************ Sermon on Genesis 13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 19, 2012
"The Well Watered-Plain"
Who is Lot? What can we say about him? He is Abraham's nephew. Like Abraham, he lived in Ur of the Chaldees. He was a wealthy man. Preachers warn us not to be like Lot. But there is more we can say. Scripture can tell us in 2 Peter 2:7-8 that Lot was
(2 Pet 2:7-8) a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (8) (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard).He was not a heathen. He was not even a bad guy according to Scripture. Three times Peter tells us he was a righteous man. That means he was one of God's children, that he was saved by grace through faith, that he loved the Lord. This is not to deny that Lot made a mistake in going down to Sodom – because he did. But still, he was a righteous man.
The story in front of us is the story of a righteous man of God who makes a decision which ends up being a turning point in his life – a decision that affects him for good or evil the rest of his life. More specifically, the story in front of us is the story of a righteous man making a bad mistake. It is the story of a man of God who made a fundamental error in judgment.
This story, of course, is not unique to Lot. It is a story that everyone of us should be able to identify with and relate to. All of us at one time or another have stood or will stand where Lot stood. Like Lot, we've had the chance or will have the chance to make a decision, to go in a direction, that ends up being a turning point in our lives – a decision that affects us for good or evil the rest of our life:
-There comes the time we meet the man or woman we marry – that effects us for good or evil the rest of our life.
-All of those in Corcoran prison, they made a decision one day to shop-lift, or to sell drugs, or to grab a gun and get even – that started them on the road that ends in prison.
-Drug addicts and alcoholics stand up in a meeting one day and announce they need help – that stays with them the rest of their life.
-A pair of teenagers cross a line, a sexual boundary, and end up with a pregnancy – this is something they have to deal with the rest of their lives.
-A married man or woman becomes involved with someone who is not their spouse – and that is the first step leading to divorce and loss of family.
Like Lot, many of us make or will make the wrong decision when we stand at any of these turning points in our lives.
The story of Lot and Sodom, then, is a story we all can learn from. It is a story we can all take to heart. It is a story that encourages and admonishes us all.
I Lot's Choice
A Looking at verses 2 & 5 we can only conclude that both Abraham and Lot were very wealthy. Both had been richly blessed by the Lord in terms of flocks, herds, and servants. They were so wealthy, especially in animals, that the "land could not support them while they stayed together" (Gen 13:6). There wasn't enough grass, water, or even room for both their flocks and herds. This difficulty was only increased by the fact that the Canaanites and Perizzites were also dwelling in the land so that the available space was very congested. As a consequence, arguments broke out between the herdsmen of Abraham and the herdsmen of Lot – they both wanted grass, water, and space for their master's animals. Perhaps the servants of Abraham and Lot even came to physical blows in their arguments with each other.
B Abraham proposed to Lot a solution to their problems. He knew it was not right for brothers in the Lord to fight with each other. He also knew that the land as a whole was more than big enough to support both their herds and flocks (Gen 13:8). So he said,
(Gen 13:9) Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left.
How selfless Abraham was here; how generous and kind. More than that, we can say that Abraham acted kingly. In chapter 12 we can read of Abraham at Shechem. There, at the site of the altar that he built, God promised Abraham, "To your offspring I will give this land" (Gen 12:7). And now, before Lot, Abraham acted as though the whole land was already at his disposal, while in actual fact he did not yet own a single acre. Abraham regarded Canaan as his own. He was so certain of God's promise that, in his mind anyway, he already possessed the land. What faith! What conviction!
We may likewise lay spiritual claim to all that God has promised us in Christ, for He will surely keep His promises. The only question is, do we dare to have the faith Abraham had?
C Of course, it was God's hand behind the suggestion to "part company" (Gen 13:8) When God had first called Abraham He said,
(Gen 12:1) Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. Accordingly, Abraham left his country, he left his people, and he left all his family. The one exception was Lot. Lot represented Abraham's last link with his past. Lot represented Abraham's last link with what God had told him to leave behind. In God's scheme of things, Lot was a link that had to be severed. Furthermore, the promise of a son and the land was made to Abraham – not to Abraham and Lot. So the Lord wanted Lot withdrawn from the scene.
D Lot, then, was given a choice. He was at a turning point in his life. He was being called upon to make a decision that would affect him and his family for the rest of his life.
(Gen 13:9) Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."Abraham gave Lot the choice of the land. Lot could pick and choose what he wanted for his flocks, herds, and servants.
When Abraham said this we are to imagine him and Lot standing on one of the low mountains of Judea. Stretched out before them in all four directions was the Promised Land. Scripture tells us that
(Gen 13:10-11) Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt ... (11) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company.
Lot picked the Jordan River Valley because it was well watered. It was well watered like the Garden of Eden – which was planted by the Lord between three rivers. It was well watered like Egypt – a land made so very fertile by the yearly overflowing of the Nile River. A well watered land means a land filled with lush grass and vegetation. Lot picked the east because he knew what was best for his herds and flocks. The lush and moist grass of the valley was better than the coarse and dry grass of the hill country. Lot knew he would prosper in the valley. Lot was rich already but he wanted to be even richer.
Lot was at a turning point. He chose bucks over his soul. He chose treasure on earth rather than treasure in heaven. He chose not to seek first the kingdom and its righteousness.
