Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bad Girls of the Bible: Lot's Wife

Bad Girls of the Bible: Lot’s Wife
Genesis 19:1-28
*This is based on the book Bad Girls of the Bible by Lizz Curtis Higgs. Any quotes taken and not referenced is out of laziness, not thievery.

Bad Girls:      Bad to the Bone- Not a single kind word was ever spoken about them in scripture; a pattern of sinning; no evidence of remorse, repentance, or a desire to change; they sinned with gusto. Made in the image of God, so not truly bad to the core—they just behaved that way.
                        Bad for a Moment- Women who made one huge, colossal, life changing blooper that was recorded in scripture to teach everyone else a lesson. Seem to be believers in the one true God at the start but when forced to make a decision, chose disastrously.
                        Bad for a Season, but not Forever- Sins in their past, but were willing to change and be changed.

Intro: We are only into week 3 of this 10 part series of Bad Girls of the Bible and we already have our 2nd no name woman. Today we are going to be looking at Lot’s wife. She is one of the nameless biblical characters known only for their more famous husband, son, daughter, or parent. In this particular story her famous husband is only famous because he has a famous uncle, Abraham.
            A little Doofenschmirtz back story: Abraham and Lot were traveling together. Both owned cattle and sheep and were nomads. It got to the point where God had blessed them both so much that the land was unable to sustain both of them together and their servants were fighting with each other. So Abraham decided they should split ways, and even though he was older, wiser, and had a covenant relationship with God, Abraham allowed Lot to choose which direction he would go in. Lot chose the more favorable and the better watered of the two destinations. Lot was greedy but Abraham was blessed through this as the inhabitants of the land Lot chose were the most wicked people in all of the land.
            Ever want something really badly and then didn’t get it? Then it turned out better for you that you didn’t get it? That’s what happened to Abraham. He got the lesser of the two choices of land, which seemed like a raw deal, and he was upset about it. Immediately after Lot separated from him, the Lord appeared to Abraham and gave him a pep talk, telling him just how much he was going to be blessed.
            In chapter 18 Abraham was visited by three men who told him that within a year Abraham and Sarah were going to have a baby. Remember Abraham was in his 90’s and Sarah was right behind him. After dinner the men arose and looked towards Sodom. Then God said “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am going to do?” He then let Abraham know that he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of the outcry of wickedness is so great. Only problem: Lot lives in Sodom. So Abraham begins to bargain with God like an auctioneer in reverse and talks God down from destroying the city if He finds 50 people down to 10 people. Then the two men leave. Genesis 19:1 says, “Now the two angels came to Sodom….” In chapter 18 there were 3 men, but in 19 there were 2 angels. In chapter 18 we have what’s called a Christophany—that’s a 50 cent word that means that Jesus appeared in person to someone, in this particular case with 2 accompanying angels.
            The angels’ job was to go into Sodom and Gomorrah and seek out 10 righteous people and if they can’t find 10 then they would destroy the cities. It may seem odd that God was negotiating with man, but in reality God knows the condition of each of our souls and knew that there were not fifty, forty-five, forty, or even ten righteous people living in Sodom and Gomorrah combined.

Genesis 19:1-3 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

            Hospitality was a big deal back in the day, and Lot was very eager to be hospitable to these two men. Was he being hospitable because he recognized something great in them, because he was a shrewd businessman and saw potential new clients in them, or because he knew the town square was not a safe place for them? We don’t know. All we know is that he was eager to host them at his house. Why did the men initially refuse the invitation? Were they full from Abraham’s meal? Probably not. They remembered their mission and felt the town square would give them the best view.
            Young ladies, notice it says that “he” made them a feast and baked them bread. And Mrs. Lot is yet to come on the scene.

Gen 19:4-7 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.

            Every last man of the city, young and old, surrounded Lot’s house in order that they could rape the newcomers. In a moment of bravery, Lot stepped out of his house, shut the door behind him and pleaded with them not to act so wickedly. Personally, my house has never been surround by every male member of the town looking to rape someone, but if it ever was I assure you going outside to reason with them would not be my first action step. But remember, hospitality was a big deal back then. Those men were under his roof and, therefore, under his protection.

