A “Lot” of Mistakes?
Rethinking the Time in the Cave
Introduction: How many of you here today have ever made a mistake? Anyone? Now, how many of you here have made a mistake which involved disobeying God? Anyone? Ok, how many of you have disobeyed God since you became a Christian?
Now let me ask you, despite having made a mistake, and it having involved disobeying God, and it happened after you became a Christian… did anything good come out of what you did?
Maybe you had a child out of wedlock. Well, that was probably a mistake, certainly in disobedience to God, and maybe even since you became a Christian. But did good come out of it? Do you love the child? Has he or she become a Christian? Would you trade that child for anything on earth?
I bet if you think through all of the crummy, disobedient, and evil things you’ve done in your life – even in your life as a Christian, you’ll still be able to find something good that came out most of it. This is how God works.
However, Preacher Charlie is NOT telling you to be disobedient to God so that good may result. Paul warns us of that attitude in Romans 3. What I am saying is that God is aware of our limitations and already knows where we will fall even before we do.
You see, even when we are disobedient, God can and does bring good out of evil. Today, we’ll look over something that almost every Bible scholar in history has found sinful. If that is true, then God made something good come from it.
If, as I believe, that’s not correct, then we have another example of people living by faith in what they believe and which ultimately brings about an amazing sequence of events leading directly to the Messiah.
There are times as you read the Bible you might ask, “Why is this story here at all?” Can someone please explain to me what the relevance of this is? Today may be one of those stories. And because we can’t figure out why it’s there, we find reasons to find the bad in the story, even when good may be hidden deep within it.
If it’s in the Bible, it leads to Jesus… even when it involves incest, drunkenness, and possibly wrong thinking. Let’s review this story which is so covered in these things that we close our eyes and try to hide from them as we read through it…
“Oh God, I would never do that. Thanks for the lesson of how not to act.” But this isn’t at all what we’re to learn from this… as we’ll see in the next hour.
Text Verse: Romans 11:33-36 – Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” 35 “Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Yes, all glory to this wise and wonderful Creator! And so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. A “Lot” of God’s Mercy
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord.
Just one day earlier, the Lord and the two messengers arrived to announce the coming birth of Isaac. After their meal and assuring Sarah that a child would come through her, the Lord told Abraham of His intent to go to Sodom, determine its state, and destroy it.
Before He left, Abraham received a promise that if 10 righteous people could be found there, He would spare the entire city. It was probably a very sleepless night for Abraham, wondering if Lot had met even the most basic example of being a faithful witness to his wife, children, and six others.
If he simply had 9 converts the destruction would have been averted. But Abraham seemed to know better because he got up early in the morning and went to the exact spot where he had met and talked with the Lord. From that spot, he could overlook the entire region to the south where Lot lived. It seems his fears about Lot were well founded…
28 Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.
If you go to Israel, this spot overlooks the entire region to the south just as is described. God had chosen a time when Abraham would be living at this particular location to destroy Sodom.
The lesson is one for Abraham and the record is also given as a lesson for us. Sin will be judged and it will come at a time when God’s people can see that judgment first hand. The Bible presents many acts of judgment against both Israel’s enemies as well as against disobedient Israel herself.
September 11 wasn’t done in a corner. It came on one of the nicest days of the year. That wasn’t by chance, but by the hand of God. If you pay attention, things like this seem to always happen on nice clear blue days. As great as God’s love is for His people, so is His hatred of sin and rebellion. It’s a lesson we shouldn’t forget.
Imagine what Abraham thought. Unlike a volcano or an earthquake which is an unplanned event, he was seeing something that he had been foretold would happen. There was no doubt that this was an act of God. We can debate the significance of 911, but there was no doubt in Abraham’s mind about this.
He must have been upset for Lot, thinking he was dead, upset at Lot for not being able to drum up nine righteous people, and sad about Lot because he was his relative and friend. Looking at the smoke must have been a sad, sad moment in this guy’s life.
The term for furnace used here is kibshan and it’s only used four times in the Old Testament. The only other time it’s used in a similar manner is when the Law was received at Mount Sinai –
Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. Exodus 19:18
The New Testament has one such example as well. A time is coming when the judgments of God will come upon the world. In one of them, the very pit of hell will be opened –
Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Revelation 9:1, 2 COMMENT
29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.
