When you live in a perverse and wicked world long enough, you begin to become like it. That's the struggle of the Christian life -- to love and evangelize the world without becoming conformed to it. How do we keep from becoming desensitized to sin? How do we keep from making the same mistake Lot made in Sodom? Genesis 13-19 gives us the answer.
“IT ALL BEGAN WITH A BAD DECISION”
(Selected Passages from Genesis 13-19)
A certain man was rather ill tempered. In fact, some would occasionally say he was brutal. According to a few reports, he was a weak leader in the home, unable to hold a steady job. And his wife was not well. In fact, she had been plagued for years by a disease that would soon take her life, that of tuberculosis. Of the seven children ultimately born to her, only three lived to adulthood. And at this particular time in history, the death rate among children was tragically high. Three out of every five children would die. In fact, this happened to her, of course. And losing her first son less than two years earlier when he was only six days old, this diseased and depressed woman discovered again that she was pregnant. She was advised by everyone to abort it, but she stubbornly refused and decided to carry and deliver the child. And, of course, you know the civilized world is grateful for her decision because the child would grow up to be Ludwig van Beethoven. Private Joseph Lockhard (? Need to verify all of these proper names) and Lieutenant Kermit Tyler (?) were on duty at the Openom (?) Mobile Radar Station located in the northern tip of Awahu, (?) and they were just about to go off duty when Lockhard noticed the little characteristic blip of an airplane come across his radar screen. And he would watch as more than fifty blips would appear on the screen of his radar. And he mentioned to Lieutenant Tyler his findings, but Lieutenant Tyler assumed that the blips represented American bombers returning from maneuvers over California, and so he disregarded them. He told Lockhard to forget it. Instead of calling, however, Major Kenneth Birkwith (?) to confirm his assumption, which was standard procedure, he never called, and he and his men went off duty. And that decision, along with many other bad decisions, led and enabled the Japanese bombers to attack Pearl Harbor without being discovered.
Decisions like these have had far reaching effects. Fortunately, the decisions that you and I make don’t have such worldwide implications. And I’m glad about that. But decisions that you and I do make affect our lives and those that live closest to us. Decisions are all important. And I think that’s why Solomon urged his son over and over again to ponder the path of his feet, that is, take careful note of decisions you are making, because they are leading you somewhere, and they bring with them consequences.
We’re going to study the life of the man, a man named Lot, a man marked by foolish decisions. Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote as a prophet, and I have said this before, but he wrote that every man will one day be seated at a banquet table of consequences, and so we will soon discover Lot seated at this banquet table. And he has spread it with the finest linen, china. And you might observe from a distance and think, “Oh, I’d love to be seated where Lot is.” But yet, if you come just a little closer, you’ll notice that on his plate is very bitter food. And though he raises a rare and expensive goblet, you notice inside of it is filled with regret and sorrow. And he will eat alone. And it all began with a bad decision.
I want to introduce you this morning to the first chapter in his biography, that is Genesis Chapter 13. Would you turn there with me as we continue our study through this book and through the Old Testament. If you were not with us in our last session two Sundays ago, we learned that Abram had compromised his position. He had gone to Egypt, he and Lot, and he had almost thrown the virtue of his wife away out of fear for his own life. But God sent a plague on the Pharaoh’s household and Pharaoh himself, so that they learned that this woman was, in fact, the wife, not the sister, of Abraham. But when they leave Egypt both he and Lot are very wealthy. I think the interesting thing is that when Abraham returned to Canaan, he built an altar and he once again called upon the name of the Lord. He repented and got back where he ought to be.
But you’ll notice in Chapter 13 that Lot goes back with him. Would you note Verse 5.
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.
And I want you to notice now the land is not too small to hold them. Why the land of Palestine, that Canaan land, is far large enough to hold the herds of two wealthy men. The problem is prosperity had brought about strife in this family, and it would soon split the family. You’ll note that the strife in Verse 7 is between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.
And so here is Abram coming to Lot in Verse 8. “Please.” Would you note that word “please.” It arrives again on the text in Verse 9. Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me: if to the left, then I will go to he right; of if to the right, then I will go to the left.”
