A Lot to Learn From

There’s a person in the Bible that we’ve all heard of and know basic elements of his story. What’s interesting is the insight we get about God when dealing with a man’s many mistakes in life. 

Most of us are somewhat familiar with the story of Lot. He was the nephew of Abraham who got himself and his wife in big trouble in Sodom (as in Sodom and Gomorrah). Most people leave it at that or just consider it an interesting but odd Sunday School story that we used to tell our children.

But there’s more to the story before and after this event which reveals much about this man, his intentions, and character. But it also gives us great insight into God and His treatment of a well-meaning but flawed man.

In fact, it has implications for God’s treatment of us, all well-meaning but flawed people.

A Life of Flaws
Lot was a real man who lived around 2000 B.C. We read in Genesis (11:27-32) that he was the son of Haran, who was the brother of Abram (later named Abraham). After Lot’s father Haran died, the grandfather Terah moved the entire family from their home in the city of Ur in southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). They intended to travel into the land of Canaan but settled half way there in Harran, about 600 miles north of Ur.

While living In Harran, Terah died and then Abraham received his first contact directly from God:

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. (Genesis 12:1-4)

Thus begins the first of a series of errors in human judgment that give us a view into God’s treatment of man’s shortcomings and mistakes:

  • Flaw #1 – Abram’s disobedience in taking Lot – Not that it was Lot’s fault, but the clear instructions to Abram was to “Go” from his family yet somehow Lot works his way into Abram’s and Sarai’s (later Sarah) travel plans to Canaan. It’s not clear how this happens, but God lets it happen.
  • Flaw #2 – Lot’s selfish selection of better land – after a group sojourn to Egypt and then back north to the southern desert region of Canaan (Bethel), Abraham gives Lot a choice of land to the east or west of the Jordan River to separately raise and support their growing flocks and herds. Lot selects the far superior land and moves his family to the sinful city of Sodom. (Genesis 13:1-13)
  • Flaw #3 – Lot continues to stay in Sodom – the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and surrounding cities rebel against a regional king and are defeated, with many including Lot and his family taken as plunder. Abraham musters a team of 300 men to heroically rescue Lot and their stolen possessions. Afterwards, Lot makes a conscious choice to return and continue living in Sodom. (Genesis 14:1-16)
  • Flaw #4 – Lot barters with wicked men in Sodom – the episode involving the visiting angels on a mercy mission to rescue him and his family from God’s destruction of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is difficult on various levels. While Lot defends the angels from the mob’s horrible threats of homosexual rape of the town’s new visitors in Lot’s house, he offers up his engaged daughters as virgin options. The mob refuses the offer and thus escalates Lot’s escape out of town before God’s thorough physical destruction of it by fire from the sky. Only Lot and his two daughters escape alive.
  • Flaw #5 – Lot flees to Zoar – rather than retreat to the safe confines on Abraham’s side of the Jordan, Lot negotiates with the two visiting angels to let him settle in the hills outside the city of Zoar. Destitute and living in a cave, he is subject to the conniving plan of his daughters to continue the family line. They each sleep with their father while he is in a drunken stupor and bear sons who would later become the Moabites and the Ammonites, two pagan kingdoms in Canaan.

And so ends the story of Lot.

A Good Man in God’s Eyes 
What’s interesting is that Lot is actually referred to as a righteous man in the New Testament:

If God…condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lota righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. (2 Peter 2:4, 6-10)

More curious is how God protects Lot’s offspring many years later when the Israelites were traveling to the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses is specifically instructed by God as follows:

“Do not harass the Moabites (and Ammonites) or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given it to the descendants of Lot as a possession.” Deuteronomy 2:9,19)

More interesting is the fact that it was Ruth, the young, widowed, and pagan Moabite woman who through her mother-in-law Naomi met and married Boaz and produced the child who would become the grandfather of David, the future king of Israel.

Application for Us Flawed People
God’s ways are mysterious and beyond our understanding. Yet we can and do know that God loves us as His creation and has plans for us His beloved, for this world, and for eternity. We, like Lot, though flawed and troubled believers, broken and selfish, desiring good but immersed in dark surroundings that even captures us in its wake and influence, can learn lessons from his challenging life of big ups and downs.

Thankfully, God knows and understands our hearts and intentions. He knows our sins and has atoned for us once and for all through His Son, Jesus. He loves and recognizes our repentance and keeps His promises forever. He is forgiving and is always in the midst of the short and long-term play.

We, in humble understanding and submission to this gift, can respond with thanksgiving and gratefulness and obedience for His great mercy and grace for even us and our future generations.

Are you like Lot?
the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. – 2 Peter 2:9-10

Categories: Evil, Faith, Forgiveness, Israel, Old Testament, People

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