Genesis 19:1-29 Living with the end in mind

Genesis 19:1-29

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.” 3 Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. 

4 Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; 5 and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” 6 But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, 7 and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. 8 Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11 They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.

12 Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; 13 for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
15 When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he hesitated. 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. 

17 When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.” 18 But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords! 19 Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; 20 now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.
23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; 28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. 29 Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

Background

The outcry of oppression and sin rises up to the throne of God who then comes to investigate and to determine the verdict. The angels arrive at the city and turn aside to lodge in Lot’s residence. The hostility of the people towards the angels seals the fate of the city. The angels are given the tasks to evacuate righteous Lot and his family to safety. Lot and his daughters are eventually brought to safety but suffer total loss of all their possessions. The destruction of Sodom and Lot’s loss attest to the differing treatment of the righteous on the day of judgment. Only those who are whole-heartedly righteous while seeking the fulfilment of God’s kingdom will be rewarded with eternal life. Today’s devotion reminds us of Jesus’s saying, “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” John 12:25. Therefore, we must always endeavour to live with the end in mind.

Observation

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.

The angels arrive at the city of Sodom and they turn to meet Lot at the gate having ascertained the truth concerning the outcry of the oppressed. Lot greets them in the same manner exercising utmost hospitality as does Abraham. The angels’ reluctance signals impending danger that might come upon Lot’s family should they lodge at Lot’s residence. Nevertheless, the angels agree to Lot’s persistent request and enter his house.

Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house.

Word gets around that the foreigners are lodging at Lot’s residence. The mob at the door (that comprises both young and old, all the people from every quarter) gather aggressively towards the men suggesting an earlier encounter before they meet Lot. It is possible that the angels while surveying the city have spoken judgment against the people: This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge. In wanting to protect his guests, Lot is caught between a rock and a hard place. Nevertheless, when the mob is about to break down the door, the angels intervene blinding them in the process. Lot’s exceptional hospitality in receiving the angels stands in stark contrast with the hostility of the people which attests to his righteousness. Having said, Lot fails to influence his wife and family towards godliness. His daughters are betrothed to men who are oblivious to the destruction that is about to come.

12 Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here?.

The incident at the door seals the fate of the city. The angels proceed to gather Lot’s family and sons-in-law for evacuation before dawn. However, Lot’s message is perceived by his sons-in-law as jesting. When the morning dawns and destruction is imminent, Lot hesitated even at the final call. The angels seize Lot, his wife and two daughters and bring them out of the city. The text makes special mention of the Lord’s compassion upon righteous Lot setting him apart from the rest of the city.

“Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.” 

After the angels have brought Lot and family out of the confines of the city, they are to continue on their way to safety in the mountains. However, Lot insists that he cannot survive the mountains and pleads with the angels to let him reside at the nearest town of Zoar. For that reason, the angels did not overthrow the town of Zoar. It can be observed here that the motivation for Lot’s intercession for Zoar contrasts with Abraham’s intercession for the cities. Abraham’s intercession is motivated by mercy, whereas Lot is motivated by personal preservation.

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.

After Lot arrives at the town of Zoar at midday (the sun had risen over the earth), the Lord destroys the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with brimstone and fire out of heaven. Lot’s wife did not survive despite the angels’ attempt to save her as she looked back connoting a decision to remain in the doomed city. The text makes another mention that because of Abraham’s intercession, God has earmarked Lot for salvation.

Truth

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

Lot, although a believer of Yahweh and participant of Abraham’s promise is seen as half-hearted towards Yahweh’s vision of the Promised Land; for he looks to settle at Sodom outside the boundaries of Canaan. Whereas Abraham fixes his eyes whole-heartedly at Canaan despite it being prone to droughts. As we know it, Abraham goes on to become extremely blessed on earth and in heaven.

Lot represents a majority of Christendom today, who are half-hearted in their commitment towards God’s vision of the kingdom. They find the glamour of the world and the comfort of life more appealing than the approval of God. Like Lot, many will lose all that they have laboured for. No doubt, Lot is counted as righteous as compared to the rest of the city but pales in comparison with the righteousness of Abraham. The characteristics of Lot’s righteousness are as follows,

  • A half-hearted and passive righteousness that offers little influence (Lot fails to influence his family for good. Lot’s daughters are betrothed to men who do not believe).
  • Choosing to pursue the glamour of the world and comfort of life while leaving the work of God’s kingdom to those who are “committed” (Lot chooses to settle in the well watered region at the boundaries of the Promised Land, but not in it).
  • While he does not steal or do evil, his desires remain largely earthly and self-centred (Lot hesitates to leave the city even at the final call for evacuation.)
  • Intercedes for others while being driven by personal agenda. (Lot intercedes for Zoar for his own personal benefit.)
  • Outcome: He suffers great losses.

The characteristics of Abraham’s righteousness are as follows,

  • A whole-hearted and active righteousness that is infectious influencing the community and his children towards godliness. (Abraham makes righteous alliances and Isaac becomes godly choosing to marry woman of faith.)
  • Fully committed to do his utmost in bringing God’s kingdom vision to pass (Abraham settles in the land of Canaan despite the frequent famines in the land rejecting the luxurious and well watered regions of Jordan.)
  • Always looking to establish justice and to help others without asking anything in return. (Abraham comes to the defence of the western alliance against the eastern confederacy).
  • Constantly intercedes for justice and prosperity of the nations by becoming salt and light. (Abraham intercedes for the cities of Sodom).
  • Outcome: The reward of eternal life and glory.

As we know it, Abraham continues to grow in wisdom, wealth and influence whereas Lot loses everything he possesses. Both Abraham and Lot are considered righteous and possessors of the promise. One (for the sake of temporal gain) disappears into oblivion while the other becomes father of the nations and receives eternal life. The apostle Paul says that those who possess Abraham’s kind of faith and attitude will obtain the promise,

For this reason it is by faith, … so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. Romans 4:16

As Abraham is honoured on earth and glorified in the heavenly kingdom, so will those who possess Abraham’s faith and attitude. Lot loves his life and in seeking after earthly riches and comfort, he loses everything even though he is saved. Abraham relentlessly pursues God’s righteousness and vision and is rewarded with wealth, and eternal life.

The circumstances surrounding Lot after the destruction of Sodom attests to the differing treatment God accords to the righteous on judgment day. To one who is whole-hearted in living out the righteousness of God, God rewards with eternal life and glory. But to one who is half-hearted, who puts his personal dreams above the call of God, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:15).

Application

Do a survey for yourself based on the following:

  • Do you consider yourself as infectious and influential concerning the virtues of mercy, justice and humility at the work place and community?
  • Do you pursue career progression and the practical concerns of life while deriving empathy and spiritual support from God? Or do you endeavour to understand God’s will daily and to live it out while depending on God to further your career?
  • Are you always thinking of the benefit of the whole while being diligent to do the best that you can? Or are you constantly on a look out for opportunities and always being the one to get there first.
  • Do you often consider the moral climate of your community and work place and seek to influence it for good? Or do you often complain about the injustice while doing nothing about it.

Dear Lord, keep my heart trained and focused towards the call of your kingdom. Strengthen me to speak the truth and to live it out. Cause me to always have in mind the benefit of the whole. I believe that you will exalt the humble in due time for your righteousness’ sake. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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