And I think this man has changed since his time in Egypt, because on occasion before going to Egypt, if he needed something he would take it into his own hands and make his decision on factors that we will now discover Lot making his decision upon.
Let me give you three things behind the decision, the gracious proposal of Abraham. If you have the notes there, there are places to write. First of all, the first factor I discover in this text that caused Abraham to make this kind of gracious proposal is that he was prompted, number one, by God’s original command. He, in effect, is going back to the original command of God.
You’ll note back at Chapter 12 Verse 1.
Now the Lord said to Abram, Go forth from your country. Note this. And from your relatives. Lot was his nephew, the son of Abram’s brother, Aaron. And he says go away from your home, go away from your relatives, go away from your father’s house. This actually happened prior to the events recorded in Chapter 11. And you know what Abram does? His father comes along, and Lot comes along, and he doesn’t obey completely, until finally, God brings death into his family, and Terah, Abram’s dad, dies. Then he moves on. And now he still has Lot tagging along. This man who will be a constant source of irritation. He will take up so much of Abram’s energy. The whole problem was Abram never fully obeyed by separating from his relatives. And here Lot is again back in Canaan with Abram. And I think Abram probably thought, “Well, here’s my chance to completely obey God. Here is the opportunity we need to separate.”
Secondly, Abram was confident of God’s ability to provide. And I have to believe that because God had promised Abram the blessing, fertility, his herds would multiply, and where better could that take place than in the fertile region of the Jordan Valley. And he actually gives the choice to Lot. Then he says, “Lot, if you choose that, I’ll head west and north and dwell in the western region, which is less fertile.” How could he do that? He was confident in God’s ability to provide.
Thirdly, he was unselfish in yielding his rights to God, not to Lot, ultimately to God. Let’s be realistic now. Go back in your mind with me to that day. Here’s Abraham, and he says, “Look, Lot, let’s have a pow-wow. I want you to understand that there’s strife. It’s a poor testimony that the Perrizites. What we want to do is split up. I’ll give you the choice.” But I think realistically Abram has his fingers crossed, thinking, “Okay Lord, now I’ve been gracious. Please give me the best slice of land.” I don’t think for a moment that Abraham walked into this whistling. He was probably very concerned that Lot would allow him being the rightful heir, being the elder, being the one God had given the promise to. Lot would say, ”Boy, Abram. You’re a wonderful guy. Because of that, I want you to have the best.” Not a chance.
In our homes being raised with four boys, you know my mom would often test our character. She’d give us a platter of some kind of a pastry, and she’d select one of us boys to serve the other three. And there was always a big one on there. I can remember, you know, handing out the dish wondering if my brothers would respect my graciousness and leave the biggest for me. No way! The one on that platter by the time my three brothers got through was the shrivelist, scrawnyish piece of all. It’s a pipe dream to think that people are going to respond to your graciousness with a pat on the back and say, “Boy, I really respect you. You take the best.” That’s a pipe dream. You know what a pipe dream is? A pipe dream is hoping people will respond to you like you’d like to be responded to.
I clipped something out of a little book that had a list of pipe dreams. Here they are. Can you imagine in your wildest dream your daughter saying, “Go sit down Mom. I’ll clean up the kitchen tonight.” That’s a pipe dream. Imagine a mechanic looking under your hood and saying, “Oh, it’s nothing. I’ll just tighten up the fan belt.” (Laughter) Imagine a policeman stopping you and then saying, “You were only going 55? My radar must be on the blink again.” No way! Imagine your little two year old running around saying, “Yes, yes,” or your husband saying, “Tuna casserole again. Wonderful!” (Laughter) No.
Well, I think to expect Lot to come along and say, “Abram, you take the best,” even though he probably had his fingers crossed behind his back. Lot didn’t even flinch. He probably thought, “Abram’s gone a little whacko giving me the choice. There’s no decision. This is fertile. I’ll take this.” And I happen to think that Abram was probably depressed.
