A Lot Alike

Genesis 19:15-17, 23-29 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

When Uncle Abraham offered him the choice of land for his herdsmen, Lot surveyed the land, saw the acreage around Sodom was “like the garden of the Lord,” (Genesis 13:19) and moved in. Lot pitched his tents to the south of the Dead Sea. Things quickly went south after that.

After a while, Lot moved his family into the city, where his neighbors were “wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13).

While Lot was sitting at the city gate one evening – where the serious city business of Sodom took place – two travelers showed up. Lot immediately insisted that they join his family for dinner and spend the evening in his home. Lot recognized his visitors as being good men and he had a foreboding what the morally perverted men of Sodom would do to these men.

In the middle of the night, all the men of the city surrounded Lot’s house and demanded he bring out the two visitors so they could have sex with them. They wanted to satisfy the unclean, perverted lust that burned in them like a raging fire. God was right when He had explained to Abraham earlier that the “outcry against Sodom” was so great and their sin so grievous (Genesis 18:20). The vilest moral depravities had saturated Sodom and the cities around it. They were indeed ripe for judgment.

Lot displayed considerable courage as he left the safety of his house to face the violent mob. He did it to provide safety for his visitors. It is also to Lot’s credit that he pleaded with the men of Sodom, “Don’t do this wicked thing” (Genesis 19:6) It is also commendable that Lot must have been outspoken on other occasions about their unnatural lusts for the crowd yells at him, “Get out of the way. This fellow came here as a foreigner, and how he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them” (Genesis 19:9).

However, we also hear how Lot referred to his Sodomite neighbors as “my friends” (Genesis 19:7). It showed weak tolerance for their sexual perversions. Then we are horrified at the offer Lot makes to try to appease their lusts: “Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof” (Genesis 19:8). Yes, you heard that right. Lot is offering his two virgin daughters to a rape-hungry mob.

Thankfully, the two visitors (who were actually angels) save the day. Lot followed these words from Hebrews without realizing it: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). Those angels saved Lot’s life. First they blinded the would-be rapists. The morally blind were stricken with physical blindness.

Then the angelic visitors warned Lot that God was about to reduce the city to ashes. God had sent the two angels to deliver’s Lot’s family from the nightmare judgment that was about to strike Sodom.

Lot cared enough for his family that he went to urge his prospective sons-in-law to leave the city. But they didn’t take him seriously. For Lot to suddenly be concerned about escaping the city’s wickedness seemed out of character for him. They passed off his warning as a joke.

In the morning, Lot again displayed weakness. He lacked the power to act decisively with the prompt, whole-hearted obedience of faith found in Uncle Abraham. In spite of the very clear warnings of the angels, Lot still lingered. The angels had to literally grab Lot, his wife, and their two daughters by the hands and pull them out of the city. They had to actually force rescue upon Lot and his family

But we’re not done yet. Lot’s wife didn’t make it far out of Sodom. Against the express warning of the angels, she paused and stared back at the city as it was being destroyed. The fire and brimstone overtook her and her body was embalmed in salt.

Moses tells us in Genesis that the Lord “overthrew” Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain. The destruction was so thorough that what was left looked as though the cities had been overthrown – turned upside down. Many scholars feel the site of the destruction has been covered by the southern waters of the Dead Sea.

Did you hear the conflict inside of Lot? Lot was a righteous man, but living in the immoral climate of Sodom had blunted his faith and dulled his moral sensitivity. In Christ’s words, Lot was salt that had lost its saltiness (Matthew 5:13). Daily association with wickedness had warped his judgments and crippled his capacity to take godly, decisive actions. Lot had become so attached to the city that he was reluctant to make a clean break.

Lot’s wife stands as a grim reminder of the terrible price all will pay who cannot tear their hearts loose from the joys and toys this early life offers. It is hardly surprising that twenty centuries later, when Jesus was warning His disciples about earthly-mindedness, He added: “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32)!

Knowing all this about Lot, it probably comes as quite a shock when, of all adjectives, St. Peter chooses to put “righteous” in front of Lot’s name – not once, not twice, but three times. He says that God “rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (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). You might be wondering if Peter was reading the same stories from Genesis that we are. Lot, righteous? Really? You mean the foolish Lot who chose to live in Sodom? The heartless Lot who almost got his two daughters gang-raped? The confused Lot who had trouble distinguishing friends from molesters and moral depravity from God’s holiness? That’s the Lot that Peter is calling “righteous”?