This verse uses the term “God” or “elohim” rather than “Lord” or “Jehovah” to describe the one who administered the judgment, even though when it was actually happening it said that it was the Lord who did it. The difference between the uses of these two terms is who is mentioned in this verse – Abraham.
God is the judge of all the earth, and He is elsewhere described as a consuming fire, but He is also a friend of the righteous. And so God remembered His friend Abraham and rescued Lot in the midst of the overthrow. There is no contradiction because the Lord is God and God is the Lord. The terminology changes for our benefit and understanding of God’s nature.
II. Not a “Lot” of Choices
The narrative now changes focus. Lot is still the center of attention as he was during the preceding verses, but judgment is no longer coming… it has come.
30 Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave.
Lot has been reduced from a man with a wife and daughters, a seat among the judges, and a vast amount of wealth and servants, to a man with two daughters and no more than he could carry.
On the night before Sodom’s destruction, he was told to take his family and head for the mountains. Instead of doing this, he asked to be allowed to enter the little town of Zoar. What he should have done in the first place he failed to do. Now that he’s been given refuge in Zoar, he is afraid to dwell there even though the Lord granted him to do so, and so he moves to the mountains.
Both of his choices show an unwillingness to simply take the Lord at His word and to be obedient to that word. And so off he goes to a cave to live with his daughters. It doesn’t say why he was afraid to live in Zoar, but several possibilities come to mind.
First, he may have figured that its destruction was coming sooner or later and they were spared only because he asked for it. He may have thought this was temporary. He also may have been worried about the rising of the waters.
Because the topography changed, the Dead Sea had replaced the fields of the area and the rising waters may have seemed to be a threat. And third, he might have feared because the people of Zoar may have actually thought that the judgment of Sodom would follow Lot to them – as if they thought he were the cause of it.
Whatever the reason, Lot decided to do what he had been told in the first place and move to the mountains.
About this, Adam Clarke says – “Foolish man is ever preferring his own wisdom to that of his Maker…”
31 Now the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth.
It’s just Lot and his two daughters in the cave. When the older daughter says “there is no man on the earth to come in to us” there can only be a few options as to why she would think this. The first is that they believed the destruction of Sodom had killed everyone on earth and they are the last two left to carry on the human race.
This is a popular opinion, which covers almost every commentary available, some going back thousands of years. But, it’s not likely because they had lived in Zoar and there were people there when they left. Plus, even an idiot can look in the distance and see the destruction was isolated.
A second option is that because they were the only survivors of an entire group of people who were destroyed by God, no one would want to be associated with them. This is more likely and it reflects the attitudes of people all over the world – “I’m just not good enough. God hates me and everyone else will too.”
A third option – the one that I favor – is that “no man on the earth” has nothing to do with availability but rather accessibility. It is a general term, not a specific one. Lot moved to the mountains which are not a place where people would normally live. These mountains and the surrounding areas are especially inhabitable. Because of this, there are no guys coming by for lunch.
When I drove around the US a couple years ago, I drove past houses that were so remote that I wouldn’t pass another house – going 70mph – for an hour. I’d see children playing in the yard and I thought “how are they ever going to meet someone to marry. Imagine before there were roads and cars!
These two girls are like them. They are so removed from anyone else that they cannot imagine ever meeting a man. And so they devise a plan to have children, even if they can’t have a husband…
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him,
The very fact that they want to get dad drunk first tells us that they know their father wouldn’t agree to this, but it also tells us that there certainly were other men on earth, and they knew it. If not, they would have simply told dad what they wanted and why.
In the previous verse, the daughter said “our father is old.” Not only are there no other men around, but dad may kick off at some point too before he could get married again. If so, then his name will die out. This is surely what she’s thinking because…
32 (con’t) that we may preserve the lineage of our father.”
And here is a second proof that there are men available, but just not accessible. They have a distinct purpose in what they’re doing. It is “to preserve Lot’s lineage,” not the human race and not their own heritage.
Without the ability to trace our lineage, we lose touch with the very marker which God has identified us with. In the Bible, this marker comes through the father. If you heard the sermons on Genesis 10, The Table of Nations, you can understand this.
