Monday, November 8, 2010

Genesis 19:1-9 A Gracious Host, But No 'Great Dad' Award

"The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city"  (Genesis 19:1 NIV)  Quite a few commentators have noted that there is a progression in Lot's relationship with Sodom:

  •   First, Lot lives among the cities of the plain and pitches his tents toward Sodom. (Genesis 13:12)
  •   Next, Lot is living in Sodom itself.  (Genesis 14:12)
  •   Finally, Lot is sitting in the gateway of the city.  (Genesis 19:1)  This doesn't mean he was just out catching a breeze.  The gateway was like the court of a city.   Important matters would be discussed and settled there.  Lot may even have become one of the members who decided such  things.  Or perhaps he hoped to eventually have this influence.  Anyway, Lot is about as involved in Sodom as one can get.
When Lot saw the two visitors, "...he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.  'My lords, he said, 'please turn aside to your servant's house.  You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way in the morning.' " (Genesis 19:1-2 NIV)  Lot is certainly being a good host.

However, the men are not interested, and they tell Lot that they are quite content to remain in the square all night.  He insists so strongly that they accompany him home, that they eventually agree to do so.  At Lot's home, the men enjoy a meal and prepare to settle down for the night.  That night is going to be the opposite of quiet, though.  "Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom -- both young and old --surrounded the house."  (Genesis 19:4 NIV)  Notice how every segment of Sodom is involved:  young and old men, from every area of Sodom.  Unlike Lot, they have no concerns about the needs of their visitors.  Instead, they desire to assault the two men.

Although Lot has been living in Sodom for some time, he is not totally given over to the depravity which was going on there.  In fact, surprisingly, in the New Testament this testimony is given about 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 NIV)  Although we might not think highly of Lot, these Scriptures affirm his character.  Lot gives the present situation his best shot:  "Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, 'No, my friends.  Don't do this wicked thing." (Genesis 19:6-7 NIV)  Nice try, but after that, things go south very quickly, for Lot offers to bring out his two daughters (for the men to do with as they pleased) instead, if the men of Sodom will just leave his guests alone! (v.8)  Even though hospitality demanded that a man protect his guests in every possible way, to stoop so low that he would be willing to essentially abandon his young daughters means that Lot has clearly been much more influenced by the men of Sodom than they have been affected by him.

A little aside:  Sometimes people use these verses to show that even the OT believers were involved in the same sins as their contemporaries -- that the things 'believers' did were just as horrifying as the 'sinners' around them.  In one sense this is true, for Scripture affirms that there is none righteous, not one.  We all sin.  Nor do the Scriptures gloss over the sins of the 'believers'.  However, I don't think that Lot should be set up as the example of a committed believer -- as the norm.  The context shows otherwise.  Apparently, rather than pointing others toward God, he has been greatly influenced by the culture around him, to the extent that he would abandon his very daughters to the lusts of these 'friends'.  So I would not exactly call him a person that Scripture would want us to emulate, or an example of what a believer is like.  Those who use this as an example of how bad the followers of God are, are actually just setting up a straw man to knock down, in my opinion.  More evidence of this later.

How do the men of Sodom react to Lot's offer?  Thankfully, (at least for Lot's daughters' sakes), they are not interested.  "Get out of our way," they replied.  And they said, 'This fellow came here as an alien,and now he wants to play the judge!  We'll treat you worse than them.'  They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door." (Genesis 19:9-10 NIV)  Not only are the men of Sodom not Lot's friends, but they are actually ready to do him harm as well.

 I do not have to explain the point of this section of Scripture, or go on endlessly about the dangers of allying oneself with those who do not love God.  I am quite sure that Lot understood the lesson as well, as the men of Sodom surged forward, ready to push him (perhaps literally) through his own front door.

Thankfully, though, the 'men' Lot has invited into his home are not mere men.

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