The Story of Lot
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 17, Oct 2017
Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 2:4-9; Gen 11:31
‘If God did not spare even angels who had sinned, but condemned them to the lowest hell and committed them to the pits of darkness, where they remain kept for judgment: if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved in safety Noah, the preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when he dispatched the flood on the world of impious men. And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished:’
‘And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abraham’s wife: and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan, and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.’
This morning I want to share a story of a man who is a representation of Last Day saints. The bible says ‘sin shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold.’ The last church of the 7 churches in the book of Revelation is the Laodicea church which is neither cold nor hot that God would spew them out of his mouth. His name is Lot. Lot is a type of the last day saints. He was called righteous by Peter but was anything that was righteous when we read his story in the book of Genesis. His story is put there by God to prepare us as to what will take place almost exactly, though bigger in scale, one day. What happened in Lot’s story is scarily a picture of what is happening to the world today. His story is one of the grimmest tales of the Old Testament and almost fairy tale like in nature. Let’s study the life of Lot.
1. The Story of Lot
Lot is the grandson of Terah. He is the son of Abraham’s elder brother, Haran. So he is the nephew of Abraham. Haran, his father died an untimely death. I guess it affected Lot so much that he decided to leave Haran and followed Abraham. He went forth from the Ur of Chaldees to Canaan. Canaan has always represented the Promised Land. For Christian it represents our promised inheritance. It is our inheritance while here on earth. There are promises that God has given us when we follow Jesus. Actually the promises are what kept us going on with Christ. Canaan also represents those who want to live godly lives. So when you decided to follow Jesus you are saying you have decided to live a godly life. Please understand that the call of Jesus has always been a call to holiness. We can say that Lot started off well. To follow Jesus is always something beautiful and eternal in effect.
Lot also represents a member of the church. All of you are member of Evangel Tabernacle. Lot too is a member of a household of faith where all believed in Christ. Lot was neither a famous nor a wonderful man. He is known primarily because of his renowned uncle Abraham. My two daughters are members of the Lim’s family. At the entrance to our home, near the door, we have a plaque who says, ‘The Lim’s Family. And written in the plaque is the list of the Lim’s family: Toh Nee Lim, Lily Lim, Joy Lim and Jan Lim. So I will say that Joy and Jan are members of the household that acknowledges the Lordship of Christ and have God fearing parents. That is the beginning of Lot and so it is with many of you in this church. I am happy that you are members of this church. I am also glad that you are here in church along with your parents or relatives. That is a good start.
Lot represents one who has never heard the call of God. Some of you have never heard the call of God and it is a dangerous thing. Probably you come to this church because your parents want you to go to church. I have a friend in Singapore. He is going to get married soon. But he is marrying someone that doesn’t know God, doesn’t understand the things of God and definitely has not heard the call of God. He just brings her to church which is not wrong, but she is not interested. My friend decided to marry her because this girl’s mother is dying of cancer and she wants to see her daughter married before she dies. This lady goes to church because of my friend. But she is not faithful until today. If my friend is not in church because of overseas assignment, she will not be there. There was one time there was an organized trip to Malaysia. All went to church before taking off for Malaysia. This lady misses the church but joined them later in the afternoon for the Malaysian trip. Definitely she has never heard the call of God. Everything is done in conveniences, necessity. My friend is off age, she is off age. The mother is dying so they think they should get married. Children, you are brought out of this world by your parents and you come to church because your parents requires it, it is not enough. There is nothing wrong to follow your parents, your friends and relatives but have you heard the call of God?
Ur of Chaldees is a city. Actually it is an immoral city; a city condemned by God. The household of Terah are not just idol worshipper but also idol makers. They served other gods. Your parents or relatives who are not in this church or other churches in Iloilo City (who believe in Jesus as LORD) are serving other gods. They may not like to hear it but put it plainly they served other gods. So it is the right thing to leave the Ur of the Chaldees.
