Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Their families lived in Chaldea, and as such they were raised among the many “gods” of its people. But in spite of that, God decided to use Abraham and his family to change the world. His first directive was for him to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1 But who was this God? Sure, he promised to bless Abraham by turning his offspring into a great nation but at what price? Leave the familiar surroundings of home and the luxury of family wealth for an unseen inheritance in an unknown land. And yet he believed, was blessed and eventually prospered. He took his wife, Sarah, their servants, and Lot. Lot showed character, courage, resolve and faith in following him. Time would tell how deep these shared characteristics of Abraham and Lot were.
The first bad example to be repeated later by Lot must be laid at the feet of Abraham. A famine came upon the land of Canaan and Abraham made what would appear to be a logical decision. Go to where food is – Egypt. But after lying to the Egyptian ruler about his wife, Abraham almost lost her and is virtually driven out; richer, wiser, but setting an example that may not be forgotten. In returning to Canaan, they almost immediately started having problems. With large herds, it became imperative to locate good grazing land and water. Abraham had his people, Lot’s family had theirs to care for and the native people were still there. It got crowded. Abraham and Lot’s people began to quarrel over the best ground and water sites. Who got there first? How long should one stay? Before violence could erupt, Abraham decided to separate from Lot, giving him first choice as to where to go. Lot chose the low-lands, the well-watered plains; the cities of pagan Canaan. A wise decision or an ill-fated mimic of Abraham’s decision to go to Egypt? Abraham stayed in the hill country; somewhat isolated but free to exercise his faith untarnished by the gods of Canaan. Lot found prosperity, ease and luxury as well as heightened exposure to wickedness.
Herein lies the lesson; exposure to sin. We will be, it’s inevitable. But how much exposure to sin should we allow? How many “at risk” situations do we place ourselves in? Lot is said to have moved near Sodom, later it is said he was living in Sodom. (Genesis 13:12 & 14:12) The difference? The level of involvement! Once he became accustomed to a little bit of evil, to excuse and make allowances for it, he could cozy up a little closer to it. It lost its shock value. The same often happens to us. We see so much of the coarseness of today’s society; the cursing, immoral sex, drinking, drugs, lying, cheating, stealing, the violence of murder and rape – actually bringing it into our homes through music and movies. It ceases to bother us as it should, if at all.
Sodom and Gomorrah were exceedingly sinful. Not just with homosexuality but the extreme license and practice of most every other sin eventually culminating in this final denial of God’s design for mankind. It was Judgment Day. Mercy was held out – if a remnant could be found – but it was not. Angels, appearing as men, came to Sodom. Lot encountered them and offered them the hospitality of his home. Men of the city heard of the new arrivals and came to see – to know – to rape! Lot responded protectively, but what a response! First he says, “No, my FRIENDS.” What? He could call them friends? But there’s more. To keep them from this wickedness he offered them his virgin daughters! He could still recognize the evil of the one sin but was willing to be a part of another in it’s stead. His intent was somewhat honorable but he was caught up in the same game many of us play today; categorizing sin. He understood the un-naturalness of their intent, so he settled for natural rape over the unnatural. Evidently considering some forms of sin worse than others, or more to the point; some sin as more acceptable.
Even at that, he was accused of being “alien,” different, and judgmental. During an attack on his home, the angels revealed who they were and what was about to happen. They urged Lot to gather his family and flee; yet Lot and his family actually hesitate! They are scared to stay but feared leaving all they know and own. Finally they were forcibly led out by the angels and told, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back…” Genesis 19:17 Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with fire and brimstone. The plain to this day is a burnt mess, with virtually no life; the Dead Sea at one end of the valley probably covering the remains of these cities. They left, “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:26
Why? Why did she die, why were they in trouble? Why was this happening? They were already in a place they should not have been. They were being saved by a grace they didn’t deserve. They had been told to FLEE! When fleeing evil, we can’t look back at it, lamenting it’s loss, getting one more look at it’s counterfeit beauty to be remembered and entrapped by once again. Fleeing evil is meant to separate us from it completely. We are to, “FLEE the evil (or undisciplined) desires of youth,…” 2 Timothy 2:22 We are told that, “…the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you,… FLEE from all this,…” 1 Timothy 6:10-11 We must, “…FLEE from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:14 Anything or anyone taking God’s place of pre-eminence being idolatrous. And again, “FLEE from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 The weaknesses and temptations that are common to all, the desires that afflict us most. FLEE!
We must be aware that there are always consequences to sin, sometimes unforeseen and unexpected; often resulting in the loss of home, family and friends, wealth and reputation. This is illustrated by one last look at Lot’s story. Lot’s daughters got him drunk – intentionally – and had sex with him. They felt they had to do this to perpetuate the family name, as among many Middle Eastern people, the continuation of family is of ultimate importance. Their solution, however, exposes a hardening of heart, a warped sense of right and wrong; the effects of living in an evil environment. Morality had been sacrificed for expedience. Even if Lot and his wife had stood firm enough in their faith to remain unpolluted by the close proximity of sin, their children had lived around it from adolescence. And as is so often the case sin had long-lasting, unforeseen consequences. Their children became the first of the Moabite and Ammonite tribes, later to become bitter rivals with the kingdom of Israel.
While avoiding harm we are often excited by the possibility of danger. God says we must flee sinful desires, temptations, and enticements. And in that act of fleeing from sin, find ourselves running to God.
“Hurry! … Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, …”
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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