Would you note what happened in the later part of Chapter 13. Just skip over several verses and look at Verse 14. This is after the decision has been made. The Lord comes to Abram after Lot had separated, and he said, Abram, “lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” Take heart. The promised is still yours. You see. Abram had had taken away from him now everything that he, he had to support them; his dad was now dead, probably so close in relationship that made it difficult for him to separate, after God commanded him to leave his father’s house. And now, Lot, though irritating as he was, he was his companion, he was his nephew. And now he’s gone, and now he’s stuck up west in the less fertile region. And God came along and said, “Abram look up. The promise is still yours. I will give you all this land.”
Arise, Verse 17, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you. Note what he does then. Complain to God? No!
Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.
By the way, when making decisions in your life, are these three characteristics evident? Obedience to God’s command. Confidence in God’s ability to provide. Unselfishness in yielding whatever you may think your rights are to God and saying, “God, you work. If it’s through a guy like Lot, I will then allow you to work, and I’ll accept the decision.”
Now I want you to focus, in fact, for the remainder of our time, on the decision that Lot made. Let’s take a look at the factors behind his selfish, and I believe foolish, decision.
First of all, he was influenced by what he saw. Look at Verse 10.
And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere - this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah - like the garden of the Lord. Note this. Like the land of Egypt. He had dwelt in Egypt, become wealthy, and Egypt never really left him, even though he left Egypt. It reminded him of the fertile region of Egypt as you go to Zoar? So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other.
Now we know historically that in this valley were five cities, Sodom, Gomorrah, Zoar, Zebulun and Oboth. (?) And these were all prosperous, large, wealthy cities. And they had formed a confederacy and had developed a large and extensive agricultural system in the valley. And each city was located near a pocket of water forming a circle. So to move there to live near there meant agricultural potential. Fertile regions. You could have the best of the civilized world at your doorstep. And so he pitched his tent there. We know it was a large population because they discovered tombs in that region where more than a million people are buried.
Well, the westward upland where Abraham would live was not as productive, but he chose this. He was influenced by what he saw. Secondly, he was unconcerned by what he had heard. And that’s implied. Look at Chapter 13 Verse 13. I don’t think this is a coincidence that Moses inserts this as he writes the account.
Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly.
He’s trying to find the words to describe the wickedness of this town. He says they were wicked exceedingly, and they were sinners against the Lord.
Somehow, Lot ignored what he had heard about this city. It had the reputation of being sin city. It was wicked. It was totally given over to the practice of homosexuality, as we’ll discover later. But perhaps thought, “Well, you know, I’m not exactly living in Sodom, I’m just living near enough to enjoy the benefits of its civilization.” We know that he was a gentleman farmer. That means that he didn’t actually do the labor. He, in fact, grazed his herds seventy miles from where he lived. All of his servants did the work. He lived kind of in the lap of luxury, and if I just move close enough, I can benefit from all that Sodom has, and I won’t participate. He foolishly ignored the reputation of Sodom and what he had heard.
Third, he was irresponsible in leading his family. Obviously so. Look back at Chapter 13 Verse 12.
Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.
Sodom was the southernmost city of them all. You need to understand, ladies and gentlemen, that he is not moving his family into a home on Walnut Street. This is not Maynard. I’m not implying that we are supposed to stay away, we’re not to be a light in a dark place. This moving nearby moving close enough so that his family would feel the full effect of the lure of wickedness was like moving his family into the parlor of a brothel. It’s like taking up residence in the backroom of a bar. He would expose his family to such temptation, and we’d learn later in this sermon that they will, he will lose his family. They will fall. In terms of business, what a fantastic decision. In terms of his family, what a tragic decision. And it is possible today to make a similar decision. It’s possible today for a man to take a promotion that literally strips away the time that he has with his family, and there is a bigger paycheck. And he says, “Look how God is blessing me.” Don’t blame God on it. You and I constantly have to evaluate our priorities and our time. Lot did, and he made a fantastic business decision. But it was a selfish decision. And it’s as if he said, “I’ll lose my family, I’ll potentially give them over to the temptation that they will be confronted with, but I want what I want.”
