Lot — A “Just Man” among Sinners

According to Genesis 11. 31, the relationship between Abraham and Lot was that of uncle and nephew.

Lot’s father Haran died before Lot’s grandfather Terah, v. 28, and Lot associated himself with Terah and with Abraham his uncle. The three of them left Ur of the Chaldees, together with Sarai, Abraham’s wife, and their cattle and goods, 12. 5. It is, perhaps, unfair to say that Lot was compelled to go with Abraham, since there appears to be no reason why he could not have stayed with his other uncle Nahor, whose death is not recorded. Lot may well have chosen to go with Abraham when his uncle responded to the call of God recorded in 12. 1 whether he was right in doing so, or whether Abraham was right in taking his nephew with him, are open questions, as the call to Abraham was to “get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house. The next mention of Lot is in Genesis 13. 5. where there unfolds the incident relating to the separation of Abraham and Lot. Hitherto we have had no insight into Lot’s character, but now we begin to see the difference between Abraham and himself. Both men came from the same parentage, 11. 31; both had been subjected to the same environment (at first in Ur, then in their early sojourn in Canaan where the altar was built by Abraham at Bethel, and then the journey into Egypt); and both are referred to in the Scriptures as righteous men: Abraham “believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness”, Gen. 15. 6; Rom. 4. 3, 9, 22; Gal. 3. 6; “just Lot … that righteous man”, 2 Pet. 2. 7, 8. But there the similarity ends, and their future lives depended on the choices that they were about to make. It is interesting to note that it was Abraham who received the call, Abraham that built the altar at Bethel and later returned to it, and Abraham who stumbled by going into Egypt - Lot played no part in the spiritual exercises of his uncle. This may give us an understanding of the way that Lot would choose when he and Abraham had to part.

By the time of Genesis 13. 8, Abraham had received the promise from God that the land would be his, 12. 7, and in Egypt had learnt the lesson of leaving all things to God. Thus when faced with the need of a separation from his nephew, he offered to Lot the choice of territory, leaving to God the timing of the fulfilment of His promise: “wait, I say, on the Lord”, Psa. 27. 14. Lot chose the well-watered plain of the east, leaving to Abraham the land of Canaan to which God had called him. It is here that we obtain the second insight into the character of Lot: he thought of himself first. Instead of giving preference to the older man to whom he owed so much, he made his own choice, and chose what appeared to be the best. Lot did not make his choice with the eye of faith, but Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”, Heb. 11. 10. What was the result Abraham received the renewed promise of God, Gen. 13. 15-17, and dwelt in Hebron in communion with God, but Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly”, vv. 12, 13. Do we think of others before ourselves? How often do we look at things without the eye of faith? “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”, Phil. 2. 3.

The Steps in Lot’s Downfall

  1. He looked, Gen. 13. 10: “Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered”.
  2. He chose, 13. 11: “Then Lot chose him all the plain”.
  3. He pitched toward, 13. 12: “Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom”.
  4. He dwelt in Sodom, 14. 12: “And they took Lot … who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods”.
  5. He returned to Sodom.
  6. He sat in the gate, 19. 1.
  7. He lingered, 19. 15-16: “while he lingered, the men laid hold on his hand”.

The problem, that began by looking without the eye of faith, now led to the choice of the easiest pathway—laying up treasure on earth. As James wrote, “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”, James 1. 14, 15. Selfishly and faithlessly Lot made his choice, and then he proceeded to stifle his conscience, until he returned to be a judge in the company of those who were sinners before God exceedingly. Yet it appears that he attempted to take some stand against the vice of the city, in that he sought to hide strangers from the evil-doers; thus incurring the wrath of the men of Sodom. Sadly, however, even that stand was tainted with compromise, for he was prepared to sacrifice his daughters’ virtue by bargaining with the men of Sodom. Lot was characterized by selfishness, weakness, compromise, and a reluctance to obey the voice of God—yet God’s eye upon Lot saw him as a just man, and how his righteous soul was vexed with their unlawful deeds, 2 Pet. 2. 7-8. For surely the principle works both ways—God, who knows the heart of man in all its evil, also knows the heart of His own What grace and mercy, that God should now see in us the good rather than the bad, the bad having been dealt with at the cross, Zech. 3. 1-5.

