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Lot Lifted Up His Eyes and Saw…

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Reading : Genesis 11v27-32

Lot enters the record of scripture early on, eleven chapters on to be precise in the Book of Genesis. Lot’s life is cast in the post flood era and sometime after the attempt to build the Tower of Babel with all the subsequent turmoil that caused. Lot’s life was, as we shall see, full of adventure, colour and drama. But despite his varied experiences and reaction to events, let’s keep in mind God’s estimation of Lot; after all it’s the only estimation that matters isn’t it?

God’s assessment of Lot

God’s assessment of Lot comes in the New Testament and refers to events late in Lot’s life as recorded in scripture. Let’s take note of the Lord’s assessment of this man:-

These verses describe what happened to the city of Sodom (and Gomorrah) where Lot lived.

“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;

7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” 2 Peter 2v6-8, KJV.

There it is! Lot is described as a just – the word means righteous – man who vexed his righteous soul when daily he saw the inhabitants of Sodom commit unlawful deeds. And that description of ‘unlawful deeds’ is not the Sodom equivalent of say today’s breaking the speed limit! No, it refers to a wilful disregard for the law of the living God.

So here’s a man we can learn from. Anyone who is described as righteous in the Bible, the living word of God, must be someone you and I can learn from. This is not to say that Lot was perfect; far from it. But then who is perfect other than the Lord Jesus Christ? We can learn from Lot’s weaknesses as well as his strengths!

Lot in Ur

Let’s go back to where he first enters the record of scripture. Lot is living in a place called Ur of the Chaldees with his father Haran and his uncle Abraham among others. By human standards, Ur was a place of great civilisation. We are talking about a time 4000 years before the time of Christ; some might think these were primitive days with hand to mouth living. Not a bit of it! In Ur where Lot lived there was a developed civilisation. Sale and purchase of houses was commonplace, writing was an every day feature in this prosperous city.

However, the majority of the inhabitants were idolaters; there was a Ziggurat in Ur – modelled on the old Tower of Babel reaching up into the heavens – where the God of the moon was worshipped. Lot’s family and in particular his uncle Abram, managed to keep a separation; for the most part the family worshipped the true God, the God revealed in the Bible, the God who created the world and cares for those who put their trust in Him.

Do you see a parallel here with the world today? Our world is largely like Ur, it craves material comfort and an ever increasing standard of living. From the poorest to the richest country on the planet this is the main measure of success! But really that’s like worshipping the moon! It will get us nowhere in the long run.

We need to learn about the God revealed in the Bible the same God that Lot and Abram worshipped. To know and worship the true God is far more satisfying than human prosperity and gives a wonderful future hope.

Out of Ur to the land of promise

You will have heard of Abram. He received a call from God to leave the prosperity of Ur and go to an unknown land, a land of promise. Abram obeyed God and guess who went with him? Yes, Lot accompanied his uncle on a long trek first to a place called Haran and then on into the land God had promised Abram, the place we know today as Israel but which was then called Canaan.

To quit Ur was a leap of faith. Imagine exchanging city life for a nomadic existence. Here is how the Genesis record describes it:-

“5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” Genesis 12v5, KJV.

It sounds easy doesn’t it? This would have been a long and arduous journey, accomplished through faith. On arriving in the land, they travelled south – see map – and Genesis chapter 12 informs us that ‘there was a famine in the land’

Down into Egypt

So severe was the famine that the Abram and his company left the land of promise to seek bread in the land of Egypt. The stay in Egypt was challenging and you can read about it in Genesis 12. The sojourn there resulted in both Abram and Lot becoming extremely wealthy.

The next mention of Lot is when the company leaves Egypt and travels back to the south of the land of Canaan near a place called Bethel.

Strife and a choice

Prosperity brings its own problems.

5 “And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

6 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.

7 And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.” Genesis 13v5-7, KJV.

So great was the strife that Abram suggested that he and Lot parted. Although the older man, Abram gave Lot the choice concerning pasture land for his flocks. Lot lifted up his eyes and made a choice based on what he saw!

“10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.” Genesis 13v10-11, KJV.

Note that reference to the Garden of the Lord (Eden) coupled with Egypt, a place in scripture always associated with a world apart from God!

From this reference to Egypt, we note that his stay there had influenced Lot. He had seen the opulence and prosperity in that country, indeed he had benefited from it himself.

He now makes a choice of pasture based, it seems, on natural sight rather than faith.

The cities of the plain

Leaving Abram, he travels east, over the Jordan River and goes outside the boundaries of the land of promise.

