************ Sermon on Genesis 19:30-38 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 25, 1012
"A Dark, Dark Cave"
At the beginning of Genesis 19, Lot is alive and well in the city of Sodom. He has a home there. His daughters are engaged to men of the city. His wife participates in the city's social scene. He sits in the city gates as one of the judges of the city. He is rich and prosperous with flocks and herds.
At the end of Genesis 19, Lot has barely escaped Sodom's destruction. He has lost his wife, sons-in-law, home, wealth, and flocks and herds. All his possessions are reduced to what he can carry on his back. And, he lives in a dark, dark cave.
After today's Scripture reading we hear nothing more about Lot. We do not know what happened to him. We do not know if he lived to a ripe, old age. We do not know if we repented of the sins that brought him to and kept him in the cave. Our last glimpse of Lot shows him destitute and drunk, lying senseless in a dark mountain cave.
What a sad pathetic picture. What a terrible humiliation. It is an Old Testament picture of the Prodigal Son who likewise lost everything (cf Lk 15).
We end our study of Lot by looking at his descent into darkness.
I The Darkness of Going to the Cave
A The opening verse of our Scripture reading already gives a picture of impending doom and darkness:
(Gen 19:30) Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave.
Why do I say this is a picture of doom and darkness? Consider that Lot asked to go to Zoar: "I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die" (Gen 19:19). So Lot received permission to go to a small, little, insignificant town. We are to understand that God – for Lot's sake – spared this town when He destroyed the cities of the plain.
But Lot "left Zoar" because he "was afraid." Perhaps the people of Zoar looked suspiciously at Lot. Perhaps some of them wondered out loud why Lot and his daughters escaped destruction when no one else did. Perhaps they thought Lot had something to do with the destruction that rained down on their friends and relatives. Whatever the reason, Lot was afraid.
Notice what this says about Lot. Lot was not confident that the Lord could or would protect him in Zoar. Lot had no trust in God. Lot had no faith in God. Even though God gave permission – implying His care and His protection would be upon Lot – Lot left Zoar.
B Lot left Zoar. "And settled in the mountains." The mountains. Remember when we last saw those mountains? Abraham was standing on them. It was from the mountains that Abraham and Lot looked over the land. It was from the mountains that Lot saw and chose the well-watered plain. And, it was in the mountains or hill country that Abraham continued to live.
"Lot left Zoar and settled in the mountains." Did he return to Uncle Abraham? Like the Prodigal Son did he return to the place of safety and blessing? That's not what Scripture says. Rather, we are told "He and his two daughters lived in a cave." A dark cave.
How disappointing that Lot did not go back to Uncle Abraham. Was it pride that kept him from going to his closest relative for help? Was it shame that kept him away from the tents of Abraham? Like the Prodigal, Lot was at wit's end. So what kept him from returning home?
Lot finally abandoned the plain. He left the halfway house of Zoar. He returned to the mountains, but he did not seek out the one person in whom blessing could have been found. Even after he lost everything, he still was not willing to return in repentance to the way of God. So, he ended his days in misery. He ended his days in a cave – a dark cave.
C Do you see many of your friends and neighbors in Lot? Afraid to trust in God. Unwilling to go to the place of blessing. Living in the darkness of sin and unbelief. Worse yet, do you see yourself in Lot?
The place of blessing today is no longer with Abraham; rather, it is with Abraham's heirs – namely, Christ and the church. That's where you go when you are scared and miserable and in darkness. That's where you receive the blessings of the covenant. That's where you live in the light of God's presence. Unlike Lot, go to the place of blessing rather than the darkness of the cave.
II The Darkness of What Happens in the Cave
A Lot and his daughters are in a cave. A dark cave. The drunkenness and incest that happens next should not surprise us.
In more than one place Scripture warns us about the deeds of darkness. Paul can write:
(Rom 13:12-13) The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (13) Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.Do you hear the deeds of darkness? Do you hear the kinds of things that happen in dark caves? Orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension, jealousy. It is shameful to mention what the disobedient do in secret, under the cover of darkness (Eph 5:12). The place of darkness is where the power of Satan is at work (Acts 26:18). Here is a reason, young people, why parents properly give their children curfews at night – lest they fall into the deeds of darkness.
B We see that the next stage of the darkness of sin is introduced by Lot's daughters. Isn't it strange how often it is those closest to us who introduce us to sin and evil? So many times love for family blinds us to love for God and obedience to God and makes us do things we otherwise would never think of doing. We need to always keep in mind the words of Jesus:
(Mt 10:37) Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen love for family taking precedence over love for God in the lives of Christians. When this happens the result is usually just as sad as the pathetic picture of Lot in his dark cave.
So, what happened with Lot and his daughters? The biological clock of Lot's daughters was ticking, and they wanted children. There is nothing wrong with that. Think of all the godly couples in a similar predicament: Abraham & Sarah, Jacob's wife Rachel, Samuel's mother Hannah, Zechariah & Elizabeth. What is wrong is that Lot's daughters were unwilling to leave the future to God. What is wrong is that they wanted children more than they wanted to obey God. What is wrong is that they wanted children who would carry on the family name and look after them in their old age, and they were willing to do whatever it took to achieve that goal.
C Genesis 19 is the third time we see the mention of wine in Genesis. The first time was with Noah who got drunk and made a fool of himself (Gen 9). The second time was with Melchizedek who brought out bread and wine as priest of God Most High. On this, the third time, it is Lot who gets drunk and is made a fool by his daughters.