Chaldees represents the confusion of the world. Sodom and Gomorrah represents the pleasures of sin in this world. Egypt represents the harsh dominion of Satan. All these three represent the world. Today some people are involved in the confusion of the world. Others are in the pleasures of sin, while another group suffers under the harsh dominion of Satan in this world.
2. The Choice of Lot
In life we make choices. Choices are important. Last night I had to counsel a couple. The wife despised the husband because he is not making much money. She wants him to learn the Korean language and go to Korea and work. But the husband doesn’t want. He wants to serve God. The lady serves God but she is tired of the poverty they are in. I told them what God had put together let no men put asunder. I told them that God is the one that brings them together. If she makes the choice to leave him, how about the daughter. The gift of God to their union is their beautiful daughter. But if she leave him, the choice will have detrimental effect on their service for God, on their daughter. Their lives will take on a totally different path. They determined your future. Genesis 13:10 says, ‘And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.’
Many years have passed and the last time Lot was mentioned in the Old Testament, he was found in Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom of Gomorrah represents the worldly pleasures of sins. Today we see people seek all kinds of pleasures in sin. The sins that people commit today, we are embarrassed to even mention them. This pleasure of sin is epitomized in homosexuality. The inhabitants of Sodom were given over to sodomy. Homosexuality was approved of in Sodom, as it is approved off in the world today. Isn’t this is what is taking place in the world today. It started off in the United States, especially under the Obama administration and now all the countries of the world felt the great pressure to approve f it. Let’s dwell a little bit on the word Sodom. To be sodomized is to be subject to sodomy or to commit sodomy. Now Sodomy is firstly anal or oral copulation (sexual intercourse) with a member of the opposite sex. It is also copulation with the member of the same sex. Thirdly it is bestiality which means brutish or beastly behavior or sexual relations between a person and an animal. Just recently a man was caught sodomizing a goat and he was forced to marry the goat. I know I can share this in the church without persecution but if I make the same statement in the pulpit of a secular world, especially in this era, the condemnation of the world upon me would be harsh, swift and cruel. The people of Sodomy will aim their arrows directly at me. How are you so sure? Remember Manny Pacquaio. He provoked a storm of controversy in the world after saying same sex relationships are worse than animals. He, being a conservative Christian said, ‘It’s common sense. Do you see animal mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women with women they are worse than animals.’ Of course he had to apologize later. The attacks on him were relentless all over the world. Sodomy is approved of the world today. But what does God think of Sodomy. I don’t care what the world says. I care what God say. Genesis 13:13 says, ‘the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners against Jehovah exceedingly.’ The amplified version says ‘Lot (was) greatly worn out and distressed by the wanton ways of the ungodly and lawless. Lot was in anguish over the debauched lifestyle of the lawless. He had acute mental distress of the filthy lives of the godless. Sodomy is unbridled lust. William Barclay calls Sodom a place of raging unnatural lust. This is not normal. It involved the spirit world. Well the spirit world was responsible for the first destruction of the world by the Great Flood. The spirit world will also be responsible for the next destruction of the world by fire, which I will explain later. The flesh is an ugly thing. You and I have that old nature, and it is a nature which expresses itself in that which is ugly: that which is wicked, that which is nasty. You cannot make me believe that by making homosexuality lawful somehow or other you have added dignity to it. God says clearly in Romans that when men go down that low, He gives them up.
The final outcome is the doom of the cities was sealed by God. Archaeologists believe the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah may have been buried by the waters of the Dead Sea. Peter explained that the horror of these cities’ ending is an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly in our day. Great will be the suffering of the ungodly; their ending will result in punishment, gloom, and banishment from the presence of God. In today’s pulpit, God’s punishment on the unrighteous seems to be less of a preaching and teaching priority. Do we, like the false teachers, think we have outgrown this clear doctrine of Scripture? We have a lot of emphasis on tolerance of others, be seeker friendly, and the self help benefits of the Bible, but we must not dilute God’s clear words of warning. To turn away from God is to turn to ruin. From such ruin, there will be no escape. Don’t neglect teaching about God’s judgment.
