Scriptural Series: The Life and Times of Lot
Recently, I was studying the life of Abraham, and I must confess that man is an enigma. He is the MVP. However, as part of his story, I came across the story of his nephew called, Lot. Lot’s story has so much depth that I decided to write about it.
So, how did Lot come into the picture? God told Abraham to leave his family and country and move to another country. Abraham obeyed and took along his wife, his nephew (and his family), and all their possessions. On their journey, Abraham’s possessions and Lot’s possessions grew so much that their servants began to quarrel because of space. Abraham decided to take action and asked his nephew to separate from him so that the strife amongst their servants would not degenerate and destroy their relationship. Also, there would be enough pasture for their flocks with the separation. Lot looked around and chose to move to the fertile plains of Sodom and Gomorrah and live with the land’s inhabitants. However, the land’s inhabitants were so evil that God chose to destroy them. Lot managed to escape with his wife and two daughters. Sadly, his wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, leaving Lot to care for his two daughters. Towards the end of Lot’s life, his daughters decided that incest with their father would preserve the father’s lineage, so they drugged their father and committed incest. That was the last reference to Lot in the story of Abraham.
I found this story fascinating because it spoke a lot about good intentions and revealed the heart’s motives. So, let’s dive into the details.
Our first contact with Lot is in Genesis 12.
So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. — Genesis 12:4–5a (NKJV)
Lot’s father died in Haran (Genesis 11:28), so Abraham became a father figure to him i.e., a mentor and spiritual covering over him. It was no surprise that Lot followed Abraham on the journey.
Our next contact with Lot occurs in Genesis 13:5–11 (too long to quote). But here is the summary. The possessions of both Abraham and Lot had become quite large, which resulted in strife among their workers. So, Abraham suggested that they separate.
Abraham’s suggestion of a physical split was not wrong. Physical separation was necessary for organizational reasons. However, Abraham did not suggest a complete separation. From when Lot left Abraham, we never read that Lot had any further contact with Abraham again. This complete physical and relational separation from Abraham left Lot without a father figure (or mentor). Until this point, Lot has modelled his life after Abraham’s, and God has blessed him because of that association. Lot failed to realize Abraham’s influence.
Be discerning of your relationships. Not all relationships have the same impact. Keep relationships that matter no matter how successful you become or the physical distance.
Abraham gave Lot the option to choose first, and we come to this portion of the passage:
And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. — Genesis 13:10–11 (NKJV).
Lot decided on where to go based on what he could see. He could see beauty, fertility and prosperity. So, he chose to go in that direction. However, in this case, the external pleasing characteristics covered evil.
Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord. — Genesis 13:12–13 (NKJV).
The men of the land were exceedingly wicked and sinful. Note the word exceedingly in the passage. The level of wickedness and sin in the land was not just the standard; it was more significant than usual.
Also, we immediately notice a problem with Lot’s decision. He chose based on what he could see alone. Sadly, he could not see the evil festering within such external beauty.
I want to pause here and note that I am writing Lot’s story keeping in mind that Lot was a human like me (and you). We are susceptible to making the same decisions that Lot made. In contemporary times, the choice of Lot to go to Sodom is an exact parallel to that of a man choosing to marry a woman based on looks alone, only to discover after marriage that she is wicked or lazy. Or a woman choosing to marry a handsome or rich gentleman only to find he is an abuser, liar or cheater after marriage. This parallel occurs in every area of our lives, i.e., from career choices to living choices. So, I am writing this with humility and asking God for mercy as I write so we can make better choices when confronted with the same situations.
Our senses are limited. Do not make decisions based on what you can see, feel, touch, or hear alone. Ask for God’s wisdom.
Anyway, Lot’s story continues with his captivity in the attack on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 14). His uncle, Abraham, gathers all the forces in his house and rescues Lot. Lot returns home to Sodom and Gomorrah with all his possessions intact.
The next time we see Lot in the story is in Genesis 18. Abraham receives three strange visitors. One of the visitors warns him about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah while the other two visitors go ahead to Sodom. Abraham remembers his nephew, who lives in the land and intercedes for the whole land. Abraham negotiates with God and asks God if He will destroy the country if there are only 50 righteous people. God said no, He won’t. Abraham negotiates until ten righteous people and, for some reason, ends the intercession at that point.
