18 May 2021
The world is a very attractive place. It can cast a spell of enchantment upon even God's people. We can be addicted to its offers of pleasure and suffer spiritual losses. Jesus told us to remember Lot's wife. We will do that. We will also remember Lot's life. May it be a sobering call for God's people. So, come and see the Tragedy, the Trajectory, and the Tapestry in Lot's life in this sermon.
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Well, this morning, I want to bring us back to the book of Genesis, and we are looking at Genesis, chapter 19. Now, it was a long read, but I want to assure you that the sermon today will not be long. It will be short, it'll be concise, it will be sharp.
You remember last week, that God revealed to Abraham that He will destroy the city of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great wickedness. So today, we pop over to chapter 19, to see that destruction, that God indeed will rain fire from heaven and, if I may say, blow up this city into smithereens.
But before that, we are going to catch a slice of life in Sodom. The heavenly visitors - I believe it's Jesus, together with two angels - would come and visit this city of Sodom and Gomorrah. And we are immediately confronted with a brutal, sinful, wicked, violent scene. Where the whole city, every man from young to old, would come and surround the house, where Jesus and the two angels would stay in. They gather because they want to consume their lust upon these visitors.
So this is a - if I may say - restricted age group content. This is a brutal attempted gang rape; not just a gang rape, but a homosexual gang rape. So we are immediately confronted with something very violent, very uncomfortable, very sinful, that we may have an appreciation that God's judgment on this city is righteous, and rightly deserved.
Now, it is also in this chapter, that we are re-acquainted with Abraham's nephew, Lot. So we are going to take a perspective of looking at Lot's life for the rest of this sermon. So the sermon title today is a twist on what Jesus said in Luke 17. Jesus said, "Remember Lot's wife." [Luke 17:32] Well, we're going to do that, but more than that, we're going to also remember Lot's life. And I'm going to look at this in three simple points.
 Lot's Tragedy
Number one, I'd like us to consider Lot's tragedy. The tragedy of Lot's life. Now, he started, or we started looking at his life when, in Genesis, chapter 13, we are told that he looked forward to staying in this region, because, it was a “well watered” place. [Genesis 13:10]
In other words, this was a place that promised, I think, a good life. It promised lots of vegetation, lots of growth. It promised abundance, and maybe comfort, and ease. And based on this reasoning, based on what Lot could see with his eyes about the material world, he went ahead to proceed to settle in this region.
Now, he disregarded the evil in this place, he disregarded the wickedness of the people there, because this was his primary principal consideration - he wanted that good life. Now, the Bible doesn't quite tell us whether Lot eventually became very rich or not. Perhaps it was really immaterial at the end of the day, because what we are confronted with, in Genesis 19, is that he was a loser. He thought he would gain a lot in this place, but really he lost out a lot.
What did he lose?
[A] Loss of Morality
Well, I want to suggest to you, number one, he had a loss of morality. He, he lost his moral compass. He, he lost the sense of discerning what is right and wrong.
Because something really bizarre happened here - when the men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to rape the visitors, the guests in his house, this was what Lot suggested. He said, "I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please." [Genesis 19:8]
Now, I can understand that Lot was very considerate, and kind, and generous, maybe, to the visitors. But there is no way I can ever understand or fathom how a father would ever say, "Here are my daughters, rape them instead." I can't! I mean there's no way I can think of this as being right, but that's what Lot chose to do.
My son, he studies Chinese - of course! And recently he learned a new “cheng yu” - a new proverb, a new phrase: “er ru mu ran”. It means that we are influenced by what we see and what we hear.
Perhaps that's what's happening to Lot and his sense of right and wrong. He's been living in Sodom and Gomorrah, a place obviously of gross immorality. And maybe he's so accustomed, so influenced by the immorality in that place, that to him this is quite perhaps acceptable. Well, I can only say - what a tragic state of thinking, of morality, Lot has descended to in this place.
[B] Loss of Credibility
Not only did he suffer a loss of morality, I think he also suffered a loss of credibility. You see when the angels told him to escape from this place, he proceeded to warn his sons-in-law. But he said to the sons-in-law, when he said to the sons-in-law, "Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city." [Genesis 19:14]
The response was absolutely unexpected. I would have thought that the sons-in-law will say, "Alright, we will get ready! We will move out together with you. This is urgent, this is serious! This is dangerous!" I thought they might have done that. But no, the Bible tells us: "But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting." [Genesis 19:14]
In other words, they couldn't take him seriously. They don't trust him! They don't believe a word he's saying. I'm not sure why, but maybe Lot has lived such a, such a terrible life, that they could not trust him, that he was given a message from God Himself. He has no credibility before his sons-in-law.
