You know, when it comes to sad endings in life, I think we can all think of lots of examples. We think of Michael Jackson. We think of Elvis. We think of Marilyn Monroe. We think of Kurt Cobain. We think of Heath Ledger. We think of Chris Farley. We think of Whitney Houston.
We think of Jimi Hendrix and many, many more. Well, today we're going to talk from the Bible about just such a sad ending, and the person in question is Abraham's nephew Lot. And we find his very unfortunate story in the book of Genesis chapter 19. And so we're returning to our study in the book of Genesis, and we're going to pick up in chapter 19.
But before we do, how about just a tiny bit of review. If you remember, in Genesis 18, we saw that Abraham had three men come to visit him while he was living in Hebron. Two of those men were angels in human form, and one of those men was the Lord Jesus himself in human appearance. After eating together, the two angels left for Sodom, which wasn't far away from Hebron, and the purpose of their going down there was to destroy the city.
However, to destroy the city meant to destroy Lot, Abraham's nephew who was living in the city along with his family. And so there follows in Genesis 18 one of the most amazing conversations in all the Word of God as Abraham slowly but surely bargained God down from finding 50 righteous people in the city of Sodom and thereby saving it to finding 10 righteous people in the city of Sodom, thereby saving it. And so finally, the conversation ends with God saying, if I find 10 godly people in the city, I won't destroy it.
And as we all know, he couldn't even find 10. So that's where we've been. If you've missed any of our previous messages, I urge you to pick up the CD or to go to our website, download them, podcast them and catch up with us. But we're ready to move forward now in Genesis 19. So here we go.
Here we go. Verse one. So the two angels, that is these two men, arrived in Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the city gate. And when Lot saw the two men, he rose and went to meet them, and he bowed down with his face to the ground. And Lot said, Sirs, please turn aside to your servant's house.
You can wash your feet and spend the night there, and then you can go on your way early in the morning. And the angels answered and said, No, we'll spend the night in the city square. But Lot insisted so strongly that they went with him and entered his house. Now, why did he insist so strongly? Well, because he knew the danger that these men faced if they spent the night outside.
Watch. And before they went to bed, all the men from every part of Sodom, both young and old, surrounded Lot's house. And they called to Lot and said, Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them. Now, the fact that the old men of the city were involved in this, as well as the young men, tells us something.
It tells us how deeply infected with sin this town of Sodom had really become. Verse six, So Lot went outside to meet with them, and he shut the door behind him. And he said, No, my friends, do not do this wicked thing.
I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you wish with them. But do not do this to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof. But the men said, Get out of our way. This man, Lot, comes here as a foreigner. And now he presumes to play the judge over us.
We'll treat you, Lot, worse than we treat them. And they kept bringing pressure on Lot and moving forward to break down the door. But the two men, that is the angels, reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door.
Then they struck the men at the door, young and old, with blindness. Now, I don't know if before this Lot had any suspicions that maybe these were a little bit more than just two men. But certainly he figured that out right now. Certainly he figured out, Okay, I'm not sure who these guys are, but they are some kind of angelic being, some kind of heavenly beings.
Nobody else could do what they just did otherwise. Verse 12, Then the two men said to Lot, If you have anyone else in this city who belongs to you that you care about, get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. Well, when you read the rest of the chapter, you discover that Lot couldn't convince anyone to leave. As a matter of fact, even his wife and his daughters resisted leaving.
You say, How do you know that? Well, verse 16 says, When Lot hesitated in the morning, hesitated leaving town. Why was he hesitating? Because his wife was resisting and his daughters were resisting. Watch the men, the angels grabbed his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and pulled them out of the city.
They were not anxious to go. And as soon as the men had brought them out, the angels, they said, Flee for your lives. Don't look back and don't stop anywhere in the plain or you will be swept away also. And then the Lord rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. And thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain and all the vegetation in the plain. But in direct disobedience to God, Genesis 19 26, Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.
Now, we're not going to go any farther in the passage today. We will next week, but we're going to stop now and ask two very important questions about what we've just read. Question number one is, did the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah happen as a real historical event? Just the way the Bible has described it.
Well, I believe the answer is a resounding yes, and I have two reasons for that. Number one is that the rest of the Bible says that it did. Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos all refer to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as an established historical fact. As a matter of fact, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the most commonly referred to events in all of the Bible. Second Peter in the New Testament, Peter says, chapter two, verse six, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, but rescued Lot. You say, but Lot, maybe all these people were wrong about it. Maybe they didn't really know the truth. Well, we certainly can't say that about the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, God himself in human flesh.