Intercession is important. We all need someone to speak on our behalf at different times.
The two visitors to Abraham that went ahead reached Sodom and planned to stay overnight in the open square. Lot is aware of the danger in the city, and he pressures the two visitors to stay at his home. The two visitors agreed and went to his house.
Be hospitable; it might save your life
After dinner, the men of the city come to Lot’s house and besiege it asking him to bring out the visitors so they can have carnal relations with them. In our language today, it means the men wanted to have sex with the visitors. Apparently, visitors offer a change from the norm 😅 . Lot begged the men of the city and said:
and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” — Genesis 19:7–8 (NKJV)
Note Lot’s statement. He knew what would happen if the visitors stayed in the open square, so he insisted they go to his house. Lot’s intentions were good. But his alternative was surprising. He offered his daughters up for rape to save the visitors. This act was noble and probably in line with eastern hospitality, where you must protect your guests at all costs. But imagine the terror of his daughters at that moment. The question is, was there a possible win-win solution where the city’s men would not rape his visitors, nor would he have to offer his daughters to rape? Yes. Read on.
It is also important to note something here. The response of the men to Lot’s proposition was:
And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. — Genesis 19:9
Note what the men said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge”. This statement meant this was not the first time that Lot would rebuke or correct the men of the land. He did not keep quiet amid evil.
Do not keep quiet amid evil. Speak up
After the men’s response, the angels (remember I said they were strange visitors) pull Lot back into the house and strike the men of the city with blindness such that they cannot find the door of the house. In a situation where all else fails, God does not. He always provides the win-win solution. No one was raped.
The angels then told Lot their mission in Sodom and asked Lot to get all his relatives so that they could escape from the land. Lot tried to convince his daughters’ fiancés’, but they were reluctant to leave. That is understandable because this is their home. And it was beautiful and fertile. Even, Lot was also unwilling to leave.
And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. — Genesis 19:16
Of course, he would be reluctant; anyone would be. His life possessions were in Sodom. He would lose everything he spent his life gathering. The only reason he stayed amid the evil was the opportunity for gain. Thank God for his mercies (which we all need every moment); he was practically forced out of Sodom. Remember I said hospitality might save your life one day.
A quick pause here. Lot’s desire to keep his possessions is familiar, especially if our identity is bound by what we have or own. When our possessions define our identity, our possessions influence all our choices. The desire to keep growing his possession kept him in a land filled with evil.
Do not allow your possessions or anything else to define your identity. Let your identity be bound in Christ. He is the only one who has your good in mind.
In the end, he left, but he lost his precious possessions.
On the way, the angels instructed them not to look back. Looking back would signify longing and desire to be back in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. The longing for her possession forced her to look back. She longed for it, so she did not escape.
Lot made it out with his two daughters and ran to the mountains. In the mountains, his daughters decided that since Lot was old and there were no men to marry in the mountains, they needed to preserve their father’s lineage. So they committed incest (Genesis 19:31–38). Indeed, they must have seen and witnessed this in Sodom and Gomorrah for them to have thought about it. His daughters had good intentions (like their father once did, too), but the evil influence of Sodom never left them since that was all they knew.
Be careful of the environment you train your kids and the examples that you set. The environment and the standards you set have a powerful influence on their future choices.
Lot’s story is very instructive because it can happen to anyone. Lot cut off from his father figure. We are all tempted to do this at different points for different reasons. We need God’s grace and help to stay humble and connected.
Then he was led by his senses and the potential to increase his wealth. We all have examples of instances when our feelings led us to make choices we regretted.
So, his senses took him to an evil land. Instead of leaving the land, he stayed because his identity grew bound to his possessions over time. This identity crisis here happens to us all, and it takes the connection with our God, His Word, and the shepherds he placed over us to deliver us.
The following points are positive. Lot kept preaching in the land and did not lose the earlier lessons he had learned from his mentor. We need to hold on to the truths in the Word of God.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. — Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)
and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) — 2 Pet 2:7–8 (KJV)
Sadly, because of his loss of contact with his father figure, he did not realize that his own life and generation were in peril. The spirit of the land entered his wife so that she could not leave. And then the continued impressions of evil in the land made his children commit incest without remorse.
In summary, Lot was a human like you and me. We are susceptible to making the same choices he made. Therefore, we must seek God’s mercy and stay alert.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. — 1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV)