Genesis 13:10
Lot looked out and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan, all the way to Zoar, was well watered like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
Sermons
The Separation Between Abram and LotR.A. Redford Genesis 13:1-13
A Commendable ChoiceBishop Horne.Genesis 13:10-12
A Worldly ChoiceT. H. Leale.Genesis 13:10-12
A Worldly Choice and its ConsequencesJ. Ker, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Abraham and LotJ. H. Newman, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Abraham and LotW. M. Taylor, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Abram and LotA. H. Currier.Genesis 13:10-12
Abram's Generosity and Lot's SelfishnessW. S. Smith, B. D.Genesis 13:10-12
AvariceColton.Genesis 13:10-12
Avarice Hindered in MercyH. W. Beecher.Genesis 13:10-12
Christian WorldlinessC. S. Robinson, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Godless GainW. Adamson.Genesis 13:10-12
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Lessons from LotW. M. Taylor, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
LotHomilistGenesis 13:10-12
Lot the Self-SeekerC. H. Payne, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Lot's ChoiceG. M. Boynton.Genesis 13:10-12
Lot's ChoiceThe Homiletic ReviewGenesis 13:10-12
Lot's ChoiceHomilistGenesis 13:10-12
Lot's ChoiceJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Lot's LossJohn A. Ewalt.Genesis 13:10-12
Lot's LotW. Adamson.Genesis 13:10-12
Lot's Unwise ChoiceG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Pitching Our Tents Towards SodomJ. N. Norton, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Riches or HeavenGenesis 13:10-12
Self-ChoiceJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
The Character of LotEssex RemembrancerGenesis 13:10-12
The Great Mistake of Lot's LifeM. Dods, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
The Importance of a ChoiceA. Maclaren, D. D.Genesis 13:10-12
Sodom and the Sodomites, or the Place and the PeopleW. Roberts Genesis 13:10, 13
The Choice of LotW. Roberts Genesis 13:10-13

I. WHAT LOT TOOK INTO ACCOUNT.

1. His own worldly circumstances; and,

2. The suitability of the Jordan circle to advance them.

II. WHAT LOT DID NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.

1. The reverence due to his uncle.

2. The greater right which Abram had to the soil of Canaan.

3. The danger, in parting with Abram, of separating himself from Abram's God.

4. The risk of damage to his spiritual interests in settling in the Jordan circle.

Learn -

1. That while it may be right, in life's actions, to take our worldly interests into account, it is wrong and dangerous to take nothing else.

2. That no amount of purely worldly advantage can either justify or recompense the disregard of the higher interests of the soul.

3. That though good men may oftentimes find reasons for neglecting the soul's interests, they cannot do so with impunity. - W.







Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan.
The lesson to be gained from the history of Abraham and Lot is obviously this: that nothing but a clear apprehension of things unseen, a simple trust in God's promises, and the greatness of mind thence arising, can make us act above the world — indifferent, or almost so, to its comforts, enjoyments, and friendships; or, in other words, that its goods corrupt the common run of religious men who possess them.

I. ABRAHAM AND LOT HAD GIVEN UP THIS WORLD AT THE WORD OF GOD, BUT A MORE DIFFICULT TRIAL REMAINED. Though never easy, yet it is easier to set our hearts on religion or to take some one decided step, which throws us out of our line of life and in a manner forces upon us what we should naturally shrink from, than to possess in good measure the goods of this world and yet love God supremely. The wealth which Lot had hitherto enjoyed had been given him as a pledge of God's favour, and had its chief value as coming from Him. But surely he forgot this, and esteemed it for its own sake, when he allowed himself to be attracted by the riches and beauty of a guilty and devoted country.

II. GOD IS SO MERCIFUL THAT HE SUFFERS NOT HIS FAVOURED SERVANTS TO WANDER FROM HIM WITHOUT REPEATED WARNINGS. Lot had chosen the habitation of sinners; still he was not left to himself. A calamity was sent to warn and chasten him: he and his property fell into the hands of the five kings. This was an opportunity of breaking off his connection with the people of Sodom, but he did not take it as such.

III. THE GAIN OF THIS WORLD IS BUT TRANSITORY; FAITH REAPS A LATE BUT LASTING RECOMPENSE.

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)

That Lot was a good man in the ground of his character there is no reason to doubt. But good men have their besetting sins. Lot's was worldliness, and it cost him dear.

1. CONSIDER SOME FEATURES OF THE CHOICE WHICH LOT MADE.

1. Worldly advantage was the chief element in determining his place in life. The volcanic fires, slumbering beneath, made the plain of Sodom so fertile that its riches had become proverbial; and the Jordan, which has now so short a course to the Dead Sea, then wandered through the plain, like the rivers of Eden. Lot's eye regarded neither the dangers sleeping beneath nor the light of God above, but only the corn and wine and verdant pastures.

2. Lot's choice betrayed a want of generosity. Abraham gave to Lot the selection of place, and had Lot been capable of appreciating his generosity he would have declined to avail himself of the offer. But he grasped at it eagerly and took the richest side. Such men are the most unsatisfactory of friends, paining us constantly by their selfishness, and failing us in the hour of need.

3. Lot's choice showed disregard of religious privileges. The sins of the men of Sodom were of a peculiarly gross and inhuman kind; had Lot's religion been warm and bright he would not have ventured among them. He may have excused himself to his conscience by saying that he was going to do good, but when he left Sodom he could not count a single convert.

II. CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES OF LOT'S CHOICE.

1. As he made worldly advantage his chief aim, he failed in gaining it. Twice he lost his entire possessions; he left Sodom poorer than he entered it. He was stripped of the labours of years, and dared not even look behind on the ruin of his hopes.

2. As Lot failed in generosity to Abraham, he was repeatedly brought under the weightiest obligations to him. He took an unfair advantage of Abraham, but ere many years had passed he owed all he had — family, property, liberty — to Abraham's courageous interposition.

3. Lot's disregard of spiritual privileges brought on him a bitter entail of sin and shame. His own religious character suffered from his sojourn in Sodom. This alone can account for the grievous termination of his history. His life remains as a warning against the spirit of worldliness. Both worlds frequently slip from the grasp in the miserable attempt to gain the false glitter of the present.

(J. Ker, D. D.)

I. THERE ARE DECISIVE MOMENTS IN ALL LIVES. There are hours when character is fixed as by some powerful mordant, and thenceforth the writing is indelible. There are minutes in which destiny is determined, as one may step to this side or to that of the sharp crest of a hill. These are the times in which we make the choices on which our future lives depend. It is such a time in the life of the still youthful Lot that we are to consider. Such times come surely to us all, — not once alone, perhaps, though perhaps only once, — from the decisions of which henceforth we do not swerve. More often a few such opportunities come to a life, and they come chiefly in its youth.

II. CHOICE IS BOTH THE EXPRESSION OF CHARACTER AND ITS DETERMINATION. So Lot shows what was in him, as Abram reveals his character in the choice.

1. Abram looks to the Lord, and Lot looks to the land. It is the contrast of the prayerful with the worldly spirit.

2. Abram showed himself to be a man of peace. Lot let the quarrelling go on; — who knows but he may profit by it in the end?

3. Abram was generous beyond the demands of ordinary liberality. He gave up the rights of his seniority, of family headship; chose to give up his choice, and let the younger man take what seemed to him best. And Lot took it — thinking only of his own interests.

4. Abram was the faithful friend. The friend of God is always the friend of man as well. Prosperity in this case, as in so many others, tested their friendship and fidelity more than adversity. Poverty and loneliness might bring them close together. While Abram was growing very rich, and Lot, the junior partner, was catching the overflow and coming to the possibility of self-support, he would by no means leave his advantage. But now that he has come to independence and can get no more out of his association with his older friend, but rather lose by it, he is quite ready to sever the connection.

III. THE FOLLY OF A WORLDLY CHOICE. The man who leaves out God, God's purpose for us and God's calling, is never wise and never comes to true success. The man who makes his decisions on the mere ground of worldly advantage is never sure and never safe. The example we are studying is striking in this regard. It is shown, whether you consider it as a mere natural succession of causes and effects or as a matter of supernatural awards. The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. The principles taught, and the example set, by the Lord Jesus Christ do not seem at first sight to be well adapted to present success. The unpractical character of other-worldliness is often contemptuously set over against the evils of this-worldliness. But it is a great mistake. The principles of Christ are exactly adapted to this world and to this life, not to a shallow and disappointing success, but to the real attainment of all which in this world is best and most enduring. Every Abram who gives up all to follow God, God takes in hand and guides more safely than he could have gone alone.

(G. M. Boynton.)

I. This story shows HOW RICHES ENGENDER STRIFE. Oftener a cause of jealousy and estrangement than of increased attachment and magnanimity.

II. THIS STORY SHOWS ON WHAT FRIVOLOUS GROUNDS MEN BECOME ESTRANGED. For the sake of some small advantage they fling away the hearts whose love is more precious than gold; or they make them suffer from their ill-humour and their peevishness, until it can be borne no longer. A friendship that has been tested by years of experience and the strongest proofs of affection, is sometimes quenched by the merest trifle.

III. This story shows HOW A GOOD MAN AVOIDS IMPENDING STRIFE. Not by standing stiffly upon his rights, but by timely concession.

IV. This story shows THE SPIRITUAL PERILS OF SELFISHNESS.

V. This story also shows THE REWARD OF PIETY (vers. 14-17). God gave Abram for a perpetual possession the land on which he gazed from the eminence of Bethel. He gave him His own friendship in the place of Lot's, for whose departure he sorrowed. He made him also, then a childless old man, hopeless of any posterity to bear his name, and who had hoped, perhaps, that Lot would be to him in place of a son — God made him, in anticipation, the father of a great multitude that could not be numbered. Thus his reward for his integrity and piety was exceeding great. Choosing God and the land where God was found, he derived from this world and its life the best it affords. It is ever so. He who chooses God for his portion, has also the best of His gifts.

(A. H. Currier.)

I. IT WAS DETERMINED BY EXTERNAL ADVANTAGES.

1. External advantages are not the chief end of life.

2. External advantages are not the true happiness of life.

3. External advantages, when considered by themselves, tend to corrupt the soul.

II. IT WAS UNGENEROUS.

III. IT SNOWED TOO LITTLE REGARD FOR SPIRITUAL INTERESTS.

(T. H. Leale.)

Essex Remembrancer.
I. BEFORE HE TOOK UP HIS ABODE AT SODOM. It appears that he was influenced by the same grace to leave his idolatrous country, and to share with Abraham the difficulties of a pilgrim's life, that he might follow the guidance and join in the worship of the true God. We, therefore, find him a fellow traveller with Abraham (Genesis 12:4), and the Lord blessed him with an abundant increase of His substance. But how seldom does increasing wealth produce increasing happiness! He separates from Abraham; and what a wretched change does he make! "He pitched his tent toward Sodom." By what motive was he influenced? Let us beware of the love of money, which is the root of all evil: "They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare."

II. DURING HIS RESIDENCE IN SODOM. Preserved from the general contagion. A bold reprover of abominations. But one circumstance in this history is very remarkable. The very end for which Lot was induced to fix his residence at Sodom, was entirely defeated. Alas! how can we expect to prosper, when the love of gain is our principle? The Lord will, in mercy, disappoint His children, and bring them into trials to preserve them from apostacy. Behold Lot a stranger to comfort in Sodom. Grieved with observing the conduct of the wicked, as well as hated and persecuted by them! And what would avail him the fruitfulness of the soil?

III. AFTER HIS DEPARTURE FROM SODOM. He who was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked, fell into the most abominable wickedness indeed. This proves two things —

1. When we do stand, it is by the power of God alone: to Him therefore we must ascribe all the excellence and perseverance of His people. Even Paul, in his most advanced state, is nothing: "Not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

2. When we are not upheld by Him, no place is secure; and any temptation, how small soever, is enough to overcome as. What other expedient, then, is left us, but,(1) To be humbled under a sense of our great depravity and abominable corruptions. Instead of censuring the conduct of Lot, let us look into our own hearts, and we shall find abundant cause for humiliation. We are encouraged, however,(2) To apply to the blood of sprinkling for its cleansing influence, and that we may appear before God with joy and confidence; having "washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." But still it behoves us,(3) To watch and pray; remembering the dangers to which we are exposed, and that all our security from day to day must be in the power of God: "Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto Thy statutes continually."

(Essex Remembrancer.)

The Homiletic Review.
I. HIS CHOICE.

II. HIS MOTIVE.

1. Not the expectation of better religious advantages.

2. Not the hope of benefiting others.

3. Evidently to advance his worldly interests.

III. WHAT HE GAINED. fit home in Sodom.

IV. WHAT HE LOST.

1. The helpful influence of Christian fellowship.

2. Moral tone in character — evidently on the downgrade.

3. His happiness.

4. His property; first in war, then by fire.

5. All of his adherents, and part of his own family, in the final destruction of Sodom.

(The Homiletic Review.)

I. THE GENEROUS OFFER.

1. Abram was a peace maker.

2. Abram was unselfish.

3. Abram was patient.

II. THE SELFISH CHOICE.

1. Lot was self-seeking.

2. Lot was worldly-minded.

3. Lot was hasty in his choice.

III. THE LARGE BLESSING.

(W. S. Smith, B. D.)

1. Good men may be too hasty and solicitous for worldly advantage — as Lot.

2. The lust of the eye, covetous desire may misguide gracious souls sometimes in their choice.

3. Pleasant fruitful possessions on earth are apt to take up too much the care of the saints.

4. The pleasantest habitations are not always the best: if God grow angry.

5. God spares not to destroy the choicest places where sin abounds (ver. 10).

6. Good men may be too selfish. He offers not Abram the choice.

7. God's own left to their choice, may choose and possess the worst portion.

8. Brethren may be parted by choice of distinct portions, when ordered by God to higher ends (ver. 11).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

1. Grace makes a soul sit down contented with its promised portion. So did Abram.

2. The promised portion with all its inconveniences, is better than the most pleasant with sin.

3. Good souls may sometimes sit down with content in large and pleasant places without God.

4. Saints sometimes may meet with an hell, where they look for a paradise; so did Lot.

5. It is a soul blemish, for God's servants to covet fruitful places, though never so sinful (ver. 12).

6. Fruitful places are apt to have the foulest sinners.

7. The excess and height of sin is in obstinate opposition to Jehovah.

8. Jehovah will make known such to be sinners to the purpose and brand them, as here Sodom is notorious to all ages (ver. 13).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

In the expression "Christian worldliness" there may be considered by some to be a formal contradiction in terms. But it is the plain epitaph written over the historical grave of one of the best known and worst reputed characters in the Scriptures.

1. To begin with, LET US ACCEPT THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THIS KINSMAN OF ABRAM WAS AN OLD TESTAMENT CHRISTIAN. A "righteous man" dwelling in Sodom is so palpably out of place in our conception of propriety that he needs the word offered in extenuation, namely, that, day after day, he vexed his righteous soul with the unlawful deeds he beheld around him. We must never forget that the question of his piety as an orthodox believer in God is settled for us (2 Peter 2:7, 8). But now, with all this generous notion of him, it muss be calmly acknowledged that Lot was a very poor Christian.

2. In the second place, find an instant explanation of the failure; LOT WAS A MERCENARY CHRISTIAN. The very earliest inquiry is, How did he come to be in Sodom at all? We must remember that Lot did not go to Sodom directly, nor even at once. Men do not ever plunge into evil; they glide, they slide, or they drift. Lot only pitched his tent "towards" Sodom. He went close enough to hear how prices were ranging from day to day; he had a market for all he had to barter; there was gossip among his neighbours; oh, it was a good, nice place, not so very wicked, and always so lively! This is the way of the world, and that is the way of worldly believers now in the New Testament church. They make compromises with a very easy conscience. They do not go straight into wrong; they "pitch their tents towards" it. "Men fall," said Guizot, "on the side toward which they lean."

3. Observe, in the third place, THAT LOT WAS SOON EVIDENCED AS A BACKSLIDING CHRISTIAN. How do we know this? We notice that wherever Abram went in that wandering life of his, he set up an altar the first thing he did, and a regular service of worship made him known as a follower of Jehovah. A careful search will fail to reveal that Lot ever did anything to cause remark in this direction. The story of the life of that group of sons and sons-in-law is just downward, downward, as they grew depraved more and more in tastes, capabilities, and principles. First, they "walked in the counsel of the ungodly"; next, they were found to "stand in the way of sinners"; then they began to "sit in the seat of the scornful." And the one great commonplace lesson for us to learn is this: even a believer who neglects his religious duty is moving forward in sin.

4. But pass on; for we need, in the fourth place, to look at LOT AS A SERIOUSLY UNHAPPY CHRISTIAN. He "vexed his righteous soul" there from day to day, in seeing and hearing the unlawful deeds of those indescribably vicious people; he detested their "filthy conversation." Now, I know you will give me full sympathy when I say I am really glad this patriarch had a miserable time. I wish it had been worse. It is the only evidence we get of his sincerity as a child of God.

5. Once more; you are ready, in the fifth place, to find in this man LOT A MOST INEFFECTIVE CHRISTIAN. When you discover how worldly a man has become, you are not at all surprised to see that his religious usefulness is destroyed. So slight was the influence of this patriarch over those who knew him best, that even when he had received a visit from the angels sent from God in heaven, and came forth trembling and frightened to tell them that the city was soon to be destroyed, they jeered at him for a coward, and laughed at him for a fool. It was clear to them that the less he said about his interviews with God, the safer it would be for his credit; they thought he was joking.

6. It is somewhat cheering now, in the sixth place, to look upon Lot as A TRULY SAVED CHRISTIAN. And yet we are forced to go over into the New Testament passage to get our proof; read again the text of Peter. This shows, not only that Lot was saved, but that his salvation, so graciously achieved, was of so narrow a sort that it could be given as one of the extreme examples of Divine mercy towards the undeserving; and that it must be taken in connection with the fact that all the inhabitants of the wicked city, out of which he was so hurriedly rushed, were "turned into ashes." Furthermore, this passage shows that, while "the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly," He knows how also "to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." One thing is absolutely clear; he never could have been saved in Sodom. The turning point in his career was reached when Sodom was set on fire.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

We have seldom the choice put before us so dramatically and sharply; but it is as really presented to each. There is the shameless cynicism of the men who avowedly only ask the question, "Will it pay?" But there are subtler forms which affect us all. It is the standing temptation of Americans and Englishmen alike to apply a money standard to everything, to adopt courses of action of which the only recommendation is that they promote getting on in the world. Men who call themselves Christians select schools for their children, or professions for their boys, or marriages for their daughters, down in Sodom, because it will give them a lift in life which they would not get up in the starved pastures at Bethel, with nobody but Abram and his like to associate with. If the earnestness with which men pursue an end is to be taken as any measure of its importance in their eyes, it certainly does not look much as if modern average Christians did believe that it was of more moment to be united to God, and to be growing like Him, than to secure a good big share of earthly possessions. Tried by the test of conduct, their faith in getting on is a great deal deeper than their faith in getting up. But if our religion does not make us put the world beneath our feet, and count all things but loss that we may win Christ, we had better ask ourselves whether our religion is any better than Lot's, which was second hand, and was much more imitation of Abram than obedience to God. Let teaches us that material good may tempt and conquer, even after it has been overcome. His early life had been heroic; in his young enthusiasm, he had thrown in his portion with Abram in his great venture. He had not been thinking of his flocks when he left Haran. Probably, as I have just said, he was a good deal galvanized into imitation; but still, he had chosen the better part. But now he has tired of a pilgrim's life. There are men who cut down the thorns, and have the seed sown; but thorns are tenacious of life, and quick growing, and so they spread over the field and choke the seed. It is easier to take some one bold step, than to keep true through life to its spirit. Youth contemns, but too often middle-age worships, worldly success. The world tightens its grasp as we grow older, and Lot and Demas teach us that it is hard to keep for a lifetime on the heights. Faith, strong and over renewed by communion, can do it; nothing else can. Lot's history teaches what comes of setting the world first, and God's kingdom second. For one thing, the association with it is sure to get closer. Lot began with choosing the plain; then he crept a little nearer, and pitched his tent "towards" Sodom; next time we hear of him he is living in the city, and mixed up inextricably with its people. The first false step leads on to connections unforeseen, from which the man would have shrunk in horror, if he had been told he would make them. Once on the incline, time and gravity will settle how far down we go.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

1. Mark, on the one hand, the self-sacrifice manifested by Abraham, and, on the other, the selfishness by which Lot was characterized.

2. But, as another point of contrast, notice how Abraham took a long look forward, while Lot chose simply for the immediate future. "He that believeth shall not make haste." "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it."

3. Note, finally, the contrast in the after career of the two men. From this point on, there is evident a gradual process of deterioration in Lot. "Toward Sodom" soon became "in Sodom." In Sodom soon developed into matrimonial alliances between the members of his family and the Sodomites. Then last of all, and worst of all, his own moral nature was hardened; the womanhood of his daughters was dishonoured; and the closing incidents of his life were such that we gladly draw a veil over their enormity, and sigh to think that, after so fair a morning, his sun went down behind so dark a cloud. But while Lot deteriorated, Abraham advanced. That which marked Lot's point of departure from the right course was a milestone that indicated new progress in Abraham. The decision which he made over this dispute was another step in that upward ladder of self-conquest on the topmost round of which he stood when he laid Isaac upon the altar. It was an important decision for both, yet it was all over a very ordinary and everyday occurrence. We are continually having to make similar decisions in our common lives, and always we are tested by them. It is a very solemn question how we have stood such tests; and if we want to stand them as Abraham did, we must be partakers of Abraham's faith; for that faith, as we have seen, animated the patriarch, not only in such great things as the leaving of his country and the sacrifice of his son, but also the actions of his life in his intercourse with his fellow men,

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. A CHOICE WITHOUT CONSULTING GOD.

II. A CHOICE WHICH DEPRIVED HIM OF A GOOD MAN'S COMPANY. Every worldly-minded man forfeits —

1. The sympathy of good men.

2. The assistance of the good.

III. A CHOICE ANTAGONISTIC TO THE GOOD MORAL TRAINING OF HIS FAMILY. Moral culture ought to be of greater importance in our estimation than wealth.

1. Because it is of higher value.

2. Because it elevates the man.

3. Because its beneficial results are more certain.

IV. A CHOICE WHICH EXPOSED HIM TO MANY DANGERS.

1. The danger of his sympathy with the good being narrowed.

2. The danger of looking upon sin in a false light.

3. The danger of losing his own soul.

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
I. THE EVIL WHICH FOLLOWS AN ILL-ADVISED STEP.

1. That there are constantly before us opportunities of selection.

2. That that is not the most advantageous which at first sight appears so.

3. That any course entered upon without consulting the guiding of Providence is likely to lead us astray.

II. THE NATURAL TENDENCY OF AN UNRENEWED HEART. Looking to what is pleasant.

III. THE MERCY OR DIVINE PROVIDENCE. Lot brought trouble on himself, but God did not desert him.

IV. THE INCOMPATIBILITY OF PIETY: WITH SIN.

(Homilist.)

Avarice has ruined more men than prodigality.

(Colton.)

It is sometimes of God's mercy that men in the eager pursuit of worldly aggrandisement are baffled; for they are very like a train going down an inclined plane — putting on the brake is not pleasant, but it keeps the car on the track.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THE EVILS WHICH MAY FOLLOW FROM ONE WRONG STEP IN LIFE. There are certain matters in relation to which our determinations must have special importance.

