************ Sermon on Genesis 19:1-11 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 16, 2012
"Lot Makes Compromises with Evil"
I Judgment is Inevitable
A A couple of weeks ago Ruth and I were watching "Flight 93." Most everyone here knows the basic plot. "Flight 93" is the story of the heroic passengers that took back their plane and crashed it into the ground in an effort to stop a 9-11 terrorist attack. We knew before the opening scenes of the film that however peaceful and routine the flight first appeared, this would be no ordinary trip. We knew tragedy was going to strike and catastrophe was certain.
B We are to see the same kind of story line as we read Genesis 13-19. I want you to think of these chapters as a movie like "Flight 93." As elevator music plays softly in the background, the opening scene is peaceful enough: we see the Jordan River as it bubbles and winds its way through the countryside, we see the lush growth of the Jordan River Valley, we see sheep and cattle grazing contentedly in the pastures, we see towns and villages filled with prosperous-looking merchants and well-fed citizens (Gen 13:10). We see Lot as he moves his family and flocks and herds into this garden-like setting (Gen 13:11). But, then, the music intensifies and becomes scary and even ominous-sounding. We are taken behind the scenes and see everything is not idyllic and peaceful and perfect as we are shown scene after scene of poverty, hunger, bribes, injustice, sodomy, and other forms of evil (Gen 13:13). As with "Flight 93" we know tragedy is about to strike and catastrophe is about to happen (cf Gen 13:10). The only question is when. When will the catastrophe happen?
In Genesis 19, we finally reach the when. It is at this point that everything comes crashing down. This is the end of the road for Sodom.
Now that the moment of disaster is finally upon us, there is another question to be answered: Will anyone be saved? We know that no one on "Flight 93" was saved but this is not what happens in most movies; generally, the hero or heroine defy all the odds and somehow prevail. So, what about Sodom? Will anyone be saved and how will they be saved?
C You may wonder: Why should we care and what difference does it make to us? Because it was not just the inhabitants of Sodom who "were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord" (Gen 13:13). The broader background of the fall of Sodom is the universal wickedness of humanity that began in Genesis 3. From Adam and Eve onward, all of the people whom God created to know and love Him have rebelled against Him.
Seen in this light, the destruction of Genesis 19 is not an isolated incident. It is merely a continuation of what happened in the flood of Genesis 7. It is merely a continuation of the judgments announced by God in the Garden of Eden after man first fell into sin. Look at it this way: Everyone of us has been exiled from the Garden of Eden and placed on "Flight 93."
On this excursion, some may travel first class, living superficially wonderful lives; others may travel economy class. Either way, we know every person who has ever lived is on an inevitable collision course with judgment. And, we should ask the same question as with Sodom: Will anyone be saved and how will they be saved?
II Lot in Sodom
A Over the course of the past few chapters, we've been given glimpses of Lot. We first meet him as the orphan son of Haran (Gen 11:27-28). He is taken along by Grandfather Terah out of Ur of the Chaldeans (Gen 11:31). After Terah dies, he goes with Abraham to Canaan (Gen 12:4). And, he leaves Egypt with a disgraced Abraham (Gen 13:1). Up to this point, he is just an appendage to those who are older.
Then, much to our surprise, we see him as a rich nomad, too prosperous to live in the same place as Abraham (Gen 13:5). When they separated, he chose to live in the well-watered plain of the Jordan (Gen 13:10-11); however, it was barely on the edge of the Promised Land, maybe even outside of it. What is more, he swiftly went from living "near Sodom" (Gen 13:12) to living "in Sodom" (Gen 14:13). As a result, he needed to be rescued by Abraham when the army of Amraphel king of Shinar/Babylon carried off the inhabitants of Sodom (Gen 14:14-16).
B Did Lot learn his lesson? Did he realize Sodom was a dangerous place to live? Did he realize life in Sodom was not compatible with life in God? Apparently not. I want you to notice the opening sentence of Genesis 19:
(Gen 19:1) The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city.Where was Lot? In the gateway of the city. This is important. When Boaz decided to marry Ruth, he announced his intention at the city gate in front of ten elders (Ruth 4:1,2). When Absalom plotted to win the hearts of the people, he would stand by the city gate and listen to the people's cries for justice (2 Sam 15:1-6). Do you remember where King David went after Joab reported to him on the death of Absalom? After mourning for Absalom he got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, "The king is sitting in the gateway," they all came before him (2 Sam 19:8).
I want you to realize the importance of the city gate in that part of the Ancient World. The city gate is where the leaders of the community would gather to discuss city affairs, hear petitions, and pronounce judgment. The city gate is the ancient equivalent of the modern courtroom and city council chambers.
Now, look at Lot. Where is he sitting? He is sitting "in the gateway of the city" (Gen 19:1). Telling us what? Telling us Lot is one of the leaders and judges of the city. Telling us Lot has a position of standing and authority among the men of Sodom.
Notice the progression: Lot started by living near Sodom, then he lived in Sodom, and now he is one of the leaders of Sodom. Furthermore, his daughters were engaged to be married to men of Sodom, and he owned a house in Sodom. Lot even considered the men of Sodom to be his friends (Gen 19:6).
Go back to Scripture's first words about Sodom: "Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord" (Gen 13:13). Yet, there is Lot living comfortably among them. Yet, there is Lot even being a leader among them.
III Lot the Righteous Man
A We need to keep in mind something I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. We need to remember that the New Testament reveals Lot to be a righteous man.
(2Pt 2:7-8) ... he rescued Lot, 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)--Three times, in fact, Lot is called a "righteous" man or soul.
B We see the righteousness of Lot in the hospitality he offered to the angels.
