So glad you’re keeping up with this blog and, hopefully, your Bible reading. New habits take a while to carve into our minds; keep at it and before long, you won’t have to make a special effort to remember.
Today we’re reading and thinking about Genesis 19-21. There’s a lot here (no pun intended), but as usual we won’t be able to touch on everything. If you do have a specific question, however, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section. If you have further comments on my comments, don’t hesitate to write ’em — “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17, NAS95.
One of the first things that we’ll run across in this reading is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. There are a number of things that impress me in this story: the fact that God really will “pull the trigger” of destruction on the evil, the depth of corruption that mankind can sink to, the mercy of God even in “pulling the trigger” (see the earlier chapter), and the unexpectedness of the destruction. But what impresses me the most right now as I read it is the corruption that changes us gradually. Lot had been living in the region for a number of years and in the city of Sodom itself for a while, and it appears to have changed him and his family. For example,
- Despite the fact that Lot knew that the city was a dangerous place to be (see Gen. 18:2,3), he chose to live there — not a necessity for a nomadic herdsman.
- Note that when the angels were threatened with homosexual rape, he offered his daughters as an alternative.
- Note too that when he was urged by the angels to leave the city or be destroyed with it that he tried to encourage his future sons-in-law to leave with them, but they thought he was joking.
- As they fled, Lot’s wife, so enamored with the city in spite of its sinfulness, couldn’t help but look back (even though they were warned not to) — and was turned into a pillar of salt.
- And finally, consider the incest initiated by Lot’s daughters!
I’m pretty sure Lot’s morals weren’t quite that low to begin with (God considered him righteous enough to save from the destruction). And I’m sure they didn’t change overnight. It had to have been a gradual change, subtly being influenced to tolerate this or get along with that, until the sharply contrasted borders of right and wrong began to get sort of blurry for him and his family. And our daily exposure to modern culture can have a gradual, subtle effect on us, too.
Have you thought about it much? What was your mindset about homosexual marriage 15 years ago? 25 years ago (if you’re that old)? And now? And what about heterosexual living together without benefit of marriage — tolerable or not? And modesty in women’s apparel — would you have worn some things in your closet 15 years ago? What’s your attitude about alcohol these days, as opposed to a few years ago? And do you now use words that 15 years ago you would consider too vulgar for Christian speech? And what’s considered to be good Christian movie or TV viewing now? Is it really just “growth in our views” or have our standards changed? Have our moral borders moved? Christians of every generation are challenged with the battle of being in the world without becoming part of the world (John 17:14-16). Lot found out the hard way the cost of unnecessarily tolerating corruption and letting it slowly influence and mold him and his family. The influence supposed to be flowing the other way!
But on a different note — and chapter — isn’t it good to know that even Abraham had his nagging issues? He lies again about Sarah. You know, we’d all like to think that our growth in faith will be an upward trend on a graph, but that’s not usually the way things go for most or all of us. Abraham was an example of it. He’d broken away from paganism, had learned about what faith meant, had persevered through 25 years of a promise, but he still faltered now and again, when it came to saving himself from rulers who might like Sarah. Instead of a steady upward trend on the graph, Abraham’s faith does a sine wave! And ours does, too. Now hopefully the sine wave itself is trending upward, but there’s no point in beating ourselves up too much over our spiritual stumbles as we sincerely try to grow.
Lastly, there’s no big surprise here, since Isaac’s birth is such a familiar story, but God fulfills promises. And although it isn’t a big surprise for many of us, we still need to be reminded about it, because thinking that God’s promises won’t happen is just too easy to do — Satan whispers it in our ear, the waits are sometimes rather long (from a human perspective), and without something tangible to hang on to hope can start to wane. We need the reminders over and over again.