I mean, he can't be wrong about it. And friends, he refers to Sodom and Gomorrah six different times in the Gospels. And each time Jesus reaffirms that these cities were destroyed precisely as the Bible says. Listen, Luke 17, verse 28, Jesus said, it was the same in the days of Lot.
People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Now, what all of this means, folks, is that for us as followers of Christ who accept the inerrancy of the Bible and who believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is God in the flesh who cannot lie. It means that Sodom's destruction, as the Bible describes it, is not a myth.
It is not a legend. It is not a fanciful story, but it is an utterly historical fact. You say, Valan, what about people who don't believe the Bible? I mean, do we have any evidence, factual evidence, concrete evidence, empirical evidence that might convince them?
Well, we do. And that brings me to reason number two that I believe this is historical fact. And that is the archaeological and the historical evidence. In 1924, archaeologists began excavating the area south of the Dead Sea where the Bible says Sodom and Gomorrah was located.
Today, it is an absolutely barren desert. But what the archaeologists found is that in the time of Abraham and Lot, this area was densely populated. It was highly affluent, just the way the Bible says it was. As a matter of fact, the famous Jewish archaeologist, and even he was a rabbi too, Nelson Gleick, found the remains of 72 different cities here in the southern end of the Dead Sea, all dating back to the time of Abraham and Lot. There was a huge population here, and it was a very rich population. It was a very affluent area, just the way the Bible says. Now, Sodom and Gomorrah, as far as we can tell, is actually under the Dead Sea today.
But it wasn't always like that. If we go back 2,000 years, we find historians writing about the southern shore of the Dead Sea before it swallowed up the remains of Sodom and Gomorrah. For example, Strabo, the Greek philosopher in 100 B.C., wrote about this area. Josephus in 70 A.D. wrote about it. And the Roman historian Tacitus wrote about it in 100 A.D. Here's what Tacitus said, and I quote. He said, Not far from the Dead Sea is a plain, which, according to reports, was once quite fertile and was the site of many great cities, but which was later devastated by violent lightnings. Now, listen, he says, in fact, traces. Remember, he's writing in 100 A.D. Traces of that disaster still exist there today, 100 A.D., and even the very ground there looks, what's the next word?
Say it out loud. Burnt and has lost all of its fertility, end of quote. Isn't that exactly what the Bible says? The point is that when it comes to the area around Sodom and Gomorrah, my friends, the Bible and archaeology and the historical accounts from 2,000 years ago all agree that something positively catastrophic happened there. And that leads to our second question, which is how did this event happen? The Bible's account is the Lord rained down fire and brimstone from heaven on Sodom and Gomorrah. And the Hebrew implies that whatever this stuff was, that there was a very strong sulfur content to it, that it was some kind of burning sulfuric compound that scorched the ground. So how did this happen? Well, there are some Bible scholars, commentators who believe that this was the case of an earthquake which released into the air huge amounts of sulfur and hydrocarbons that were in the tar pits all around there.
And then this was followed by lightning, which ignited this combustible mixture that was in the air, turning it into a huge fireball that then rained down on the entire area and wiped out all life there. And then there are other people like me who freely admit that I don't have the slightest clue how God did this. What's more, it doesn't matter to me whether I understand how God did this. I don't need to have it explained to me in order to believe it. Friends, my approach is God said it, I believe it, that settles it for me. I don't need to understand how he did it. I just believe he did it.
Amen? All right. Now, you say, well, Lon, at least Lot got away and had a happy ending.
Not actually. His wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. He said, well, depending on how his marriage was going, that might have been... Don't go there.
All right. It gets worse. His two virgin daughters, if you read the rest of the chapter, wanting to get pregnant, each committed incest with their father after getting him so drunk that he didn't know what he was doing. And finally, Lot himself ended up spending the rest of his life living in a cave around the Dead Sea with all of his wealth completely gone. Evaporated. His wife gone, his daughters defiled, his wealth disappeared. No, no, no. This was not a happy ending for Lot. This was a sad ending. Now, that's as far as we're going to go in our passage because we're going to ask our most important question.
So, you had a couple weeks off now, right? Okay. So you're all excited to do this, yes? Okay. Everybody loud. Are you ready? Here we go.
