AGCC sun. a.m. 2/14/99






TEXT:         Gen. 13:1-13; 19:1-29


INTRO:       The most tragic stories are those of believers who neglect their walk with God and find their lives later in a terrible broken condition spiritually.  How is it that someone who knows the ways and joys of God can get lost down the road? 


The process of a life that starts out so well but ends up so badly is a story of gradual processes of ignoring important spiritual realities, it almost never happens overnight!


ILLUS:    You know the old story of how to boil a frog. You don’t put him in a pot of boiling water. You drop him in the boiling water and he’ll jump out before he’s injured. So you put him in a pot of cold water, and he’s perfectly comfortable. Then you put him on the stove, and little by little the water gets warm. It’s very pleasant at first. Then it gets to Jacuzzi level, and he begins to be a little alarmed. Finally, when it’s boiling, it’s too late. Christians are like that, aren’t we? We get into the world and it’s oh so pleasant at first. And then it gets a little warmer and it’s pleasanter yet. And one day we realize the danger: “This is going to kill me, and I haven’t the strength to get out!”   -- Donald Hoke, “The Stockholm Syndrome,” Preaching Today, Tape 30.


Lot is an example of a man who knew God and had it all, but exchanged all the good stuff for great losses through a gradual move away from God’s ways to those of the world.  In the end, a man named LOT HAD LESS!


PROP. SENT:    The Bible teaches us to be careful not to “pitch out tents toward Sodom (the world) but toward Bethel (“God’s house”).  It is possible to start out well but finish poorly if we drift from the Lord.  Anything the world offers will be a bad bargain compared to what God offers.


I.      A ‘LOT’ OF COMPLAINING!   13:1-9


A.   Servant’s Desires   13:1-4

1.   The story of Lot starts out by establishing the godly character of Abram first.

a.   Abram is on his way to Bethel – which translates, “House of God”

b.   Lot is traveling along with him.

2.  They are both quite rich, in fact, the word used in 13:2 for “very wealthy” in Hebrew literally means, “heavy.”

a.   Wealth can be both a blessing and a “heavy” burden to bear!

b.   The beginning point is similar, but their end will be very different!

3.   How tragic to ignore the human heart’s power to do evil!


ILLUS:   I do not fear the explosive power of the atom bomb. What I fear is the explosive power of evil in the human heart.   Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


4.   While Abram clearly set his face toward God, Lot began to look elsewhere

a.   And where Lot’s eyes went, his spirit moved there in time!

b.   Abram stayed where God put him, Lot moved away from the place of God to the place of wickedness gradually.


B.   Self-Serving Disruptions!  13:5-9

1.   It didn’t take long for problems to develop between Lot and Abram’s herdsmen.

a.   The land could not produce enough for both, it had only been Abram God had led to this land, Lot’s presence was of his own doing and this caused problems.

b.   Lot’s need to increase more and more created a strain on the resources for all.

2.  Abram’s heart is revealed in his solution to Lot, Lot should choose whatever he wants, Abram’s concern was that they are “brethren” and it didn’t matter to him who got the best land!

3.  Unfortunately, Lot saw things quite differently, it wasn’t the brethren issue that Lot was concerned about, it was the fact that he was losing more than he felt he should have to lost, the situation wasn’t fair to him!

a.   Lot saw only how he was losing ground!

b.   Abram saw only unnecessary division between “brothers.”

4.  Lot viewed the world through his own gains or losses, not through relationships!


ILLUS:   If a man has limburger cheese on his upper lip, he thinks the whole world smells.   --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 415.


5.  This is the first stage of Lot’s movement away from “Bethel” or God’s place!

a.   When given a choice to end broken fellowship, Lot will choose the best material gain for himself.

b.   The spiritual issues have no concern to him here.


II.    A ‘LOT’ OF COMPROMISING!   13:10-13


A.   Self Directed    13:10-12

1.  “So Lot chose for himself…” 13:11 This says it all!

a.   Abram’s choices were for God, Lot’s were for himself!

b.   Lot’s first concern was for self, this is the essence of all sin.

2.  Lot saw what “looked good” on the outside and this was how he made his decisions in life.

a.   This was no doubt what caused him to pitch his tents TOWARD Sodom, and eventually we find him and his family IN Sodom.

b.   His leanings were based on how things looked to the carnal flesh rather than the spiritual side of things.

c.   This puts Lot in great contrast to Abram.