The Results of Lot’s Choice.

  1. No Testimony, “And they said, Stand back … This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them”, Gen. 19. 9. The implication behind the description of Lot as a censor, is that his example on the moral issue was clear. But what testimony could he have before men who knew that, for all his denunciation of their ways, he preferred their lucrative company and markets rather than the separation and loneliness which Abraham had chosen? Consistency must be found in life as well as in words.
  2. No Influence, “Lot… spake … he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law”, 19. 14. He had influence neither over the men of Sodom nor over his own family, for here his sons-in-law failed to take him seriously, and later his own daughters carried with them the marks of Sodom, vv. 30-38. Our lack of testimony involves others as well as ourselves, and if there is no testimony in the home, there will be no influence over the family.
  3. No Future, 19. 26. Lot lost his wife, his married daughters (distinct from those in verse 8), his possessions and his hope; he ultimately fled to the hills, where he lived with his two daughters and their illicit offspring (who were destined to become enemies of Abraham’s seed, namely Moab and Ammon, vv. 36-38). Lot then receives no further mention in Genesis.

How different from Abraham As “outside the camp” his testimony was clear, 14. 23; called the friend of God, he exercised exemplary control over his son, ch. 22; 24. 3, 4, 67. His future grew brighter as he walked with God, and saw the beginnings of the promises fulfilled.

The Lessons in Lot’s Life

The Scriptures refer to the Christian as in the world but not “of the world”, John 17. 15, 16. Until our redemption is completed by the redemption of the body, when we shall be like the Lord Jesus for ever, we have within us an evil nature, the “old man”, Eph. 4. 22, which grows stronger the more we feed it, Rom. 7. 14ff. And thus we are exhorted to bring it into subjection.

1. Do not Look, Matt. 5. 28. We used to sing, “Be careful little eyes what you see”. Beware “the lust of the eyes”, 1 John 2. 16. The beginning of the end for Lot was when he looked, Gen. 13. 10; the end of his wife was when she turned to look back, 19. 26. “Remember Lot’s wife”, Luke 17. 32.

2. Be ye Separate, “Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”, 2 Cor. 6. 17. We, like Abraham, are to go to Christ outside the camp, bearing His reproach, Heb. 13. 13. The sad thing is that, the only one from whom Lot was separated was Abraham himself, Gen 13. 14. The Scripture says separated, not isolated. Abraham was not isolated, for his God was known as the God of Abraham, 14. 19; when he had to bury Sarah, he was called “a mighty prince among us”, 23. 6. Paul sought to be all things to all men in his approach, yet remained separate from their ways, 1 Cor. 9. 22.

3. What are our Works? “If the work of anyone shall be consumed he shall suffer loss, but he shall be saved, but so as through the fire”, 1 Cor. 3. 11-15 J.N.D. Lot was saved almost by the skin of his teeth, Job 19. 20, but his works were destroyed. Of what do our works consist—wood, hay and stubble, or gold, silver and precious stones? “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it”, 1 Cor. 3. 13.

4. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations”, 2 Pet. 2. 9. This is a beautiful touch, for the Lord said to Lot, “escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither”, Gen. 19. 22. The Lord will not judge this world until His people, no matter how weak they may be, are with Him. In this event we can see therefore a type of the rapture of the saints. For as Lot had Abraham to intercede, Gen. 18. 23-33, so “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”, 1 John 2. 1, and a High Priest who is able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by Him, since He “ever liveth to make intercession for them”, Heb. 7. 25. Hallelujah, what a Saviour! “The feeblest saint shall win the day, though death and hell obstruct the way”.


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