His choice and the lifting up of his eyes to behold fertile pasture with the needs of his herds and flock uppermost in his mind may have brought material prosperity but at a price. In the events of life which were now to unfold, his faith was tested to the utmost.

Notice how the record continues by pointing out the contrast between Abram and Lot

“12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Genesis 13v12, KJV.

The very next verse tells us that the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly. Lot was heading towards Sodom with its material prosperity and spiritual danger! Take note; these things often go hand in hand.

The battle of the kings. Back in a city

Genesis chapter 14 describes an epic battle between two groups of kings north and south of the land of Canaan. One of the kings involved was the king of Sodom and he was on the losing side. What emerges from this narrative is that Lot had now moved right into Sodom, we are told he dwelt in the city. His days as a tent dweller were over. Probably with flocks and herds sold, he returned to a life style reminiscent of Ur of the Chaldees which he had left so many years previously.

Lot was taken captive when Sodom was ransacked by the northern kings. The Bible goes out of its way to say that the aggressors took both Lot and his goods. Lot was a man of wealth within the confines of Sodom. Amazingly, Abram his uncle hears of his plight through one who escaped from Sodom. Abram, on hearing that Lot was among the captives, routes the enemy and rescues Lot. Surely now, Lot would go back to the land of promise and commence a pastoral life afresh?

No, he returns to Sodom. By this time he had put down roots there, his wife was probably an inhabitant of the city. Lot had a family who had grown in Sodom’s environs. The pull of the city was strong for him. We are not for one moment suggesting that Lot lost his faith, remember that description of him with which we commenced. Lot was a righteous man. Nevertheless, his choice of rich pasture all those years ago when he left Abram and the return to city life in Sodom made his journey of faith more challenging and difficult.

Lot proclaimed his faith in the promises of God in the difficult circumstances of city life where, as we learn from the New Testament, the preoccupation of the people was eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting and building. (Luke 17v28). These ‘harmless’ activities when kept in proper perspective were carried out against a backdrop of immoral and licentious living.

Worse was to come for Lot.

Sodom’s destruction

As Sodom degenerated morally, God declared that the city would be destroyed. You can read it in the second half of Genesis chapter 18 and the whole of Genesis chapter 19. By this time Lot, we read in Genesis chapter 19v1, ‘sat in the gate of the city’. This is a euphemism for stating he was now one of the ruling class. It was in the gate of the city that those in authority met to discuss civic affairs.

Two angels arrive on a mission to destroy the city and Lot offers them hospitality knowing that the streets of Sodom at night were no place for two visitors. During the hours of darkness, there was crowd violence and intimidation of the worst kind – Genesis 19:4-9 – and the angelic visitors saw that Sodom as a society was beyond redemption. ‘We will destroy this place’ they tell Lot and implore him to leave immediately with his family.

Get out of the city!

With his family divided and his sons in law mocking the message of the angels, Lot hesitates – Genesis 19:16 – and escapes from coming destruction only through the encouragement of the angel with, the record says, ‘the Lord being merciful unto him’.

Sodom was destroyed by fire and all Lot’s material possessions together with the majority of his family including his wife were destroyed. Two daughters accompanied him on the flight from Sodom. From a worldly point of view he had lost everything. He is reduced to living in a cave! Genesis 19:30. But through his difficult experiences, brought about in part by his own choice of lifestyle, Lot retained his faith in God. Described as a just (righteous) man we are sure he will be rewarded with a place in the Kingdom of God when Jesus returns to the earth.

What can we learn?

What about you and me? What can we learn from the record of Lot’s life, which is told in fragments in just nine chapters of scripture? A life, which commences in a city and concludes in a cave.

First we learn to believe the promises of God, the promise of the coming Kingdom of God on earth, which is one of the great themes of the Bible.

Second, as we read of Lot’s experiences we must resolve that we will, as far as possible, put a distance between ourselves and the aims of many men and women of the world in their materialistic outlook and loose attitude to moral living.

Our world today is like Sodom and will one day be engulfed in judgment when Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

This is the clear message of Jesus recorded in Luke 17 where he uses Sodom to describe the conditions that will exist on the earth when he returns. Read Luke 17: 24-33 and let’s heed the message which Jesus provides for us there. To save our life now, we need to lose it to today’s world. That is, we need to concentrate on the message of the gospel and put it at the centre of our life.

We will then, in God’s mercy, like Lot be rescued from this age and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Kingdom of God when Jesus returns to the earth.

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