Lot

The story of Lot recorded in Genesis 19 is one of tragedy. A chapter after Abraham begged God to spare Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for his sake – Lot and his household should have amounted to more than 10 righteous people in those cities! – we discover just how misplaced Abraham’s confidence was.

The first sign of trouble is the fact that Lot is found sitting at the city gate, the place where a city’s leaders gathered to contemplate the issues of the day. Lot was a leader of the city of sin. As such, even if he was not personally guilty, he was culpable in their sin because he knew what was going on and yet did nothing to correct it.

A second sign of trouble is the intensity of his insistence: these men needed to stay with him. No doubt, Lot thought that if they stayed with him he could protect them from the city’s depravity. He had everything under control. The thing with sin, though, is that it always spirals out of control. I imagine that Lot was horrified to find the mob on his doorstep, but the fact that they did come makes plain the fact that Lot was never really in control of anything. That’s why St. Paul, in the New Testament, calls us slaves to the stuff. Sooner of later, it breaks out of the shadows, and we are compelled to recognize that we are the ones under its control.

The third and fourth signs come as Lot and his family flee the city. The angels tell them to run all the way to the mountains. Scholars do not know exactly where Sodom and Gomorrah were, but most believe they were located in the tar pits and salt flats south of the Dead Sea. Given that this valley is only about 10 miles across, Lot and his family had to run no more than about 5 miles to reach the mountains. Given that Lot was accustomed to the nomadic life of a herdsman, this was almost certainly a reasonable distance for him to run, especially given that an angel of the Lord had issued the command. God would no doubt assist in Lot’s flight. Yet Lot insists that the village of Zoar should be good enough. He compromised with God, indicating that he did not, in fact, want to leave Sodom and its sin at all. Don’t settle for good enough when it comes to escaping sin!

Lot’s wife went even further, looking back in grief to the life they were leaving behind. It’s so tempting to look back with longing at our past sin, but don’t do it!

Indeed, in the closing verses of Genesis 19, the full magnitude of Lot’s tragedy is revealed. The corruption and sin he had overlooked and tolerated in his neighbors had seeped into him and his family. He allowed himself to be enticed to drink not once, but twice, and as a result was seduced by his two daughters. To the ancients, this was even more messed up than it doubtless seems to our sensibilities! So far had the sin progressed because Lot did not respond to it when he saw it in his neighbors, and as a result, the closing of Lot’s story – his legacy, if you will – is one of compromise, sin, and shame. Don’t let your legacy be the same! Don’t overlook sin, even if you think you have it under control. Instead, run for your life and legacy as far and as fast as God would carry you!

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