Righteous Lot

Flight of Lot

And if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:6-9).

The inspired apostle Peter described Lot as being “righteous.” Yet this righteous man was not without his faults – he pitched his tent toward Sodom (Genesis 13:12), lived in Sodom (Genesis 14:12), and had to be taken by the hand to flee the city before it was destroyed (Genesis 19:16). In Lot we see one who was righteous; yet he too often focused on the wrong thing, tolerated too much, and compromised with the world.

There are some important lessons we can learn from Lot’s example – both good and bad. We will consider these lessons here.

Lot Was a Provider

When Lot separated from Abram, he looked for a place that would best sustain his herds and support his people. He chose “all the valley of the Jordan” which was “well watered…like the garden of the Lord” (Genesis 13:10-11). It is easy for us to see the poor choice he made. As he went in this direction, he “moved his tents as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord” (Genesis 13:12-13). However, Lot was not trying to see where he would find the most wicked people – he was trying to see where he could best provide for his own.

We have the same responsibility to provide for our own today. Paul wrote, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

Lot was a provider, but he also ignored the evil influences that he would encounter (Genesis 13:13). As a result of this evil influence, he lost his sons-in-law and his wife (Genesis 19:14, 26). His daughters had obviously been influenced by the wicked culture in Sodom as they planned to make their father drunk and have sexual relations with them after escaping the city (Genesis 19:32).

While we must provide for our own, providing spiritual training ought to be our highest priority. We must have the same determination as Joshua who declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). In order to make that happen, we need to be diligent to “bring…up [our children] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Worldly success or wealth is not worth it if it is spiritually detrimental to our family.

Lot Was Conscientious

Peter described Lot’s soul being “tormented day after day by [the] lawless deeds” of the inhabitants of Sodom (2 Peter 2:8). Those around him may have been influenced by sin – sons-in-law, wife, and daughters – but he was continually bothered by it. Though he would display poor judgment when the angry mob surrounded his house, the inspired apostle provided insight into Lot’s mental state – he was “oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men” (2 Peter 2:7).

The people of God should be bothered by sin. The psalmist wrote, “From your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104). When Paul was in Athens, “his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols” (Acts 17:16). The world around us is full of sin, but that should not mean that we become desensitized to it.

Lot was conscientious, but he also chose to stay in Sodom. We cannot be sure if Lot knew the moral condition of Sodom before he arrived or not (Genesis 13:13). However, he “settled” there (Genesis 13:12), indicating that this was not a temporary stay. Even if Lot did not learn of the moral depravity that existed in Sodom until after his arrival, he still chose to remain there with full knowledge of the city’s wickedness.

It is impossible for us to “go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:10). We cannot eliminate contact with sinners. However, we must carefully consider the spiritual implications of our surroundings. In the announcement of the fall of “Babylon,” God’s people were warned, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4). While God may not be directly involved in the overthrow of wicked nations today as He was then, there is an important principle for us to remember. Some places are more dangerous – physically and spiritually – because of the wickedness that is prevalent there. While it is important to be “lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15) wherever we are, we cannot allow ourselves to become so accustomed to the sin around us that we turn a blind eye to the damage our surroundings could inflict upon us and our families.

Lot Was a Protector

When two angels (in the form of men) came to Sodom, Lot welcomed them and brought them into his home (Genesis 19:1-3). While they were there, the men of Sodom surrounded the house and demanded that Lot hand over the two men so that they might “have relations with them” (Genesis 19:4-5). Lot refused to hand over the men, even placing himself outside between the angry mob and the door and pleaded with them to “not act wickedly” (Genesis 19:6-7).

Lot was showing hospitality to his guests as we are to do as well. The Hebrew writer commended this example to us: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). Hospitality is about providing help to strangers. We often think of this in terms of providing food or even a place to stay. But with Lot’s example, we can see that hospitality could also include providing safety as well.

Lot was a protector, but he also foolishly offered his daughters to the mob instead (Genesis 19:8). This was very poor judgment on Lot’s part. Obviously, he was reacting quickly to a heated situation and did not have time to stop and consider his response. But even so, Lot, in his mind, somehow rationalized the mob’s sin of raping his daughters as being “better” than raping the two men who were staying in his house.

On one hand, it is understandable for one to consider the sin of homosexuality as being “worse” than other types of fornication. All forms of fornication are wrong (Hebrews 13:4), but homosexuality is driven by a desire that is “unnatural” (Romans 1:26-27). However, sin is still sin. James wrote, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). We should not try to condone one sin because it is – in our minds – “better” than another.

Lot Was Pure in Heart

After escaping the city, Lot’s daughters made a plan to have children with their father (Genesis 19:30-36). They did not seek to entice him by lust. Despite living in Sodom, he was still “righteous” (2 Peter 2:8). They did not try to reason with him to convince him to go along with their plan. Though they thought their plan was reasonable – to preserve their family (Genesis 19:31-32) – they did not appeal to “situation ethics” to convince him to lie with them. Instead, they got him drunk (Genesis 19:33, 35) because this was the only way he would have sexual relations with them. Alcohol causes one who is otherwise a righteous man to change the way he views everything (Proverbs 23:33) and forget the difference between right and wrong (Proverbs 31:5). The fact that Lot’s daughters had to resort to alcohol demonstrates that their father was pure in heart.

The Lord expects us to be pure in heart as well. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Timothy was told to be “an example” in “purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). We are to think on those things which are “pure” (Philippians 4:8).

Lot was pure in heart, but he should have avoided alcohol. The wise man warned: “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:31-32).

Many professing Christians do not take the Bible’s warnings about alcohol seriously. While it is true that “a little wine” is permitted for medicinal purposes (1 Timothy 5:23), this is the exception. Aside from this, alcohol must be avoided. Peter condemned not only “drunkenness,” but also “carousing, [and] drinking parties” (1 Peter 4:3). All three terms refer to the use of alcohol. Even the casual use of alcohol – “drinking parties” (“social drinking”) – is condemned.

Lot Believed God’s Warning

After hearing of the coming destruction, Lot tried to convince his sons-in-law to escape also: “Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city” (Genesis 19:14). He obviously believed the warning and knew God would destroy the city (Genesis 19:12-13).

God has warned us of a future day of destruction that will be far greater than the destruction of Sodom. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). We also believe God’s warning – the day will come – and we look forward to that day (2 Peter 3:12).

Lot believed God’s warning, but he still hesitated. When the angels told him to leave in the morning (Genesis 19:15), he did not go right away. “So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city” (Genesis 19:16).

If we truly understand the severity of God’s punishment that is coming against “those who do not know God and…those who do not obey the gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8), we should not hesitate to make our lives right before Him. If you are not a Christian and need to be saved, “Why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). If you are a Christian who needs to make correction in your life, “Repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22). If you need to make your life right before God, now is not the time to hesitate; now is the time to act!

Conclusion

The example of Lot shows us how a righteous man can make mistakes and commit sin. This is not to excuse sinful behavior. Rather, it is to encourage us to be “careful how [we] walk” (Ephesians 5:15) so that we might continue to faithfully serve the Lord.


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Comments

  1. Good article…
    Concerning the “vexing” of 2 Peter 2:8, it is important to note that it was by Lot’s own “seeing and hearing” that he tormented {his own} soul. Scripture here blames Lot for his tormented condition. He tormented himself by remaining in that environment.

  2. True, he chose to remain in Sodom as long as he did. The vexing/tormenting of his soul was a consequence of his poor decision.