Lot is the incarnation of a single truth.  No sooner has the first great response to the call of God been made - Abraham, the pilgrim father of all pilgrim-fathers of the world - than, alongside, there appears Lot - a soul equally called, but who makes the wrong choice on the threshold of discipleship.  The appearance of Lot on the page of Scripture is the appearance of an utterly unknown character.  All we know is that here is a soul identified with the calling and regeneration of Abraham.  He too has abandoned Ur at the call of God: he too has left the world and its idols for ever: he too has ‘crossed the water’,* as a baptized believer: he too, as a regenerate soul, is defined by an Apostle (2 Pet. 2: 7) as ‘righteous Lot’: he too never returns to Ur of the Chaldees, but dies an exile in foreign land. But suddenly Abraham's and Lot's paths sharply sunder, and sunder for the rest of life.  It is the forking of the ways which never fails to start up before every new-born soul; and - purposely - never has it been shown more sharply or more dramatically than in Abraham, the tireless walker with God on the mountain heights - and Lot, dwelling in the Gate of Sodom.  Abraham is the spiritual believer, inheriting the glory of the Kingdom: Lot is the carnal believer, escaping destruction by a hair's breadth.


[* The supposed derivation of 'Hebrew.']


There are decisive moments in every life, moments when character, bitten into as by a mordant acid, takes an indelible writing determining a life-destiny.  Such a moment came to the young pilgrim as, fresh from his wonderful escape from Ur, he stood on the heights above the Cities of the Plain.  And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the Plain of Jordan, like garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt" (Gen. 13: 10); lovely as the vanished glories of Eden, rich as the alluvial wealth of the Nile.  Simultaneously there breaks on our ears the tolling of a funeral bell.  "Now the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners against the Lord exceedingly."  Beneath that soil fair as Paradise slumbered volcanic fires.  Wickedness - exactly the wickedness we look out upon in the world to-day - slept in the Cities of the Plain, and wrath slumbered under soil lovely as Eden; with no prayer for guidance, no thought how best to serve God, no investment of time for eternity, un-heedful of volcanic flames or warnings, "Lot chose him all the Plain of Sodom."


Now the Scripture, with deep wisdom, makes no comment whatever, but allows the after-history of Lot to reveal, in its far-reaching effects, the profound significance of his choice. Lot had the faith to renounce Ur: he had not the faith renounce Sodom - the second great renunciation we are all called to make (Luke 14: 33); and the easier step is the first, for the second step involves continuous renunciation. Now the first inevitable effect is instantaneous and invariable. "They  separated themselves one from the other."  The carnal disciple is always surprised, and generally angered, to find a sudden gulf yawn between himself and his spiritual brother; but the irreparable loss of heavenly companionship is the awful consequence of a worldly choice.  "Can two walk together except they be agreed?"  Abraham remained among his oaks of Mamre: Lot approached Sodom - pitched his tent near Sodom - entered Sodom - and finally dwelt ‘in the gate’ (the guildhall, the hub and fashion) of Sodom; exactly as a swimmer who dares the outer of a whirlpool always ends at last in its vortex.


2. The second consequence for Lot is a harassed, jarred, unsatisfied heart.  Scripture sums up in Lot, as in no other man, distress of soul through ungodly environment.  "Sore distressed," says the Apostle, "by the lascivious life of the wicked, that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their lawless deeds" (2 Pet. 2: 7).  The pure regenerate spirit is bruised, sore, wounded, while the money-lust chains it down to where, every day, it is thus stabbed.  It is probably safe to say that Lot never had another day of pure joy again, after he had left the heavenly heights of Mamre; and it is the only thing ever said in the Scriptures in his favour.  Sodomites can be happy in Sodom: men of God cannot.  "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after" - not, the wealth inherited (Gen. 13: 5), but the wealth coveted created the disaster - "have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things” (1 Tim. 6: 10).  For Lot entered Sodom as a merchant, not as a missionary.  Doctors and nurses who enter a small-pox ward enter with antiseptics and every possible precaution to save their own lives, in nobly saving the lives of others: far otherwise is it with a man who deliberately takes up his residence in a street where every other house in which has cholera.


3. The third consequence of Lot's choice ought to make many a disciple of Christ pause ere choosing Sodom:- namely, the spiritual collapse of the entire family.  The errors of a good man are often most disastrous in the succeeding generation.  Lot, like countless millions since, probably persuaded himself that the choice of worldly wealth was all for his children's good: he had better have let them starve.  Wherever Abraham went, we read of an altar: search the narrative, and you will find no altar - no daily confession of his Lord - with Lot.  With what consequence?  His wife becomes the God-selected example of a divided heart for all ages; his daughters, falling into incest, become Moab and Ammon - ‘the children of Lot’ whom the Psalmist (63: 8) includes among the worst enemies of God; and the last time we see Lot himself, we see him drunk.


