Sunday, March 05, 2006


Genesis 19:16-38

GENESIS 19:16-38

November 27, 2005

Good morning! We will return to our study of Genesis this morning. This was the week we celebrated Thanksgiving. It is, I believe, a uniquely American holiday. Other nations have days of feasting and celebration for any number of reasons, but the United States was the first non-theocratic country to set aside a day to turn to God and give thanks for his blessings. All over the world Thursday, Americans gathered and paused to give thanks. I hope that each of us, as we contemplated God's grace and love toward us, took the time to appreciate the fact that he has given us the gift of his word, that we hold in our hands the very God-breathed words of the Almighty. This morning let's turn back to the book of beginnings and see what it holds for us.

At the end of the last lesson, the angels warned Lot of the destruction to come and told him to leave Sodom at once. He hurried to his sons in law and attempted to get them to flee with him, but they ridiculed him.

Genesis 19:15. Read.

The New Bible Commentary has an excellent observation about this verse: “There can be no effective preaching where this is no significant living.” The results of Lot's backslidden condition were beginning to become apparent. He would see and experience much worse. But for now, his married daughters and their husbands were doomed to destruction. I might add that some scholars believe the Hebrew translated “sons in law” here could refer to betrothed sons in law and thus these men were engaged to the two daughters who were saved. That is speculation. My own opinion is that taking into consideration the size of families in those days, Lot likely had many sons in law. Nonetheless, Lot loved these young men and they were about to die.

I want to say just a little about Lot here. I have not spent a lot of our time discussing his backslidden condition. The New Testament states he was one of the great men of faith and that the sin of Sodom “vexed his righteous soul”. Yet almost everything we see about him is negative. There are a few things we know for certain. First, scripture is inspired so we know that the historical description we have of him is accurate. Second, scripture is inspired so we know that he was a man of faith. I think the answer may be in the vexation of his righteous soul. Lot may have fallen far away from his walk with God, but his soul had been saved by faith. The sin in his life and the hard hardheartedness did not remove his salvation nor keep the Lord from ever working in his heart and bringing about conviction of sin. That is why so often the most miserable people you meet will be those who once believing, have turned their backs on God. He never stops loving those he has saved nor trying to draw them back to him.

The Hebrew word translated “consumed” here means literally “swept away” as everything might be in a flood.

Genesis 19:16. Read.

Now Lot has only his wife and two daughters, and faced with the ridicule of his sons in law and the destruction of the rest of his family and all he cares about, he lingers. But God will not allow the destruction of his servant and the angels physically take them by the hand and lead them out.

Genesis 19:17. Read.

Once they are out of Sodom, the angels give him very explicit instructions. I see a type here of what God says to the believer today about the life of sin that lies all about him. The instructions are clear. Flee your sin, escape it. Don't look back longingly at it. Don't stay in the situation that causes it. Climb back to fellowship with God before it is too late and you are swept away. Unfortunately, most of us respond as Lot does here.

Genesis 19:18. Read.

Aren't there times you wish you could just grab Lot by the lapels and shake him and ask “What were you THINKING?” I am certain God has often thought exactly the same about me, or simply wanted to cuff me and knock me rolling. Even at a time like this Lot had to make an argument.

Genesis 19:19. Read.

Given the choice of the mountains or the plain, Lot had long ago chosen the plain. He feared the mountains. There were wild animals there. There were brigands. Life in the mountains was hard. Water was more difficult to find and fetch. The soil was less giving of its bounty. I have bad news for Lot and for each of us. God seldom calls us to the lush plains of life. His best work is done in the mountains. His way is very unlikely to be the easy one. My colleagues and I quote to those we are trying to help with addictions “We thought we could find an easier, softer way... but we could not.” There have been dozens of attempts over the years to develop addiction treatment programs that make it easy and non threatening to overcome those besetting sins. I've never seen one that worked.

Genesis 19:20. Read.

How many of us have said deep within our hearts to God, “can't I keep this one sin, just this one little one? It doesn't offend you much. Let me just keep telling those off color jokes, or having just a little gluttony, or reading 'those' books, or gossiping with that one person.” We want to live for the Lord and have a victorious life, but if we could just keep that one little habit. We don't realize that if we don't let God sweep away everything, misery will follow. It does for Lot. But God is long suffering and patient. And he grants his servant yet another request.

