Last week, I told the story of Abram and his nephew Lot, how their herds had grown so large in the new land of Canaan that they had to go their separate ways. Abram, the elder of the two, gave Lot the first choice of land. Rather than deferring the decision back to his uncle according to custom, Lot acted selfishly and chose the best land for himself.
Like Lot, we often make choices based upon selfish motives, and when we do, those selfish decisions often lead to disastrous consequences. In today’s story, we are going to see how that played out for Lot and his family.
After Lot went his separate way from Abram, he moved his herds and tents eastward into the plain of the River Jordan. However, danger lay in front of him. The wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were in that region. The Bible tells us that Lot gradually moved closer and closer to the city of Sodom, until he and his family were living in that wicked city itself.
Now, being in the middle of great wickedness brings its own negative consequences. Lot and his family, particularly his daughters, were subjected to all kinds of perversions and sinfulness. Lot and his family became enmeshed in the enticements of the immoral and materialistic world around them. However, another, larger danger was in Lot’s future.
Genesis chapter 14 records the first war in the Bible, and it had to do with the political landscape of the day. You see, the land of Canaan and the Jordan valley was an important trade route connecting the lands of the north and east to Egypt. You will remember that Abram himself had come from the east. He had originally lived in Ur of the Chaldeans which is near modern Babylon. East of there was the land of Elam, which is now modern Pakistan.
The king of Elam was named Chedorlaomer, who in reality was an Elamite dictator. He had formed an alliance with seven vassal kings, who were overlords of city states strung along the trade route to Egypt. Four of these “kings” were located in the Jordan River valley, and one of them was the king of Sodom, where Lot and his family were living.
The four kings in the South had faithfully served Chedorlaomer for twelve years. However, they got tired of paying him tribute and getting little in return for it. So, in the thirteenth year, they decided to rebel against him.
Chedolaomer and two of his vassal kings from the east formed a great army and marched against the four rebellious kings of the plain. The army swept down from the east, defeating and destroying everything in its path.
Page 2 of 2 - Rephaim and Zuzim were families of giants who lived in Canaan. These were the ancestors of Goliath whom David later killed with his sling shot. These men were eight to ten feet tall, a mighty race who were greatly feared by the people around them. Yet, the invading kings swept even these giants before them. That is how powerful the invading army was.
The army of the kings of the east and the armies of the four kings of the plain met in battle at the tar pits near the Dead Sea. The kings of the plain, including the king of Sodom, were soundly defeated. The invading army, being victorious, ransacked the towns of the plain, taking into captivity the people living there.
Lot and his family were among those captured and carried away as slaves.
Here is the lesson of Lot. He is a picture for us of the selfish, flesh-governed, person living for self. He was drawn by the allurements of the world and began to live for himself and for the pleasures of life. Such a way of life always eventually leads to negative and even disastrous consequences.
One of the ironies of Lot is that he had made his choice of direction in total freedom. He felt he was free to go in any direction he chose, even if it was toward a place of wickedness and sin. However, the results of his “freedom” was that he lost it when he and his family were captured and made to be slaves of Chedorlaomer.
Jesus Christ came to make us all free. However, we must use our freedom wisely. If we use our freedom selfishly and for gratification of our fleshly nature, then, like Lot, we become slaves in the end.
(The Rev. Al Henager is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Heber Springs, Arkansas. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)