Gen 19:8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

            All warm thoughts about Lot being a brave man, just chuck them out the window. Sure it was his job to protect the two strangers in his house, but what about his two flesh and bone daughters that were born and remained under his roof and, therefore under his protection? Young ladies: Imagine your house being surrounded by a mob of people looking to rape someone, and your loving father offers you up as an alternative solution. Young men: Could you ever imagine offering up your daughter to be raped by a mob of people?
            Unfortunately this kind of behavior is not limited to Lot. In Judges 19 a Levite was passing through the town of Gibeah with his concubine. An old man told the two to stay with him. The townsfolk beat on the man’s door demanding that he send out the Levite so that they could have sex with him. In this case they thrust the concubine out the door. The next morning the lady was near death by the front door. The Levite stepped over her, chided her to get up so they could get going. Real compassionate. When she didn’t respond he picked her up and threw her on a donkey and took off. When they got to the next destination she was dead.

Gen 19:9-14  But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
            Here we get a little glimpse into the spiritual life of Lot. Lot had a great start but had a terrible ending, including his descendants which would be a thorn in Israel’s side for generations. Lot had accompanied the great man of God, Abraham for years, but whatever spiritual start he had was all but gone by the time the two angels showed up. We know this because when he went to warn his sons-in-law they thought he was joking, so much so that they didn’t heed his warning. I would hope that I have built enough of a spiritual reputation with you that if I ever come to you and start talking about spiritual things, that you would not think I was joking.

Gen 19:15-17 15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”
            Here we have the first mention of Lot’s wife. There is a lot of urgency in the angel’s words, but in verse 16 it says that they still lingered, so much so that the angels had to grab their hands and rush them out of the city with a warning not to look back and not to stop anywhere.

Gen 19:24-26 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
            Lot’s wife: nameless, speechless, and yet made it into the top ten of the Bad Girls of the Bible. Why did she look back? This has stumped people for ages, but it is this decision that makes her a bad girl. Lizz Curtis Higgs offers 10 practical suggestions as to why she looked back:
1) She missed the warnings over the wailings of her two daughters.
2) In her grief she simply forgot the angel’s warning
3) She was curious. Ever seen a city get destroyed by fire and brimstone?
4) She dropped something and stopped to pick it up.
5) She tripped over her tunic in haste.
6) She heard a cry for help and turned back out of compassion.
7) She mourned her family and friends, lost forever.
8) She longed for all of the material goodies left behind.
9) She clung to her memories of her past and dreaded her future.
10) She didn’t trust her husband’s God.  
            But none of the above quite gets it right. As in the case of Eve, she is considered a bad girl because she was disobedient. She wasn’t singled out for punishment. She disobeyed the clear command of the Lord. She turned and looked. This probably wasn’t a casual glance behind her, or even like the tricks we play on other people, “Hey don’t look now but…” making it almost impossible for them not to look. This was a long, lingering look, desiring something behind her, rather than trusting God for what was in front of her. Higgs wrote, “By lingering behind and looking, she chose to identify with her neighbors who also were doused with salt and peppered with sulfur. But unlike them, she had the chance to escape. She was offered salvation yet turned away from it. In doing so, Lot’s wife became a ‘Shrine of Unbelief.’”
            Lot’s wife, having no lines, recorded history, or subsequent follow up actions has been relegated to the Bad for a Moment list. She made one colossal blooper that is remembered and recorded for everyone to learn from.

Application: Just like Sodom and Gomorrah this world and everyone in it will be destroyed, but God has offered to us a plan of escape. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death.” Ephesians 2:1 says that we were “dead in our sins and transgressions.” Sin doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a dead person. You don’t have a sin problem, you have a death problem. The only solution to our death problem is to accept the free gift of salvation of Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, and died a perfect sacrificial death to satisfy the wrath of God. Romans 5:8 says that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is what’s called the Great Exchange: Jesus traded His righteousness for my sinfulness. He took the punishment that I deserved, and I got the benefits of righteous living that He deserved. In doing so, God no longer sees my sins but Jesus’ righteousness in me.
            We have this plan of escape of the wrath to come, but we have to choose to take it. Hebrews 2:3 says, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” The answer is we won’t, because dead people can’t escape anything.

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