Genesis 19:21-22. Read.

The word Zoar means “little”. The people of little Zoar had no idea what the entry that morning of Lot and his wife and children would mean to them.

Genesis 19:23. Read.

So the last sunrise the bountiful lush valley of Sodom would ever see had occurred. Tens of thousands of unsuspecting condemned souls yawned and stretched and put on the coffee pot, or cursed their hangover, or got the milk bucket and started out to the stable to milk the cow. The sons in law who had been warned and had perhaps not slept well worried about Lot's dire predictions watched the sun come up and thought how silly they had been to be worried. It seemed to be the beginning of a day like any other.

I can't help thinking about the office workers in the World Trade Center on 9-11, sipping their first cup of coffee, gossiping about the water cooler, sighing at the pile of work in their in box, waiting impatiently for their computer to warm up. And all with no idea of the destruction rushing at them at hundreds of miles an hour. But something much deadlier than an airplane was about to come out of the sky on Sodom.

Genesis 19:24,25. Read.

Brimstone is literally tree sap, flammable tree sap, such as pitch. It came by this passage to mean any flammable substance that sticks and burns, such as sulfur. Throughout the history of warfare such things have been used as weapons. By World War II we had figured out how to add Styrofoam or detergent to gasoline and make a jelly called napalm to use in flame throwers and bombs. It sticks and burns horribly, eating it's way into the flesh. As an instrument of the wrath of a Holy God brimstone fell on Sodom. Fire fell. But that wasn't all. The cities and the plain were “overthrown” verse 25 tells us. God swept up the whole place and flipped it like a pancake! Think of what this must have been like. The eruption of Mt. St. Helen's must have paled by comparison. Unimaginable earthquakes, lava and steam pouring out. Hot gases, quite likely some flammable. Hell was in session in the lower valley of the Jordon. Hiroshima and Nagasaki paled in comparison no doubt. This was God's fury made obvious.

I am going to repeat what I said when we started this chapter. If there are two things God hates, that rouse his wrath against sinful man they are sexual perversion and the shedding of innocent blood. This nation, once Godly enough to establish the legal holiday of Thanksgiving, now slaughters unborn babies by the millions. We embrace the vilest of sexual perversions. His patience will not last forever. We can be swept away. If we do not repent and turn away from our wickedness we WILL be swept away.

Genesis 19:26. Read.

“Remember Lot's wife.” our Lord said in Luke 17:32 when he taught of the destruction to come in the end times. Why? She looked back. One last yearning for the city of sin? One last thought of her family being destroyed? Or a desire to watch the spectacular? We don't know, but it doesn't matter. The reason to remember Lot's wife is in verse 17. “look not behind thee.” We are to obey. Lot's wife was not primarily destroyed because of her yearnings. She was destroyed because she disobeyed. Period. It is a lesson for us.

This short verse is another that has stirred up reams of speculation and controversy over the centuries. I read one commentary that suggested a crack opened in the earth in a salt deposit and she fell into it and it raised up into a salt dome with her in the center. Another suggested that she was struck by a blob of lava and preserved as the victims of Pompey were and then the salt deposits slowly absorbed her body. If you go to visit the Dead Sea today, you'll see numerous salt pillars caused by variances of density in the salt deposits as the water has evaporated from around them. Any which vaguely suggest a human form will be identified by someone as Lot's wife.

Until I see a much better argument, I will believe that the God who could flip the Jordon valley like a flapjack and rain fires from the sky was quite capable of turning one disobedient woman into a pillar of salt without any further “naturalization” of the miracle.

Now our story moves back up into the mountains where Abraham, who had let Lot choose the “best” of the nation was watching.

Genesis 19:27 Read.

This verse tells us some little details about Abraham. First, he had a special place where he would go stand before the Lord. Do you have a special place like that? Is there a spot in your home where you go to be alone with God and read his word and talk to him and to pour out your soul or listen quietly for the “still small voice”? Abraham had such a spot. I took Phylliss to mine yesterday on a walk. There is a hill facing east where you can see down across the Des Moines River valley and where the sun will rise directly in front of you as you sit on a log watching. I can pray or meditate anywhere, but that one is special.