It’s kind of like the five year old little boy who loved motorcycles, and every time he would see one go by, he’d just holler (?) for joy. We have that problem now in our house. We’ve got two little boys. They’ve got everything but the motorcycle. Cowboy boots. They’ve got the jean jackets. And we’ve got a guy in the church that’s leading them astray cause he has a motorcycle, and he’s here this morning. (Laughter) And every time a motorcycle would go, he’d let out this holler (?) of joy, “Oh when I, when I soon I’m going to have me one of them.” And his mother would say the same thing that my boy’s mother says, “Not as long as I’m alive you won’t.” Finally, one day he’s talking to his friend, and he’s overheard, he and his friend are standing out on the street and the motorcycle boy a nice new shiny one drives by, and he starts to point, “Look at that. Look at that. Just as soon as my mother dies I’m going to get me one of them.” (Laughter) In effect, that is exactly what he seems to be thinking. “I want what I want, even though it means the lost, the potential loss, of everything that is really dear.”
Would you note the downward progression of his compromise?
First of all, Chapter 13 Verse 10. Lot looked towards Sodom.
Chapter 13 Verse 12. Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom.
Chapter 14 Verse 1. Would you note Chapter 14 Verse 1.
And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar.
Boy, somebody help me with that one.
Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom.
All right. These wicked kings are taken up the kings of Sodom, and probably this entire confederacy.
Note Verse 11. (Actually includes Verse 12 also)
Then they took. They overcame Sodom. They took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. And they also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.
First it was a look. Then it’s. “Well honey, let’s put our tent right nearby.”
The next step. They are living in Sodom.
The final step. Lot is a leader in Sodom. Turn to Chapter 19.
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate.
Historically, we understand that the men that sat at the gates were the political leaders. They were the elders that decided matters of civil law. Here is Lot, and he’s right there a leader. One man wrote, I believe it was James Montgomery Boise (?) of this compromise. He writes these words, and I quote, “He moved into Sodom. He made friends with the people. He rose in popularity. He put down deep roots. He built a business and a home. He raised a family, became a leading citizen and destroyed his life. He destroyed his life by compromising God’s way and accepting as right those things which God said were wrong. He would betroth his daughters to men of Sodom. He allied his family with the sin of the city. Though he was righteous, he did not present a heritage of righteousness.”
Now, we’ve got to cover the consequences of Lot’s decision, and I really like to stay away from Chapter 19, because it is so dark. It is so tragic. And yet, it is profitable somehow someway to us as believers. So let’s dive in.
Number one. He lost all sense of moral perspective and value. If you have notes, I’m inverting numbers one and two. He lost all sense of moral perspective and value. The two angels that had just visited Abraham now come to Sodom. They know judgment is coming, and they come to warn them.
Note Chapter 19 Verse 1.
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them.
He doesn’t know they are angels now.
And he bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, we shall spend the night in the square.”
(Genesis 19:1 and 2)
Now, we didn’t cover this. We’ll cover it a little later perhaps at another Sunday. But Abram has been praying for Lot. He knows that God is going to destroy Sodom. And so he says, “Lord, look if you can just find ten righteous people, would you not destroy it?” Well, he sends two angels, as it were the Old Testament practice before you inflicted punishment was to send two witnesses. So God sends two angels. And they are going to spend the night out in the square to observe the immorality and try to count ten righteous people. But Lot knows what it would be like to spend the night out on the square, and so he says, “No please. Spend the night in my home.”
Yet he urged them strongly, Verse 3, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bred, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old men, all the people from every quarter.
This is an entire male population given over to Sodomy.
And they called to Lot, Verse 5 and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.”
But Lot went out to them in the doorway, and shut the door behind him.
And he said, “Please, my brothers.”
I can’t believe this. How far has this man stooped that he comes out to answer their invitation, and he says, “Please, my brothers.” A weak man. Do not act wickedly.
Note Verse 8.
Now behold, I have two daughters who have not known men. (NASB - who have not had relations with man) Please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.
