Lot

Lot is one of the Biblical figures with quite the questionable character. There are 3 main topics that come to mind when thinking of Lot: him being spared from the destruction, him offering his daughters to the mob, and his daughters raping him. The sons of Lot and his daughters establish the nations of Moab and Ammon.

Introduction

Disclaimer: Liberty taken with the depiction of Lot.
Please remember the Bible does not
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Lot is the focal character when we learn about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He is the nephew of Abraham and the father of the Moabite and Ammonite nations. During the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot loses his wife, who turns into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed the angels and looked back.
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Memorable Moments for Lot

There are 3 main topics that come to mind when thinking of Lot: him being spared from the destruction, him offering his daughters to the mob, and his daughters raping him.
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God Spares Lot

We know that generations earlier, Noah was spared due to his righteousness, but Lot isn't exactly described as righteous during the passage. So why did God spare him?

In the context of the passage, we know that Abraham pleaded for the salvation of city. This prompted God to promise not to destroy the city if 10 righteous people could be found in the city. Some may argue that God's conversation with Abraham prompted Him to spare Lot, because Lot was the only righteous person in the city and He had promised not to destroy the righteous. Of course this isn't explicitly said. It doesn't seem like Lot was so righteous God felt compelled to save him.

Another possibility is that Lot earned his salvation by protecting the angels. The angels did not go to Sodom seeking Lot, which hints that it wasn't in the original plan to spare him. They were content to stay outside in the city as homeless people do, but Lot forcefully persuaded them to stay with him. Lot knew that they would not be safe if they stayed outside. Not only does Lot provide them with shelter and food, when the mob of men come for the angels, Lot stands in their way. Regardless of Lot's method to protect the men, he shows both bravery and a strong faith to stand against so many men. Perhaps this is what convinced God to spare him. After all, it isn't until after this ordeal that he is told to leave the city.

A final possibility is God's favoritism at work. God favored Abraham, and Lot was Abraham's nephew. It is possible that during the intercession, Abraham asked God to save his nephew. Today, when we hear bad news about a certain location, our first instinct is always to pray for family and friends we know in that area. Abraham was in such a position with God that God may have granted his request. This seems likely when we look at Genesis 19:29.
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Lot Offers Up His Daughters

One of the craziest things to wrap your head around when reading the Bible, is Lot offering his daughters up for what reads to be gang rape. Many non-believers (and ex-believers) site this as one of the "more gruesome" passages in the Bible. As I try to explain to people when discussing the Bible, you can't take one passage and make a conclusion. The Bible is intricately layered and a continuous story. People often treat it like a series of stand alone short stories, but that's not really how the text is meant to be read. There are several passages after the story of Sodom and Gomorrah that condemn rape, as well as, premarital sex. Note, while Lot is spared it is strongly implied that he is spared because of Abraham, not himself. The text never claims Lot to be perfect in his actions.

This is an important layer of this passage; people often get distracted by the theme of homosexuality in the destruction of the city. This leaves people at a loss when the topic of the Lot's daughters comes up. In most cases, believers have no explanation or come back for this problem. Some try to excuse Lot's behavior, or use it to further condemn homosexuality by suggesting Lot's alternative is "better" than homosexuality. Others lose faith because they agree that Lot's treatment of his daughters is horrible. Then there are those who simply ignore the issue all together! Yet, there is a clear explanation in the Bible.

In Deuteronomy 22, God explains the punishments for sexual encounters between a betrothed woman and a man who is not her betrothed. From rape to consensual sex, God makes it clear that none of these are to occur (rape is blamed on the man and consensual sex carried the death penalty for both parties). Genesis 19 mentions Lot's son-in-laws, which mean his daughters were either betrothed or already married at the time. If they were already married Lot lied (he says they are virgins), and offered them up for adultery. If they were simply betrothed, he still offered them up for adultery based upon Deuteronomy 22:23-26. Either way, the God condemns Lot's behavior, His condemnation just isn't found right there in Genesis 19.