Nice and loud. One, two, three. Okay. Now I want you to give me a welcome back. So what? All right.
Ready? One, two, three. Oh, that was better, wasn't it? You say, Lon, so what? Say, all right, even if I believe that this really happened, and even if I believe that God really did everything that this chapter says, and I feel sorry for Lot.
I mean, it was a terrible way to end your life. What difference does that make to me? Well, let's talk about that.
You know, it's interesting. I got a letter this week from someone who said, you mentioned a couple weeks ago that Lot was a true believer. Where does it say that in the Bible?
Well, it says that, and I wrote them back and told them. 2 Peter chapter 2 verse 7 says, Lot was a righteous man. That is, he had the imputed righteousness of Christ, just like his uncle Abraham had the imputed righteousness of Christ.
But you know what? Just like us, Lot was still a sinner, and he made a really bad choice that utterly botched his life up. And what was that bad choice? Friends, he chose to be greedy.
Let me explain that to you. One of the key principles in the Bible, and it's aimed at keeping us out of trouble, is the principle of contentment. Listen, Hebrews 13 5, keep your lives free of the love of money and be content with what you have. Jesus said, Matthew 16 26, Well, for what good is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his own soul? And 1 Timothy 6, finally, verse 9 says, But people who want to get rich fall into temptation and into many foolish and harmful lusts that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
Friends, these words apply perfectly to Lot. I mean, the Bible is clear that the whole reason Lot chose to move down to the area of Sodom and Gomorrah was because of the wealth there and the affluence there. Genesis 13 verse 10, Lot saw that the Jordan Valley down around Sodom and Gomorrah was well watered like the land of Egypt. And the Bible adds this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. And then isn't this exactly what the archaeologists said they found? Huh?
Yeah. Next verse. So Lot set out towards the east and pitched his tents near Sodom.
But and don't miss this. This is the key point in the whole message tonight. Lot was already wealthy. Friends, he was already rich. Now, Genesis 13 five says, Lot, who was moving about with Abraham, also had flocks and herds and tents and the land. The two of them had so much the land couldn't support them while they stayed together because their possessions were so great. The point is, Lot had no need for more. He already had more than he needed. But he was greedy, which is why he moved to Sodom, a place he had no business going to.
You say, how do you know that? Genesis 13 verse 13. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinning greatly against the Lord. Let me ask you folks, do you really think what was going on in Sodom was a secret? Do you really think the people living in Canaan didn't know what was going on down in Sodom and what the people down there were engaged in? Of course they knew. You think Lot, before he moved down there, didn't know what was going on down there?
Of course he did. And as a godly man, he, Lot, should have been moving farther away from sin. Not closer to it, but his greediness for more and more and more drove him to make a really bad choice. That is the apostle Paul said, 1 Timothy chapter 6, plunged him into ruin and destruction and pierced him through with many a grief.
Now, let's stop talking about Lot and let's talk about you and me, shall we? And let's ask the question of ourselves, when is enough enough? I mean if God blesses us with all the food we need and God blesses us with all the shelter we need and God blesses us with all the clothing that we need and then God even in his mercy gives us a lot more than just the basics. I mean, friends, when is the time just to thank God for all of this and enjoy it and use it for God's work and stop looking for ways to just make more and more and more? I mean, when does that time come? Jesus said, watch out and be on your guard against all kinds of greed for a person's life does not consist of the abundance of their possessions.
Having a bunch of stuff is not going to make you and me happy and having more stuff is not going to make us happier. Look, Jesus said, watch out for greed. It'll get you. It was greed that brought down Bernie Madoff. It was greed that put Congressman Randy Cunningham behind bars. It was greed that ruined Kenneth Lay and brought Enron down and devastated the lives of thousands of innocent people. I mean, we've all seen the movie Wall Street where Gordon Gekko, Michael Douglas says, greed is good, greed is right, greed works. And we know how it ended for him. Greed, Jesus says, is not good and it is not right and it doesn't work.
Greed took all these people down and Jesus warns us that if we're not careful, it can take you and me down too. You say, wait a minute, Lon. Whoa, stop. No, right there.
That's enough. What you're saying, well, Lon, it's almost un-American. I mean, the whole capitalistic system is built around getting more and more and more and more and more. I mean, shouldn't people try to better themselves, Lon? Shouldn't people try to improve their economic condition? As followers of Christ, is there anything wrong with us working hard and trying to get ahead in life and be successful?