He had adopted tragically the customary practice where a guest is to be protected, and women are mere cattle. But although that is the custom of society, I do not believe that righteous men live that way. In fact, we’ll discover one of the patriarchs having a wonderful relationship with his wife. They knew better. It seems that he‘d been living in Sodom long enough for some of Sodom to take up residence in him. It’s like he’s an airplane pilot lost in the fog, no instruments. He comes out on the porch and he says, “Take my daughters. They are virgins. You can have them. But leave these two men whom I hardly know alone.”
Men and women, it is possible to live in rebellion and compromise to such a degree that you and I begin to adopt the pagan measures of our society. In fact, I think that’s what Jesus Christ had in mind in Matthew at the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Look, don’t worry, don’t pursue, don’t grasp after that which you put on, that which you eat, the house you live in. Don’t go after that stuff.” Why? “The pagans are searching after that.” You know what happens to us as believers living in this society? We begin to pursue the same things as our wicked society, what we wear, where we live, what we drive, what we eat. They become our primary pursuit. Sodom lives in us.
Frankly, I don’t imagine his daughters ever recovered from hearing their father suggest this horror.
The second consequence. He was subjected to harassment.
Chapter 19 Verse 9.
But they said, “ Stand aside.” And on top of that, “This one came in as an alien,” as a foreigner, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.”
This is implying that Lot had never said anything about their practice, immoral practice. He had sat at the gate as an elder, and he had judged matters I’m sure that involved this sin, and he never peaked, he never said a word until now. And they look at him. They scratch their heads. They’re shocked. “What do you think you’re saying? Are you our judge,” meaning this is probably the first time he had ever spoken out against it.
He said, “Get out of our way, or we will treat you just as we will treat them. Stand aside.”
But the men, you’ll note in Verse 10, reached out their hands and literally pulled Lot into the house with them, (NASB - brought Lot into the house with them) and shut the door.
And the angels (NASB - And they) struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.
It’s hardly imaginable that these men are so intent in their immorality that they are struck blind. And what do they do? Run to a doctor? No! They wearied themselves. They continually tried to find the door.
Then the men said to Lot.
And this brings up the third consequence, and that is, he lost his influence over those closest to him.
Whom else do you have here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.
(Genesis 19:12 and 13)
And note how he has lost his influence.
And Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
They probably looked back at him and laughed and said, “Since when did God speak to you? Since when have you heard the voice of the Lord? The Lord’s going to destroy this city? Right! Sure He is, Lot!” His own future sons-in-law. They didn’t believe him.
Now what I can’t believe is the next few verses. I want you to underline “And when morning dawned,” Verse 15. And then underline Verse 16, “ But he hesitated.”
And when morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters, who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.”
They had already told Lot that judgment is coming. So what does Lot do? He gets a good night’s rest. He goes to sleep. And then they urge him even further when morning dawns.
And note Verse 16.
But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife.
Imagine, if someone told you when you were home this afternoon that there was a nuclear bomb in your living room. Would you go to the closet and think, “Let’s see. What tie should I wear? What suit should I pack?” Whew! You’re gone. ( Stephen whispers these last three words.) Destruction is coming, and you don’t know when.
You remember the fire drills when you were in elementary school. You never believed it, did you, because you knew they were only drills. But the first graders believed it. They used to line up, do you remember that, in a straight line, and they’d walk out, eyes rolled big, oho, there’s a fire in the school. By then you were in fifth grade, and you knew the score, (Laughter) and you just kind of casually stroll out. And all the first graders that look at you think, “What courage. Wow!” (Laughter) You’d even run back and get a pencil, you know, cause you knew it was just a drill.
Now I have tried to climb inside of Lot’s skin and think how he thought. There was only one reason, and I could be wrong, but there’s only one reason that I think he would hesitate, he would get a good night’s rest, he would lag behind. Unbelief! I don’t think Lot really believed God would destroy the city. So he hesitated. He delayed.
Fourthly, he was in disagreement with his wife. You could rephrase this a lot of ways. You could say he lost his position of leadership. You could say that his wife lost respect for him. The truth was that Lot couldn’t even convince his wife that God had spoken to him. And so the text reads, in fact, let’s look at Verse 23.
The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.