Lot's "alternative" is not a good versus bad; it is still defined as bad. Many try to turn this into the lesser of two evils, but evil is evil in God's eyesight. Both homosexuality and adultery were punishable by death in God's law, so Lot's actions don't reflect God's wishes at all. What we see is Lot trying to protect his guests. Perhaps Lot was aware of their angelic status and chose to protect them over his daughters, or perhaps it was out of custom (letting harm come to a guest in your home was not proper). For all we knew, Lot expected the angels to protect his daughters and never intended to give up his daughters. Regardless of motive, we know that Lot's choice is not one that God would agree with.
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Lot's Daughters Commit Incest

Lot became a man of questionable character when he offered up his daughters to be gang raped, which makes it seem like poetic justice that in the end his daughters end up raping him. Each daughter gets their father sufficiently drunk enough to seduce him in the hopes that they will become pregnant to carry on their father's line.

When Noah escaped the flood, he and his children were the only people left alive, but when Lot and his daughters left Sodom, there were still people in various locations outside the city. Genesis 19:27-28 confirms that Abraham was close enough to see the fire reigning down on the city. Abraham was also close enough to Ur to send his servant there in search of a wife for Isaac. Why were Lot's daughters convinced there were no men to marry them and produce heirs? This whole scenario sounds like something we would watch unfold on daytime TV or something.

In his drunkenness, Lot fathers sons for both of his daughters: Moab and Benammi. Moab's descendants became the Moabites, while Benammi's descendants became the Ammonites. Neither group was particularly liked by God, though there are a few famous Moabites throughout the Bible.
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Character of Lot

The above already establishes the questionable nature of Lot's character, but we also see that Lot doesn't want to leave behind the sin-filled city-life. When told to escape to the mountains, Lot bargains his way to escape to Zoar, a suburb of Sodom,[1] instead of to the mountains as instructed (eventually he leaves Zoar for the mountains). Lot is described as just in 2 Peter 2:7. From the English version it is possible that just is used to mean only, as in "And delivered [only] Lot;" however, the original greek uses the word δίκαιον which means "righteous."[2][3]

The description of Lot as righteous can be hard for a believer to accept. We ask why is this man who did just a thing considered righteous? Throughout the Bible God gives us plenty of examples of righteous men who are just as much guilty of sin as the next person. The only man not to commit a sin was Jesus. Noah gets drunk, Abraham lies, Moses doubts, Jacob steals... What made these men righteous is not that they were perfect and everything they did was correct, but their enduring faith in God.

Like the others mentioned, Lot had the option to do a lot worse than what he actually did. He could have left the angels in the street overnight. He could have handed them over to the mob instead of offering up his daughters (that was basically a lose-lose situation). When the angels told Lot to leave, he wasn't sold on his ability to get to the mountains which reflects doubt in God's ability to make it possible, but he left nonetheless. He convinced the Lord to allow him a smaller journey, just as Moses convinced Him to let Aaron be the mouthpiece. In the end, however, Lot got up the next morning and left. He didn't stick around doubting that judgement would come.

These are all traits that make Lot righteous. I think Lot is a great example of a person who meant to do right, but his actions came out a bit muddled. Lot was raised in a city of confusion and sin, so it makes sense that some of his ideas would be warped as well. This is important for us today; we live in a secular society that teaches us many things that God declares evil are actually good. In our earnest to do good, we are also likely to do or say something that is not in agreement with God. The good news is, like Lot, God will meet us where we are. If our heart is right, He will show us our misguidance and set us on the right path. When it tough situations we must call upon God and think through the whole situation before offering up our daughters, so to speak.
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References

  1. MacDonald, William. Farstad, A. ed. Believer's Bible Commentary. 1995
  2. "2 Peter 2:7". Bible Hub. 2016
  3. "1342. dikaios". Bible Hub. 2016

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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