What’s really important here is that the word for “lineage” is the Hebrew word zara. This means “seed.” These girls want to preserve the seed. Why? Because they believe that what they are doing is saving the line of the Messiah. Think it through…
They are from the line of Shem, Noah’s son in the line of promise. They are from the line of Haran, Abraham’s older brother and they’d have every reason to believe that because he is the oldest brother that he the one in the Messianic line, and Lot is his son.
And now they see that they’ve been miraculously saved from Sodom. Their conclusion is that this was God’s will to keep Lot’s seed alive as it led toward the Promised One the Messiah.
This idea stands even more likely because they were virgins even though they lived in an especially wicked place like Sodom. They had lived pure and upright lives and were saved because of this. This isn’t mere speculation either. We’ll see in a little while that the very names they give to their children bear this out.
What we need to do is look at exactly what the girls said – ūn·ḥa·yeh me-avinu zara (oon ha yeh may-aveenu zara)
This verse has two possible translations –
1. “And we will make the seed of our father alive.”
2. “And we will live from our father’s seed.”
Although most translations use the first, the second, when taken in the overall context of the Bible makes much more sense. The only other time the word nehaya is used in the way the girls are using it is in 1 Kings when speaking of animals that were running out of hay and dying. In order to revive them, they needed to find food.
Although this might all sound tedious, what’s happening with these two girls is as important as any doctrine found in the Bible and it points directly to the work of Jesus. It’s not at all what most people think – that a couple of girls were lonely and wanted children for themselves. Think it through…
The Bible teaches that we are dead in our sins, but that Christ makes us alive. He is the one who revives our dead spirit. And this is what the Bible teaches from the first pages of Genesis all the way to the very last page of Revelation.
The coming Messiah would restore life, eternal life, to fallen man. Eve knew it as we noted in a sermon about Cain and Abel. And so did every faithful person since then. In anticipation of this, the daughters said, “So we may live from our father’s seed.”
This isn’t speaking at all about carrying on their name. It is speaking about being born again through the coming Messiah. In support of this, ancient Jewish writers interpret this to be speaking of the Messiah because they aren’t speaking about a son, but rather the seed, the same seed found back in Genesis 3. And what is this seed? It is the Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
These two girls honestly believed that they were a part of the Messianic line. If you doubt this, hold on for a few more minutes.
And as a side note, there was no law at the time to forbid what they are proposing. Abraham, who is of the chosen line and living at the same time as them married his own sister. This is something the law specifically forbids, but at this time, there was no law. Here is what the law says concerning Abraham’s type of marriage –
The nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father, or the daughter of your mother, whether born at home or elsewhere, their nakedness you shall not uncover. Leviticus 18:9
As Paul says in Romans 4:15, “Where there is no law, there is no transgression.” Therefore, what they have done – these two girls, cannot… cannot be counted as sin just as Abraham marrying his own sister also cannot be counted as sin.
33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
I have to be honest here, if the Bible didn’t say this, I would never believe it. It takes the responsibility entirely off Lot by saying he didn’t know when she lay down or when she arose.
The act is placed completely on the daughter. But if someone is so drunk that that they don’t know what’s going on, they are also usually to drunk to perform any other actions as well. Like I said, if the Bible didn’t say this, I couldn’t believe it.
34 It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, “Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.”
Daughter number one did her thing and so to make sure that dad’s line will continue on, daughter number two does the same thing the next day. Once again, the action is placed solely on the daughters.
35 Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
The only thing that Lot might be blamed for is getting drunk, but even that – when taken in the context of the Bible – is a dubious accusation. In fact, Proverbs says this –
Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to those who are bitter of heart. (31:6)
Lot is old and perishing and he is also certainly a soul who is bitter in heart. Fault, from a biblical perspective is not to be found where most people try to find it. He is an old man, in a cave with his two virgin daughters, and with no evil intentions toward either of them.
Later in the Bible, Lot is termed “righteous” and so the fault that so many try to find in him and what he’s done is simply not there. What is evident is the foreknowledge and providence of God in the story. This is as clear as any other passage in the Bible.
Both of these girls were virgins, both had sex and became pregnant on the first try to a drunk man, and both of them had males to carry on the name of the family. You will not find a clearer account than this for seeing that what occurred did so in order to meet God’s purposes and plans in the unfolding pages of redemptive history.
We can look back on these verses and see two sides of a coin. The first is that God gives us instructions to do things and He does so for very good reasons. He has our best intent in mind and His direction is exactly right for the situation. Think of Bible directives and how your life has gone just right when you’ve obeyed them.
God placed you in a particular place and time and reminded you of His word to demonstrate to you that following His way is best and that the outcomes will always be successful and happy.
However – and this may sound contradictory at first – when we don’t follow God’s word, we make mistakes which cause us grief, sadness, and loss. But despite this, God knew the choice we would make before we made it and therefore it must fit into His plan – even though it was based on disobedience.
This would be Lot’s life summed up in a nutshell. It would also be most of our lives most of the time – either as individuals or as a nation. We don’t obey God’s word and we have grief, sadness, and loss, but in the end it is worked out for what is ultimately good.
Here is where the other side of the coin is seen. Lot moved to a wicked city – something that if he inquired of the Lord would have been met with a “Don’t do it.” Lot never converted anyone in Sodom, which directly led to Sodom’s overthrow. Something the Lord wouldn’t approve of.
Lot didn’t head straight to the mountains as the Lord had told him to do, but instead he looked for another option. He didn’t follow the Lord’s recommended path. And later he left the city and moved to the mountain, even after the Lord allowed him to live there.
We could probably find 20 more things that Lot did wrong and we can look back on our own lives and find a million things we did wrong as well. And yet, good came out of what was bad.
III. A “Lot” of Joy
So here we have this story that is interesting, it’s dramatic, it’s enticing, and maybe even alluring in some way, but it’s just a story about an old man who has a couple of daughters and off to the mountains they go – to live in a cave and do what is both inappropriate and unjustifiable for reasons that only make sense when we try to force the narrative… right?
Bad mistakes – our lives are filled with bad mistakes and we have to live with the results of those mistakes whether we like it or not. Isn’t that why this story is in here? Two young ladies who will have to spend the rest of their lives regretting their bad choices? Isn’t God mocking them, even today, by letting the whole world see how stupid and naughty they were?
36 Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.
Both girls had sex for the first and maybe only time in their lives – with a drunken man, who is their father. Both of them got pregnant and now have to suffer the shame of it for all of eternity… right? We can laugh at these two and show the world through sermons about how immoral and stupid they were. God must think so… it’s why the story is included here after all. Isn’t it?
37The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.
Oh! A bouncing baby boy… The older daughter has a son and she calls him Moab. The name comes from two words – mi which means “who” and ab which means “dad.” In modern language we’d call him “Who’s your daddy?” And the answer comes from the story itself and so it has another meaning – “From father.”
This daughter of Lot is letting the world know that the son is the result of inbreeding. This is obviously not something one would want known unless there was a very good reason behind it.
38 And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.
Oh, another bouncing baby boy – probably born at the same time as Moab, maybe on the same day. Lot’s a busy doctor in his little cave… The younger daughter has a son. His name comes from two words too. Ben simply means “son.” Benjamin, for example, means “Son of my right hand.”
The word am means people. When am is postfixed with the “i,” which is the letter yod, it becomes “my”… “my people.” And so Ben-Ammi means “Son of my people.”
Again, like the older sister’s choice of name, this daughter of Lot is letting the world know that the son is the result of inbreeding. Again, clearly not something one would want known unless there was a very good reason behind it.
But both of these girls are proud of their accomplishment, even if they’re not proud of the deed behind it – getting Lot drunk. They both have a bundle of joy and they both believe that their son may be an ancestor of the Deliverer promised 2108 years earlier when God spoke to Adam, Eve, and the serpent in the Garden.
They have preserved the line, they have baby boys who they wouldn’t trade for all the gold in the world, and there is dad scratching his head and wondering what the end of it all will be.
As I said at the beginning of the sermon, maybe in your life you’ve done something which is clearly wrong. Maybe it’s been since you were a Christian, and maybe it was in direct disobedience to God. Can it still work out for good? The answer is “Yes.”
Let’s not diminish what we’ve done wrong though. Sin is sin and sin has consequences. Sometimes those consequences can affect our health, such as drugs; our relationships, such as adultery; and maybe even cost the life of us or someone else, such as getting shot when we hold up bank. But in any or all of these, God can work through our evil to bring about good.