Lot was being like Uncle Abraham. Do you remember what Abraham all did for his three visitors? Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. They were complete strangers to him. He didn't even know for sure if they were friend or foe. Yet, when Abraham saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. After this, Abraham hurries again and commands Sarah to hurry, Abraham runs to get a calf, Abraham brings food to the men, Abraham stands courteously and waits while they eat. Abraham offers to wash their feet and to refresh them (Gen 18:1-8).
Why all this effort for strangers who were coming and going (Gen 18:2,5)? The answer lies in the vital importance of hospitality in Abraham's world. Strangers and travelers were dependent upon hospitality in a day before Holiday Inn and McDonalds.
Lot shows the same hospitality as Abraham. In fact, he pressed the two visitors to accept his hospitality. Scripture says "he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house" (Gen 19:3). We need to hear the alarm in Lot's voice. Lot knew what might happen to his visitors if they did not stay with him. Lot knew that the streets and square of Sodom were not a safe place to spend the night.
How important is hospitality? Later on in the biblical story Abraham's servant chooses a bride for Isaac on the basis of hospitality: he chooses the woman who offers water to himself and his camels (Gen 24:14,17-20). Moses commands the children of Israel not to mistreat an alien or oppress him for they were aliens in Egypt (Ex 22:21). In fact, the alien must be shown love (Lev 19:34). As the children of Israel listen to the stories of Abraham and Lot they see them as godly examples of the hospitality that God requies.
In the New Testament, those who follow Jesus welcome strangers and invite them in (Mt 25:35). Officers and leaders in the church are expected to show hospitality (1 Tim 3:3; 5:10). My favorite New Testament verse about hospitality is found in Hebrews – a verse that looks back to Abraham and Lot:
(Heb 13:2) Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
We need to see Abraham's and Lot's offer of hospitality in contrast to the actions of the men of Sodom. Not only did the men of Sodom not offer hospitality but they sought to take advantage of the two strangers in Lot's home.
So, on the one hand is righteous Abraham and righteous Lot. And, on the other hand are the wicked men of Sodom who were sinning greatly against the Lord.
IV Lot's Compromises
A Now, take another look at righteous Lot in Sodom. Being a righteous man, he shows hospitality. However, what does he do to hold up the ancient law of hospitality when the men of Sodom demand homosexual sex with his two visitors? He offers the men of Sodom his daughters! He tries to fulfil one obligation by betraying an even more sacred obligation. You see, congregation, it is the calling and duty of parents to protect and guard their children. But in wicked Sodom Lot is more than willing to give up his daughters to protect strangers. Lot was caught between a rock and a hard place, with no way out.
How did he get there?
B Lot never totally identified with the world in which he lived. Still, though, he did not leave Sodom behind. He knew what he had to do but he did not do it. Lot, in other words, made compromises with evil.
How many of us aren't exactly the same way? We know what we have to do as Christians. Yet, we also want to participate in the wicked world of which we are a part. We do not want to give it up completely. So, like Lot, we try to maintain dual citizenship in the world and in heaven.
Lot made compromises with evil. You cannot live comfortably in places of wickedness without compromise. Let me put it this way: Christians cannot live comfortably in wicked places like Sodom without compromise. No mater how good or how strong a Christian you are, wicked surroundings cannot help but impact your life.
Because of past compromises with evil, Lot found himself in an impossible situation.
Where or what are the Sodoms of your life? The TV set, the internet, the movie theater, the school you attend, the friends with whom you hang out, the games you play, the bars you frequent? Is it alcohol or drugs? Take to heart the lesson learned by Lot: Christians cannot live comfortably in wicked places like Sodom without compromise.
V God's Intervention
A Sodom's crowd of godless men was pressing on Lot. They surrounded his house. His back was against the door. At any moment it looked like he would be knocked down and the Sodomites would storm through his home. His life was in danger and his family was at risk (Gen 19:6-9). What was Lot going to do? What could Lot do?
The answer is nothing! The forces of evil were too strong and too wicked. It looked like the gates of hell were going to prevail.
B It was then that God's holy angels sprang into action. They opened the door, plucked Lot from the hands of the lust-filled mob, and locked the door. Then they struck the men of Sodom with blindness so they could not find the door to Lot's house (Gen 19:10-11).
Note this: The only thing that saved Lot was outside intervention. Lot could not save himself. Lot could not save his family. Lot could not pull himself out of the situation into which he had put himself.
C The saving grace of God saved Lot from the hands of lawless and godless men. That should sound familiar to the children of Israel as Moses told them this story. Wasn't their situation in Egypt exactly the same? Weren't they surrounded by the godless Egyptians who not only enslaved them but also killed their baby boys?
They were helpless to save themselves. Each week and each month their situation only got worse and worse. They cried out in their distress. Finally God acted and His people were saved.
D Isn't this also a picture of God's grace for us in Christ? We cannot save ourselves. Over and over again we find our back against a wall of our own making. Over and over again we feel threatened and at the point of being overwhelmed by sin and evil. Many times, like Lot, it is sin and evil of our own choosing and as a consequence of our own actions that threatens to overwhelm us.
We cannot save ourselves. Our situation looks and feels helpless. That is when God intervenes with His grace. That is when God acts to save us. "While we were still sinners," says Paul, "Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8).
Let's go back to "Flight 93." We already know how the story is going to end. With destruction. With judgment.
Lot didn't know, but he should have before he climbed aboard. He knows the history of God's dealings with sin. God's judgment upon sin. He should have known better than to live by Sodom and in Sodom and as a leader of Sodom. He should have sought a closer walk with God instead of compromise with evil.
And, you and I should seek the same thing: a closer walk with God.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page