[C] Loss of Tranquillity
So Lot wanted to come to this place. He probably thought of life in Hawaii, Caribbean. Just chill out, relax, enjoy the good life. "I'll be at ease, I'll be comfortable, I'll be at peace! And I'll live such a good life from now on." But well, the Bible tells us, he also has a loss of tranquillity. He does not have peace and rest all these years in Sodom and Gomorrah.
I know that because 2 Peter tells us: "For as that righteous man lived among them day after day…" [2 Peter 2:8] By the way, the Bible tells us, much as Lot made a terrible choice, and did terrible things, I think, he was still at the end of the day, a righteous man; at the end of the day, a man who believes in God, and His promise of the Messiah. He's a saved man.
But this saved man was “tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard". [2 Peter 2:8] In other words, he was vexed, he was troubled; he never really had rest. What a sad state!
You know, I believe that the most miserable kind of people in this world are Christians, who want to live like the world. They are the most miserable people of all.
You see, if you do not belong to Jesus, if you do not know Him, you are a person of the world, I think you can still enjoy the things of the world. Now, of course, there'll be heartaches at the end of the day, and you'll be ultimately judged before God. But at least in this lifetime, you have some joys in this world.
And if you are a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, you have the joy of God. Yes, there are things you deny, but you deny them for the joy that is before you. You deny them because of the intimacy, and the fellowship, and the joy you have with God.
But when you're someone right here in the middle - you are a Christian, but you want to live like the world - you are the most miserable kind. Because you can't really enjoy the joys of this world, neither do you experience the joy of God. You are right here, the most miserable of all. And that's Lot; there's no peace in his heart.
[D] Loss of Family
And then we see number four, Lot has a loss of family. And I think this is obvious. His wife, for example turned into “a pillar of salt” when she turned around. [Genesis 19:26] She was rushing, or coming out of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, but you know what? You could get her out of Sodom and Gomorrah, but you cannot get Sodom and Gomorrah out of her. She still loved Sodom and Gomorrah. She loved the lifestyle there. She loved the abundance of material stuff there. And so she turned back, and in judgment, God turned her into a pillar of salt.
Now, in Sunday School, a teacher was telling exactly this story. And a boy raised his hand, and said, "Teacher, I understand this story. Because one day, Mommy was driving, and she turned back, and she became, and she turned into a telephone pole." That's not exactly the same thing, but you get the idea. She loved Sodom and Gomorrah, and God in judgment turned her into a pillar of salt.
So Lot, with his poor leadership, led his family to this city. Led, I think, his wife to love the things here in this city. He lost his wife, and I think he also, in a sense, you could say lost his daughters.
Why? Because as they escaped into the cave of the mountain, the daughters figured within themselves that their husbands are gone, and now they would be left without a descendant. And so we are told - well, before that let me just say, Jesus says, "Remember Lot's wife." [Luke 17:32] Remember the tragic state of loving stuff, loving this world.
But let's come to the daughters. "So they made their father drink wine that night also ..."[Genesis 19:35] It was an intentional evil scheme and ploy to intoxicate their father, and then they committed incest with him. If you could say, they raped him. I wonder if this again, was part of the culture and immorality that they sort of got accustomed to; that this is no more bizarre, or strange to them anymore.
And they were pregnant. They gave birth, each of them to sons. "The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab… The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi." [Genesis 19:37-38] And they became the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites.
Now, if you are a student of the Bible, you would know immediately, you will read of these two groups of people for the rest of the Old Testament, because they became enemies of Israel for a long, long time.
So Lot really lost everything! It is ironical, when you consider how it all began. He saw that this land promised so much. It promised wealth and abundance, prosperity, comfort and ease, but he got none of that. He lost his morality. He lost his credibility. He lost his tranquillity that he longed for. He lost his family. He lost everything!
You could say he fell for a trick; he fell for a mirage, he fell for a scam. Now, some months ago, I was surfing the net. And there was an advert that flashed up on my screen. It was a sales advert, it was a sales advert for a toy. It was a sales advert for a toy, or statue of Godzilla. Now, I know my son, Matthias, at that period of time, he absolutely loved Godzilla. Everything was Godzilla! Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra - the same gang, the monsters. He loved it.
