August 24, 2014
How many times can you recall making a decision based on what your eyes saw and nothing more? Lot made that kind of decision. He saw, he chose (based on what he saw), and he lost. He made the wrong choice because of two reasons. He chose based on his own desires and more importantly, […]
How many times can you recall making a decision based on what your eyes saw and nothing more? Lot made that kind of decision. He saw, he chose (based on what he saw), and he lost. He made the wrong choice because of two reasons. He chose based on his own desires and more importantly, he didn’t consult with God. The evil of Sodom was disregarded. There was no prayer for guidance and no thought given to how he could best serve God. Contrast that with Abram, who left his path in God’s hands by letting Lot make his choice first.
Concerning this, Oswald Chambers writes: “If you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing. Many of us don’t continue to grow spiritually because we prefer to choose on the basis of our rights, instead of relying on God to make the choice for us.”
Lessons of providence are not lost on those who wait upon God. Abram couldn’t forget what Egypt had taught him; rich as he was, he didn’t put riches first. He already saw that a place which looks like a garden of the Lord in external beauty may be a cursed land after all. There are people of God who pitch their tents toward Sodom today, and they will reap evil fruits, just like Lot did. We can’t be too careful where we pitch our tents.Lot owed much to Abram, yet he seized an advantage. The man who loves himself more than his neighbor is still devoid of the spirit of Christ. How much more so, his own dear uncle that has done so much for him? Lot looks and it reminded him of the land of the Nile. Evidently the spirit of Egypt, where he just came from, is still in him. He chooses Sodom but along with it comes the devil disguised in lush foliage, beautiful lakes, and a whole new world of corruption, off the scales on the chart of sin. Abram turns away and heads toward the land left to him. He has his tent, his altar, the promises, and his God; and Abram will live in peace. His Heavenly Father will not forsake him. In fact, God very quickly renewed His promises to Abram and the unselfishness of a peaceful man brought many blessings.
All of us have been down the road of choices many times in our lives. If you saw the movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks, you’ll remember how the move ended with him getting out of his car at a lonely four way intersection of desert highway and pondering his choice. I don’t recall him looking up and asking God to choose his road. More often than not, the decisions that we’re confronted with are not that dramatic but sometimes they are. God wants his children to ask Him about every one of them. Do you realize how foolish it is not to? Simply ask, “God, what would You have me do here?” He wants to be involved in every aspect of your life and this is how to involve Him.
I can envision Lot at night pushing back the flap on his tent, looking out and thinking, “Man, that is one beautiful spot down there!” When the day came that Lot could make a decision and go, you know the direction he went. No one falls suddenly. It always takes place over a period of time. You just lift the flap of your tent, and you pitch your tent toward Sodom – and that’s the beginning. Lot lifted up his eyes, he saw the plain, and he headed in that direction. The next time we hear of Lot, he’s living inside the city mixed in with its people. Take one step toward sin and the other foot follows. Once on the incline it snowballs.
All sorts of compromises begin surfacing. “I know that accepting this new job means less time for my family, but the money will be worth it. Besides, lots of people are working 10-12 hours these days. I know I shouldn’t be going out after work with this bunch because they drink and carry on, but I just want to fit in. I know I shouldn’t be missing church to go golfing with the boss but think of the points I’ll be racking up with him. I know I shouldn’t buy this new car and get into debt but my car is five years old now and besides, it was going to start having problems real soon.” I know, I know, I know….man, we’re just SO SMART aren’t we? “I can do this” we say! The problem is that Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do NOTHING!”
It starts with something we see and want. We see it through the peep hole of the door and decide to open the door slightly. We figure we can manage to get a better look, a little closer won’t hurt. But when the door opens, sin gets a foothold and we’re in trouble. 38 years ago in basic training, our drill instructor told us, “Nobody gets through that front door unless they show you a valid ID through that window and that includes me. And I’ll test you too. But let me warn you right now that once you open that door enough for me to get my foot in, don’t even try to close it on me or it’ll be the worst mistake you ever made.” One poor guy that had guard duty got tested later that week. The Sergeant was yelling that he left his I.D. home and had no time for games because we had to get out onto the field and if he didn’t open that door, he was going to bust it down and then bust him up! He took the fire extinguisher off the wall and started pounding on the door like a battering ram on the door of an ancient city that was under siege. We were all in shock with our mouths open and that guard just stood his ground, shaking like a leaf, but he didn’t cave! The Sergeant then calmed down and showed him his I.D. and as the door was opened for him, he told the guard, “Good job!”
The foot of the beast getting into the door is exactly what happens to us when we give the devil a foothold by opening the door even a tiny bit to sin. The door bursts open and you won’t even know what hit you! It all starts with what’s pleasing to the eye. That was one of Satan’s first weapons in his vast arsenal. Gen 3:6 “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Lot lifted up his eyes and saw the plain and everything about it was crying out to him: “choose me.” Both Eve and Lot chose to please the flesh. Both looked, both chose, both lost.
