Today’s Reading: Genesis 18:16-19:38
In the Bible, when someone had a decision to make, they would often “cast lots” to determine the will of God. They would do this by throwing sticks or stones with markings on them. In essence, they would use a game of chance similar to flipping a coin or rolling the dice to determine which direction they should go or what should happen. This is referred to 77 times in the Bible. Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit now to direct us when we have a choice to make.
As we study Abraham’s faith, we get the opportunity to see the contrasting life of his nephew, Lot. Consistent with his name, Lot had a series of decisions to make. Now God had blessed both Abraham and Lot with a large possession of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and tents. Things were getting crowded and so Abraham offered to Lot his choice of land.
LEFT OR RIGHT
“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.” – Gen. 13:9
When given a choice, Lot chose the whole Jordan Valley, an area that was very fertile and therefore would make him even wealthier. He moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. Now here is the significance of his decision. This area was known for the extreme wickedness of the people living there. They had a reputation of constantly sinning against the Lord, yet Lot was drawn to what this area had to offer him (riches) and he made a choice to live among this sinful society (13:12-13).
OLD OR NEW
Soon after that, a war broke out between nine kings. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were plundered and Lot was taken hostage along with all of his household and many others from that area. Abraham gathered together his men and rescued Lot from the mess he had gotten himself into. Rather than starting a new life in a new area, Lot chose to return to life as he knew it – back in Sodom where the people went right back to their sinful ways.
Now when the three visitors came to Abraham with the promise that Sarah would have a baby in about a year, the Lord also had a message for Abraham regarding the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Both cities had become very flagrant in their sin and God was ready to destroy them.
LOVE SIN OR LOVE SINNERS
Abraham had concern for the residents of these cities and asked God if He would spare the cities if He found 50 people who were righteous. God agreed. Abraham asked if He would spare the cities if He found 45 righteous people. God agreed. What about 40? Yes, 40. What about 30? Yes, 30. Abraham boldly asked God if He would spare the cities if he found 20 righteous people. For the sake of 20, God agreed He would spare the cities. Abraham asked God for one more number – would he spare the cities for 10? God stated He would hold back his judgment if He found even as small of a number as 10 righteous people.
Notice the difference between uncle and nephew. Lot was drawn to the sinfulness of society while Abraham was concerned for the fate of the lost. Lot blended in with the sinful people while Abraham separated himself and prayed to the Lord for those condemned to judgment.
STAY OR LEAVE
Two angels came to Lot in Sodom. They warned him of the coming destruction of the city and told Lot to get out of the city. The next morning, Lot was still there. The angels had to insist that Lot take his family and leave Sodom immediately. Lot still hesitated and the angels had to drag Lot and his family to safety.
When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” – Genesis 19:17
Lot begged the angels to let him stay close by. He was being warned to run from sinfulness and wickedness but Lot chose to stay close to the sinful life he had come to know. Lot’s wife looked back on the city as it was being destroyed and she turned into a pillar of salt. The verb used here indicates she cast more than a curious glance. She gazed intensely for a prolonged period. She was too attached to sin to respond to God’s gracious mercy. She chose to focus on what this sinful world had to offer her instead of the gift of life God was extending to her.
SLAVERY OR FREEDOM
These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you. And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.” – 2 Peter 2:17-22
God, reveal in us any love we might have for the sinful ways of the world we live in. Reveal the choices we daily make and do a work in our hearts. Lord, help us to see this world and be concerned for their sin, rather than drawn into its corruption. Heavenly Father, we choose freedom in knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rather than being a slave to the sin that seeks to control us. We answer your call to live a holy life and choose to walk in the way of righteousness – fill us with your righteousness we pray. Amen.
EARTHLY TREASURES OR HEAVENLY REWARDS
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. – Hebrews 11:13-16