Tonight we are continuing the series WPA is doing through the summer on the “Bible’s Biggest Losers”.
I’d like to introduce to you the man we will be looking at this evening. His name is Lot – and I guess he could be known as the man who compromised…
We first learn of Lot in the latter part of Genesis 11 where he is described as the grandson of a man named Terah. Terah, it turns out is the father of a man who probably is familiar to a lot of us – Abram (who would later be known as Abraham, the father of Israel). Terah had three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Lot is born to Haran and in the same passage we learn that Haran died fairly young.
It appears from this passage that Lot comes into the care of his uncle Abram and one of his first journeys recorded in the Bible is when Terah took Abram, Sarai (Abram’s wife) and Lot from where they lived (Ur of the Chaldeans) to go to Canaan. Only, they didn’t make it quite that far and ended up staying in another place named Haran (the namesake of Lot’s father)
In Genesis 12 there is the famous “call of God” upon Abraham and we read how Abram is commanded by God to “…Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Gen. 12:1) When Abram gets up to leave we find recorded in verse 4 that, “Lot went with him.” It is interesting to note that the next time we find his name mentioned it is found in the same phrase,
Genesis 13:1 (NIV)
…and Lot went with him.
Lot, it seems, had a good relationship with his uncle and wasn’t about to give that up.
It is in chapter 13 where the Bible starts to fill in a little more detail regarding the story of Lot’s life. Up to this point Abram and Lot appear inseparable but then we find that strife begins to arise between the servants of Lot and Abram. The strife was over the fact that each man’s herdsmen sought water and the best pasture for the animals of their master. This competition inevitably led to conflict between the herdsmen of Lot and Abram. The Bible says that both Abram and Lot had been blessed with many possessions, “…But the land could not support them while they stayed together.” (Genesis 13:6a).
Abram notices this strife and calls Lot to him in order to resolve the issue.
READ GENESIS 13:8-18
8 Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! 9 The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” 10 Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. 12 So Abram settled in the land of Canaan, and Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. 13 But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord. 14 After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction-north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his camp to Hebron and settled near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. There he built another altar to the Lord.
Genesis 13:8-18 (NLT)
It appears as though Lot has got the better end of the deal but then as we continue into Chapter 14 we learn that Lot finds himself caught in the middle of an international conflict. Some kings begin warring in the area where Lot and his people are living and the Bible records that they are carried off with all his possessions as captives of war.
Abram soon becomes aware of this and rushes in to the rescue miraculously defeating Lot’s captors and freeing him, as well as freeing all the other captives and their possessions.
The Bible is silent about Lot for a while and then he is again mentioned in Genesis 19. In chapter 18 we learn about God communicating with Abraham his intention to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness. Abraham, (knowing his nephew Lot lives there), pleads with God this leads God to declare He will spare the city if only 10 righteous people are found.
READ GENESIS 19 (NIV)
This then is the story of the man named Lot. When I studied his story the first word that came to my mind to describe him was the word compromise. If you look in the dictionary you’ll find that this word is used to describe a method of reaching agreement in a dispute, by which each side surrenders something that it wants. In this way compromise is used in a positive sense. However the word compromise also is used to describe placing something in jeopardy or bringing into danger, or exposing to a loss of reputation. In this way compromise is used in a negative sense. For instance, when a thief breaks into someone’s home we say that the owner’s security has been compromised. In using this word to describe Lot tonight I am using it in the negative sense. In other words I think that Lot is a man that placed many things in jeopardy in his life. Even though he is described by Peter in 2 Peter 2:7-8 as righteous – there is also evidence that this righteous man made some bad decisions that compromised many areas of his life. When we look at Lot’s story we see the process of a life that starts out so well but ends up so badly as a result of the gradual process of a series of poor decisions. It is the story of a man who compromised.
What led Lot to compromise?
We’re going to be looking this morning at just what it is that Lot compromised (or placed in jeopardy) but before we do that I think it is important to establish why or what led him to compromise these things in his life.
And the answer to that is very simple – it is seen in his choice or decision at the resolution to the strife between Abraham and Himself. As Lot gazed over the lush fertile plain of Jordan – he saw the incredible opportunity to improve his place in the world. To improve his life – his view of an ideal life. Lot is the perfect example of the human tendency to look out for number one.
I know I’m not immune to this tendency! I remember when I was young that whenever my sister and I would fight over something we were supposed to share – the fight was always about who got the biggest, the best, or the most! For instance, a single chocolate bar would never be split exactly in half and it was always a given that either my sister or I would put up a fight about getting the “smaller” half even though the difference was insignificant. One day my mom caught to a neat idea that I’ve used this with my children. One of us could split the chocolate bar in half but the other person got first choice of which half to take! A simple solution to a childish problem. It is childish isn’t it? Yet, it seems that this characteristic doesn’t disappear as we grow older. We just learn to be more civilized in looking out for number one.
Lot’s behavior in looking out for number one manifested itself in many ways.
Blinded Him to the dangers of Sodom
When it came to making decisions Lot went with what appealed most to his earthly appetites and was blind to the dangers of Sodom. In other words, Lot saw what was best for him in this world rather than what was worst for his spirit. When he looked out at the fertile valley of the Jordan plain, Lot saw only how he could potentially increase his possessions in this world instead of the spiritual dangers found in the cities of the plain.
It would be naïve to think that Lot was not aware of the spiritual depravity in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham and Lot had been in the area for a while and would have had news of the area. Yet in spite of this knowledge Lot still chose the way he did. In fact we find that Lot first pitched his tent near Sodom, and then eventually lived in the city. Maybe he thought he would be immune to the corruption found in the city. Maybe he thought he could ignore it. Instead Lot compromised everything in his life because of his choice.
