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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lot's Colossal Failure

Do you remember Lot? He was Abraham's nephew (Gen 11:27). And he appears several times in Scripture with interesting parts to play. When Abraham responded to God's call to go to Canaan, Lot went with him (Gen 12:4). His uncle tried sharing land with him, but when the two groups of herdsmen fought, Abraham let his nephew pick whatever land he wanted, and Lot chose the greenest for himself (Gen 13:7-12). Living in Sodom, Lot got himself captured when Sodom and Gomorrah were attacked by a group of kings, and Abraham had to go defeat them and rescue his nephew (Gen 14:1-16). When the angels went into Sodom to "see if they have done entirely according to its outcry" (Gen 18:21), they stayed with Lot (at his own insistence). Despite his urgings, the men of Sodom threatened to rape the angels (Gen 19:5) and Lot and his family barely escaped with their lives before God destroyed the cities (Gen 19:17-25). In the end, Lot's wife didn't make it. Out there in a cave, Lot's daughters took matters into their own hands, got their father drunk, and managed to get him to get them pregnant (Gen 19:30-38). Their offspring? Moab and Ben-ammi. Do you know who they are? The Moabites and the Ammonites were Israel's mortal enemies in the days of their escape from Egypt and move to the Promised Land and after. Nice. It was the Moabites that hired Balaam to curse Israel. Gideon later had to fight them again because they dominated Israel. Ammon was one that God ordered Saul to totally annihilate for their absolute idolatry (at which he failed). Not a good relationship.

Okay, so that's pretty much what we know about Lot. So, with the title in mind, what would you classify as Lot's worst error? Maybe it was taking the good land instead of giving it to his uncle? That put him in Sodom, the start of all his problems. Maybe it was giving in to his daughters? I mean, surely he wasn't so far gone that he had no idea what was going on. Most would say that it was that horrible part where he offered his daughters to the men of Sodom. Disgusting, Lot, really! "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like" (Gen 19:7-8). What kind of a father "protects" his daughters like that? Really bad!

I would offer a different answer to the question. In Genesis 19 we find Lot "sitting at the gate of Sodom" (Gen 19:1). Sitting at the gates. Abraham made arrangements to bury Sarah at the gates (Gen 23:10). Boaz made arrangements to marry Ruth at the gates (Ruth 4). The elders of the city -- its leadership -- sat at the gates (Prov 21:23). Court was held at the gates (Deut 16:18) and sentence carried out at the gates (Deut 17:5). Lot, then, was at the center of society in Sodom -- at the gates -- when the angels arrived. He wasn't an outcast, a loner, keeping to himself. He was a major part of Sodom society.

Now consider the previous information we have before the angels arrived. God visited Abraham. Eventually He had a conversation with Abraham, informing him of the judgment coming to Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham went into a bargaining mode. "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city ... Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five ... Suppose forty are found there? ... suppose thirty are found? ..." Abraham got Him down to 20, in fact. Two cities; 20 people. What could be easier?

Now, it's not really possible, I suppose, to actually point and say, "That is your worst sin ever" or "Now that is your biggest failure of all time." Still, to me, Lot's colossal failure was this: God didn't find any influence at all of Lot on his neighbors. Indeed, his own family was immoral. Lot didn't sway one friend, didn't influence one neighor, didn't provide sufficient example or make sufficient noise to make one, single person in his life a believer, a "righteous" person. Not one. No. Lot "fit in". He went along with the crowd. He kept his mouth shut. He was non-judgmental, tolerant, silent before the sin around him. He didn't move them enough to repent nor irritate them enough to get himself expelled. Lot's colossal failure, to me, was his silence in a sinning society. In the end every one of his neighbors burned to death. In the end his wife turned to salt and his daughters committed incest. In the end, Lot's "can't we all just get along" attitude cost everyone around him dearly. That, I would say, was the biggest failure of his life. And I would hope that we would neither repeat it ourselves nor encourage it.

6 comments:

David said...

I've never seen that before, but it is dead on.

Stan said...

Hmmm ... "dead" is a good description.

Vaughn Ohlman said...


Okay, so that's pretty much what we know about Lot.
Well, not quite:

2Pe 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
2Pe 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
2Pe 2:8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

Stan said...

If I had said, "And that's all we know about Lot", you'd have an issue. This, however, makes my point. Just Lot was vexed, but was still part of the structure, part of the culture, still living in the city.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Well, I guess my point is that while we call him a 'collosal failure' the NT calls him 'righteous'.

Stan said...

Actually, I called the failure colossal, not Lot. And unlike most, I suppose, I have my own colossal failures, so I don't mean any animosity toward Lot.

On the other hand, my point was that we mustn't be quiet in the face of sin. Perhaps it's that with which you're disagreeing. :)