4. A fourth consequence of Lot's choice was one the carnal discipline neither ponders nor foresees.  Lot may have pacified his conscience by the influence for good he intended to exert on the Sodomites.  It is a constant miscalculation made by the worldly disciple.  The Sodomites, including Lot's sons-in-law, would be surprised to see a pious man choosing a godless neighbourhood: they would at once discount a religion which seeks exactly what the man of the world seeks : the last man to have any influence over Sodom is the man who chooses Sodom.  They would take his daughters, but not his religion.  Lot left Sodom without a single convert; and when, roused at last to imminent judgments, he tried to warn them, he was in their eyes as one that joked - Sodom would not take seriously the man whose life was not squared to his creed.


5. The final consequence of Lot's choice is extraordinarily dramatic: - lingering and reluctant, he is forced out of the Sodom he chose by resistless Angels.  How soon and how suddenly the Paradise of Lot's choice lay a blasted ruin beneath the waters of the Dead Sea!  Lot's losses were enormous.  By his own choice he lost the Holy Land: he lost his wealth: he lost the society of the spiritual: he lost the sanctity of his wife: he lost the souls of his children:* he lost the keen edge of his own spiritual character: he lost a record he might have had in after ages for goodness and fidelity and truth.  Probably the whole Bible contains no more concrete example, worked out into its minutest detail of the great New Testament truth:- "If any [disciple's] work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss : but himself shall be saved ; yet so as through fire" (1 Cor. 3: 15) - escaping from a burning ruin down a corridor of flame.  Lot entered Sodom a man of substance, he leaves it a pauper: he entered it a prince; he leaves it a fugitive: he flees from falling lightnings which consume the architecture of a lifetime. **


[* Their successful flight from Sodom may be meant to prove that his daughters themselves, as elementary believers, were saved; but it is certain that the remainder of Lot's stock - Moab and Ammon - were reprobate.

** It is exactly these stupendous losses which make the current evangelical theology burke, where it does not bitterly oppose, the fundamental regeneration of such a soul.  C. H. Mackintosh, so gentle and gracious a writer though he is, is a typical example. "It seems plain," he says, "that Lot was, from the very beginning, borne onward rather by Abraham's influence and example, than by his own faith in God: the call of God had not reached his heart."  Such exposition (of course, unconsciously) is a grave contradiction of the Holy Ghost, who stresses, as strongly as it can be stressed, Lot's fundamental rightness with God:- "righteous Lot [was] sore distressed; for that righteous man vexed his righteous soul with their lawless deeds" (2 Pet. 2: 7).  Lot’ means a covering, a veil; and as among the righteous who scarcely are saved (1 Pet. 4: 18) Lot is a child of light who passes under heavy eclipse, to shine out again in the Eternal Ages (Rev. 22: 5).]


Now the whole setting of Lot's life is rounded off - ended as it began - by the life of the model believer, Abraham.  No sooner has Lot made his selfish and callous choice, and so left Abraham isolated and alone, than - as ever - God is suddenly at Abraham’s side.  The Land which Lot had renounced, Jehovah now, and for the first time, immediately confers upon Abraham - an allegory and symbol of a regenerate and glorified earth: not for immediate possession, as Sodom became Lot's; yet granted personally - "to thee will I give it" - so compelling and guaranteeing his resurrection [out] from the dead.*  God gives enormously more to the separated soul than the carnal believer, with all his choosing, can ever obtain for himself.  Both "lifted up their eyes"; but while Lot’s vision never reached further than the Cities of the Pain, Abraham looked beyond the horizon, beyond the setting suns, beyond the chanting of Seraphim, and saw "the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11: 10).  Mamre was Abraham's Pisgah; in its sacred groves are said to be the oldest authentic graves of this earth; and one at least shall break - "ye shall see Abraham in the Kingdom of God" (Luke 13: 28).  And even now potency to help the carnal lies in the spiritual alone.  It is Abraham who rescues Lot from the marauding Kings (Gen. 14: 14); and it is, the intercessions of Abraham which bring the delivering Angels to the gates of Sodom.


[* It is a select resurrection "out of the dead" of all "counted worthy" to obtain (See Greek text, Luke 20: 35).  Even a benighted soul can see the folly of a worldly choice.  Mohammed, viewing rich Damascus, turned away exclaiming:- "There is but one Paradise for man; and I am resolved to have mine in the other world."]







A man is only as big as his average deed - not an inch taller, not an ounce better - when it comes to assigning him his place among his fellows, or to rewarding him in the presence of the judgment angels, before the throne of God; but a man is as big as his faith or his intention, thanks to Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, when it comes to saving the soul of a thief on the cross, or, for that matter, the soul of you and me.  The reward for deeds done in the body is one thing; salvation by faith in Jesus Christ is another thing.  There shall be millions of people saved so as by fire.  They won't take anything with them, not a bond, not a brick in a mansion, nothing.  Everything but their little soul shall be consumed, and it so as by fire, as Lot was out of Sodom.  But there are thousands of people who won't go in through the gate empty-handed.  Like Vespasian coming amid triumphant acclaims up the Appian Way, with trophies won in far-off lands, so some heroes of God shall go through the gates as Paul did, with stars of rejoicing in their crown.


-The Sermon Commentry.