And so when I saw that ad for this toy, I immediately thought about my son, and I wanted to buy him the toy as a gift, because it really looked very good. You could see this picture, it's a deep – okay, I know all the ladies, you're probably saying, "What is this ugly thing?" But for Matthias and for guys - "Wow, this is quite an impressive toy and statue!” And hey, 50% off, $60! Not bad. And I think, "I could buy this for my son."
So I didn't tell Matthias, I didn't tell my family, I just decided to pay for it online, bought this thing and eagerly awaited. Now, you know the rest of the story, I'm sure. A parcel did arrive, it did not not arrive, it did arrive.
And when I opened it up, I saw my Godzilla. It looked like this. Now, maybe some of you would say, "Same thing what! Still very ugly!" But no lah, please, please, please! You could tell this is a piece of joke. This is ridiculous! When I held it in my hand, I said, "This is horrible!" I mean, if you put them two, side by side, you would see one on the right so - or one on your left so beautiful, so detailed, so majestic, but the one on the left is an absolute travesty, and a joke.
I flat out was scammed! I thought I could get a nice statue of a toy, but it ended up being a huge disappointment. I lost out here. Well, at least, all I lost was $60. But Lot lost a lot.
And maybe this could be a description of your life. You may laugh at me, "Pastor, you're so stupid, got scammed by this." But do you realize that many people are scammed, because everyone today seems to want this majestic Godzilla, called wealth, and riches, and prosperity, and success. And the Bible tells you it's a scam because it says, "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." [1 Timothy 6:9]
I'm not the only one to be scammed. I think many of us could be scammed. And you will be of all people the most miserable, because you thought that these things would give you joy. And so you live in Sodom and Gomorrah; you're cut off from life with God. You are losing your fellowship with Him, and daily you're vexed in your soul.
Well, that's why today, remember not just Lot's wife, remember Lot's life. You could bring a man out of Sodom and Gomorrah, but it's very hard to bring Sodom and Gomorrah out of him.
So we see number one - His tragedy.
 The Trajectory
Number two, I like us to see - the trajectory.
You see, when I bought my Godzilla, it was a spur of the moment decision; it was a split-second choice. "Alright, let's get it for Matthias!"
But in the case of Lot, it was not a snap decision. It was not a momentary folly. The trajectory of his life, the direction of his life, the consistency of his life tells me that there's something powerful in Sodom and Gomorrah, that constantly drew Lot to itself. And he was heading towards that city on a consistent basis.
You see, it started with the look [Genesis 13:10] and then it began - and he continued with that journey, in verse 11. And then, he ”settled among the cities of the valley." [Genesis 13:12]
And by the way, you would recall that in Genesis 14, that there was a war, and Lot was captured in that war. He could have then moved off from Sodom and Gomorrah, but he didn't, until eventually we read in chapter 19, He was “sitting in the gate of Sodom." [Genesis 19:1]
Now, this is significant because when someone sits at the gate in ancient times, it means that he is someone who is venerated, someone who is respected, someone who is an elder, a leader of that city. Because the gate is where people gathered, a gate is where people bring their cases of injustice to and elders would settle the cases.
So now, we are told that Lot is now one of the leaders in the city. It's not a momentary choice. He had the opportunity to turn, but no, he went deeper and deeper. He went nearer and nearer, until he was right in the heart of the city, in the leadership structure of the city. This was no slip, this was a consistent desire.
When I read about this story of progressing deeper and deeper into the life of Sodom and Gomorrah, I'm reminded of Psalm 1, and verses 1 and 2. In Psalm 1, we have a description of a man who will walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the way of sinners, and sit in the seat of the scoffer. And so the blessed man is not someone like this. But there is a man who will be doing this.
And in this Psalm, I think the psalmist very skillfully and carefully selects words to convey the idea of going deeper and deeper and deeper into sin. For he says, number one: you “walk”, then you “stand”, then you “sit”. You walk with them, then you stand with them against opposition, and then you sit with them in the place of authority and judgment.
Or, you can also see that it is a firmer conviction of their ways, when you just follow their “counsel”, then you are associated with their “way”, and then you decide on judgments on the “seat”.
Or maybe you could look at the final triad, of those who are “wicked”, and those who are outwardly “sinful”, blatantly so, and those who will be “scoffers” of God.
Well, that is what sin is like - it grows! It pulls you in deeper and deeper, and that's the trajectory of Lot. It was not getting better, it was like an addiction; it just got worse. And the whole reason why it will get worse, is because Lot loved Sodom. He loved the lifestyle there. He loved the stuff there. Well, let me clarify that - I don't think he loved the lifestyle there, but he loved what that city could give him materially.