The second thing we learn about Abraham is that he got up early to go stand before the Lord. I am certain he was there watching as the sun rose that morning and many mornings to thank God for a new day and to “stand before him”. To say “here is your servant, Lord, use him as you will.” But God's servant would see something much more spectacular than a sunrise this morning.

Genesis 19:28. Read.

Abraham watched as the world as he knew it was swept away. I'm sure he felt the earth shaking and saw the destruction. The whole plain was pouring out smoke. Think back to the photos you saw of Mt. St. Helen's and you'll have a small idea.

Genesis 19:29. Read.

“God remembered Abraham.” as God remembered Noah in the ark. What does it mean to be “remembered”? It means to be under God's protection. Let's look at one of my favorite Psalms.

Psalms 91:1-8. Read.

Did Abraham see with his own eyes the reward of the wicked? Yes.

We now come to one of the saddest passages in all of scripture. If there is any example of how far a believer can fall into sin, and how terrible the consequences... this is it.

Genesis 19:30. Read.

Does anyone remember how just a few verses back Lot was afraid to go to the mountains and begged God for permission to stay in Zoar. All of the sudden Zoar didn't look so good. Perhaps Lot was not welcome there. After all, why should he have been spared instead of the local residents relatives and friends? It is possible that aftershocks of the earthquakes made life in buildings frightening. Maybe thick volcanic ash covered everything. Whatever the reason Lot decided to at last obey God.

Genesis 19:31,32. Read.

It seems obvious from these verses how total the destruction of the lower Jordan valley was. Lot's daughters must have been convinced that the whole world had been destroyed and they were the only ones left.

Secondly, I want to know, where did this wine come from? The impression we get from scripture is that they left Sodom with only the clothes on their backs. It would seem that they could not have possibly lived long enough in the cave to harvest grapes, crush them and turn them into wine before finding out that indeed other people had survived the destruction. So the wine had to come from Zoar. Lot's unwillingness to follow the angel's directives placed him in a place where there was wine available to take up into the mountains. Once more there were unexpected negative consequences of less than total obedience.

The next verses give the sad, sordid tale of the final degradation of God's backslidden servant. The one thing I wish to point out is that they did not “make” Lot drink the wine. He was not force fed. Lot, depressed over the loss of his wife and extended family and all he owned drank willingly. Willingly to the point of blackout. That is he became so drunken he couldn't remember what he did. If there is ever an obvious example in scripture of why not to indulge in the sin of drunkenness, this is it.

And the sad consequences followed.

Genesis 19:37,38. Read.

Thus were born two of the nations that would cause Israel trouble and pain for the rest of time. I want us to notice that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah begins with what we might consider the vilest of perversions, yet ends with one, if such a thing be possible, is even worse.

So what are the lessons we have learned today?

1.Backsliding is incremental. It is like slowly walking into the lake to go swimming. Each step carries you just a little deeper. Then just a little deeper still and you may even stop at one point for a while. But the chill passes and you get used to the temperature and it starts not to feel so bad after all. So another step. And another. Deeper and deeper. “Why this isn't so bad? What are all those people shivering on the shore afraid of?” And deeper and deeper still, till without warning, as it did with Lot, the water closes over your head. I am reminded of the old Russian folktale Nikita Khrushchev used to quote about the Siberian peasant whose stable burned down in the winter and he had to let his cow move into the hut with his family. At first the stench was overwhelming, but by spring the cow smelled just fine.

2.God is patient, but his patience will not last forever.

3.God's wrath, when finally poured out can be worse than we can possibly imagine.

4.Sin has consequences. Dark, deadly consequences. We may escape for a season, but they always, ALWAYS come.

5.Lastly, our children are watching. Lot chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom. Soon he was living in Sodom. And his little girls watched. They watched their father compromise and tolerate the abominations that surrounded him. They watched him become a leader and sit in the gate of that evil city. They lived daily exposed to the grossest immorality. And they heard their beloved father offer them to an enraged mob. Is it any wonder that the sin they committed seemed perfectly defensible to them? Lot sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind?

Many of us in this chapel have children. Quite a few of us, grandchildren. Every one of us live our lives in full view of other people's children. They are watching as Lot's daughters watched. They are listening as Lot's daughters listened. What lessons are we teaching them?
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?