1. The choice of a place of residence.

2. The choice of a trade or profession. "What is likely to be the moral and spiritual effect of this pursuit on me?"

3. The choice of a life partner.

II. THE STEALTHY INSIDIOUSNESS OF SIN. There is a wide difference between the happy household that used to join with Abram's in sacrifice at the Bethel altar and that which we read of in Sodom on the night before the destruction of that city. That divergence was not caused by any single volcanic upheaval of passion, but by gradual defection. We have the key to it in the question addressed by Lot to the angel, when, asking to be allowed to flee into Zoar, he said, "Is it not a little one?" Depend. upon it, that was not the first time Lot reasoned in such a way. Most likely he did so on the very occasion of this first fatal choice. He saw Sodom in the plain, but he said within himself, "I need not go into the city, I can always keep myself secluded," and promising this to himself he pitched toward Sodom. But after a time he became accustomed to the men of the place. He saw many advantages in the protection of their walls, as compared with his defenceless nomad life. Thus the temptation to go into the city, which he would at first have repelled from him with scorn, was entertained, and concerning it also the old argument was used — "No doubt the city is wicked, but I need not mingle with the inhabitants, and when I come to balance the matter I must not let a little thing like that prejudice blind me to my own interests"; and in this way he went into Sodom. In a similar manner he came to allow intermarriages between the families of the city and his own. All this illustrates the deceitfulness of sin. No one ever became very wicked all at once. The descent of the road that leadeth to destruction is made in single steps, and these not on a clear and well-marked staircase, but on an incline which seems to be but little out of the horizontal line. Be on your guard against the first temptation, and whenever an evil pleads with you, saying, "Am I not a little one?"

III. THE NECESSITY OF WATCHFULNESS AGAINST SIN THROUGHOUT ONE'S EARTHLY LIFE. Every time of life has its peculiar dangers. There are, as medical men will attest, certain critical ages at which the bodily constitution seems to pass through a severe ordeal, so that it either yields in death, or comes out unharmed; and what the issue shall be depends, under God, very much on what the person's daily habits have been. If he have been what is called a fast, free liver, there is little likelihood that he will weather the storm; but if he have been moderate in all things, there is the greater probability that he will round the cape. Now it is similar in spiritual life. There are seasons of greater danger than others to the best interests of the soul. Youth is a perilous season, but the noon and afternoon of life are beset with dangers as great as its morning, and our only safety lies in perpetual vigilance. It is pitiful to think how often character deteriorates in later life. You cannot read of Noah without reflecting that the glorious reputation of a long career may be thrown into shadow at the last by a besetting sin. You cannot study the life of David without remarking how the purity of his character is eclipsed by the darkness of a sin which was that, not of a youth, but of a man past the meridian of his age. Ye men of middle life, and you who are verging toward old age, be on your guard. Remember Lot! and beware of allowing your conscience to be blunted with iniquity. Above all, beware of that seductive sin which is the parent of so many more — intemperance.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Lot lost —

1. The society of his best friend.

2. His intense hatred toward wickedness.

3. A due regard for the spiritual welfare of his family.

4. Religious influence over men.

5. His property.

6. Influence over his own children.

7. His children.

8. His wife.

9. His good name.

(John A. Ewalt.)

A rough shell may hold a pearl, remarks Dean Law. There may be silver amongst much dross. Life may exist within the stem when leaves are seared and branches dry. The spring may yet be deep, while waters trickle scantily. A spark may live beneath much rubbish. So many heirs of glory live ingloriously. Heaven is their purchased rest, but their footsteps seem to be downward. In their hearts there is incorruptible seed, but sorry weeds are intermixed. They are translated into the kingdom of grace, but still the flesh is weak.

(W. Adamson.)

1. A godly man in a rural village in Suffolk, where for generations the people had been highly favoured with a succession of earnest "winners of souls" to Christ, tempted by the offer of higher wages and greater scope in London, left his home and took up his residence in an ungodly neighbourhood in the East End. But the higher wages and greater scope were very quickly outweighed by the corruption of his children, etc.

2. Even religious men, says Robertson, sometimes settle in a foreign country, notoriously licentious, merely that they may increase their wealth. But very soon they find to their cost that God has terrible modes of retribution. In the choice of homes, of friends, and in alliances, he who selects according to the desires of the flesh lays up in store for himself many troubles and anxieties. Such was Lot's experience.

3. How frequently, remarks Blunt, have men found that their greatest disquietudes and troubles have been the fruits of their own selfish selectings. Often that "vale of Siddim" which they have most anxiously coveted, has been the wellspring from whence has flowed the bitter waters of sorrow and distress. Far better, if God tries us by putting a blank paper into our hands, to fill in our free choice, humbly to refer the choice back to Him.

(W. Adamson.)

Mahomet, the false prophet, on viewing the pleasurable and delicious situation of Damascus, would not enter the city, but turned away from it with this exclamation: "There is but one paradise for man; and I am determined to have mine in the other world." Mutatis mutandis — "making the necessary changes" of our position — how becoming for a Christian is such language in time of temptation.

(Bishop Horne.)

