If this Bible passage was a film then it would be rated 18. The content is so shocking. Here is a reminder that the Bible isn’t afraid to look honestly at the mess and brokenness of our world
This is a story about being trapped and shamed so if you feel trapped by the mess of life, your own failure, sin and shame -the Bible speaks to you.
But it also gives a serious warning to those of us who risk complacency in our attitude towards God and others. So see here two warnings but hang on in to the end where we will discover great hope.
- Beware the danger of just being a fellow traveller
Lot’s story is a tragedy. He starts out travelling with his Uncle from Ur to the promised land. He has the opportunity to share in the blessing and promise to Abraham. Yet he ends up far away from Abraham, living out his days widowed, dispossessed, living in fear and hiding. Finally, his daughters bring shame on him. All of this despite the fact that God even reaches out to him at the last-minute rescuing him from Sodom.
He travelled with Abraham but he did not really share in nor own the promises to Abraham. He wanted to carve out his own destiny.
Don’t be a “fellow traveller.” It is possible to come along to church and enjoy the services. It’s possible to have Christian parents and friends. You can enjoy many of the benefits of being part of this community. You can get to hear something about God from the Bible and maybe this has enabled you to make some good choices in life. However, unless you put your faith in Jesus, you are just a fellow traveller for a time. Your destination is not heaven. You don’t share in and own the promise of eternal life.
Stop being a “fellow traveller” ask God to forgive your sin. Allow Jesus to take charge of your life and receive the promise of eternal life.
- Consider carefully the impact of your choices on others
Lot’s decision to go to Sodom and Gomorrah was harmful not just to him but to his family and to future generations
His wife has looked back longing for the riches of Sodom and been turned into a pillar of salt.
Now his daughters end up believing that their only choice is shame.
The issue is that they’ve fled from Sodom but don’t feel that it is safe to stay in the neighbouring towns. People would associate them with Sodom. They might fear that they would bring judgement with them (they are cursed). They also will be suspicious of their reputation – their morals. Who is going to want to marry a refugee from Sodom? They would be seen as “damaged goods.”
So, they get their father drunk and commit incest with him. Their shame is complete. Isn’t it ironic that the angels save them from the shame of losing their virginity through gang rape in Sodom only for them to voluntary give it up in the shameful context of drunken incest?
Think about the choices you make. How do they affect your family? Do you set a good example to your children encouraging them to be trust God, be faithful to others, not to gossip and grumble? Do you model godly and loving lives for them?
Lot’s daughters have sons. One is called “From my father” or Moab. The other is called Ammon or “son of my own people.” We meet their descendants later on as strong nations bordering Israel and opposing God’s people.
The consequence of their sin here is long term danger to God’s people. Sometime the people will be in physical danger of attack, sometimes in spiritual danger when they are tempted to follow the gods of the nations around them.
Our decisions now can have long term consequences. It’s important that churches think long term when making decisions. Will what we decide to do today help or hinder the long-term work of the Gospel.
– Practical decisions about money and buildings – do we make investments that provide space for Gospel work or saddle future generations with debt?
– Decisions about leaders and workers – do we call people who love God’s Word and will teach it faithfully so that the church is equipped for gospel work
– Do we train and encourage the next generation?
- Find in Christ the only answer to guilt and shame
Lot’s story ends in shame but it did not have to be that way. He was offered salvation. He could have returned to Abraham and found refuge with him.
You may feel that your life is hopeless. Maybe you have made stupid decisions. You’ve got yourself into a mess. Your reputation is trashed, you have nothing left. You feel guilty and ashamed.
There are two little footnotes to Lot’s story. First of all, 2 Peter 2:7-8 tells us that Lot was a righteous man. People have often wondered how Peter could make such an assessment on Lot. Specifically, Peter is showing that despite his faults and failings, Lot knew right from wrong and was grieved at the sin of Sodom even as he was present there – that’s why God rescued him. The New Testament also is clear that righteousness is received by faith not by works, so maybe there was something deeper going on with Lot. He may not have tied himself to Abraham’s covenant promise but God was still at work in his life, maybe this led to true faith in the end. After all, we don’t get told the full story of his life.
The other footnote is in the book of Ruth where a young Moabite lady makes her home in Israel and puts her trust in God. Ruth marries Boaz, her kinsman redeemer. Boaz becomes an ancestor of David and through David, Ruth, the Moabite, the descendent of Lot’s shame finds herself in Jesus’ family tree. God works for good and brings redemption out of even the most hopeless circumstances.
The Bible tells us that Jesus forgives our guilt and covers our shame. He does that because although innocent he died in our place on the Cross, he was exposed, stripped and carried our shame. He received the penalty of death that we deserve, bearing our guilt. In return, he offers us forgiveness and his righteousness.
Lot’s story is a salutary warning against foolishness and sin. Don’t fall into the same trap as Lot. However, the greater story of the Bible offers more than a warning, it offers hope and restoration.
 Wenham, Genesis 16-50, 61.