"Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and
pitched his tent toward Sodom." Genesis 13:12
Many heirs of glory live ingloriously. Heaven is their
purchased rest, but their footsteps seem to be downward. Angels are their
commissioned guards, but too often Satan leads them in his chains. The
accuser gains frequent advantage. He rolls them in the mire, and can ask,
"Are these the garments of God's sons?" In their hearts there is
incorruptible seed, but nasty weeds are intermixed. They are translated in
spirit into the kingdom of grace, but still the flesh is weak. As justified,
they are complete. Their title-deeds to heaven are sure. As sanctified, they
are miserable shortcomers. Their outward evidence is full of blots. The fact
is patent. We see it, and we marvel not. We see it, and we mourn. But while
we mourn, let us take heed. A good man's failings should, through grace, be
Such is the gloomy preface to Lot's story. If the
Spirit's hand had not withdrawn the veil, and showed the secrets of the
inner man, the appearances would leave us in much doubt. The visible career
would startle and perplex. The most hopeful hope would place him tremblingly
in the list of saints.
But the Spirit, who by the pen of Moses, records his
tottering walk, by Peter's lips announces him as "just." Thrice, in short
compass, a glorious title enshrines him among the saved--2 Pet. 2:7, 8. The
voice of truth proclaims him "righteous." Therefore in God's sight righteous
In fallen man no righteousness can find a root, or raise
its head, except when sown by sovereign grace. Grace gives the faith, which
alone justifies. Grace leads the sinner to the Savior's merits. Grace hides
him in the pierced side. Grace gives the hand to put on Christ's covering
robe. Grace opens the lips to plead redemption's work. Grace only can unite
to Christ, and only they who are ingrafted into Him--sheltered in His
wounds--washed in His blood, are righteous before God. But Lot was
righteous. The Spirit bears this witness. Therefore Lot was a child of
grace--heir of God--joint heir with Christ.
The Spirit supplies further evidence. He tells us, that
his life in the vile city was distressed. Every day he saw vile deeds, and
they were vexation to him. Every day he heard vile sounds, and they were
barbed arrows to his grieving heart. Evil was hateful to his renewed spirit.
He breathed not freely in such atmosphere. Familiarity blunted not the
piercing edge. Each hour came laden with its sorrows. He dwelt in Sodom
willingly indeed, but still unhappily. The pain was evidence of uncongenial
principle. In spite of miserable frailties, Lot was a righteous man.
A rough shell may hold a pearl. There may be silver amid
much dross. Life may exist within the stem, when leaves are seared and
branches dry. The spring may yet be deep, while waters trickle scantily. A
spark may live beneath much rubbish. Thus Lot is a Beacon, giving proof that
grievous faults may co-exist with grace.
Approach the story. Lot's first days are bright with
hope. He is near kinsman to Abraham. He journeys by the patriarch's side.
Together they leave Ur. Together they reach Canaan. He early received
knowledge of the living God. In youth he was disciplined in a godly school.
A godly model was before him. Thus in life's morn he was allured to
But godly atmosphere nips not the roots of evil. The
school may be most pure, but the scholar may soon go astray. The time
arrives when these kinsmen must part. Their herds multiply. The same fields
are narrow to pasture the united flocks.
Now a difference of character appears. Abraham shines
forth unselfish--noble--generous. He yields selection of abode to Lot. He is
content to take what his more selfish relative rejects. His offer is truly
great. Lot's choice is narrow-minded. Hear Abraham, "Is not the whole land
before you? separate yourself, I ask you, from me--if you will take the left
hand, then I will go to the right--or if you depart to the right hand, then
I will go the left." Genesis 13:9. Lot surveys--calculates--resolves. "Lot
took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction
of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the
Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. Lot chose that land for himself—the
Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and
servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. So while Abram stayed in
the land of Canaan, Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom, among the
cities of the plain." Genesis 13:10-12
Lot only cares to gather this world's good. Water
abounds. Herbage is fertile. The flocks will thrive. His produce will
increase. Coffers will swell. He desires to be great in temporal pelf. No
other thought occurs, or, if occurring, it is soon stifled.
But had these luxuriant plains no disadvantage? Who were
the neighbors? What was that Sodom, beside which his tent is fixed? "The men
of Sodom were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly." Genesis
13:13. Theirs was no common disrepute. Lot knows it, and yet he selects the
neighborhood. The fields invite. He disregards prosperity of soul. The moral
purity of his household is light in the balance. Spiritual welfare is
ignored. The miserable choice is made. Let the soul starve, if outward
plenty be secured.
Alas! in every age, at every turn, Lot meets us.
Callings--professions--alliances--partners--friends--homes must be selected.
What now is the inquiry? Is the prime question, where will eternal interests
receive most care? Where will godly associates surround? Where will
conspicuous piety allure to heaven? Where is the Gospel
honored--proclaimed--adorned? Where is Christ raised on high as All?
Ah! when will vain man be taught, that there is no
profit, if the soul suffers loss? When will externals be viewed through the
one medium of eternity? When will the truth be seen, that he who gains
heaven gains earth besides? When will the fact be realized, that all things
are the Christian's, whether "life or death, or things present, or things to
come." 1 Cor. 3:22. Christ is true riches--the pearl of great price--the
treasure of treasures, laid up above the injury of rust and moth--high
beyond the despoiling hand of thieves. He then, who wins Christ, wins all.
