Jerk or Just?

Gobstopped by Grace

There once was a man who lived in a fairly nasty place surrounded by pretty horrible people. To keep some special guests from harm, he once offered his daughters to the neighbors as sex toys for the night.

Later those daughters got him drunk so they could have his babies.

And God called him righteous.

Okay, there are some things in the Bible that I just don’t get.

To me, Lot sounds like a major jerk.

I think Hollywood did all of those old movies about David and Bathsheba and Samson 1951_DavidAndBathshebaand Delilah in order to push a few boundaries in the guise of a (highly embellished) Bible story.

Mr. DeMille wouldn’t have touched Lot with a 10-foot pole. Homosexual group orgies, rape and incest wouldn’t have gone over well in the fifties. That would be a hard sell even now.

There is a whole lot of good meaty material in Genesis 13, 14, 18 and 19 that I would love to cover but you would run out of coffee long before I ran out of words. So we’ll save the cool comparisons of Noah and Lot, the study of Lot’s wife, the results of the sins of his daughters and the righteousness of Abraham for another time.

As it is, you may want to heat up your cup or pop some popcorn because we have some good stuff coming up.

As I have studied this, I have come across commentators who try to point out some of Lot’s better attributes. Frankly, I think they’re stretching it. The Bible doesn’t editorialize on his actions. It just states them.

  • He was offered his choice of land in Genesis 13 and took it. Selfish or forward-thinking? Doesn’t say.
  • He lived in a sin-filled, utterly depraved city and sat in its gates, indicating a position of leadership. (Genesis 19:1) Light-bearer or compromiser? Doesn’t say.
  • He protected his guests at risk to himself. (Gen. 19:6, 9-10)
  • He offered his virgin daughters to a crowd of perverted men. (Gen. 19:8)
    Now this is a huge example of the grace of God because, had it been up to me, ol’ Lot never would have gotten back in that door.

Lest you think God was okay with that unconscionable suggestion, read Judges 19-20. More than 65,000 men were killed because of the death of one young woman placed in a similar situation. God is not okay with the abuse of women. He does not condone it and He never has.

  • He begged to stay in a city rather than go to the mountains as he was told. (Gen. 19:17-23)
    Um, seriously? Ignore advice from angels?
  • He got so drunk two nights in a row that both of his daughters had sex with him in order to get pregnant. The Bible also clearly states he was unaware of their actions. (Gen. 19:30-36)
    Only the Bible can convince me of protestations to that effect.
  • He trusted that two men he had never met were messengers of God, gathered his family, urged his daughters’ fiances to come along and left everything he had to go with them. (Gen. 19:14)
    He has me beat on this one. He welcomed those guys into his home from the start. I’m much more cynical than he was.

Plenty of facts with little commentary. But here is one little phrase, a gem almost hidden in the middle of verse 16:

“And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.”

Merciful.

And that leads us into the really interesting part about Lot.

You see, the Bible is full of really creepy weird people who were far too barbaric to make it into a Cecil B. DeMille epic. (Like the guys in Judges.) But  2 Peter 2:5-8 places unlikely Lot in a list of distinction with a favored few.

“For if God…did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8(for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—9then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.”

What??

There are precious few people in the Bible other than Jesus that God calls righteous.

  • Noah (Gen. 6:9, 7:1)
  • Joseph (Matt. 1:19)
  • Abel (Matt. 23:35, Heb. 11:4)
  • John the Baptist (Mark 6:20)
  • Elizabeth & Zacharias (Luke 1:6)
  • Simeon – who blessed Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:25)
  • Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50)
  • Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10:22)

And Lot.

To me, saying Lot is a big, fat jerk is putting it nicely. If you told me your husband offered your daughters up like that, I’d be on my way over with the firing squad.

And God called him righteous.

I’ve really wrestled with this one. Nothing is in the Bible by accident and I am certain that God didn’t give us this sordid little story of a sorry little man just to gross us out. Or even for the sole purpose of warning us of the dire consequences of unrepentant debauchery. Otherwise, why include Lot in the tale?

Do you know the meaning of Lot’s name in Hebrew?

Covering. Veil.

And here is where I quit getting upset about Lot and start getting excited about God.

Lot is the perfect Old Testament representation of New Testament grace.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

You see, there is someone else in the New Testament called righteous.

Me.

I’ve often thought about my own years spent in places I shouldn’t be, living a life a child of God had no business living. And I read that then and now, as His forgiven child, I am covered in His righteousness.

Me.

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” (Romans 5:21-28)

Justified. It means “declared righteous.”

Lot isn’t listed in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11. The Bible doesn’t tell us anywhere that he did great things or that he had wonderful faith.

It tells us he was “oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked” and that his “righteous soul” was “tormented.”

Oppressed is also translated as distressed (HCSB), tormented (NIV, NLT), driven nearly out of his mind (MSG).

The Greek word means to wear down (Strong’s); to tire down with toil, exhaust with labor;  to afflict or oppress with evils; to make trouble for; to treat roughly.

It is only used in one other passage in Scripture and deals with slavery.

“Now when he [Moses] was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian.” (Acts 7:24)

Turns out ol’ Lot the jerk and I have a good bit in common. Oppressed, worn down, afflicted and pulled out by a merciful God.

Are you living in a place of oppression, in a life of slavery?

My friend, you have been set free, redeemed, declared righteous! A merciful God is tugging at your hand!

Just as God declared Lot righteous and saved him from the fire reigned down on Sodom and Gomorrah…

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 3:9)

Justified. Declared righteous!

Lot was afflicted, oppressed, worn out and worn down by what the Bible calls the outrageous conduct and lewdness of those who break through the restraints of law and gratify his lusts.

He was tormented, tortured, buffeted about as by waves.

He couldn’t even run on his own.

God had mercy on him and “while he lingered,” pulled him out.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been. It doesn’t matter where you are.

The almighty God of the universe holds out His hand, ready to pull you out of whatever holds you down. He offers forgiveness.

He declares you righteous.

“Cornerstone”

by Hillsong

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne.
Verses by Edward Mote
Words and Music by Jonas Myrin, Reuben Morgan & Eric Liljero

 

 

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