We are first introduced to Lot in Genesis 11: 27: “Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.” Young Lot was singled out as one of the grandsons of Terah because his father’s early demise: “Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees” (v 28).
The New Testament tells us much about Lot, especially his life amongst the wicked inhabitants of Sodom. Though Lot lived in the midst of the most vile sins and the grossest perversions, he remained stedfast in his faith: “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;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Pet. 2: 6-9).
In his epistle, the apostle Peter describes Lot as a “righteous man” (v 8). Though he was “vexed” or grieved by the wickedness around him, Lot did not follow the multitude to do evil. For this reason, God delivered Lot when He destroyed the twin cities of sin – Sodom and Gomorrah.
Peter portrays Lot as a man of faith living in a worldly and ungodly environment. As a believer, however, Lot was a poor testimony. Scripture presents him primarily as a negative example, as one who was continuously ensnared by the worldliness around him. His love for the world permeated his choices, his attitudes and his witness. As a result, Lot lived an ineffective and unprofitable life. Let us look at some causes of Lot’s failure:
1) He walked by sight and not by faith
Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He went with his uncle into Canaan, then to Egypt, and then to Canaan again (Gen. 12: 5, 10; 13: 1). Abraham was a man of faith whose heart and affections were set on the things of God (Heb. 11: 9-10). Sadly, Lot did not follow in the steps of his godly uncle in keeping close to the Lord.
When both men left Egypt, they were rich and had many possessions. With time, their substance became so great that “the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together … and there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle” (Gen. 13: 6-7). As the elder of the two, Abraham had the first pick of the land, but graciously offered his nephew the first choice: “If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left” (Gen. 13: 9).
From his vantage point, Lot saw the lush and fertile plain of the Jordan Valley. With his heart focused on his own desires and the needs of his flocks, Lot chose the rich and luxuriant Jordan plain: “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, 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” (Gen. 13: 10-11).
Lot’s choice of the land reflected his divided heart. It is clear that Lot’s choice was a selfish one based on his own heart’s yearnings. The Bible tells us that Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Gen. 13: 12). The next verse tells us more about his ungodly neighbours: “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly” (v 13).
In making his choice, Lot had walked by sight and not by faith. Though it was a sin city, Sodom might have appealed to Lot because of its climate and promise of a comfortable life. Lot had chosen the land based on its material advantages and conveniences.
There is no suggestion in the Biblical account that Lot was in any way enticed by the sin and gay company of Sodom, nor was he a Sodomite. But one thing is clear – Lot had failed to consider the spiritual well-being of himself and his family.
Lot’s choice of the “well watered” plain of Jordan turned out to be a poor one as revealed in the later chapters of Genesis. The next mention of Lot found him living in Sodom itself (Gen. 14: 12). It was in this wicked city that Lot was captured and had to be rescued by his uncle Abraham (Gen. 14: 1-16).
“When men, for worldly purposes, choose to dwell in places distinguished for wickedness, they expose themselves to share in the calamities which that wickedness brings upon the people” (Family Bible Notes).
Though Lot was a believer, he was a spiritual weakling who lived a fruitless life. Lot loved the things of this world more than the things of God. Walking more by sight than by faith, Lot chose the “well-watered” Jordan plain, based on what he could see and what he could gain. Soon, he moved to Sodom and dwelt in the wicked city among its ungodly residents. Lot paid a heavy price for his compromise with the world – daily his “righteous soul” was vexed by their “unlawful deeds” (II Pet. 2: 8).
Brethren, let us learn from Lot’s negative example. May we strive to be spiritually-minded and to exercise faith in the daily choices of life. (… to be continued)