Scripture indicates to us that alcohol must be used rightly and wisely or it should not be used at all. Too often I have seen forty-year-olds act like fourteen-year-olds under the influence of alcohol – and I probably am insulting the fourteen-year-olds. It is the book of Proverbs that gives us the strongest warning against alcohol abuse:
(Prov 20:1) Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.Young people, young adults, congregation, look at Noah and look at Lot to see the dangers of alcohol. And, as we see with Lot, drunkenness is not only a sin in and of itself, but it leads to a host of other sins.
(Prov 23:29-33) Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? (30) Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. (31) Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! (32) In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. (33) Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things.
D Using the alcohol as a tool, Lot's daughters get him drunk and commit incest with him. How could they come up with such a horrible, awful plan? Obviously, they learned this in Sodom. We see here, again, the great danger posed by wicked surroundings. You cannot surround yourself by evil without being impacted by evil.
We all know that no father is ever to have sexual relations or sexual contact with his daughters. Yet, the statistics tell us 10% of all females are sexually abused and it makes no difference whether they are in or out of the church. Leviticus 18 lists category after category of human relations: mother/son, brother/sister, nephew/aunt, brother-in-law/sister-in-law, and so on. Between every one of these relatives the Lord says NO to any kind of sexual relations:
(Lev 18:6) No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the LORD.The darkness in that cave just keeps getting darker and darker, doesn't it?!
E I find this whole scene so ironic. In Sodom, Lot kept himself sober and chaste. He mourned Sodom's wickedness and witnessed against it. Remember Peter's description of Lot? Peter described Lot as "a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men." Lot was "tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard" (1 Pet 2:7-8). Yet, in the mountain, where he was alone and out of the way of temptation, he was shamefully overtaken. This reminds me of what Paul writes to the Corinthians,
(1Cor 10:12) So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!Here is a reminder that no mountain can keep us out of the reach of Satan's fiery darts. Here is a reminder that we always needs to keep watch for Satan's attacks. Here is a reminder that we must never let up our guard.
III The Darkness of What Comes Out of the Cave
A We've looked at the darkness of the cave. We've looked at the darkness of what happens in the cave. Do you know what is even worse and what is darker than anything else? The darkest part of our story is what comes out of the cave. Listen to what Scripture says about what comes out of the cave:
(Gen 19:36-38) So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. (37) The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. (38) The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.
So what comes out of that dark, creepy, evil cave? What comes out are the heads, the fathers, of two nations. Lot's daughters give birth to two boys. The one is called Moab. The other is called Ben-Ammi. Moab comes out of that cave and has many children; they are called the Moabites. Ben-Ammi walks out of that cave and he also has many children; they are called the Ammonites.
B The Moabites and the Ammonites. What is the most important thing that we can we say about them? What is most important is NOT that their roots lie in incest. What is most important is not that they are the grandsons of Lot. What is most important is not that they are related to Abraham. What is most important is that they are the enemies of Israel.
It was Moab that provided the worst carnal seduction in the history of Israel, that of Baal-Peor. If you remember, the men of Israel began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women. Using sex as a lure, the Moabite women invited Israelite men to join them in making sacrifices to their pagan gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor (Numbers 25).
It was Ammon who provided the cruellest religious perversion in the history of Israel, that of Molech and the sacrifice of children. We see this perversion in the story of Jephthah. Jephthah led Israel in battle against the Ammonites. If you remember, Jephthah made a vow, a foolish vow, to sacrifice to God the first thing that met him when he came home victorious. What met him was his daughter, his only child. Jephthah, following the lead of the Ammonites, ended up killing his own daughter (Judges 11). How cruel and godless those Ammonites were.
C As we think about this, we need to remember what God had said and promised to Abraham many years before. God said,
(Gen 12:3) "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."Do you know what God was saying here? He was saying that an enemy of Abraham's descendants, of His people Israel, was an enemy of God and has nothing to do with the blessing of the Messiah.
Now, don't forget who we are talking about. We are talking about the grandchildren of Lot. And Lot, don't forget, is Abraham's nephew. He knows the special place Abraham and Abraham's descendants and the land has in the plan of God. But Lot has no regard for this.
Lot's daughters take this another step. In Sodom they chose a life of pleasure and unrighteousness. In the cave they wickedly take matters into their own hands and practice the deeds of darkness. It is clear that their sons do the same – they also practice the deeds of darkness. The Bible is correct in what it says: the sins of the fathers – and mothers – are visited upon the third and fourth generation of those who hate the Lord. Moab and Ben-Ammi walk out of the dark, evil, creepy cave. They walk out and become the enemies of God and of God's people and of the Messiah.
Over and over again throughout salvation history, people like Moab and Ben-Ammi walk out of dark, creepy, evil places and oppose God and His people. But the darkness of sin cannot stand up to the light of Christ. As John says in his gospel, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (Jn 1:14). The light of Jesus Christ overcomes even the darkest of caves.
Let me tell you a wonderful instance of Gospel light overcoming darkness. Do you remember the story of Ruth? How her husband died? How she went with Naomi, her mother-in-law, to the Promised Land? How she married Boaz? How she became the great-grandmother of King David? How she ended up in the family tree of Jesus? The most amazing thing about Ruth is that she was a Moabitess. You heard me right. She was a Moabitess. She grew up in a culture that hated and despised the children of Israel. Yet, she moved to Israel. She became the great-grandmother of King David. She ended up in the family tree of Jesus. How come? Very simple really: in Ruth's life we see a wonderful instance of God's light and grace overcoming the darkness of sin and evil and hatred.
Light overcomes the darkness. That is the promise of the Gospel. So, fast forward to today. What do we see? We see that Lot is gone. His daughters are gone. Moab is gone. Ammon is gone. What remains is the Seed of Abraham, even Jesus Christ and His body the church.
How we thank God that the light of Christ shines in our life today and continues to overcome the darkness.
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