Lot’s Choice

Lot leaves Sodom

by Lois Tverberg

Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.
– Genesis 13:10-12

Even though the Lord makes Abram wait for years to have the thing he most longs for, a son, God starts to bless Abram materially immediately by multiplying his flocks and Lot’s too. At a certain point, Abram’s and Lot’s families have to part ways because their flocks are too large for the land that they have for them.

In this story, the difference between Abraham and Lot’s character becomes very obvious. Abraham graciously offers Lot first choice of the land, and Lot immediately takes advantage of the offer to choose the best and nicest for himself. In doing so, he abandons Canaan, the land God promised them in order to choose what was, in his opinion, better.

Interestingly, Jewish commentaries point out that the way Sodom is described is a subtle commentary on what it is really like. It looks like the “garden of God,” meaning the garden of Eden. They point out that even though Eden was paradise, it was the place of human disobedience from which humans finally were exiled. Sodom will be the same way – it is a place of great disobedience to God from which Lot will have to leave when God’s judgment comes. Next, Sodom is compared to the land of Egypt in beauty. But the Egyptians were known for their sexual immorality, and Abram feared that they would kill him to get his wife. That is another picture of Sodom, which is known for its sexual perversion. This is a hint, once again, to what Sodom is really like.

Then, Lot gets pulled in entirely into the life of Sodom – when he moves there, he doesn’t just camp away from people where his sheep can graze, he moves close to the city people who are known for their perversity. Lot was even involved in city affairs, “sitting in the gate” (the community center of the city), fully a participant in an evil culture.

Lot leaves SodomLot was truly foolish. He abandoned the good things God had offered to choose something that at first glance seemed better. But while it was attractive on the surface, underneath its appearances, it was a place of sin and rebellion. Not only did he choose it, he sank deeper and deeper into sin once he had moved there. Because of Lot’s foolish choices, he lost all of his inheritance, all of his wealth, and he even lost his wife when he had to flee. Unlike Abraham who lived not by sight, but by clinging to God’s promises, Lot ran after what looked good on the surface, even though it would later cost him dearly.

Aren’t our own choices too much like that sometimes?

photocred:  Wellcome Images

The Land Between

by Rev. Ed Visser

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. – Genesis 12:1

“Israel was sandwiched between the superpowers to the north and south, and very often they were lunch.” That cleverly-phrased statement by Wink Thompson, one of our teacher-guides in Israel this summer, sums up a crucial truth about the land and history of Israel. The land in which God placed his people was, and still is, a land between.


Israel is a land betwen the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Arabian Desert to the east. Both proved difficult for travel. Early ships were not made to survive the raging sea, and people were not made to bear the intense heat and dryness of the forbidding desert. Israel, then, served as a narrow land bridge between these areas.

But a land bridge for whom? Most of the dominant nations grew up around rivers. Around the Tigris and Euphrates to the north, Assyria, Babylon and Persia became powers. To the south, the Nile River became the source of life for Egyptians. North and south needed each other’s products to survive. So Israel became the land bridge for trade between the main nations of the world.

Kings soon realized that if you control world trade, you could rule the world. And to do that, you had to rule Israel. For most of its history, Israel has been a land under occupation. Today, for one of the few times in history, Israel is actually an independent nation. Yet Israel remains a land between. In the northern Golan region, we traveled right near the Syrian border (watch out for mine fields from the 1967 war!). At Dan we could look into Lebanon. From Masada the hills of Jordan were very clear across the Dead Sea. To the south, Egypt looms large.

So why did God lead Abraham and Moses to this land? Two divine reasons stand out:

  • The land between tests your faith and reliance on God.
  • The land between gives you an opportunity to influence the world by your faith as they pass by.

God still places us in a land between as we confront our culture and its influences. And he gives us the challenge of complete reliance on him, as we seek to witness to our culture about the true God who rules the world.