Happy they, who "count all things but loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord." Phil. 3:8. Happy they, who avoid the
partnership--the profit--the connection--the rich pastures of
earthly-mindedness! Happy they, who choose rather to be poor on earth, and
share the thrones and crowns of heaven!
Now the scene darkens. How surely is forgetfulness of God
a descent without escape! Feet cannot stand on slippery ground. Let the
stone roll, it will move rapidly. Thus we soon find, that Lot is weary of
tent-life in the plain. The record states, "He dwelt in Sodom." Genesis
The rural quietude is left. He seeks the city. The walls
are entered. Nearest contact is desired. To the very midst of all iniquity
he moves his abode. He plants himself--his wife--his children--in the center
of abominations. He levels all barriers. He courts evil's contagion. He
tempts the devil to tempt them all. We can conceive no motive for thus
passing the city gates, but love of pleasure--indulgence--gain.
Remember Lot's family thus fixed in Sodom, all you who
deliberately place children in corrupting circles. But will he prosper? None
ever truly prosper, who leave God. His presence is blessing. His blessing
makes rich, and he adds no sorrow thereto. Is Lot's ease now uninterrupted?
Is his comfort an unruffled stream? Soon the din of war is heard. Hostile
invaders cross the borders. The men of Sodom flee defeated. The town is
pillaged. All property is ransacked. The inhabitants are enchained. Lot and
his family share the prisoners' doom. Their goods are seized. They are
dragged forth to distant bondage. Remember Lot despoiled and captive, all
you who seek joys and delights, where God is not honored. There is no peace,
but in His smile. There is no safety, but beneath His sheltering wings.
But God forgets not His poor erring child. He smites, but
still He loves. He prunes the tree, that it may bear more fruit. "Though he
causes grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his
mercies." Lam. 3:32. Mercy still hovers round him. Deliverance is graciously
ordained. Tidings reach Abraham of Lot's distress. He arms his numerous
dependants. He pursues the victorious invaders. He entirely subdues them. He
rescues Lot and his family from the captor's grasp.
Lot is now at liberty. He is free again to choose a home.
Surely Sodom will be shunned. No! to that place he quickly returns. His will
is to re-inhabit the accursed spot. Again he casts his anchor in the vile
haven. He seeks the same neighbors. He prefers the proximity of the same
iniquities. Ah! the deadening allurements of this world! How hard to
dash away the cup, if once the poison has been tasted. God had most loudly
warned. The warning is unheeded. Providence had frowned. The frown is
slighted. Mercy had dealt lovingly. The love melts not. Weak seductions
prevail. Again the hateful city is the chosen home.
And now iniquity revels unblushingly through the place.
The waters rise to the brim. The cup overflows. God's patience can no more
suffer. The cry ascending from this sink of evil reaches the heavens. Their
conspicuous sin awakens conspicuous wrath. Vengeance waxes very hot.
Tremendous overthrow must lay them low. Appalling letters must blazon the
decree, "The wicked shall not go unpunished."
The last night of Sodom comes. It is indeed a night of
horrors. Hell's monsters seem let loose. Can this scene be on earth? Can
these vile wretches partake of humanity? Can Lot be resident among them?
Yes, he is there; and God is not forgetful of him.
Angels are sent. They tell him their dreadful commission.
The place is doomed to instant destruction. He is bade to collect his
sons--his daughters--his sons-in-law--and all his own, and rapidly to flee.
He goes forth to warn; but his own children jeer; and then the fatal morning
comes. Lot seems in no holy haste to move. It is recorded--At dawn the next
morning the angels became insistent. "Hurry," they said to Lot. "Take your
wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out of here right now, or you
will be caught in the destruction of the city." Genesis 19:15.
But still he lingers. It is added, "When Lot still
hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two
daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was
merciful." Genesis 19:16. But still he shrinks from fleeing to the mountain.
He supplicates that he may tarry in the contiguous Zoar. Permission is
obtained. "But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you
reach it." Genesis 19:22. How marvelous, how condescending is the grace of
God! "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed; because his
compassions fail not." Lam. 3:22. But still there is terrible vengeance on
abominable sin. Lot is safe in Zoar. "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and
upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven." Genesis
19:24. "And Abraham looked toward all the country of the plain, and beheld,
and lo! the smoke of the country went up, as the smoke of a furnace."
Here let the curtain drop. No good remains to be
recorded. Enough of evil has been seen. Let Lot now disappear. But let his
Beacon ever warn, that weak surrender to seducing enticement is misery
Believer, in this mirror do you see any features of
yourself? If so, awake, arouse. Tread down all fascinations. Reject
forbidden profit. Give to the winds desire of worldly indulgence. Take up
the cross. Deny yourself. Come out. Be separate. Touch not the unclean
thing. Follow Christ fully. Put on the whole armor of God. Fight the good
fight of faith. Act valiantly. So only you will win good trophies. So only
will your crown be bright.
Many eyes are keenly watching. Many ears listen to your
converse. Many sieves test your consistency. Let your sincerity be clear as
the midday sun. Be thoroughgoing. Let firm 'indifference to ease' be stamped
on your whole walk. Thus be a blessing to your house--your town--your
country. Thus bring glory to the Lord, who called you from the filth of
earth to walk with Him in white.