“"Righteous Lot"”Categories: Alcohol, Apostasy, Baptism, Bible, Character Study, Children, Compromise, Daily Living, Expository Study, God, Heaven, Hell, Jesus Christ, New Testament, Obedience, Old Testament, Peter, Salvation, Sin, Temptation
This article is not easy to write. The reason is that reading the phrase “righteous Lot” seems contradictory. How can we think that a man who chose to live in Sodom is righteous (Gen. 13-19)? How can we believe that a man who defended strangers in town (who later revealed themselves to be angels) by offering his daughters to a mob is righteous (Gen. 19:1-12; Heb. 13:2)? How can we fathom that a man who was made drunk so his daughters might commit incest with him is righteous (Gen. 19:30-38)?
Calling Lot “righteous” might be hard for us to do, but it wasn’t hard for God to do (II Pet. 2:7-8). How can God say this? Is He ignoring sin? I am not saying I have the “one and only answer,” but could I suggest a few thoughts I have had concerning Lot in this context?
First, God is the biographer who presents His characters “warts and all.” He is a true journalist, telling us only the facts about people. What did they do? Where did they fail? God lets us know, and this is the way it is with Lot. II Peter 2 affects me because when I read this chapter, Lot becomes “real.” He becomes “human” to me. He is not someone who went into Sodom in ignorance (Gen. 13:10-12). The “men of Sodom were wicked and sinners,” and I am sure Abraham and Lot knew this. Since we are not told Lot’s thought process beyond the attraction of the land (v. 10), we can only assume his reasoning. Since God called Lot righteous, and a man “vexed” at the people’s wickedness, I have to assume that he thought he might be able to change the people when he moved into the city (Gen. 14:12). He even became someone of prominence in the area (Gen. 19:1, 9). Did he think that this position might make it possible for him to turn the people to God? God says their wickedness “vexed his righteous soul” daily (II Pet. 2:8). “Vexed” means torture or torment (Strong’s). Therefore, in Genesis 13-19, we read about a man who was agonizing over the people, and no doubt agonizing as he thought he might be able to change them.
Sadly, we see how this did not work. Lot and his girls left Sodom, but Sodom never left the girls (Gen. 19:30-38). By the end of Genesis 19, we read of a broken man, and might I say a depressed man as well? He’s lost everything but his girls. While having your children is a great blessing, I see a man focused on loss. He came into Sodom a rich man, and left a pauper (Gen. 13:5-7, 19:15-29). He came in married and left a widower (Gen. 19:26). Might I venture to say Lot entered this area and idealistic man, and left in depression? Notice how the angels had to drag Lot and his family out of town (Gen. 19:16)! Could he have thought that one more day might have made the difference? Thus, now sitting with his daughters in a cave, he has given up! When we think about this perspective, Lot takes his place with many righteous people in the Bible who became depressed at the reality of sin that surrounded them.
The Bible says the reason God had the angels drag this man and family out of town is that the Lord was “merciful unto him” (Gen. 19:16). For a long time, I thought mercy was shown because of his uncle. Perhaps this was a factor. Based on II Peter 2, however, I believe God is merciful because of Lot’s righteous soul. God saw and knew what Lot had been doing for years (Prov. 15:3; Jer. 23:24; Heb. 4:13). Thus, God extended mercy to a man “vexed” at the wickedness of the people and powerless to change them!
Is this the quintessential answer to II Peter 2:7-8? Of course, not, but I do believe Peter’s second letter demands we look at Lot again and see him as a three-dimensional person, as we all are. God, knowing all sides, shows us how to be merciful. Let us follow that example. Yes, people need to repent of their sin, and yes, we will answer for unrepented sin (Acts 17:30; II Pet. 3:9; Lk. 13:3, 5). However, let us not be so quick to judge people’s decisions when we do not know their motivation or other factors that led to their decision. For the record, I do not agree with Lot’s decisions, especially those highlighted in the first paragraph! However, why did he do these things? Except for the drunken incest, I believe God, through Peter, gives us insight into a flawed man’s motivation. I might not have done what Lot did, but then again, maybe I am doing what he did at times. Perhaps I am holding out hope on a situation that is hopeless? Do I think “one more day” is what is needed? What do I do after that day has come and gone, and nothing has changed? Perhaps I am waiting on someone or on a situation that has passed me by? Maybe it is time for me to face reality on some situations in my life because things are not changing and are not going to change?
Friend, When you reach the point where you can understand you have acted like Lot, then please don’t act like Lot and descend into a depression, which can lead to even more sin (Gen. 19:30-38). Please look to God for strength (Ps. 110:1-2), for courage (Josh. 1:6, 9), for hope (Rom. 8:24), for forgiveness (Acts 2:38), and acceptance (Jas. 4:8). Remember, God has not been able to preserve all of His children for Heaven. Therefore, let us not think we will have a 100% success rate. Let us remember our responsibilities before God and make sure our righteous souls are prepared for Heaven and look for those who will listen, who will obey, and who appreciate the truth of God’s word (Mk. 16:15; II Tim. 2:2).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs