Today we look at a small snapshot of Lot leaving the city of Sodom.
Genesis 19:16When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.
I want you to remember the word merciful. Because without Gods mercy towards us we would not have God’s salvation. We CAN BE thankful for Gods mercy towards us. HOWEVER, in the story of Lot, when mercy show up, she does not appear to him to be the kind gentle soul he probably always thought she was. Mercy had not shown up to be a gentle comforter, but a desperate and earnest arbiter of action to separate Lot from his sin and coming destruction.
From the book, The Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller. “The word “prodigal” does not mean “wayward” but, according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, “recklessly spendthrift.” It means to spend until you have nothing left.” That is exactly what Lot did. You might be wondering how that could be true because Lot was a rich man. He entered Sodom as a wealthy man became even more wealthy while there. You see, Lot recklessly spent the most valuable thing he had: time. He recklessly spent his time, his actions, his desires on stuff rather than on a relationship with God. As a result, he ended up leaving Sodom with less than he entered with…a lot less..like, nothing.
Lot was a prodigal based on the Merriam-Webster’s collegiate Dictionary definition of prodigal: recklessly spendthrift; meaning to spend until you have nothing left. Lot spent recklessly until he had nothing left. In the effort to get more, he ended up getting nothing. He left Sodom with less than he entered it with. He recklessly spent his actions, his time, his desires, on STUFF, rather than on a relationship with God.
Years before when Lot and Abraham parted ways because the land could not support both of them and their workers couldn’t get along Lot chose to move closer to Sodom. I imagine pride stood at Sodom’s gate and beckoned him to come in with the lie pride always tells us; I will make you great.
Sometimes we think once we achieve a certain level of “greatness” or “having” of whatever it is we deem necessary to be “great” that we will have “arrived” at our life’s destination. But it’s a bit like when I was a kid. When my older sister was 10, I was 9 and I would think, “Wow, when I’m 10 I’ll be so grown up just like my sister”. I continued to think every year if I could only be the age of my sister I would be so grown up! But every year went by and despite turning another year older my goal was never met, because my older sister also kept turning a year older and moving the goal post. It was a never-ending cycle of never being able to reach my goal, to feel I had finally arrived.
Picture Lot standing outside Sodom’s gate and pride inviting him in promising to make him great. Now fast forward to Lot standing outside the gates of Sodom again, this time empty handed because he spent his actions, time, and desires on stuff rather than a relationship with God. Pride took his actions, time and desires and invested them in a lie. Pride promised greatness if he did more and had more. Lot did more and had more, but the goal post kept being moved and it was never enough. He would never arrive to a place of satisfaction and peace.
We can only imagine the emotional turmoil in Lot’s heart when he stood outside of Sodom’s gate with nothing but his wasted time, wasted desires and wasted actions all stored up on earth awaiting the time to become smoke and ashes and the realization of having spent his life living a lie.
Lot added up his stuff and assumed he was great. Abraham added up his stuff and knew that God was great. And yet God, in his great mercy to Lot, showed up and offered him mercy. I’m sure it did not seem the kind of mercy Lot would have liked to receive. It seems sometimes we get ourselves into a bit of a jam due to living out lies, but we don’t want to be separated from our lie, we just want the great God of mercy to have mercy on us and help us out of the jam. But, just like Lot, Mercy isn’t there just to comfort and confirm God’s love for us, Mercy also is there to help separate us from the sin and save us from destruction.
We haven’t looked at all of the players in the life of Abraham yet, but we have looked at Abraham, Hagar and now Lot. Each has been faced with a moment of mercy from God intervening in their lives. The moment when God digs deep and gives them the opportunity to live out a loving relationship with Him. The opportunity to store up treasure in heaven rather than on earth.
In Psalm 23 David says, “my cup runneth over”. Everything that happened before he said “my cup runneth over” was all of the things the Good Shepherd did to care for the sheep. The shepherd did all, the sheep did nothing. Directly after saying, “my cup runneth over”, David says, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”. That is the mercy God has in abundance for us every single day of our lives.