Lot did not learn from Uncle Abraham, did he? We looked at Abraham last week. Abraham made some bad choices, some wrong choices, that he ended up regretting. He went to Egypt for food without inquiring of the Lord. He lied about his relationship with Sarah, saying she was his sister rather than his wife. He endangered his marriage and God's plan for our salvation. Abraham put food before the well-being of his soul, personal safety before the safety of his wife, the demands of Pharaoh before the sanctity of his marriage, and his own plans before God's plan for our salvation. Nothing bad happened because it was God Who acted to preserve Abraham and his marriage.
It appears that Abraham learned, the hard way, from what happened to him. Lot, on the other hand, who watched and saw everything that happened in Egypt, took a more worldly approach. He saw that Pharaoh lavished presents upon Abraham. Lot learned from this that you can profit by going the way of the world.
II Lot's Choice a Sin
A It is clear from Scripture that Lot made a tragic choice. It is equally clear that Lot's choice was sinful.
Lot chose the Jordan River Valley. And, says the Bible, he "pitched his tents near Sodom" (Gen13:12). Now according to Scripture, "the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord" (Gen 13:13). Yes, Lot "was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men" (2 Pt 2:7). Yes, Lot "was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard" (2 Pt 2:8). Nevertheless, Lot endangered the eternal well-being of his soul and the souls of his family. For we know that Lot was not content with pitching his tent near Sodom. The next time we see him, he and his family were living in the city. He had bought a house in town.
B You may ask, "What's wrong with this?" Let me tell you what is wrong. It is a fact of life in this world that no one can escape being affected by his or her environment. If a person gets enough exposure to evil and wickedness eventually it rubs off and his standards start to slip. Take a simple matter like cartoons on TV. As you well know, some of them are filled with violence. Studies have shown that children regularly tuned in to this sort of violence are far more apt to attempt the same sort of violence on a play-mate. The same thing is true with so-called adult programs with their sex and violence. Someone tried to tell me that a little bit os sex doesn't harm anyone. But, the fact is, congregation, one's environment can and does have an enormous influence – for good or evil – on a person's behavior, outlook and attitude. Let there be no doubt about it: a corrupt environment has a corrupting influence.
Lot was blind to all this, however. His eyes were blinded by the grass and water of the Jordan River Valley. His eyes were blinded by the potential riches he could earn. His eyes were blinded by the prosperity that would be his.
C Let's be realistic about this: many people today – including some within the church – would say that Lot made the right choice here; he made a good career move. Lot had what they call the chance of a lifetime. They say that opportunity knocks only once, so you had better grab while the grabbing is good.
Lot made his choice and almost lost his soul. Perhaps we should say that Lot made his choice and almost sold his soul for the water and green grass of the valley. He, a righteous man, immersed himself in the most wicked society of his age.
To our minds should come the words of our Lord in Matthew 16:
(Mt 16:24-26) If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (25) For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (26) What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
Lot gained the world all right. He gained the grass and water of the Valley of Evil and Wickedness. And in the process he almost lost his soul.
A The lesson we learn from Lot is to keep watch over the eternal well-being of our soul. We have to be on guard lest the Jordan Valley or some other piece of real estate blinds us to the wickedness surrounding us. We should never go into a situation just because it looks like we can gain from it some mean little profit, some temporal advantage, some earthly benefit, some worldly gain. We should never go into a situation just because it looks or feels good and desirable. We should never go into a situation because this is our last or only chance to make the move of a lifetime. Rather, the burning question on our heart should be, "how will this affect my soul, how will this affect the soul of my children?"
We have to learn from Lot, my brothers and sisters, that it does us no good to gain the whole world if the result is that we forfeit our soul. We have to learn from Lot that we can't grab at every opportunity that comes by simply because it looks good.
B In today's world there is endless opportunity for extra-marital or pre-marital sex. In today's world there is endless opportunity to gain wealth by less than moral or honest means. In today's world there is endless opportunity to abuse drugs and alcohol. In today's world there is endless opportunity to get a job or choose a career that keeps one from attending church. In today's world one can easily justify public versus Christian education. In today's world it is far too easy to marry someone who is not a believer. In today's world there are an endless number of turning points. In all of these situations the Christian, like Lot, can so easily be blind to the reality of the situation – that participation endangers the soul: either yours or your children's!
If any of us, like Lot, are blind to the evil of a situation – and by that blindness are sucked in – we know that in Christ there is forgiveness. Yet, in the words of Jesus, we must learn "to deny" ourselves. Remember: "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Mt 16:26).
C Do you know what Lot wanted to do? Lot wanted to give his wife and daughters the good life – as defined in worldly terms. Let me ask if you are like Lot? Parents, what legacy are you leaving your children and grandchildren? Are your efforts and time spent on leaving them the good life? Is your goal to leave them a large inheritance?
Let me tell you a better legacy. By word and deed teach your family that the most important thing in life is one's relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach your children and grandchildren that the most important possession one can have is salvation in Christ. Teach those that God brings into your life that the Kingdom of heaven and its righteousness is far more important than treasure on earth.
Lot was at a turning point. He was at a turning point and committed a sin.
My hope and prayer for you and me is that when anyone of us, like Lot, goes astray, God will keep us awake at night, tossing and turning, so that we too get out of town before it burns and before we lose our immortal soul!
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