Genesis 19: A Sinful World’s Effect on a Righteous Man
“Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” (Genesis 19:7-8)
Lot, the nephew of Abraham, is called “righteous” in 2 Peter 2:7. Such is the declaration of the word of God, so we must take it as (no pun intended) gospel. Though we only see him making one bad decision after another, we must conclude that he intended well and tried to serve God. Maybe it was this righteousness that caused him to think he could move along with his family to the wicked city of Sodom and maintain a clear sense of judgment about him. If that is the case, he was sorely mistaken; and, he provides a valuable warning for us today.
Genesis 19 begins with two angels from God appearing as men entering the city of Sodom. They meet righteous Lot, who extends hospitality to them. Soon, however, wicked men from the city come to Lot’s house demanding he hand over the travelers so they may know them “carnally” (19:5). Lot defends the strangers from the men of the city. So far, he is indeed acting righteously-- showing hospitality and taking upon himself the defense of these two men. Then, the story gets… strange. Knowing the intent of the men of the city to rape the men under his care, he offers his two virgin daughters to them instead.
I scratch my head when I read that and ask, where did that come from? Righteous Lot was going to give his young daughters over to the men of the city to be raped? How could a father ever suggest such a thing? I understand the dangers of interpreting Biblical events by our own cultural values, but I’m pretty sure the value of a father loving and protecting his daughters is not just a recent American thing. No, something is amiss here. The only conclusion I can come to is that righteous Lot had allowed the sinful world around him-- the very thing that “vexed” him-- to slowly begin to influence him.
What do we take from this? If you are genuinely trying to serve God, you cannot let your guard down. The world has a subtler, yet stronger, pull on us than we often give it credit. After all, wasn’t Demas righteous at one point (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:10)? Wasn’t Asa (2 Chronicles 14:2-5; 16:11-12)? Solomon (1 Kings 1-10)? Wasn’t there something commendable-- even righteous-- about Judas? Why would we begin to think we-- as sincere and righteous as we are trying to be-- are above such failures? Every day we are influenced by the ways, the fashions, and the allurements of the world. Most of the time we may brush them off and move on. After all, we must live in the world, right (1 Corinthians 5:9-10)? That is certainly true; but Satan is waiting for that one-- only one-- temptation that will stick with us and linger for a while. Perhaps the lust of the eyes; or the lust of the flesh; or the pride of life. Any one of these could be the pry he uses to break into the heart of a righteous person to cause them to soon start doing things they-- and those who have known them well-- could never have imagined. Those things could at worse change the course of one’s life; or at best, be a constant and painful memory of failure to be carried through life.
The point: be careful with the world. Don’t get too close. Don’t treat it too casually. Always try to influence it more than it influences you.
Let’s apply this to our lives.