I think Lot is one of the more interesting characters in the Old Testament. He certainly lived an unusual life. When his father, Haran, died, his grandfather, Terah, stepped in and became a surrogate father. In this way, he was taken out of the land of his birth, Ur, and traveled with his grandfather and his uncle Abram to a place called Haran, where his grandfather died. By this time, he surely had reached adulthood, for a few years later he also had started to build his own wealth, mentored by his uncle.
Genesis 13:1-2,5-6 – So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. … Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.
God’s blessings on Abram had also blessed Lot, but they realized they needed to separate in order to keep the peace between their families. Abram gave Lot the choice. Here’s where Lot made his first mistake. He lifted up his eyes … and chose for himself (13:10,11). There’s no indication Lot prayed about his decision, or asked Abram for his advice. He relied on what he could see and chose what looked to be the best and easiest path – the well-watered Jordan valley – with no respect for his elder uncle who had taken him under his wing and cared for him.
Before long, Lot is not living in the lush fields of the Jordan valley caring for his many flocks and herds and overseeing a staff of herdsmen. He has traded it for a “position” in Sodom, a city filled with exceedingly wicked, sinful men (13:13; 14:12; 19:1). He is raising his daughters in a place overrun with homosexuality and depravity. Surely, at times, being a righteous man (2 Peter 2:6-8) he had a few regrets for what he’d given up.
Later, Lot is caught up in battles he ought never to have been in when the kings of the surrounding cities go to battle with the king of Sodom (Genesis 14). His uncle Abram comes to his rescue, but he does not learn his lesson. He remains in the city, too weak to lead his wife and daughters who are attached to the worldly lifestyle. He is also heavily influenced by the sin that surrounds him, as he thinks the solution to the angry homosexuals who are beating down his door to get at the visiting angels is to offer them his virgin daughters to appease their lust (19:8). I guess he considered it a “lesser sin?” The wicked men mock him, seeing through his hypocrisy. He has compromised to the point that even the most sinful of all have no respect for his words.
Lot belongs to the Lord, though, and he is rescued, just before the hail and brimstone fall and destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. By this time, he is weak and broken, and his story ends in a cave. Thinking the world has ended, his daughters get him drunk and sleep with their father in order to become pregnant. Lot fathers two sons who will become nations that irritate and plague God’s people, the Israelites.
Lot is a stark contrast to Noah, who also lived in wicked times but was called blameless. Noah stood against the pressures of the culture around him. He endured the mocking and scorn for a hundred years as he built the ark in obedience to God’s commands, and as a result, he and his family escaped the flood that destroyed the earth and all its inhabitants.
Lot is a picture of a person who knows the truth, and desires to serve the Lord, but also wants the treasures of this world. He traded the life God had given him and all the blessings that had spilled over into his life from walking with Abram. He gave away what God wanted for him and settled for what was temporary. When the destruction came, he barely made it out and his life ended in the saddest possible way. Lot’s mistake was choosing for himself. He looked at the outward things, instead of seeking God’s heart and God’s plan for his life.
Noah is a picture of a person who knows the truth, and desires to serve the Lord, and stands firm against the distractions and temptations of the world. His life was hard; he suffered persecution and rejection, and not one person believed him when he preached about the coming flood, except his wife and sons. He persevered, and God rescued him out of the judgment and gave him the gift of a brand-new world when all was said and done.
Maybe these are some of the things Jesus wants us to think about as we live in these last days. It’s interesting that Jesus uses the example of these two men when describing the condition the world will be in when he returns (Luke 17:22-37). Will we be like Noah, listening to His words, living blamelessly in a hostile culture, and trusting Him to see us through the tribulations and trials that will inevitably come? Or will we sell out to the world’s comforts and pleasures like Lot, and unless God intervenes on our behalf, be caught unawares when the judgment falls?