3.  Living for God isn’t always the apparently easy path, Lot however always took the path that seemed easiest to the flesh.


ILLUS:    It has been said that rivers and men become crooked by following the line of least resistance.   -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).


4.  Tragically, Lot is gradually moving closer and closer toward the world as evidenced by the statement here in 13:12.


B.   Self Destruction    13:13

1.   While in the previous verses (13:10,12) we find Lot looking toward the fertile fields, then pitching his tent toward Sodom, we will soon find him living in Sodom!

a.   A man or woman doesn’t slide into sin in one step; it is often a gradual process of leaving God behind and moving toward the world in stages.

b.   Few would ever become a hardened sinner overnight; the process is much more gradual than this.


ILLUS:     People do not decide to be drunkards, drug addicts, prostitutes, murderers, or thieves, but they pitch their tent toward Sodom, and the powers of evil overcome them. -  John H. Eastwood


2.  No doubt when Lot first moved into Sodom the sin of the place must have grieved his heart.

a.   He may have even justified his settling in the city as a way of hope to evangelize the place.

b.   Perhaps in his mind he hoped to change the city for God.

c.   As time goes on however we will see that rather than his changing them, they changed his family in ways that brought destruction to it.

3.  Lot’s choices to live in Sodom and be a part of this community would have ramifications on his entire family, some of which he would never recover from!

a.   Not only will he lose his wife

b.   but he also loses his married daughters and sons-in-laws, they don’t leave with them.

c.   He also loses the respect of his unmarried daughters who do leave with him, they later commit incest with him and produce two children by this ungodly union.

4.  In the end Lot will lose all his wealth, most of his family, and his peace of mind, not to mention the spiritual heritage and witness he could have had.

5.  His compromising all through his life left him with almost nothing in the end!

a.   Solomon discovered a similar fate although he maintained his wealth.

b.   It is tragic to realize that most of the Biblical characters that fell did so in the later half of their lives, through a process of compromise!


III.  A ‘LOT’ OF CASUALTIES!    19:1-29


A.   Sinful Desensitizing    19:1-11

1.   When the two angels show up Lot begs them not to stay in the city square knowing full well that they would be raped by perverted men of the city.

a.   He is fully aware of the nature of wickedness in Sodom.

b.   Rather than confront this evil however Lot has learned to accommodate the horrible nature of their sin with attempts to accept what he considered lesser sins!

(1.  Rather than allow the crowd to rape his two guests by homosexual acts he asks the wicked crowd to accept an invitation to rape his two virgin daughters!

(2.  No doubt he does this out of fear, but the message here is clear, Lot is more concerned about his reputation than his family’s welfare!

(3.  No wonder later his daughters have no respect for him and get him drunk in order to seduce him to produce children!

2.  That Lot could offer the wicked men of the city a chance to rape his daughters instead of hurting his guests demonstrates the desensitizing influence living in a sinful place had had on his soul.

a.   Lot had learned to survive in an atmosphere of sin rather than challenge it.

b.   When he attempts to stand up against their homosexuality they ask him who made him a judge over them!

(1.  Which was rather ironic in that he was acting professionally as a judge as is evidence by the fact that the angels found him at the city gates when they arrived, the place where local judges sat to judge civil cases for the city.

(2.  Lot’s attempts at being a judge over them was seen as hypocritical by the wicked people, and Lot’s attempts to protect his guests but not his family was seen as hypocritical by them.

(3.  Lot’s attempts to play the middle ground while not supporting either side left him with no respect from either side!

3.  Lot’s attempts at being somewhat spiritual and concerned about his guests became a laughing stock and he is mocked!  His failure as a man of God only made a circus out of his act!


ILLUS:    A man named Floyd Collins, in 1925, was exploring near Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and got stuck. He was fifty-five feet from the surface and he got stuck. Icy water was dripping in his face. The rescuers came in and diverted the water, and they talked with him, they calmed him down, but they couldn't get him out.

He began to come unglued there, stuck in that cave. He was able to see the light, able to see where he wanted to be, hearing voices, getting food, but he was stuck and he couldn't get out. So he slowly began to have raving lunacies about everything from chicken sandwiches to angels in white chariots.

