When was the last time you heard a positive sermon on Lot? Here is what you will often hear: He was greedy – he chose the land that was lush for himself. He got himself entangled with evil – he camped near Sodom and with time he moved in. Conclusion– He was an evil man and you should never emulate him. Have you heard worse?
While the facts about Lot are reported accurately, often the conclusions we draw are not as accurate. Listen to what the scriptures say about Lot in 2 Peter 2:7-8 “…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)…” NASU. This forced me to go back to the original account in Genesis. Here is what I observed in chapter 19:
1. When the two visitors arrived in Sodom, Lot was sitting at the gate – most likely with a number of elders of the city. “When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.” He did not wait for them to approach. He rose and met them. Did he know they were angels? I doubt it. But he was practicing the godly virtue of showing hospitality to strangers. Hebrews 13:2 says “…do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” I wonder if the writer of Hebrews was referring to this incident when he wrote that statement. When a godly man is squeezed, godliness oozes out.
2. He invited them to stay at his house but they declined. He insisted. I wonder why. Did he know what might happen to them if they spent the night in the square as they proposed? He prevailed upon them and brought them home. What kind of man reasons with angels and prevails?
3. Once they were in the house, “…he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate…” Remember it was evening already. Lot was not expecting visitors. Preparing them a feast took time. It was not an ordinary meal. He treated them like royalty.
4. Then trouble began. “As they were preparing to retire for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out so we can have sex with them.” (NLT).” The thing that Lot feared was happening. His guests were unsafe- even in his house! It takes a courageous man to go out and address the whole city and refer to what they were suggesting as wicked. “But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.” It’s in the next sentence that Lot gets a lot of criticism. “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.” Before we repeat what we have always heard, let’s examine this scenario further:
a. Lot had successfully raised adult virgin daughters (who had boyfriends) in that immoral city. Not an easy task!
b. The men at his doorway were homosexuals. They had no interest in his daughters. You can see this in their initial request and in their response “…we shall do worse to you.”
c. Lot was in a tight situation. Some may read this and think I’m making excuses to make Lot look righteous. Well, I’m just trying to analyze the situation. Was Lot right in offering his daughters to the crowd? No. Can a righteous man make bad decisions? Yes. We see this in Abraham, Moses, David, Noah and others. But when all is said and done, the Lord draws his conclusions based on the condition of the heart.
At this point, Lot needed rescue. And the Lord came through. The angels reached out and pulled Lot into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the doorway with blindness “…so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.”
After the angels told Lot their mission, and urged him to gather his people for rescue, Lot went out of his house (that same night) to try to persuade the men pledged to be married to his daughters to escape with him. It takes a brave man to go out knowing he was a wanted man! Let me encourage you to read Genesis 19 and see what else you find.
Now, let’s process this. When was the last time you formed an opinion about someone based on what you had heard – without bothering to get the facts? Listen to what the scriptures say in Rom 14:4 “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” ESV. Every time you find yourself saying “I know the bible says xyz but…” be careful! Did Lot make some bad choices? Certainly. Was he an evil man? The scriptures call him righteous. That’s the very reason he was rescued from Sodom.
The words of our Lord in John 13:34, 35 are familiar: to love one another – by this all men will know we are his disciples. Among those that the Lord was addressing was Matthew (former tax collector) and Simon (the Zealot). Tax collectors worked for the Roman government. Zealots were opposed to it. Each had undoubtedly heard things about the other, some verifiable and some unverifiable. Naturally, they hated each other. In our day-to-day ministry, Navigator Field Ministry Partners (FMP) encounter people of divergent views. Learning from the story of Lot and the Lord’s command, we have trained ourselves to see dignity and value in every person. It is one of our core values. People are precious to God. To minister effectively to them we must see them as God sees them. I hope you’ve experienced God’s grace flowing to you through our FMP as they’ve served you.