On Sunday, a guest speaker delivered the sermon. Something about the content sounded as if it belonged to another denomination. Turns out – the speaker basically preached this sermon by W.A. Criswell, he just changed the title and omitted the anecdotes. Criswell is remembered as the patriarch of the “Conservative Resurgence” within the SBC.
Now the difference in those two men is the difference between day and night, between the east and the west. Abraham’s life was one of complete trust in God. He lived a life of faith … Lot was a diametrical opposite. He was a man of the world … But, he was willing to compromise his spiritual life for worldly advancement and worldly gain … but you will have one thousand Lots. They’re everywhere: a man of the world.
Sometimes preachers have a tendency to talk about people in the Bible as if one is good and another is bad. We like heroes and villains. But we don’t know what to do with a story that is about two different types of people that are neither heroes nor villains. That’s our loss – we could use more stories like that, stories that help us to understand that who we are (hero or villain) isn’t so much going to decide what happens to us but our choices (good or bad) will. We start in Genesis 13:
So we are going to look at Lot and the choice that he made … with strife between the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abraham. And … unselfish Abraham says to his nephew, “You choose in any direction that you please, and I will take what is left.” … Lot chooses, the beautiful, well-watered plain and the cities of the valley. The world would say Lot is a shrewd businessman. He knows a bargain when he sees it, and he takes advantage of it. Lot did not say to Abraham, “God has blessed me through you. You choose. You choose, Abraham, and I’ll take what is left.” Nor did Lot say to his Uncle Abraham, “We will share it alike. We will divide the land between us.” What he did say was, “I will take all of the fertile, well-watered plain. I’ll take the cities of the valley, and you can have the desert wilderness and the rocky mountains.” And Abraham was kind and generous to his nephew and said, “You take the well-watered plain and you take the cities of the valley; and I’ll take the rocky mountains and the desert wilderness.”
This is a great example of preaching style causing a misunderstanding. The choice is between Canaan and the plain of Jordan toward Zoar. Canaan would be described a land of ‘milk and honey’. The Israelites would have to drive out (destroy) anyone and everyone in their path to take possessions of houses they did not build and vineyards they did not plant. If this was a desert wilderness and rocky mountain land, the various people that lived there would not have been as numerous – in fact, the land would have been much emptier. So Lot was, in fact, not choosing between a well-watered plain and desert wilderness with a little rocky mountains here and there unless in the span of a few hundred years God really did a miracle and redecorated the whole place. He was choosing between two well-watered plains – the big discernible differences were the sort of people already living in the area. The various peoples living in Canaan were so terrifying – they are described as tall and strong – these are the stock of Goliath, giants. The people are strong and tall—Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” Perhaps Lot had some dealings in the plain of the Jordan and knew something of the quality of it’s people. Perhaps he felt it was more prudent to live near the cities where he could turn to for help. Where it was easier to get food and other supplies. Where there would be people to do business with. Where it was safer. Where there were no giants. (Of course – one must be careful, saying the phrase “pitched his tents” incorrectly can be disastrous.)
So we have the division of the two: Abraham is up there on the mountains, … “And Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom; and dwelt in the cities of the plain.” And … he prospered in Sodom. When you went into the city you would have met him first out of all the citizens of that flourishing metropolis. No man ever got on so well as did Lot in Sodom. He was the mayor of the city. He sat in the gate. He was “Judge Lot.“ Mrs. Lot was a fashionable leader in the social circles of Sodom. And the Mrs. Lots, his children, married well. They married Sodomites, and they prospered in the metropolis.
So we’ve already covered that the sermon described Canaan as rocky mountain and desert wilderness when it was just as well-watered as the Plain of Jordan toward Zoar (seriously – look up a map and count how many rivers you can find – there are ten of them as well as the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee – wherever there is water, there is life. Even surrounding the Nile River of Egypt are it’s farmlands and biggest cities). Time for the second big departure from Scripture: Lot became the mayor of Sodom. First, these events are out of sequence – Lot didn’t move into the city of Sodom until after he had been attacked and everything had been carried off by the victors. Secondly; what would be the point of Lot being the mayor of a city that has it’s own king? Also, the jury is still out on whether Lot had two daughters or four. This preacher assumes that he had four daughters and he married off two of them to local men on to lose them all when … (spoiler alert) … Sodom is destroyed.
We are now going to look at the dividends of his worldly choice, what happens when the man builds his life in the world possessed by the ambitions and answering to the calls of the world. Well, … he is captured in battle. Sodom is taken. And in that fall of the city of Sodom, in the war, Lot is captured. His whole family and everything that he owns is taken away. That means, in that day, he was taken into slavery, and all of his family. He would have been sold as a slave, and all of his family would have been in servitude had it not been that he was delivered by the hand of his Uncle Abraham. … Now, when that happens, when Lot is delivered by Abraham from slavery, what does he do? Does he refuse to turn to Sodom and say to Abraham, “I’m going to share God’s life with you.”? No! The first thing this shrewd businessman, Lot, does is he turns his heart and his life with his family and goes back into Sodom. The world had a hold of his heart and had a hold of his life, and he couldn’t disassociate himself from it.