In our Torah portion for this week (Genesis 12:1-17:27) we are introduced to Lot, Abraham's nephew, who travels with Abraham and Sarah to Canaan. He is called "righteous" Lot in Second Peter.
2 Peter 2:7 (NIV)
and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men
Yet, as we come to our next Torah portion we will find Lot LIVING in Sodom! How did this righteous man, distressed by the filthy lives of those in Sodom, come to dwell among such lawless men?
In chapter 13 of Genesis, we find that Abraham and Lot had prospered greatly to the point that the two could not live closely together any more because of their large flocks, herds, and tents (13:6). Abraham graciously offered Lot the first choice of land.
Genesis 13:9 (KJV)
Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
Lot looked around him and saw that the plain of Jordan was well watered, similar to the garden of Eden and the land of Egypt (13:10). Lot chose to go east and to "pitch his tent toward Sodom" (13:12).
From what Lot could see, he chose what he thought would be a good land for his flocks, herds, and family. However, verse 13 confirms that the reputation of Sodom was already known to be wicked. Even so, Lot pitched his tent facing Sodom.
Genesis 13:13 (KJV)
But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
The goodness of the land tempted Lot into ignoring the wickedness that encroached. This was a serious mistake on Lot's part. Next we read that Lot and many others in and near Sodom get kidnapped by kings from lands beyond Sodom. Abraham and the trained men of his household track them down and rescue the kidnapped people. Perhaps a sensible person, at this point, would have steered clear of Sodom, but not Lot. In chapter 19 God begins his destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Genesis 19:1,2 (KJV)
And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.
Not only is Lot not in his tent facing Sodom, but he is sitting in the very gate of that city and lives in Sodom, too!
Eventually, God rescues Lot and his family out of the city before it is destroyed, but at what cost?
James 1:15 (KJV)
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
The account of Lot demonstrates the insidiousness of sin. We think we can flirt with sin and still stay out of trouble. But this is not what happens! Flirting with sin will only lead into more sin. It is inevitable! And once we take that first step, backing out is very difficult. We must recognize sin immediately and stay as far away as possible. No matter what sin entices us, we must learn to flee!
However, we are not alone in our struggle. The Holy Spirit, who indwells believers, can help us to be alert to sin and to its power. He can strengthen us and help us in our battle against sin. He can help us stay away from living on the edge of Sodom and more!