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” Sitting in the seat of the Judges in Sodom was certainly not a place that would be “blessed by God.” By this time, Lot would have been seeing the worst side of human depravity. God’s judgment was coming because
“Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” – Jude 7
Here is where we may see the price of his political compromise. Compromise that is brought about through submission to the public consensus over your own private conscience. Lot sat at the gate, but it appears he was getting along instead of speaking up about the abominations in the cities. He was, in effect, permitting those perversions to continue unchallenged. Peter’s second epistle gives us some insight into the personal conflict Lot faced while dwelling in Sodom. We are told, “for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.” The closer you get to public power, the further away you may be from personal purity.
It is at this low point in the life of Lot that God sends two angels to rescue him and his family. Lot opens his home to them and puts on a feast. Then all hell breaks loose.
“Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.’” – Genesis 19:4,5
Faced with the real possibility that these militant men could force their way upon his visitors, Lot attempts to use his power of persuasion to protect his guests from being sexually molested. Lot said,
“Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” – Genesis 19:7,8
What sort of desperate man offers his virgin daughters to an angry crowd of perverted men? To me, this has to be the lowest point of Lot’s life. In my opinion, his self-centered choices have led him to a point of complete moral depravity. At this stage in his life he had no bargaining power with these people so is being swept away with the overwhelming tide of wickedness. He literally promotes a perverted crime against his own daughters.
From Rescue to Reversion
As Lot is pulled back into his house by his two guests, the assailants from the city are struck with blindness so that they finally give up their quest to violate Lot’s visitors.
“Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city–take [them] out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” – Genesis 19:12,13
Lot is ungently encouraged to take his family and “Get up and get out of this place.” Even with all that had happened that night, Lot was still reluctant to leave all behind.
“And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords!” – Genesis 19:16-18
Ever the negotiator, Lot pleads with the angels not to make him flee to the mountains but to simply escape to the nearby city of Zoar. Remember, Zoar was one of the cities that was previously allied with Sodom and Gomorrah. Therefore, we see that Lot is still looking for a way to preserve something of his past life and prosperity.
Once Lot and his family were clear of the danger,
“Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” – Genesis 19:24-26
Following this horrific event,
“Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave.” – Genesis 19:30
The rescue of Lot does not lead him to a place of repentance—he reverts to his old ways, instead. As the Proverbs states, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” It is here where the tale of Lot takes a horrible turn. His two daughters contrive a plot whereby they will each have sex with their father so that they might have an offspring. The result of this incest is the birth of two sons. To the eldest daughter was born Moab (meaning “of his father”). To the youngest daughter was born Ben-Ammi (meaning “son of my people”). The generations that follow from these sons will later be a snare for the Children of Israel.
When you consider the legacy of Lot, you can easily see that his appetite for prosperity made him blind to the pitfalls of his own selfishness. Lot knew God, but he chose to live among people who would lead his family into sin and complacency. By now, God was stripping him of all his worldly possessions. In summary, he could not retain that which God did not sustain.
When you examine the lineage of Lot, you see that during the return of the Children of Israel to the promised land that Balak, king of Moab, tries to hinder their journey. He ultimately ends up hiring Balaam, the prophet, to curse Israel. Balaam refuses and blesses them instead. Frustrated by the deeds of Balaam, Balak sends the women of Moab into the camp of Israel in an attempt to seduce them. This ends badly for the Israelites as 24,000 die in the ensuing judgment by God. Subsequently, Israel was given a restriction concerning the people of Moab.
“An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his [descendants] shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever, because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.” – Deuteronomy 23:3,4
At this point in the history of Lot, you would think that God has run out of grace for this wayward nephew of Abraham. Yet, when you read the Book of Ruth, you will see that Ruth, being a Moabitess, becomes not only the servant that reconnects her mother-in-law Naomi to her land, but she becomes a “type” of the Gentile Church. Because of the “Kinsman Redeemer” Boaz, Lot’s linage is rescued and reunited with that of Abraham. Boaz and Ruth have a son named Obed (meaning “serving”) who becomes the father of Jesse (meaning “I possess”) who becomes the father of David (meaning “beloved”) the king of Israel and the line through which the Messiah would come. God’s “mercy endures forever”.
Lessons from the Life of Lot
There are three principal lessons we need to remember concerning Lot:
1. Lot followed a pathway prosperity over purity. Proverbs 15:16 tell us,
“Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble.”
Contentment is the key. 1 Timothy 6:6,7
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
Therefore, our attitude toward our daily provision needs to focus on God’s provision as being sufficient. Philippians 4:11-13 assures us,
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
2. Lot permitted and eventually promoted perversion in his life and then in the life of his family. We can walk a straight path if we use the Word of God as our moral compass and rudder.
Psalm 19:35-37 – “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things and revive me in Your way.”
3. Lot’s rescue should have led him to repentance not reversion. Our salvation from the debt of our sins should create a satisfied soul within us that is constantly seeking the word and will of our Saviour. James 1:12-15 promises,
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”