In Genesis 13:10, we read that Sodom and Gomorrah also seemed to lot ‘like the land of Egypt.’ It is so interesting. The conscience of Lot or a child of God will be able to see the difference. The world is like the garden of Jehovah but is also like the land of Egypt. I look at Singapore; it is a garden city, beautiful beyond comprehension. Everywhere there are parks, path for cycling, jogging, and exercise gym. They are restaurant besides running water steams, clubs; golf club, tennis court, squash court etc. The Landscape is what we can say like the Garden of Eden. But it is also like the land of Egypt. There are pleasures, yet there are also afflictions. We need to recall that the children of Israel had been salves in Egypt who suffered terribly at the hands of their Egyptians taskmasters. They were actually oppressed and scourged. They were forced to make bricks. It is such a correct description of those who loves the world. They may experience the pleasures and blessings from it as though being in the garden of Jehovah but their conscience gives them no joy; but uneasiness because they sinned; they are afflicted, tormented, suffered greatly as a result of the pleasures of sin. Lot was literally in that situation. He was vexed which means to tire down with toil, to exhaust with labor. It means to afflict, to oppress with evil. He was never happy there. He was tormented on the inside. It was torture for him to live in Sodom.
3. The Borderline of Lot.
Genesis 13:12 says, ‘Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plains and pitched his tent toward Sodom.’ Remember the call was to Canaan which Abraham continued until the day he died. For Lot he deviated and took a completely different path.
William Barclay calls the story of Lot one of the grimmest tales in the Old Testament. We must take note that Lot initially moved eastward and later dwelled in the plains of the cities, pitched his tents towards Sodom and finally lived in the gates of Sodom. Vernon McGee says that after reading the book of Genesis on Lot, he was apt to believe the Lot was not saved, had he not read 2 Peter 2:6-9. The Genesis account does not make Lot appear to have been very ‘righteous’ at all. In fact, it portrays Lot as having little ability to affect the immorality, the drunk and actually he was so deeply involved in the city that the angel had to drag him away from it. That is how much of a borderline Christian Lot is. I think that you and I are going to get two big surprises when we get to heaven. The number one surprise will be that there are not going to be some people in heaven who you are so sure were going to make it. The second and bigger shock will be there are going to be some people in heaven who we never even suspected were children of God. Well we are not responsible for the final evaluation of Lot’s future. We have to leave it to God. But again that is how borderline Lot is. There are a number of characters in the bible, where until today we are still not sure whether they will be in heaven or not; Solomon, Lot, Joab and the all the children of Israel over 20 years old that perished in the wilderness.
But looking at the book of 2 Peter 2:6-8 we read 3 times the word righteous was mentioned concerning Lot. Peter’s description of Lot as ‘righteous’ came from Jewish tradition. Peter uses the word over and over again and it expresses what he means. 3 times in 2 versus Peter emphasized that Lot is righteous. The word righteous means right, just. Actually in some translation, he was called just lot. Righteous is defined as one who is morally and ethically righteous, upright and just. Well the wording may mean that Lot was a good man, a decent man, especially in comparison to the evil men of Sodom. I also believed that Lot is righteous because he is justified by faith and therefore God considered him righteous. Lot was not sinless, but he put his trust in God and was spared when Sodom was destroyed. I think there are many Lots in the church. We have the form of godliness but denying the power thereof. We have not influenced the world but on the contrary are overwhelmed by the world. Actually like Lot we joined them. Rabbincal interpreters of the Old Testament were not so generous in their evaluation of Lot’s character, measuring him by the absolute standard of the law and regarding him as a notorious sinner. Why then did God rescue Lot? It was not due to his own timely foresight but wholly the Lord’s intervention on his behalf. It is just simply the grace of God. And God acted in response to Abraham’s intercession.
