Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan,
and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain,
and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
~ Genesis 13:12
Lot is a peculiar figure in scripture. The Bible is full of godly men with wonderful testimonies of faith. These men are not perfect, but they attained to a high degree of grace and holiness. We think of men like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Samuel, Daniel, The Baptist, and Paul, to name only a few. Lot does not seem to fit in very well with these names. If it were not for God’s testimony that Lot was “just” and “righteous,” we could hardly believe he was even saved.
However, Lot fits in very well with the many of Christians today. Lots’ was not a victorious life. He did not die a triumphant death. I do not believe he had the rich abundant entrance into Heaven that Peter wrote about, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).
What happened to Lot? Our text marks an epoch in the life of Lot. From this point there is nothing good reported about Lot, except that he was scarcely saved. In the time of our text, Lot made a choice. This choice set the tone for the rest of his and his family’s life. This choice contributed to such a lowly state of grace that God’s Word tells us that when God was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, “he lingered” (Genesis 19:16). Let us think upon the life and choice of Lot. Let us treat this account as a solemn warning and trustworthy guide for us to avoid this danger.
Lot made a choice about where he and his family were going to live. We all have to make this decision and sometimes we will have to choose our place of residence several different times. Lot had been with his righteous uncle prior to this, but both of them had accumulated a great estate so that it was not possible for them to abide together. Abraham gave Lot first choice of where he wanted to live and told him that he would go the other way. Lot must make a decision that will have long-term implications on his life and the life of his family.
We cannot be certain about how much that Lot considered the spiritual implications, but we see from the account that he certainly considered the physical and temporal implications. “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other” (Genesis 13:10-11). Lot recognized that the plain of Jordan was a place where he could thrive. His flocks and herds would flourish in such a fertile environment and, after all, this was his livelihood, this was how he provided for his family, so it was very important that he choose a profitable environment for his business.
Moreover, Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom” despite the fact that “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13). He probably thought he could live close enough to reap the benefits and yet avoid defiling contact with the people of cities.
I am amazed that many Christians follow Lot’s course repeatedly today. People choose where they are going to live based on the economy of the place, laws that they like or dislike, taxes, the government school systems in the area, business associations, sports programs for the youth, property values, land, and other such factors. They give little or no consideration about whether there is a sound church in the location. They are more concerned about the raise or promotion that they will receive. They give little consideration to the wickedness of the place. They will expose themselves, and their families to all manner of ungodliness, rub elbows with the wicked and separate themselves from righteous company, all in order to earn more money.
I am even more amazed at the rationalizations and justifications made. People say, “We don’t approve of the wickedness in our area. In fact, we are a witness and a testimony in this place. We have family devotions, we pray, and we listen to preaching tapes. We are just as good as anybody else.” Consider Lot and do not be deceived. Lot did not approve of the wickedness of Sodom. He “vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2 Peter 2:8). The ungodly city had more effect on Lot than he ever had on them.
Our text tells us that he “pitched his tent toward Sodom” and the next time we find him, in the nineteenth chapter, he is dwelling in a house in the city. He was such a good witness and testimony that there was not found even one righteous person outside of his house. He had lost all good influence over his family and he was so weak spiritually that “he lingered” in the city, not able to let go, and had to be carried out by the angels.
Do not trade your birthright for a mess of worldly pottage. Do not let the physical things dictate the spiritual. Do not think that you can make a constant association with the wicked not be affected by them. Do not throw your wife and children into the company of the wicked. God says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
Move to a place where there is a sound and godly church, even if you have to suffer and sacrifice. Be like Moses, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” (Hebrews 11:25-26).
J. C. Ryle called Lot a beacon for Christians of all ages. Let us heed the lesson in Lot’s life. May we sacrifice the physical in order to serve God and avoid the danger of the attraction of the world.