How do I know? Because the Bible proves it, even in the account of these two daughters. You see, in the book of Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus, we read this in Chapter 1, verse 5 –
Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth… Matthew 1:5
Ruth, if you’ve ever read the story, is from Moab. She was brought into the covenant people and eventually became the great-grandmother of King David and an ancestor of Jesus, the Lord.
And what about the other daughter? What is her mark on history? Two verses down in the same genealogy we read this in verse 7 –
Solomon begot Rehoboam,… so what, right?
Rehoboam, the son of Solomon is in Jesus’ genealogy as well. And guess what we learn about him in the book of 1 Kings…
And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king. He reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. 1 Kings 14:21
Naamah the mother of Rehoboam, was from the line of the second daughter of Lot. The Ammonites came from her son Ben-Ammi.
Clans from both of the sons born to Lot through his daughters became great enemies of Israel. In fact, Solomon is rebuked for having married women from these countries because they stole his heart away from the Lord and led him to worship false Gods.
But despite this, women from both tribes, the Moabites and the Ammonites, became ancestors of Jesus. Think about it… The Lord of all creation is descended from a man named Lot and from both of his daughters when each of them was united in incestuous sex.
Mention Haran and Iscah…
And if that isn’t amazing, wait as the Bible unfolds. Jesus descends from another incestuous union, and also from an adulterer and a murderer, and from many other men and women who were filled with flaws and weaknesses. Jesus isn’t calling the perfect to His family – He’s calling you.
You see, He can even take the evil in our lives and turn it out for good. If He can do this in a plan which started 2108 years earlier and took another 1896 more to be realized, He can do it for you too.
No matter how stupid your past mistakes, no matter how terrible your future mistakes, no matter what anyone else on earth thinks about you, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, you are His child and you are forgiven, free, and recorded in the Book of Life.
Yes, mourn over your sins, turn away from them and be obedient to the Lord and I can assure you that your life will be far more rewarding and pleasing to Him. But, stop beating yourself up over past mistakes and know that despite them, God has a plan and a purpose for you which has already figured them into the equation.
Despite your flaws, failings, and fumbles, He has accepted you and He will never forsake you. Through Jesus Christ He has cancelled out the evil and turned it into good. So be of good cheer.
NEXT – Genesis 20:1-17 (Walking in the Land of the Philistines)
Beauty From Ashes
Abraham got up early in the morning
To the spot he had stood with the Lord
He wondered if Sodom heeded the warning
And had accepted God at His word
He looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the plain
He saw smoke like a furnace, God – His wrath did not restrain
He destroyed all of the cities, but He remembered Abraham
And He sent Lot out of the midst of the overflow
When He overthrew the cities with a bang and a bam
God protected His righteous, the one He did know
Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains
And both his daughters were with him too
He was afraid to live in the city by its streets and its fountains
And so off to a cave in a hill he withdrew
Now the firstborn daughter said to the younger one
“Our father is old and there is no man around to marry
Come let us get dad drunk and by him we can have a son
And his seed through them we will be able to carry
So they got their dad drunk with wine that night
And the firstborn went in and lay with her father
Even though she knew what she did wasn’t right
She went through with it, no caring nor bother
The next day she said, “See, last night I laid with dad
Now it’s your turn to do the same as I did
We’ll give him wine to make his heart glad
And so both of us through him will have our own kid
So the younger lay also with her father Lot
And he didn’t know when she lay down or when up she got
So both the daughters by their father were with child
And today we look at this story as if it were wild
The firstborn named her son Moab, meaning “Who is your father”
And the younger named hers Ben-Ammi – “Son of my people”
And though this story many people it does bother
It is something to be taught beneath the church steeple
You see, these three – Lot and his two daughters
Became great peoples like the spreading of waters
And eventually through them came the Savior of the world
Through them came Jesus as God’s great plan has unfurled
Have you done something so wrong in your life?
Maybe been a drug addict or a prostitute
Have you committed adultery on your husband or wife
Is the hurt in your heart painfully acute
Let God use what has happened in the past
To bring Him glory now through an obedient life
The good things that can come will for eternity last
When Jesus as His bride calls us His wife
Great is our God therefore let’s give Him great praise
And let us live our lives for Him, all of our days
Hallelujah and Amen…