No. I'm not saying that there is and the Bible doesn't say that there is. The Bible calls us to work hard and be diligent. There's nothing wrong with working hard to try to get ahead and be successful so long as we don't do what Lot did.
You say, what do you mean by that? So long as we don't allow greed to cause us to compromise our integrity and compromise our moral purity and compromise our obedience to God so long as we don't let greed cause us to mistreat people and step on people and hurt people and damage people just so we can get more. So long as greed doesn't cause us to neglect our spouse and neglect being our children and being the kind of parent we ought to be. So long as greed doesn't cause us to rob God in our giving and consume everything on ourself, no, nothing wrong with working hard to get ahead as long as it's sanctified ambition. And what's the definition of sanctified ambition? Friends, it's ambition that doesn't drive us towards sin and towards disobedience to God. Greed does that just like it did for Lot. Abraham had sanctified ambition. He went the other direction.
He went the other direction. And may I say just before we close, don't forget, greed is a slippery little devil. Jesus said, watch out for all forms of greed. In other words, greed is not just about money. I mean, we can be greedy for fame and greedy for notoriety and greedy for achievement and greedy for awards and greedy for recognition and greedy for recognizability. We can be greedy for things, whether it's cars or watches or furniture or clothes or shoes or golf clubs or memberships, and we can have Washington's favorite form of greed for power. God has lots of forms of greed.
Believe me, it's a slippery little devil. And that's why St. Francis of Assisi, the very famous Catholic leader, once said, people have confessed to me every known sin except the sin of greed. And you know why we don't confess the sin of greed? Pretty simple, because it's so easy to justify, because it's so easy to excuse. You know, it's hard to justify the sin of adultery. It's pretty clear. And there are other sins that are pretty clear.
This one's an easy one for us to work it around. So we got it all justified in our mind why we need more of this and more of this and more of that. But you know what, my friends? Jesus said, Watch out.
We need the Holy Spirit to really help us examine our heart. I would be shocked if every one of us here wasn't currently guilty of some form of greed in our life. You, me, all of us. I'd be shocked. In fact, I'm sure it's not true. But you probably are sitting there going, not me. No, I'm not greedy. Well, wait a minute. Maybe we ought to ask the Holy Spirit to help us take a look at our lives and find out whether we really are in the sight of God.
Because it's so easy for us to justify it. I'm just providing for my family. I'm just trying to have nice things for my family.
I'm just trying. I like watches. There's nothing wrong with having three watches. Well, no. But what about when you get up to 20?
Well, there's nothing wrong with 20 watches. Well, maybe not. But maybe so. Look, I'm not the Holy Spirit.
I got my own problems. I'm not trying to tell you where you're greedy. But I am saying this.
I'd be shocked if you and I don't qualify somewhere. And that's why we need to pray the prayer David prayed. Psalm 139, verse 23, search me, O God, and reveal my heart. That's a prayer. Try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me. And lead me in the everlasting way. I wonder if we've got the courage to say, Lord, I'm going to get on my knees. You show me where I'm being greedy. And then let the Holy Spirit, as David said, reveal our hearts to us.
Only He can do it. And friends, only He then can help us forsake it. Let's close by saying, why is greed dangerous? Because it does to us what it did to Lot. It leads us, tempts us, woos us into walking closer and closer to sin and disobedience to God.
And when we do that long enough, sooner or later, we step too far and then really nasty things can happen. Friends, I've been praying this week, Lord, where am I greedy? Show me. I want to challenge you to say, Lord, where am I greedy? Show me. Because it's a danger to my soul.
Let's not end up like Lot. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, as we said, there are some sins that are patently obvious. And then there are those subtle sins that most of us never hear anybody preach about.
We never hear anybody talk about. We never confess because we find them so easy to cover and justify. Coveting what other people have, greed, the subtle sins. And so, Lord Jesus, I pray tonight that you would grab our hearts and make us understand that you didn't warn us about things in the Bible for no point. When you say watch out, be on your guard for every form of greed, you were being serious and we should be too. Help us to have the courage to get on our faces and say to you, Lord Jesus, search my heart. Show me if I'm being greedy and help me to reject it and help me, Lord Jesus, to forsake it. Help us learn from the sad example of Lot and not repeat his mistake. And we pray all of this in Jesus' name. And what do God's people say? Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-17 09:05:41 / 2023-04-17 09:16:11 / 11