Lot lost not only his testimony to his family for his married daughters and their husbands laughed at his warning. They were saying to their father, ‘The kind of life you’ve been living down here doesn’t reveal to us that you have much faith and confidence in God.’ Definitely he didn’t live a life like Abraham did, one that was a testimony to the world. He also lost his wife who disobeyed God and lost her life. Why did Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt? Why did she look back? Although she walked out of Sodom, she had left her heart back there. She was so intertwined in everything that took place in that city. She belong to that country, I think she blamed Lot saying, ‘Why do we have to leave like this? She didn’t believe God would destroy the city. Well God did destroy the city and she turned into a pillar of salt. The two daughters don’t think much about incest. I have a family and I have children. Whatever I want to do, I may say it is personal choice but the consequences are not private and most likely will affect those around us, especially those nearest and dearest. I ask you a question. Are you like Lot that is drawn into worldliness and sensuality of Sodom so much so that it is now in you and in your loved one?
4. The Judgment upon Lot’s World
The greatest lesson for us in these verses is that God’s rescue of Lot from Sodom prefigures the rapture of the Church. God told Noah specifically that he will never destroy the world by a flood again. And since Noah’s time until today, which is more than 5000 years, the world has never been destroyed by a flood. But God did prophesied that he will destroy the world this time by fire. Sodom and Gomorrah are a sample of God’s destruction of the world by fire. Actually it is a picture of what will happen to the world. Sodom is not just one city. The bible says cities. Sodom and Gomorrah is no more in existence today because of the destruction by fire from heaven. As I said, it is believed that Sodom and Gomorrah is located beneath the waters of the Dead Sea. I have always believed that the one sin that will bring in the End times is Sodomy. But there is something beautiful in this story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s rescue of Lot prefigures the rapture of the Church. Enoch is a prophet and preacher of righteousness and was taken up to heaven before God destroyed the world by a flood. Enoch never went through the Great Flood, a type of tribulation. Elijah was taken up to heaven and was never persecuted by Jezebel. He did not go through any tribulation. Lot was preserved from the fire from heaven on Sodom and Gomorrah. May I say to you, the rapture of the church will take place before the Great Tribulation Period before the judgment comes, because God will not let any of his saints go through it. This is a marvelous example of the fact that the church will not go through the Great Tribulation Period. How do you know Pastor? Read 2 Peter 2:9 just the next verse. ‘The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of tribulations, and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished.’ To those who believe that the church is going through the Great Tribulation Period, I would like to say that God knows how to deliver His own. You may not know how, but God knows how. He also knows how to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished.’ God knows the difference between the godly and the unjust.
I want to say something. God doesn’t destroy mankind out of his whim and fancies. Rather it is always the sins of the world have reached its peak and the only way to save the world is to rejuvenate the world by destroying it first. I give you an example of why God destroyed the world by a flood during Noah’s time. 2 Peter 2:4-5 ‘If God did not spare even angels who had sinned, but condemned them to the lowest hell and committed them to the pits of darkness, where they remain kept for judgment: if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved in safety Noah, the preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when he dispatched the flood on the world of impious men. William Barclay gave a very insightful explanation of the sins of angels and their role that caused the destruction of the world by the Great Flood.