Do you see how much we are a lot alike with Lot? We may never had done what Lot has done, but do you overlook homosexual and heterosexual sins because they are committed by your friends? Do condone the depravity that is displayed on our TV screens with your blank stares? Are our children influenced by our silence? Do they see our lack of reproval for being equal to approval?

The sexual sins of Sodom or Gomorrah or Hollywood or Racine are indicative of much more pervasive sins – our society’s lack of godliness and faith. Have we Christians lost our saltiness? Have we believers become so infected with the godless sexuality of our society that we no longer have whole-hearted obedience of faith to the Lord? Are we able to tear ourselves away from the world and its ungodly ways? Have we become so absorbed in the pursuits of sin that we no longer heed God’s warnings about the world being overturned on Judgment Day?

We have a lot alike with Lot. We may not have done what Lot had done, but our personal bios are full of foolish choices, moral failures, and shameful conduct. We have all wandered from the straight and narrow at one time or another. Some of us have fallen off the map altogether. Some of Lot’s decisions may disgust us, but I’d bet if Lot knew our stories, he’d find plenty worthy of condemnation as well. As it turns out, all finger-pointing amongst sinners is in vain. Every transgressor just happens to screw up a little differently than you do.

Yet along comes Peter and calls us righteous. Lot, me, you — all of us who, by faith, have a borrowed righteousness. It belongs to Jesus but He lets us have it. Not only do we have a lot alike with Lot, but by the grace of God, Jesus allows us to be a lot like Him.

At the baptismal font, Jesus covers you with His righteousness. He dresses you in His clothes. It is a goodness with no gaps. As you are dressed in Christ’s righteous clothing, the heavenly Father easily mistakes you for Jesus. Though God knows you as an unrighteous sinner, He see you as His righteous son or daughter. That’s how completely covered you are. We are robed in the garments of our elder brother, Jesus Christ, and thus we receive the inheritance of the Father.

That’s why there is a constant war going on inside of us. Righteousness versus unrighteousness. Holiness versus depravity. Saint versus sinner. Garments of Christ versus garments of Satan. Salt versus unsaltiness.

Though you are weak, Christ makes you strong. Though you yearn for forbidden fruit, you are filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Though you are living among the evil day by day, your righteous soul is tormented by what you see and hear.

That’s the life of Lot. That’s the life of the Christian.

There’s more to Lot than meets the eye, as there’s more to us than meets the eye. But what ultimately matters is what meets the eye of God. When He sees us, He sees the child whom He loves. He sees one who struggles with living a life of faith in a heathen world. He sees one who is deeply troubled by the evil in the world, who tries to shelter the family, while also speaking out against the world’s evils. He sees one whose life is a long string of failures, but also a life of an unbroken chain of obedience through faith in Christ. For when God sees Lot, and when He sees us, what meets His eye is the One who meets us at the cross, who brings us into His holy family, and cleans and covers and clothes us with His perfect blood, His obedient life, and His righteous clothing. 

He is the Savior God who listened to Abraham’s righteous prayer to spare Sodom for the sake of ten believers. He is the Savior God who brought righteous judgment upon wicked Sodom. He is the Savior God who sent two angels to rescue righteous Lot. He is the Savior God who is always warning us so that He might rescue us.

Do not hesitate to leave behind the things of this world for the promise of eternal deliverance. Do not look back on what might have been, but instead look ahead to the promised salvation of the Christ. Do not lose your saltiness, but be salt in this world. Let God’s voice be heard through you.

We may live in Sodom, but let God give you a heart of Zion – a heart pumped full of the atoning blood of Jesus. Though He should condemn us, our Savior God sends His angels, His pastors, teachers, parents, children, and friends to warn us and to save us through Jesus. Yes, we have a lot alike with Lot. But by the grace of God, we also have been made a lot alike with Jesus. In Christ, you are no longer a failure, a felon, or a freak. You have been made a friend of God. In Christ, you are not dirty or depraved for you have been washed, you have been sanctified, you have been made new.

You have been rescued. So don’t look back. Amen.