Monday, August 23, 2010

Genesis 14:1-16 Driftwood in Sodom's Whirlpool

Although Abram's nephew Lot had parted company with him, and chosen the best part of the land for himself, there is no indication that Abram regarded Lot with any bitterness. After all, it had been Abram's idea that they split up in order to put an end to the quarreling which had arisen because the land could not easily support the two companies due to the multiplication of their flocks. (Genesis 13:5-9)

Abram had even offered Lot the opportunity to choose where he would settle. Apparently Abram was trusting in God to bless him, rather than trying to grab the best land for himself. (This attitude of Abram's will come up later in chapter 14, when Abram refuses to accept rewards for his actions on behalf of the people of Sodom.) Lot, on the other hand, begins by choosing the best-looking land for himself and going to live on the plain of the Jordan. At first, Lot lived among the cities of the plain. Soon he had pitched his tents near one particular city -- Sodom. Eventually, he is situated right within Sodom itself. (Genesis 13:11-12; 14:12)

Genesis 13:13 indicates that it was well-known that "...the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord." Without directly saying so, Scripture indicates that Lot is definitely heading in the wrong direction.

Separated from godly Abram, Lot is drawn like a piece of driftwood into a whirlpool -- toward the companionship of those who do not regard the Lord. It is easy for us to assume that Lot sought material wealth or the excitement of a settled city life, but we are not given those details. In fact, one indication of Lot's character comes from later Scriptures in the New Testament, where Peter calls Lot "...a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)...". (2 Peter 2:7-8) In those verses, Peter calls Lot 'righteous' three times! So, far be it from me to impugn his character. However, things soon began to go horribly wrong.

See, Lot may have had the best of intentions, but his choices put him right smack in the middle of ungodly company, who began to act in predictably ungodly ways. No, I'm not talking about the behavior for which Sodom is best known. At this point, I'm thinking more about how they did not seem to place much value upon keeping their word. Why? Well, Genesis 14 begins to tell us of a rebellion which sprang up, and guess which city was a part of it? Yep, Sodom. What does that have to do with keeping one's word? Read on:

Genesis 14:1-5 informs us that there was a war between Amraphel (king of Shinar/Babylonia), Arioch (king of Ellasar), Kedorlaomer (king of Elam) and Tidal (king of Goiim) versus five other kings: Bera (king of Sodom), Birsha (king of Gomorrah), Shinab (king of Admah), Shemeber (king of Zeboiim) and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). The later five had been subject to Kedorlaomer for 12 years, but had decided to rebel in the 13th year. Hence the war. The way I'm thinking is this: Since they had been subject to Kedolaomer for 12 years, they had probably been conquered by him in the past and forced to make some type of agreement to be subject to him and probably, to pay some form of tribute to him. By rebelling, they were breaking their word, and were reaping the consequences. By virtue of just being present there in Sodom, Lot finds himself in a heap of trouble. You could say that Lot was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it seems that it was common knowledge that there was no good time for the godly to be in Sodom. It is not that I am looking down upon Lot from some superior position. In fact, I'm sure that I have put myself in similarly dangerous positions just by not thinking things through ahead of time or not asking God for wisdom before I decided to do something.

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