That’s the biggest mistake Lot ever made in his life. We’re told in verse 13, that “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinning before the Lord exceedingly.” And this wasn’t a secret. Everyone knew what kind of people they were. They were well known for their sinful lifestyle. But Lot thought, “I can live down there without becoming one of them.” No you can’t! The Bible gives us much advice on separating ourselves from sin. That’s why believers are instructed not to yoke themselves with unbelievers. They say, “Oh, I will change them.” Oh no you won’t! In fact, they’re more likely to change you by being a bad influence on you! Satan’s playground is not for God’s children. But Lot never thought about that. He knew about those Sodomites, and he should have considered it. If you put his actions into words, it says, “Grass for my sheep and prime real estate are more important than fellowship with God and a clear conscience. A guy’s gotta look out for #1 you know, and besides, I can worship God down there as well as up here.” Notice what his eyes feasted upon: “The whole plain of the Jordan was well watered like the Garden of Eden.” He’s just thinking about that fertile soil and how well he’s going to do in that land. There ahead lies the Jordan Valley with its green foliage, abundance of water, and the glittering cities. But up on the hill where Abram would be, there was little to tempt anyone, mostly rocks. While it may not be possible to avoid all contact with wicked men, it is advisable for God’s people to stay as far away from them as possible, and especially from transgressors like the Sodomites! Mingling with and marrying into the families of the ungodly will lead to ruin for the child of God. The most harm done to the Church of Christ arises from throwing down the wall of separation between it and the world. Separation from and nonconformity to the world, especially the wicked portion of it, is the duty of all believers, Romans 12:2. Even though Lot was a good man, that wouldn’t prevent the gradual deterioration of his nature through the evil influence of his neighbors. “He that walks with wise men shall be wise; but the companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Lot’s soul was being eaten away little by little! We’re told in 2 Peter 2:8 that Lot, “while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds.” Our Lord Jesus tells us “to seek first the kingdom of God” but there is a terrible evil in this world that is spreading far and wide which tells us to seek first the world and its pleasures and to put Christianity away and out of sight in the dresser drawer somewhere behind the socks and underwear.
So how’d it work out for Lot? Well, the information we’re given is about his new neighbors and what kind of people they were. Verse 13 tells us. It doesn’t say that they were rude or stand-offish, it doesn’t say they were mean, it says they were wicked! That’s a strong word friends! It means they were plain downright evil! And what are we told that made them so? They were sinning greatly against the Lord. Not just your run of the mill lying and cheating, not just your run of the mill sinning, if there is such a thing, but sinning greatly! Though all are sinners, the men of Sodom were sinners of the first degree! Isaiah 3:9 tells us about those that declare their sin like Sodom, they hide it not. They were painting the town red every night and going back for more paint! They weren’t just rebel-rousing, they were throwing it in God’s face! We have our share of cities like that today, don’t we? Lot didn’t seek first the kingdom of God, so it stands to reason that the next thing we’re told about him in chapter 14 is that he’s taken captive.
Fleshly choices are sinful choices and rarely turn out the way we’d hoped. Those who make choices guided by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life, and don’t consult with God, cannot expect His blessings or His presence to be with them. Lot gave no consideration whatsoever toward the wickedness of those that lived in Sodom.
Note how the prosperity of fools destroys them, maybe not right away but eventually. The age old question of why do the wicked prosper. David asked it to God and God basically told him that their day is coming. Here we have God giving great prosperity to sinners. Filthy Sodomites living in a city with fruitful plains, while faithful Abram and his family live in tents over in the barren mountains. When wickedness has come to new heights, ruin is not far off. Sins that just seem to reach new levels of abomination daily are sure signs of approaching judgments. And the Sodomites will get theirs. All the enemies of God, that throw it in His face, will get theirs. We’re told in 2 Peter 2:7-8 that Lot was a righteous man. So living in this city was a great affliction for him because he wasn’t just grieved to see their wickedness but he was also molested and persecuted by them because he wouldn’t join in on their abominations. He brought it upon himself with an unadvised choice. Our lives are filled with choices every day. Most of them are minor in nature but many are also life changing choices and we must understand that for every choice there is a consequence. Are you really willing to make any of those choices without consulting your Maker?
A 6th century Welsh patron saint wrote: “Are you uncertain about which direction you should go? Ask God for the answer and either get the light of His smile or the cloud of His refusal. You must get alone with Him, where the lights and the darkness of this world can’t interfere and where the opinions of others can’t reach you. You must also have the courage to wait in silent expectation, even when everyone around you is insisting on an immediate decision or action. If you will do these things, the will of God will become clear to you. And you will have a deeper concept of who He is, having more insight into His nature and His heart of love.”
This is what Lot took into account: His own worldly circumstances and the suitability of the Jordan plains to advance them. Here’s what He didn’t take into account:
- The reverence due his uncle and the greater right that Abram had to the soil of Canaan.
- The danger in parting with Abram, of separating himself from Abram’s God.
- The risk of damage to his soul in settling in the Jordan plains, and that no amount of worldly advantage can justify that.
Lot knew that Abram was called by God to go on this mission. He should have known that while one is on the path of Providence, he can expect Divine direction. In other words, every step that Abram took was under the shadow of protection of Almighty God. If God is for us, who then is against us? No weapon formed against you shall prosper! It is when we leave the paths of Providence and rely on our own wisdom and strength that we are doomed for failure. The world is too powerful and cunning an enemy for the believer to encounter by any might and skill of his own. He that would be victorious must have all the strength of the kingdom of God fully engaged on his side. He must enter this conflict as a loyal and obedient child of God. The grace of God is not given in one 8 ounce glass to chug down which suffices once and for all. The grace of God is a source of perpetual strength that must be taken in day by day, and moment by moment. We can never think that we’ve had our fill and we’re ready to go, wiping our mouth and tossing the glass. Rely on it as readily as the air that you breathe. Because the moment you stop relying on it, the power of evil gains on you and you’re in spiritual danger.
Here’s the lesson for us: Anything that God has to show us is infinitely better than anything the world has to offer. Lot chose for himself and being deceived by what he saw, he stumbled blindly into heartache and judgment. Just because something glitters doesn’t mean that it’s gold. Hence the old but true saying, “All is not what it appears to be.” Our Lord Jesus said, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” (Mt 16:26). Abram, on the other hand, was content to let God choose for him. Lot chose for himself and lost everything; his family, his fortune, and his favor with man. Contentment comes when we want God’s will more than our own way. Can you honestly say that’s the case with you? May it be for all of us.