He loved the city. How do you know that? Well, I get a hint of that in this story, in Genesis 19, because when the angels urged Lot to get up, to leave the city, he was not very willing to do that. He's a lot like his wife!
The Bible tells us, "But he lingered." [Genesis 19:15-16] He stayed on. He's not willing to go. I mean, if you don't like this place, and you know that this place is going to be blown up, you will immediately pack up and move. But this is the strange attraction, this is the strange addiction he has - "Ugh, I'm gonna die. I know I'm going to be destroyed, but I can't bear to leave this beautiful city."
So, they forcefully brought him out, together with the daughters and so on. And said, "Escape... Do not look back or stop anywhere…Escape to the hills…" [Genesis 19:17] You know, Lot replied, "Oh, no, my lords!" [Genesis 19:18] "Don't, don't let us do that. Don't, don't let us go to the hills." He says, "If I found favor in your sight, if you have some kindness towards me, I don't want to go to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die." [Genesis 19:19-20]
Look, look, look, look, look! There is a city, there's a city that is near enough to flee to, it is a little one. [Genesis 19:20] That's why it's called “Zoar” – “Zoar” means little one. There's this little city, let me escape there. Well, I think what this conveys is that Lot is just too used to the materialism, and the luxuries, and the comforts that the city has offered him, and he loved it too much.
It's like an addiction. You know why it's an addiction? Because he can't give it up easily. And even though this addiction is killing him, losing morality, losing credibility, losing joy within, he's vexed every day, he's tormented every day, he knows it's not good - but you know what, he can't help himself but want to get deeper in the life of Sodom. He still wants it!
And you know, that's what the Bible warns us against. "Do not love the world." [1 John 2:15-17] Do not love it, because it could be addictive. There's always the next car. There's always the next promotion. There's always another condo you can aim for. There's always more stuff you can get!
And you know what? It sucks the life out of you. Because you're chasing the next car, because you're chasing the next condo. You're running away from Bible study. You're running away from your own devotions. You're running away from your care group. Because you've got to give up something, in order to fuel and feed your addiction.
You know when you sit down, this is not right. You're troubled within your soul, you're seeing your spiritual life ebb away, but you are helpless, because it's like an addiction. Could this be your life? You're scammed! You thought this is going to bring you satisfaction. "The next car will! The next condo will! The next promotion will! The next success in my project will! It will give me joy!"
But all it does is that it leaves you more and more empty. And you can't help yourself. "Love not the world," the Bible sounds.
I like what CS Lewis says: "You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us up from the evil enchantment of worldliness." Oh, the love for the things of this world is like a spell! And mind you, Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, can be caught under this spell, just like Lot.
This is not a warning to unsaved people, this is a warning to Christians. You, who believe in Jesus, you could still fall into this trap of loving the world, being cast under the spell.
And so today, we need a stronger spell to break this spell of worldliness. "And what is this?", you say - I believe it is the love of God in Jesus Christ. It is this love of God in Jesus Christ; this Gospel, this Good News, that we need to hear of regularly, so that we do not fall into the enchantment of the ways of this world.
Thomas Chalmers calls it "the expulsive power of a new affection." It is this understanding of the great love of God that expels out the love for the things of this world. If any man loved the world, the love of the Father is not in him. But if you love the Father, the love of the world will not be in him.
I find it interesting - we were looking at Psalm 1, and how it described someone who goes deeper and deeper into sin, but the blessed man is not someone who does this, but the blessed man has found deliverance; the blessed man has found escape, the blessed man has found an alternative, because “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." [Psalm 1:2]
There's a greater spell, a greater power than the spell and the power of worldliness, and that is found in the Scriptures. The Bible is not a book that is boring and dry. If you understand that when you read it, you're reading about God, and His love for you, and what He has done for you, in Jesus Christ.
So, we live in this world, but we should not live like this world. Because if we want to live like the world, we will become like the world. Jesus tells us, or He prays, "I do not ask that you take them” - my disciples – “out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one". [John 17:15]
There is a way for us to live in this world without being part of this world. Jesus prays for His disciples that this will be so, but He also prayed, "Sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth." [John 17:17]
Isn't this consistent? The way against worldliness is found in the Word of God. As we study His Word, as we look at the Gospel, as we see the glory of God, His love for us, His amazing works of salvation. It is a powerful magic, if I may say, a spell that casts out the spell of worldliness.
Nevertheless, let us be reminded today about Lot's life. His tragedy, when he was scammed by the promise of the good life. His trajectory, because there is a love for the things of this world, because he did not feast and drink in the love of God for him.