He is the type of that very large class of men who have but one rule for determining them at the turning points of life. He was swayed solely by the consideration of worldly advantage. He has nothing deep, nothing high in him. He recognizes no duty to Abram, no gratitude, no modesty; he has no perception of spiritual relations, no sense that God should have something to say in the partition of the land. Lot may be acquitted of a good deal which at first sight one is prompted to lay to his charge, but he cannot be acquitted of showing an eagerness to better himself, regardless of all considerations but the promise of wealth afforded by the fertility of the Jordan valley. He saw a quick though dangerous road to wealth. There seemed a certainty of success in his earthly calling, a risk only of moral disaster. He shut his eyes to the risk that he might grasp the wealth; and so doing, ruined both himself and his family. The situation is one which is ceaselessly repeated. To men in business or in the cultivation of literature or art, or in one of the professions, there are presented opportunities of attaining a better position by cultivating the friendship or identifying oneself with the practice of men whose society is not in itself desirable. We fancy perhaps that to refuse the companionship of any class of men is pharisaic; that we have no business to condemn the attitude towards the Church, or the morality, or the style of living adopted by any class of men among us. This is the mere cant of liberalism. We do not condemn persons who suffer from smallpox, but a smallpox hospital would be about the last place we should choose for a residence. Or possibly we imagine we shall be able to carry some better influences into the society we enter. A vain imagination; the motive for choosing the society has already sapped our power for good. Many of the errors of worldly men only reveal their most disastrous consequences in the second generation. Like some virulent diseases they have a period of incubation. Lot's family grew up in a very different atmosphere from that which had nourished his own youth in Abram's tents. An adult and robust Englishman can withstand the climate of India; but his children who are born in it cannot. And the position in society which has been gained in middle life by the carefully and hardily trained child of a God-fearing household, may not very visibly damage his own character, but may yet be absolutely fatal to the morality of his children. Lot may have persuaded himself he chose the dangerous prosperity of Sodom mainly for the sake of his children; but in point of fact he had better have seen them die of starvation in the most barren and parched desolation. And the parent who disregards conscience and chooses wealth or position, fancying that thus he benefits his children, will find to his life-long sorrow that he has entangled them in unimagined temptations. But the man who makes Lot's choice not only does a great injury to his children, but cuts himself off from all that is best in life. We are safe to say that after leaving Abram's tents Lot never again enjoyed unconstrainedly happy days. The men born and brought up in Sodom were possibly happy after their kind and in their fashion; but Lot was not. His soul was daily vexed. You cannot forget the thoughts you once had, the friendships you once delighted in, the hopes that shed brightness through all your life. You cannot blot out the ideal that once you cherished as the most animating element of your life. Every day there will be that rising in your mind which is in the sharpest contrast to the thoughts of those with whom you are associated. You will despise them for their shallow, worldly ideas and ways; but you will despise yourself still more, being conscious that what they are through ignorance and upbringing, you are in virtue of your own foolish and mean choice. There is that in you which rebels against the superficial and external measure by which they judge things, and yet you have deliberately chosen these as your associates, and can only think with heart-broken regret of the high thoughts that once visited you and the hopes you have now no means of fulfilling.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

I. LOT'S EARLY YEARS were spent in Ur of Chaldea, northeast of Damascus. His father, Haran, died while he was yet a youth of tender years, and he was placed in the family of his uncle Abraham, who appears ever to have acted towards him the part of an affectionate father; while Sarah, the wife of Abraham, is supposed to have been the sister of Lot. To have been the foster son and companion of so royal a man as Abraham was a privilege which ought to have left a stamp of distinction on the young man that no after-years could efface.

II. Let us look at LOT'S CHOICE in its nature and results, and learn the character and end of the self-seeker; remembering, meanwhile, the representative character of Lot, and gathering lessons of wisdom from the ashes of his ruined hopes.

1. First, then, there was in that choice, as there ever is in the conduct of the self-seeker, a disregard of delicate moral obligations and the interests of others involved.

2. But in this choice of Lot was also a disregard of his own highest interests. He seems not to have paused to consider the effect of his decision upon his own character and future well-being. The material good in that tempting scene blinded his eyes to every other good, and to the dangers of the choice. It is related in ancient history that the inhabitants of Oenoe, a town upon a dry island in the vicinity of Athens, bestowed much labour to draw into it a river to water it and make it more fruitful. But when the work was completed and the passages were all opened, the water came rushing in so furiously that it overflowed the whole island and drowned all the people. So, in the accomplishment of their ambitious ends, men do not pause to consider contingent results: and when the channels of desire are fully open and the long looked for tide of prosperity rises, lo! its streams come rushing in with a fearful, fatal force, whelming the soul in ruin and destruction.

3. Lot may have flattered himself that he had made a capital choice; let us see what it involved.(1) Separation from a devoted friend and benefactor. He might have remained in such proximity to Abraham as to have shared his companionship and counsel. It is a critical day for a young man when he severs his connection with the friends of his early years.(2) He not only separated himself far from Abraham, but became the companion of the wicked Sodomites.

