Why Can’t I Pitch My Tent Toward Sodom?
By Dr. Roger Barrier, Crosswalk.com
A friend and I were debating about Lot, the nephew of Abraham. Was he a “righteous” man? It seems like he followed God sometimes and also made some terrible choices. We agreed that his spiral down into the unrighteousness of Sodom and Gomorrah parallels what is happening in the lives of many Christians today. Do you believe that’s true?
We can learn a lot from Lot. Here is a man who started in righteous fellowship with God and his uncle Abraham, and then he ended up in a cave committing incest with his two daughters. I also agree that it’s fair to say we live in Sodom and Gomorrah today. Many Christians today are more like Lot than they are like Abraham.
First, remember that the Bible is full of admonitions to beware of the world's system.
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
If I could sum up Lot’s life, it would be this; It’s impossible to live the world’s way and stay in fellowship with God.
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Lot’s Life Story
Lot was an orphan. His dad died when he was young, and Abraham adopted him. This turned out to be a great blessing for Lot.
Abraham took Lot along when he followed the Lord’s command to leave his homeland and “Go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). As part of Abraham’s family, Lot would share in God’s promise to make Abraham a “great nation” (Genesis 12:2).
They traveled together to Canaan and saw the land God promised. But then, when they faced a famine, Abraham took Lot to Egypt. He never should have done that! Lot got an eye for the riches of Egypt that he never got over. And while in Egypt, Lot became rich like his uncle.
Unfortunately, their relationship came to a crisis.
Both men were quite wealthy with large flocks of sheep and goats. Their servants began to quarrel because there was not enough pastureland for them both. They decided to split the land between them. Abraham, with the magnanimity of a great soul, gave Lot the first choice.
It is here that the true character of both Abraham and Lot is revealed.
Quite simply, Lot chose the best land and left the rest to Abraham.
There is a very revealing sentence in Genesis 13:11; "Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan." He was already a wealthy man. He enjoyed great gain while living with Abraham. Still, he wanted more, and selfishness was the underlying reason.
Don’t miss this. When we try to gain what the world has to offer, we often end up becoming like the world.
When separated, Lot “pitched his tent in the direction of Sodom. Now, the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord” (Genesis 13:12-13).
At first, when Lot looked toward the well-watered plains of the river Jordan, it reminded him of Egypt. That's all he could see. He’d also learned that great gain comes much faster in the city than in the wilderness of Canaan.
So, Lot made his choice. Notice that Lot didn't go straight to Sodom. He pitched his tent toward wicked Sodom and made several stops along the way.
He rationalized, "Sodom is wicked! I'll get as close to Sodom as possible without failing into its wicked ways. Then, I can make as much gain as I can while I can." So, Lot moved closer and closer to Sodom.
Personally, I'm inclined to believe that when he pitched his tent toward Sodom, he hoped not merely to get something out of it. He believed that he could put some righteousness back into the city.
I've heard these words often, and I’m sure you have too; “I can probably influence these people by my good life. I can probably use my simple and pure faith to bring them closer to the true God." Or “I will live a life of righteousness and purity so that they can be attracted to my lifestyle.”
How does that turn out? Not well!
Soon, Lot moved from a tent to a house. He was no longer near Sodom, but in the midst of it. He was no longer separated from Sodom, but mixed up in it.
Downfall always occurs one step at a time. The devil is too wise to make us jump off the deep end all at once. What he does is lead us in the wrong direction.
Eventually, Lot was sitting at Sodom’s gate. This simply means that he had become a chief magistrate in the city. He sat at the gate to resolve disputes and to receive visitors as a representative of the city's hospitality.
Lot had become the mayor of Sodom.
Imagine with me that Lot is here with us today. I’d like to ask him several questions about how he would evaluate his life. These are also the questions that face every Christian who chooses to pitch his tent toward Sodom.
Here are five questions for Lot:
1. Lot, how did your move to Sodom affect your spiritual life?
The answer is apparent in Lot’s interaction with the two angels God sent with instructions for him to take his family and leave Sodom ASAP.
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, 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 early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. (Genesis 19:1-3)
When the angels came to Abraham's tent, they went right in. Sodom was so desecrated with sin, and Lot was so out of fellowship with God, that the angels refused his invitation for them to come into his house.
We are introduced to a Christian who has forgotten that he is to be a stranger and a pilgrim in this world. And there are many reasons why Christians may settle in this world; but when they do, they will seldom be happy.
2. Lot, are you happy?
Lot 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)
Lot lost his rest and peace when he went into Sodom. There's something about being born again that ruins us for the world.
You can make your fortune, have a fine position, and enjoy the pleasures of Sodom. However, if our hearts are not chasing after Jesus, pursuing His will, we are failures.
If you want to know where peace and rest are, go see Abraham out under the trees in Canaan.
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3. Lot, what good influence have you had on the people of Sodom?
Surely, you influenced some of them to turn toward righteousness?
Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 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 19:4-8)
Even though Lot tried to live differently from the Sodomites, their evil ways did not change. In fact, they began to corrupt the rest of Lot’s family.
Abraham heard about the evil in Sodom, and he pleaded with the Lord to spare Sodom. Back and forth; back and forth they went. Finally, after much bargaining, the Lord agreed that He would spare Sodom if He could find just ten righteous men there … and He couldn’t find ten! (Genesis 18:26-33).
Lot lost all of his influence in the city. Whenever we compromise our convictions, we delude ourselves if we think we are doing any good!
The man who nearly saved Sodom was not the man who went to live in the city, but the man who lived under the oaks.
How many have you led into a saving experience with Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord? How many are closer to Christ now than when you first began a relationship with them?
4. Lot, how much did you gain out of your move?
I’ve stood on the shore of the Dead Sea where Sodom and Gomorrah once were. I have watched those brackish waves lap upon the shore in an unending monotone of death.
How much did Lot lose? You know that answer. He lost it all.
Lot was a good man who intended to do good, but he made one wrong choice. He pitched his tent toward Sodom, and he ended up fleeing from that wicked place in terror … having lost everything!
5. Lot what about your family? How has your move affected them?
The answer to that question is dreadful.
Lot went to warn his sons-in-law. He said, "I've been talking to God. He's going to destroy this city. We must hurry and leave!"
They laughed at him and said, "When did you last talk to God? We've not noticed you to be interested in God!" Both men mocked Lot and took no heed.
When Lot left the city, he took a wife whose heart was knitted to Sodom and two unmarried daughters who were corrupted by sin.
The angels warned Lot and his family not to look back at the destruction. But Mrs. Lot good not resist a quick peek. She was transformed into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).
Why did she look back? Because her life was back there. Everything she lived for was there. So, she looked back and lost it all … including her life.
Why salt? Not stone or brick? Scholars surmise that hot, melting salt and brimstone exploded up from the earth’s crust and covered her as she lingered behind.
Finally, far away from the ruins of Sodom, Lot slept in a cave when his two immoral daughters got him drunk and committed incest with him! (Genesis 19:31-35).
Lot lost his entire family when he decided to compromise and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
If Lot was that bad, why was he delivered from the destruction of Sodom? Because of God's mercy.
If God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he 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)—if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. (2 Peter 2:7-9)
Lot is a lasting memorial to every generation of what happens when a Christian forgets that he/she is a stranger and a pilgrim in the world … in other words, when a Christian pitches his or her tent toward Sodom.
Well, I hope that this exposition is useful to you, your friend, and in your sphere of influence.
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