 The Tapestry
And then finally, I just want to end a short note on the tapestry, that I consider in this life of Lot.
A tapestry is a woven piece of art. Maybe you could consider it similar to cross stitch. You know how people, they sew, and they pull the threads on a piece of cloth. And you know, when you do a cross stitch, you're focused on one side that it will be beautiful, and on the other side, you see all the knots and all the crisscrossing, that is not so beautiful.
And you know, life can be like a tapestry. Because when you look at one side, it is ugly, it is confusing, it makes no sense. But if you turn it around, and look at it from the other side – ah, you get the picture!
Oh, what an appropriate illustration this will be for our times today, isn't it? We live in a very messy, period. In our prayer meeting this morning, we are reminded that these are days of pestilences, and these are days of wars and rumors of war.
Is this the end times? I dare not say, but I do know that even though we live in a messy world today, God is still working all things together for good to them that love God. He's working something beautiful and it will be revealed in time, when after we see this mess, we cross over to the other side and see the amazing tapestry.
Now, how is this life of Lot, and the destruction of Sodom, going to be something beautiful? It's not easy, it's not obvious, but I think it is there.
So you recall how the older daughter had incest with Lot, and she gave birth to a son name Moab. [Genesis 19:37] And from Moab, you will have the Moabites; many, many children, grandchildren and descendants.
One of the descendants of Moab would be this girl, named Ruth. Ruth, the Moabitess. [Ruth 1:22] And Ruth would then marry Boaz. Boaz and Ruth, would have a child. [Ruth 4:13] She would bear a son, and the son's name will be Obed. [Ruth 4:17] And Obed will also father Jesse. [Ruth 4:17] And Jesse will father, David. [Ruth 4:17] And David will be the ancestor of the Lord, Jesus Christ. [Matthew 1:1]
It's quite amazing, that God would use this son, Moab, to be the ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. Or you could put it this way - Jesus would come also from the line of Moab. It's amazing! You would have thought otherwise, but no, God used even this messy situation, to bring forth the birth of His Son, thousands of years later.
And “He will save his people from their sins." [Matthew 1:21] So the Savior - for us, from sin - would come from this story here, in Genesis, chapter 19.
Make no mistake, Sodom and Gomorrah will be judged. [2 Peter 2:6] And Sodom and Gomorrah stand today as an example, as a warning, that those who live an ungodly life will ultimately be destroyed, will be judged by God. Not just here in 2 Peter, but also in Jude 7. You can continue to live in sin for all you want, but God will call you to account one day. And just as He judged Sodom and Gomorrah with fire, sinners who die without Jesus in their lives would be judged in fire and brimstone. [Jude 7]
But let's remember that this story also furnishes us with a promise of the Messiah, of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He went to the cross to die, and to then rise again from the dead, to save His people from their sins. He paid it all on the cross.
And I'm saying to you today - if you repent and believe in Jesus Christ, the Bible says you will be saved and you will inherit eternal life. It's absolutely unfair. But this is what grace is all about. Jesus would pay for you. He, who knew no sin will be made sin for you, that you may be made the righteousness of God in Him. [2 Corinthians 5:21]
This is the grace, this is the marvel, this is the tapestry, in Genesis 19. May it lead you to Jesus Christ. May God bless you with salvation.
Let's bow for word of prayer together.
Our Father, we thank You this morning, for a sobering reminder about the deception in loving the things of this world. We all have been scammed to some degree. And I pray today, that as we drink in the Gospel, as we hear the Word of God, as we are reminded about Your great love for us in Jesus Christ, it will wake Your people up, that we will no more be addicted to the success, to the prosperity or to the fame this world affords.
Dear God, I pray that we will not be chasing the next dollar, the next car, the next condo, but we will be a people who seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Help us! Help us to love not the world. Help us to love You, by helping us realize how much You love us.
So I pray, even through these relative lockdown periods, Your people will drink in the Gospel, in a daily reading of Scripture, in a hearing of messages. O Lord, in a meeting together online of Gospel communities, fortify our souls and guard us against the deceptions of this world.
We want to pray for friends, guests who may be hearing this for the first time, or even long-time attendees of our worship services. I pray that they would not just hear this Word, but that they will also repent and believe in Jesus, Your Son.
There is no way anyone else can be saved, except through Your Son. He said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me." And so I pray You will grant these dear folks wisdom, true wisdom, to believe in Him.
Thank You for this time, we ask and pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen. God bless.
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