(C. H. Payne, D. D.)

Alypius, a friend of St. , had a great horror of the bloody combats of gladiators, one of the favourite amusements of that age. Being urged by his companions to be a spectator of these brutal sports, he obstinately refused, and they drew him to the amphitheatre against his will. All took their seats, and the games began. Alypius resolutely shut his eyes that he might not witness the horrible spectacle. "Would to God," said Augustine, "he had also stopped his ears!" Hearing a piercing cry, curiosity got the better of him, and he incautiously opened his eyes to see what had happened. One of the gladiators had received a dreadful wound; but no sooner had Alypius discovered the bloody stream issuing from the wretch's side, than his finer sensibilities were blunted, and he joined in the shouts and exclamations of the noisy mob about him. From that moment he was a changed man — changed for the worse; not only attending such sports himself, but urging others to do likewise. Very trifling circumstances show the bent and bias of our minds. A feather, floating on the breeze, may indicate the direction of the wind which is to determine the fate of a squadron, and involve the downfall of an empire. Something closely allied to this may be observed in the moral world. Traits of character, and prevailing tendencies of mind and heart, are distinctly marked by actions which, in themselves, are the merest trifles. When the sacred penman tells us that after Lot's unwise separation from Abraham he "pitched his tent toward Sodom," we discover much more in the simple statement than appears on the surface. It would be simply absurd to pass a sweeping censure upon the world, and its pursuits and pleasures; for these, within lawful limits, are well and right. No one in his senses, however, will deny that there is such a sin as worldliness, and it is one which all consistent Christians will strive to keep clear of. Worldliness, be it remembered, is determined by the spirit of our lives, rather than by the objects which occupy us. There may be much apparent conformity to the world, without any real violation of the Divine law or neglect of duty. The Lord Mayor of London, who, while presiding over the festivities of Guildhall, withdrew long enough from the scene of gaiety and splendour that he might attend family worship in his own house, was an example of a good man living in the world without yielding to evil influences or forgetting his higher obligations to God. Our daily papers often contain advertisements like this: "Wanted, a boy to attend bar!" It might as well read, "Wanted, a boy to be ruined, body and soul." Let the bright, earnest lad, standing on the threshold of life, shun such tempting offers as this! Even the innocent pleasures of the world, if found amongst evil associations are not as the waters of the Nile, leaving, when they are gone, the germs of fertility and beauty to bud and blossom, and causing the heart to rejoice; but like those unwholesome streams, polluted by the washings of poisonous minerals, depositing the seeds of disease and death for all who taste them. It may be a question of life, or death, with us — the life, or death, of the soul — whether, in any of these ways, we have pitched our tent toward Sodom.

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

The well-watered plain of Jordan is a great prize for any man, and Lot has made sure of it. His estate is large, and is favoured by the sun and the clouds. Is there, then, any drawback? Read: "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly." A great estate, but bad neighbours! Material glory, but moral shame! Noble landscapes, but mean men! But Lot did just what men are doing today. He made choice of a home, without making any inquiry as to the religious state of the neighbourhood. Men do not care how poor the Church is, if the farm be good. They will give up the most inspiring ministry in the world for ten feet more garden, or a paddock to feed an ass in. They will tell you that the house is roomy, the garden is large, the air is balmy, the district is genteel, and if you ask them what religious teaching they will have there, they tell you they really do not know, but must inquire! They will take away six children into a moral desert for the sake of a garden to play in: they will leave Paul or Apollos for six feet of greenhouse! Others again fix their tent where they can get the best food for the heart's life; and they sacrifice a summer house that they may now and again get a peep of heaven.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Lot chose for himself. He took things into his own hands, and put himself at the head of his own affairs. What became of his management we shall see presently. He asked no blessing; will the feast choke him? He sought no advice; will his wisdom mock him and torment him bitterly? He snatched at good luck; will he fall into a pit which he did not see? O my soul, make no model of this fool for thine own guidance. Perhaps his honour is but for a moment. Commit thy way unto the Lord, and choose nothing for thyself. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths. Oh rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Seek not high things for thyself, nor take thy life into thine own keeping. O my soul, I charge thee live in the secret of Christ's love. Walk in the way of the Lord: seek Him always with eager heart, and whether the road be long or short, rugged or plain, it will lead thee into the city where the angels are, and the Firstborn, and the loved ones who left thee long ago.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

? — Mrs. Jameson gives a very pretty apologue relating to St. John, which is sometimes included in a series of subjects from his life. Two young men, who had sold all their possessions to follow him, afterwards repented. He, perceiving their thoughts, sent them to gather pebbles and faggots, and on their return changed these into money and ingots of gold, saying to them, "Take back your riches, and enjoy them on earth, as you regret having exchanged them for heaven!" This story is represented on one of the windows of the cathedral at Bourges. The two young men stand before St. John, with a heap of gold on one side and a heap of stones and faggots on the other.

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