Optional Obedience (Genesis 19)
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Hospitality and Hostility (verses 1-11)
The gate of the city was the focal point of all community activity. It was where the market place would have been and where the elders and the rulers of the city would have sat to discuss and deal with matters of justice. Sitting there, Lot appears to feel right at home among the people of Sodom. He had even bought some property and married a local. It seems he has assimilated well to the culture around him.
There is some evidence that Lot had a different spirit than the rest of Sodom’s population—he shows hospitality and kindness toward the two visitors and attempts to protect them, rather than harm them. However, at the same time, it’s clear that Lot had backslidden spiritually. While he was desperate on the one hand to protect the angelic guests, on the other hand he was desperate to make peace with the corrupt culture around him. According to 2 Peter 2:7-8, he was oppressed by the sinful behavior of Sodom, being tormented in his soul—but he was unwilling to give it up!
The depth of evil that was taking place in Sodom is clear by the attempt of the “young and old, all the people from every quarter,” to take advantage of the visitors (v. 5). Lot makes a desperate attempt to protect the two men by offering his two daughters in their place. How had Lot gotten into this situation? He had made wrong choices, choices that were based on worldly advantages rather than on the word of God. Put plainly, Lot was seeking to be a friend of the world (James 4:4). There is no better way to dull or blunt your spiritual discernment than to coddle the culture in this life. Assimilation with the world is only possible by compromising with God (c.f. Psalm 1).
Hesitating and Hurrying (verses 12-26)
The inspection tour is over and destruction is on the horizon (v. 13). However, when Lot—who himself doesn’t seem entirely convinced about the coming judgment—is unconvincing to his sons-in-law when he attempts to warn them (v. 16). Just as Sarah had laughed at the notion of divine grace, so also these men are now laughing at the notion of divine judgment. But God is not mocked! Even Lot delays his departure, assuming that he knows better than God. Such presumption regarding whether or not God knows best is a dangerous place for us!
Not only does Lot delay his departure, but he is also unwilling to fully obey, saying he cannot escape to the place they have told him. He argues with those who have come to save him, essentially debating the word of God. Lot’s lack of full and fast obedience was contagious and cruel, since in stopping short himself, he solidified his wife’s tragic end. She ultimately suffered the same fate as all the inhabitants of Sodom.
Hopeless Happenings (verses 27-38)
As Abraham awoke, anticipating the outcome of his intercession, he witnessed the smoke billowing from the ash. How his heart must have sank as he witnessed it! What about Lot? Yet, “God remembered Abraham” and rescued Lot (v. 29).
Lot finally makes it to the mountain, but the daughters become worried about how the family name will be carried on. How will they have families? Their solution—incest, of course! Is it not evidence that these girls were raised in Sodom? They were no longer in Sodom itself, but Sodom was embedded in them. Here is Lot’s sad epitaph: drunk, incestuous impregnation of his daughters. Listening and obeying God from the beginning would have gone a long way with Lot.
- When Peter refers to Lot (2 Pet 2:7-8), he refers to him as “that righteous man.” Despite all of Lot’s failures, Peter still calls attention to the grace of God that was evident in Lot’s life. Could the same be said of you? Do you tend to notice the evidence of God’s grace in others and rejoice in it, attempting to fan it aflame? Or are you more prone to notice their failures and errors, and call attention to that instead?
- The Lord “remembered Abraham,” and as a result, rescued Lot. Have you considered who God may have remembered when He rescued you? Are you praying prayers in hopes that God will “remember” you and save souls?
- There is something worse than being destroyed by the fire and brimstone in Sodom. Jesus warns us that to have been inundated with the privileges of Christ’s presence, and yet remain unmoved by it all, will result in an even greater judgment on us than on Sodom (Matthew 11:23-24). You must escape the judgment that is soon to fall on “Sodom,” and the only safe refuge for you to flee to is Christ.