Lot’s behavior in looking out for number one also,
Caused him to trust in his own ways rather than God’s ways.
It’s interesting to note that Lot didn’t once consult the Lord about his choice. Even after seeing how God directed the life of Abraham, Lot had his own plans and failed to consult God.
After being caught in an international conflict and being miraculously rescued by his uncle Abraham you would think Lot would have got the picture and said to himself – “maybe I made a bad choice in moving here”. No, instead he sold his tents and bought a condo in the city.
When the angels came to the city of Sodom Lot knew who they were. But in spite of that knowledge he still tried to get out of the jam he found himself in when the mob came to the door demanding that he deliver his guests to be sexually molested. Instead of shutting the door in the mobs face and trusting that God would somehow work out a solution, Lot took things into his own hands and diplomatically called the crowd his “friends” and offered them his two daughters instead! What father in their right mind would do such a thing? Yet, “looking out for number one” meant trusting in his own ways rather than God’s ways.
Even when the angels miraculously delivered Lot from the crowd by making them blind and told Lot God’s plan of destruction for the city the scriptures record that he hesitated when it was time to go and the angels had to physically grab Lot, his wife, and two daughters to remove them from the city!
Then, while on route, Lot pleaded with the angels to let him go to the small city of Zoar rather than the mountain that God wanted him to go to. Lot trusted in his own ways rather than God’s ways because he was always looking out for #1.
So here we have the reason for the compromise in Lot’s life. It began with simply “looking out for number one”. Now we can look at what was compromised in Lot’s life because of this.
What Lot compromised…
Relationship with Abraham
One of the things you notice first about the story of Lot is his apparent closeness to his uncle Abram. From the beginning we learn how Lot “went” wherever his uncle went and his uncle’s willingness to have him along. But things seem to change when their possession increased.
The thing that stands out about the character of Abraham at this point in Lot’s life is his willingness to maintain his good relationship with his nephew.
Genesis 13:8-9 (NIV)
8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”
Abram had every right to tell Lot where to go. He was the elder, and the one that God made the promise to. Abram risked everything by giving Lot the choice. Why? Because he was not willing to compromise his relationship with Lot. Clearly, Abraham was not looking out for number one!
Contrast this with Lot. He didn’t even think twice. He was willing to compromise his relationship with his uncle in order to take advantage of the apparent bonanza.
The most unsettling thing that happens when we look out for number one is that we compromise our relationship with those who love us most!
Blessings of God
Something that I think Lot forgot in his choice was that the only reason he had the possessions he enjoyed was because he had hung around with Abram and Abram was being blessed by God. In leaving Abram, Lot was walking away from God’s blessings! He was compromising or “placing in jeopardy” God’s blessing.
As you read to the conclusion of Lot’s life you see the impact that decision had on his life.
Peter writes in 2 Peter 2:7-8;
2 Peter 2:7-8 (NIV)
7 and if 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)–
Why was Lot so tormented in the city of Sodom? Because he had known what it meant to be in God’s blessing! It is so true that when those who have known the blessings of God compromise that for the passing pleasures of the world – those pleasures become a torment rather than a joy. NOTHING COMPARES WITH THE PRESENCE OF GOD NO MATTER HOW APPEALING!
Probably one of the saddest things that happened as a result of Lot’s decision was the “placing in jeopardy” of his family! Notice what happened as a result of Lot’s compromise.
The very safety of his family was compromised in the midst of the international conflict.
His married daughter’s and son-in-laws refuse to leave with him when he warns of the impending destruction of Sodom (in fact they “laugh” at him”). They had become “accustomed” to the wickedness in the city.
Lot’s wife looks back at Sodom after being warned not to and is turned into a pillar of salt. She looked back with longing at what she was leaving behind and not believing that the city really was going to be destroyed.
Lot’s remaining daughters commit incest with him in a cave on the mountain of refuge at the end of Lot’s story. Having been exposed to the wickedness of the city of Sodom for most of their lives they saw nothing wrong with what they did.
Lot also compromised his integrity as a follower of God. His own family laughed at him when he tried to warn them about Sodom.
The mob at Lot’s door mocked him when he tried to resolve things – by offering his own daughters instead!
In “looking out for number one” Lot compromised who he was and what he stood for.
So what can we learn from Lot’s story this morning? What is it about this man’s life that should serve as an example of what not to do?
From Lot we learn of the incredible danger inherent in “looking out for number one”.
The decisions reached by Abram and Lot are the same as those which confront every Christian. We must decide whether to trust in the sovereignty of God or in our own schemes and devices. We must determine whether to trust in the ‘uncertainty of riches’ or in the God Who “richly supplies us’ (I Timothy 6:17). We must decide whether to invest in the ‘passing pleasures of sin’ or the future ‘reward’ which is promised by God (Hebrews 11:25-26)
The world’s way of getting ahead is to look out for number one. That was Lot’s way, as well. God’s way to blessing is looking UP TO NUMBER ONE, and looking out for others.
Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Such a life can only be lived by faith. Such a life can only cause our faith in God to grow.
The beginning point for every man, woman, and child is to look to God for salvation. We cannot, we dare not, trust in our own shrewdness to get us entrance into God’s kingdom. Often what we perceive to be ‘paradise’ is soon to be destroyed by divine wrath. Faith recognizes our sinfulness and trusts in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for eternal security and blessing. Our own best efforts are doomed to destruction. Only what God promises and provides will endure.
As we saw with the life of Lot – even the “righteous” can make mistakes – but we can avoid compromising as Lot did by “denying our self” and embracing the life of Christ.
Although we still may experience the consequence of “bad” decisions in the past – God extends his grace and mercy (salvation) to those who will receive it.