(Genesis 19:23 and 24)
The liberals think that this is just a little bit of a fire that somehow exploded some things in Sodom, and so there was a big fire. But it is obvious that taking this literally, fire literally rained out of heaven. Brimstone could be translated, “burning sulfur.” It all came from the sky.
And he overthrew, literally turned upside down, those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
But his wife, from behind him, looked back.
(Genesis 19:25 and 26)
That phrase, “looked back,” could be translated a number of ways. And I’m not saying that this is particularly wrong. But it could be translated “lagged behind.” In other words, the party was fleeing and she’s lagging behind. It could also be translated, “returned.” The truth was I don’t believe Lot’s wife thought judgment would come, and she didn’t believe the testimony of her husband. She had learned to love Sodom.
The fifth and most tragic, I think, consequence of all, is that he committed incest with his daughters.
Look at Verse 30.
And Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters. Then the first-born said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth. Come, let us make our father drunk (NASB - drink wine) and let us lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.”
The story goes on to tell how they did that. Both daughters. What a tragic consequence of living in Sodom. His daughters, now, instead of trusting God for their heritage, adopted the pagan practice they had probably seen happen a hundred times, a million times in Sodom. Their children would be boys. Each would have a son. One daughter’s son would be named Moab. The other daughter’s son would be named Beammi. Moab would be the father of the Moabite nation. Beammi would be the father of the Ammonite nation. Two nations that would constantly be a source of irritation and war with the son of Abraham.
Lot’s story is a red flag that warns anyone who believes that sin will never be found out. His life is a tragic illustration that sin is pleasurable for just a season, but it brings with it the consequence.
May I apply this passage two ways, quickly.
First of all, constant exposure to sin ultimately wears down resistance to sin. Don’t fool yourself. You pitch your tent toward Sodom, sooner or later you’re going to be living in Sodom. That’s why the apostle said in regard to fornication, pornea, (? check Greek word here) that is, immorality. What does he say? Stroll away from it? No! Flee! Run! You and I can’t take the temptation.
Secondly, the consequences always outweigh the pleasures of sin. Pleasurable. Yes. Down right fun. But the penalty is severe.
When he began his incredible career, he was a seventeen year old refugee with a hundred bucks in his pocket. He and his family had been forced to leave a large fortune and flee, and he arrived half a world away in South America to start over. By the time he was twenty-two years old, he had not only earned his first million dollars, but he had earned the reputation of being a ruthless and selfish man. He lived a life surrounded by luxury and was devoted to pagan pleasure, the hedonistic lifestyle. At the pinnacle of this man’s success he, in 1973, he would be worth more than one billion dollars. His extra-marital affairs were the talk of the press. And in 1968 he shocked the world by his marriage to the widow of an assassinated American president. The philosophy of Aristotle Onassis is best summed up by something he one day said to the press, quote, “All that really matters is money. That’s all that matters in life. The people with the money are the royalty now.” Then his world began to crumble. His son, a twenty-four year old in 1973, was involved in a plane crash, and he died, and they said so did Aristotle’s desire to live. One magazine quoted an associate of Aristotle Onassis as saying that grief and guilt had dulled his sharp business sense, and in one year he brought his fortune down eight hundred million dollars. And not soon after, Onassis himself died.
In many ways, Lot is different than Aristotle Onassis. Lot’s a believer. But the similarity is that they both went from riches to rags. Think of Lot. He had reached the top. He was successful. He was a wealthy politician. He was influential. He had everything that he wanted, a wife, two daughters, perhaps a palatial home. And now I want you to see him in Chapter 19 penniless, living in a cave. His assets had been destroyed by the fire. He had lost his wife. And his daughters were now embarrassingly strange to him. What a tragic banquet of consequences.
I want you to take stock now. What kind of decisions are you making? What motivates you to make them? Where are they taking you? Young person, what have you decided to live like when you walk out the front door of your house? Husbands and wives, where is God in your plans? Businessman or woman, what kind of ethics have you decided to live under there in the working place? How close to Sodom do we live? You may discover this morning that Lot is sitting in your seat. If you discover that, like Abraham, go to the western highlands and build an altar and once again call upon the name of the Lord.