The newspapers got in on it, and ten thousand people came to see him. They sold hot dogs and sandwiches. It was a side show. Seventeen days later Floyd Collins died in that hole, able to see where he wanted to be and not able to get there.   -- Roger Thompson, "The Good News Is: The Bad News Is Wrong," Preaching Today, Tape No. 55.


4.  The angels had to step in to save Lot, his daughters, and his home from this wicked situation since Lot’s own moral laxity had left him vulnerable!

5.  Unfortunately for Lot he learned the horrible end to no longer feeling a deep pain over sin, by accommodating sin he no longer felt the anguish of it until the angels showed up and forced the issue again in his life, but by this point the price tag was pretty high!


ILLUS:      Pain can serve a definite purpose in our lives.  Dr.  Paul Brand of Carville, Louisiana, one of the world's foremost experts on leprosy, describes how "leprosy patients lose their fingers and toes, not because the disease can cause decay, but precisely because they lack pain sensations.  Nothing warns them when water is too hot or a hammer handle is splintered.  Accidental self-abuse destroys their bodies."   -- Cited by Philip Yancey in "Pain:  The Tool of the Wounded Surgeon," Christianity Today, March 24, 1978.


6.  The angel’s blind the wicked men of the city and save for the moment Lot and his family.

a.   What a picture of God’s love for a backslidden man!

b.   What a tragic truth of how sin’s constant presence can make us less and less sensitive if we don’t stand up against it!


B.   Sin’s Devastation!   19:12-29

1.   The angels now make haste to save as many as possible, they ask Lot to get his sons, sons-in-laws, daughters and leave!

a.   Since his sons-in-laws laugh at him, he must have had at least 2 married daughters besides the two unmarried ones mentioned here, and since the angels also mentioned “sons” it is possible that there was a son or sons involved too.

b.   This now makes more sense with Abram’s request of God to spare the city if even 10 righteous souls could be found there, he may have been counting Lot’s family and knew there were at least 10 in it!

2.  Tragically, his married daughters and their husbands laugh at him and refuse to go, they have no respect for him, and if he had sons they too didn’t respond.

3.  The angel’s realizing the time had come are forced to grab Lot and his family by the hands and drag them out!

a.   Even in the midst of judgement they are reluctant to go!

b.   This indicates that there hearts were still here rather than back in Bethel, the house of God!

4.  They are strictly told not to look back!

a.   If God rescues you from your past, don’t turn back toward it!

b.   We should not look back from where we came with a longing of how good we thought it was!

c.   To turn back to the wicked place would end this time in total destruction, God was giving Lot’s family a second chance, they must not blow it this time.

5.  Lot’s wife turns back … and dies!

6.  Lot begins to compromise again!

a.   He begs the angels to let him go to Zoar rather than the mountains!

b.   God permits this, and so spares Zoar!

c.   This turns out to not work like all of Lot’s other compromises.

d.   Zoar means “little city,” it was a miniature of Sodom!!!  Lot attempts to regain just a little bit of what he had!!  The fact that he didn’t stay may indicate that the local people of the city recognized him and blamed him for Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction and sought to do him harm, so he flees to the caves after all!

7.  Tragically, Lot loses almost everything he had … all because one day when given a choice he chose “for himself” rather than for God like Abram!

a.   This was a bad bargain!

b.   Yet how many Christians today are in the process of making bad bargains too?

c.   Maybe yours isn’t as bad as his, but any movement away from God is a bad deal!

8.  You can’t expect to end up with a better deal than what God offers in the first place by walking away from Him!


ILLUS:     True story from our dim-witted criminals department:  A man walked into a convenience store, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register.  The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving his $20 bill on the counter.  So how much did he get from the drawer?  Fifteen bucks.  Go figure.   -- "Strange World," Campus Life, Vol. 56, no. 2.


9.  How could anyone choose the world over God and expect to be ahead?  How about you, what are you choosing?


CONCLUSION:   Whenever we choose the world and its ways over God and His ways we make a bad bargain!  Lot started out with Abram and like him enjoyed the blessings of God, but, he exchanged what Abram could offer for what the world could offer and in the end LOT HAD LESS!  Which direction is your tent pitched – toward Bethel (God’s house) or Sodom (the world)?