REMEMBERED OR FORGOTTEN
By Rev. Dr. Holmes Williams
Text: “And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters” (Genesis 19:30).
I have made my way up the serpentine path on the Eastern Cliff of Masada to look down upon the water from the vantage point of an eagle. Like many before me, I have sought for some small shred of proof that a city lies buried beneath the southern waters of that sea. Nothing surfaces to bear witness. It is as if an entire civilization simply vanished. There is colossal waste all around. Nothing remains but rocks and sand.
It is hard to comprehend that once the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located here – that the useless turf was once a well watered and productive plain. Only a catastrophe of unparalleled dimension could have caused such total havoc.
A few years ago, scientists were carefully excavating another site of tragedy at Pompeii. In A.D. 79 Mount Vesuvius suddenly erupted, spilling millions of tons of molten rock on the city below, covering the inhabitants with 20 feet of lava. Shortly before his death someone in that holocaust had found the strength to scratch faintly on a wall – “Sodom/Gomorrah.”
But Sodom was destroyed by an unnatural phenomenon. God’s anger had reached its zenith. He would bear no more of the evil, the blatant arrogance, the homosexuality and filth of its citizens. And He decided to erase it from His sight. But first He sent angels into the doomed city to save the life of a man and his family. He was the only man to escape the inferno.
There are very few men of Abraham’s stature, or Daniel’s, or Moses’. But men like Lot are a dime a dozen. You will find them in every country and city.
They may not look like it at first, but they are derelicts. Those in the world system may approach them with respect, yes, even dignity. But in God’s eyes, and by all standards of eternal dimension, they are derelicts. They are bound together by one distinct and fatal flaw: they are held captive by the love of this world. They are motivated by concepts that are not reasonable. They have a capacity for trinkets but none for value. When they die they could all share the same monument upon which could be written: “The things they lived for were not worth Christ’s dying for!”
There are many men and women who have amassed fortunes in this world who have kept their Christian faith intact. They have been people of high principle, of moral courage, of honesty and industry. But it seems they grow fewer and fewer as the world system grows more wicked. You, young men and women, who still have your choices to make, I encourage you to make those choices on your knees. Before you venture into any well-watered plain, take a hard look at the kind of life you are choosing.
Look at the people around you. Do you want to be like them? Do they lift your spirit and fire the imagination of your mind? Examine your motives in making your choices. Look at the dangers, the temptations – but especially the companionships. Do you have to part company with people who love and trust in order to be with your new friends?
God warned Lot more than once. Shortly after he entered the city, the first war in the Bible broke out in the Plains of Jordan. It is known as the battle of four kings against five. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah were defeated and ran for their lives. Lot was taken prisoner and his possessions looted. That shouldn’t have surprised him, for stolen treasures continue to be stolen by others.
Abraham came to his rescue. In a daring raid, Lot was set free. All his goods were restored. And he immediately returned to Sodom! In my imagination I can see him the previous night before his rescue, being hauled along the mountain slopes with a rope around his neck. He must have cursed himself as the greatest fool in the world. But the next day he went right back to his old life. You see, reformation is not sufficient. You need a rebirth of life, of values, of principles, of convictions. You need to be made a new person with Christ’s life put within you. The old human nature will choose wrong time and time again.
That’s what Jesus was talking about when He said, “You must be born again.”
Lot couldn’t change his life. He couldn’t break loose from his evil ways. It was impossible. So back to Sodom he went. God had long since decided to destroy the cities of the plain – just as He will someday destroy this world and its systems. But for Abraham’s sake He rescued Lot before the destruction began.
Lot ended his days living in a cave, involved in drunkenness and incest. He was a disgrace to the human race. Abraham died a hero, the father of his country. The name Abraham is spoken in reverence and awe. He not only achieved total success on this planet, but in the world to come. He is listed in Hebrews 11 as a member of heaven’s gallery. But Lot loved the world so much …. that he lost it. And Lot was rich. He had money and possessions. That is not a sin. But the way Lot achieved his wealth was a sin. He was a looter! He lived off his uncle Abraham. Years before, when they had left the city of Ur of the Chaldea, Lot had nothing. The family trekked westward where Abraham sought a more sparsely settled land, free of the paganistic superstitions of the Euphrates valley. God had called him to prepare a place where he could propagate the gospel of one supreme Being, Almighty God, the Creator and Preserver of men.
Their camels had swung them past the vast, fertile stretches of the Damascus plain, along the foothills of beautiful Mount Hermon, past the shimmering Sea of Galilee and into the very heart of what is known today as Israel. Abraham built an altar at Shechem, where God spoke to him: “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (Genesis 12:7).
It belonged to Abraham, but Lot was a thief. He was the meanest of men. He wanted the pay without production, the ease without the effort, the luxury without the labour. He cheated his employer. He created havoc with other workers. He caused division. He was working on a devilish plan. He wanted the world at any cost.
His herdmen had their orders. They removed landmarks, they fenced off the waterholes, they picked fights with Abraham’s workers and filled the valley with rumours of war. That’s how Lot prospered. Only the laziest and meanest man seeks to achieve by power, rather than by production.
Abraham offered peace: “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen, for we be brethren … Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left” (Genesis 13: 8-9).
Lot had heard about Sodom. Perhaps he had heard his old uncle cry out in the night for the salvation of that city. But he didn’t care. As long as his cattle were up to their bellies in the grass around Sodom, and as long as he could continue to loot and steal to satisfy his craving for the world system, Lot simply didn’t care! He desperately loved the world; he meant to have it. He soon became a part of the wicked city. He had achieved his highest and fondest hopes! He was wallowing in dollars, and everyone of them was counterfeit!
Heaven never knew him at all. Don’t make the same mistake.
For additional literature, please write: CHRIST IS THE ANSWER
P.O. BOX 636C