The Chief End of Man (12)
The Destruction of Sodom (Conclusion)
The next morning, Abraham sees the results of the destruction as “dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.” We are also told that God “remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.”
The story continues with Lot and his daughters moving from Zoar into the mountains out of fear for another catastrophe. There, the three of them lived in isolation. After some time, Lot’s daughters decided that since there were no men to marry, they would commit incest with their father to carry on the family line. They proceeded to serially induce Lot to drink to the point of near senselessness and copulate. These illicit unions each produced a son, Moab by the older and Ben-Ammi by the younger. Each son was the founder of a tribe, the Moabites and Ammonites.
How can this sequel to Lot’s treatment of his daughters be understood but as a warning that, once a parent has lost moral authority, the consequences in their children can be appalling indeed. Lot had said to the mob in Sodom, “Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please.” Have the daughters not learned well and rebounded to do what they liked with their very own father?
At the end Lot appears to be an example of the consequences of weakness in character combined with bad choices. Had Lot not chosen to live near Sodom, but rather lived out his life in the country in comradeship with the blessed, wise Abraham, perhaps his weakness could have been covered, even redeemed over time. Instead he chose the path of seeming advantage and ease. The consequences for him and his family were disastrous even for those who escaped with their lives.
We can look upon Lot with anger and sorrow. We would do well to remember that these stories in God’s Word are not just about what happened to this person or that many thousands of years ago. Lot’s story is also ours. Have we not, each of us, also taken the easy but foolish path, had our moral weaknesses exposed in humiliating crises and seen our mistakes rebound upon us in unexpected and awful ways?
This is the last that we will see of Lot, Abraham’s nephew and companion, who chose to go with him into the great unknown, following God’s call. I have justifiably been very hard on Lot in this commentary. We have seen Lot at his very worst, pressed to the limits of his wits by events that are beyond the experience of all but the most unfortunate few.
We can rightly wonder what became of Lot in eternity within the mercy and justice of our Great God. The answer is there to be found in the New Testament, in Peter’s Second Epistle:
… if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) … (2 Peter 2:6-8, NIV)
Lot was finally judged to be a righteous man. Can we not take the greatest comfort, the most fervent hope from this merciful judgment? I can only pray so. For were my worst moments laid bare in eternal words there would be no extenuating circumstances, no unforeseeable consequences of anywhere near comparable moment to accompany them.
If I have judged Lot’s worst moments harshly perhaps I too have sinned by a lack of charity. If so, I pray for forgiveness. In the end, Lot is redeemed only by God’s mercy. He may look down from Heaven counting the souls protected by his life’s story with joy as he worships the Christ through whom he has been saved.