Peter said that God condemned the sinning angels to the lowest depths of hell. Literally the Greek translation says that God condemned the angels to Tartarus. Tartarus was not a Hebrew conception but Greek. In Greek Mythology Tartarus was the lowest hell. It was as far beneath Hades as the heaven is high above the earth. Another Greek word was used concerning the sinning angels. It means the pits of darkness according to the best manuscripts; it means that the wicked angels were cast there. Today in Tartarus we have the sinning angels kept in the lowest depths of hell and in pits of darkness. We presume they were kept there because they with Lucifer rebelled against God in heaven. But why was Lucifer still around where these sinning angels were kept there In Tartarus. The bible says they did not keep their first estate. What do you mean by that? William Barclay believes the reason is developed in the book of Enoch and Peter drew from Enoch’s example. You must understand that during Peter’s time, there was a book of Enoch that everyone knows. In Enoch the angels are called the Watchers. Their leader in rebellion was Semjaza or he has another name; Azazel. At his instigation, they descended to Mount Hermon in the days of Jared, the father of Enoch. They took mortal wives and instructed them in magic and in arts which gave them power. They produced the race of the giants, and the giants produced the nephilim, the giants who inhabited the land of Canaan and of whom the people were afraid. Number 13:33 told us about the Nephilim. These giants became cannibals and were guilty of every kind of lust and crime and especially of insolent arrogance to God and man. The Apocryphal literature has many references to them and their pride. Wisdom 14:6 tells us how the ancient giants perished. Ecclesiastics 16:7 tells us how the ancient giants fell away in the strength of their foolishness. Josephus says that they were arrogant and contemptuous of all that was good and trusted in their own strength. Job says God charged his angels with folly. This old story makes a strange and fleeting appearance in the letters of Paul. Paul says that women must have their hair covered in the church because of the angels. Behind that strange saying lies the old belief that it was the loveliness of the long hair of the women of olden times which moved the angels to desire; and Paul wishes to see that angels are not tempted again. In the end even men complained of the sorrow and misery brought into the world by these giants through the sin of the angels. The result was God sent out his archangels and bound Azazel hand and foot and shut him up in darkness. Gabriel the archangel slew the giants and the watchers; the sinning angels were shut up in the abysses of darkness under the mountains for 70 generations and then confined forever in everlasting fire. Here is the story that was in Peter’s mind and which his readers well knew what he is talking about. Of course as for mankind, the world at that time has become so corrupted that the only way to save the world was through a flood. William Barclay says of course the story of the angels is very primitive and as time went on, it became rather an awkward and embarrassing story because of its ascription of lust to angels. Later Jewish and Christian denied that the story involved angels at all. Also the story became allegorized. They allegorized Genesis 6:1-2 ‘And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them. That the sons of God (sinning angels or called the watchers) saw the daughters of men (humans) that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose.’ It was claimed for instance by Philo that it was never meant to be taken literally and described the fall of human soul under the attack of the seductions of lustful pleasures. Personally to me William Barclay is the best contemporary bible commentator of the New Testament. God doesn’t just destroy the Ancient World with the Great Flood. I believed it has to do with sinning angels and human.
Now we are living in the time of that Second World Judgment; this time by fire. The destruction of this present world has to do with some great sins that reach its height that God has no choice but to destroy the world by fire this time. And God foresaw our world today and he gave a sample example of cities destroyed by fire in Sodom and Gomorrah and the same cause where the present world will be destroyed. Sodomy is not natural. It involved the spirit world, just like the first judgment involved the spirit world.
At this point of the story of Lot, I would not ask you how long you have believed in the LORD. I would simply want to tell you today God places two ways before you. He places before you the world as well as the promised land of Canaan. And he is waiting how you would choose. Which side are you on? When worldly people meet you, will they criticize you as being backward because you are too different from them? What would really be damaging, however is if people were to say, we think that you being a Christian, ought to be very different from us, and yet you are the same as we are. Such is the most detrimental comment a worldling could say about you. Many believers are not willing to stand up and confess they belong to Christ. They comfort themselves with the thought that it is not important for them to say so. They will not, on the one hand let go of the garden of Jehovah, yet they insist, on the other hands on cleaving to the land of Egypt. They consider themselves Christians because they go to church services. Yet in their lives they have no Christian fellowship and cannot lay aside their wealth. May we ask God to deliver us from this most precarious course.
A thought came to me recently. I am already 56 years old. In 14 years time, I will be 70 years old. Just say I live another 25 years. Then I will be 80 years old. But I realize that in 25 years time, I am going to live eternally in heaven or in hell. It will be a life of eternal bliss of eternal anguish. And it is coming soon. My time is actually very short. I must keep my faith and occupy in the work of God, praying, serving until He comes. I am about to meet my creator soon. I want to be like Abraham, who dwell in Canaan, on the promises of God, and not like Lot, who has a form of godliness but denying the power therefore and I may even miss heaven or make it by the skin of my teeth. How about you?