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Error Begets Error, Genesis 19:15-18

September 28, 2014

Genesis 19:15-38

Error Begets Error

 

Children’s Sermon:  READ “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie” 

One thing leads to another.  Sometimes that can be great!  If what we want to do is good and kind like help our Moms and Dads.  But it can be bad if one day we say a mean thing to a classmate and then the next day we say two mean things and the next day we ignore them and the next day we don’t play with them at all.  We can become a bully and that does not make God happy.

 

Our Bible story today is about Abraham’s nephew, Lot.  Lot did not always do the right thing and he was always asking for one more thing from God.  But it seems no matter what he did, he kept making wrong choices.  My hope is that none of us follow Lot’s footsteps.  Who is a good one to follow instead?  Someone who always made good choices?  Jesus!  Let’s follow him!  Let’s pray.

 

Intro:  Let’s do a quick recap of this story so far.  Three “men” show up at Abraham’s tent.  It turns out it was two angels and the Lord himself!  They tell Abraham that Sarah is going to bear him a son.  Sarah laughs.  God tells Abraham that he is going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because their sin is so bad.  Abraham barters with God, getting God to withhold destruction if there are at least 10 righteous men in the city.  The angels go check I out.  They arrive and are greeted by Lot, Abraham’s nephew.  Lot gets them in his house.  The men of the city want the angels-appearing-as-men to come out.  The men won’t stop even when Lot asks nicely and offers to send out his daughters.  The angels save Lot and strike all the men blind.  The angels tell Lot to quickly get all other family together so they can flee the city.  They laugh at him.  This is what happens next as we pick up the story in Genesis 19:15

 

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.

Again.  The Lord is merciful, even though he dilly-dallys all the time!!

 

Observation 1: Sometimes God tells us to “run!” but we stay put.  We hesitate and God, in his mercy takes us by the hand and leads us.

 

17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

Are you kidding me!!  Does Lot not get the intensity of this situation???  The angels are saying, “Run for your life!!!!” And he wants to rearrange the travel itinerary!  Seriously!?

 

Observation 2: Sometimes this is how our prayer life looks.  Maybe God has told us to take specific action in order to obey him and we begin to pray things like, “Okay, Lord.  What if I quit shoplifting in K-Mart and just do it at Macy’s?  What if I quit lying to my friends and just keep lying to my mother instead?”  Do you remember what God is after in our lives?  Is it partial obedience?  No!  It’s complete obedience so that we might become holy! 

 

I bet we are all guilty of bartering with God.  Lord, I want to give up this habit you just brought to my attention, but could we wait until tomorrow?  I’ll start the diet, when?  Tomorrow!  I’ll clean up the mess, when?  Tomorrow.  From now on I’ll do things the right way, starting when? Tomorrow.  I’ll quit watching the stuff I know my eyes shouldn’t see, when? Tomorrow.

 

You know that line in the Lord’s Prayer we pray that asks, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”?  How many times do you think God has heard you pray that?  Add that to everyone else in the world.  Those nudges to change.  Those opportunities that appear and help us to get out of trouble and we still go looking for it!  Let me give you a real life example.  Say you’re trying to eat better and you do a cleansing of your house.  You get rid of all the Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Cookies, Chips, etc.  For awhile you do great, but then, it hits you!  You MUST have something sweet!  Forget about the fact that this is exactly why you got the junk out of your house.  You want it!  You want it now.  So what do you do.  A)  Thank God that your house is “clean” and you can escape an evil relapse into junk food eating? B) Hop in your car, drive to the store and eat the bag of Doritos on the drive back home – house stays free of junk and you get what you want.

 

Think about those actions in relation to that line in the Lord’s Prayer.  We co-operate with God only so far, when we feel motivated or inspired.  But when living faithfully becomes hard work, we bail.  We go back to the comfortable way things were.

 

God has gone to great lengths to save Lot, and Lot keeps asking for more, for a different way, for a way that doesn’t inconvenience him too much.  If you can relate, just look down.  I don’t want to have to look you in the eye when I say, “Yep, that’s me!”

 

21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

I imagine these angels holding back the wrath of God physically.  Pushing with all their might against what is about to be poured out of heaven on the plains, while Lot is standing there making special arrangements!!

 

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

If you blink you loose this verse that has become very famous. Lot’s wife is mentioned just once in this story and in it she is disobeying the angel and turning into salt.  The end.  But she has been remembered throughout history. 

 

What do you want your legacy to be? 

 

Last night I went to OYW and saw 23 young ladies perform on stage.  Their loved ones sat in the audience.  Many of the people who helped shape and mold them were there.  And they each had a “Little”.  Kaitlyn had Jocelyn.  And those girls were molding and shaping the little ones just as the people in the audience had shaped those young ladies. 

 

During the interview process, the girls are asked random questions based on things they wrote about themselves:  experiences, books they had read, people who had influenced them.  Kaitlyn had apparently written that becoming a member of this church was one of the defining moments of her life.  And she was asked to talk about that last night.  Well, wow.  I warned her that I was going to share this today, but maybe she’d like to?  (The question was about why being part of a church was important and how she would encourage her peers to be involved.  The part of her eloquent answer that stood out to me was first that her church – you all – are like an extended family.  The second was that her faith has helped to mold her into who she is today and the idea that everyone should have that sort of influence.)  Kaitlyn was mentored by Karin.  Kaitlyn continues to be shaped and molded by all we do here.  She is part of your legacy as a church. 

 

What about your personal legacy.  What do you want people to be saying about you as an individual?

 

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. 29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

I wonder if Abraham knew that Lot had been spared.  I wonder if he would have been okay if he hadn’t been.  He understood now what God already knew – there were not even 10 righteous men in all of the plain.

 

If we were to stop the story right there, what opinion would you have of Lot.  This guy who kept getting himself into trouble by making wrong choices.  This guy who was repeatedly rescued by his Uncle Abraham who even went to God for him!  Do you have a Lot in your life?  Does it not get exhausting? 

 

Well, at this point in our story, Lot has escaped with his daughters.  He lost his wife because she looked back.  This is the opportunity to start fresh! But things don’t straighten up yet, exactly.  Let’s finish the story out.

 

30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

Error begets error.  Was there no stop?  I mean if God had really wanted them to have children, they would have had children – remember where we left Sarah, their aunt.  What sort of example had Lot given his daughters?  Why wasn’t he the kind of father who would make sure they were married?  Why didn’t he do the right thing?  So the cycle of sin is repeating.

 

And what do we know of the Moabites and Ammonites? 

 

The Moabites were back and forth at war and peace with Israel.  Guess who was a Moabite and figures strongly in our faith history . . . Ruth!  Who is listed in the genealogy of Jesus!  God can redeem anything and anyone.  Don’t ever forget that!

 

The Ammonites also often went back and forth with war and peace with Israel.  They are not as prominently placed in history or Scripture.  But they are not categorized as friends of God.

 

Concl.  So at the end of this story what have we got?  Good news and bad news.

 

First, the bad news.  Lot was stuck in a cycle of poor judgment an unwise choices and the truth is, that can happen to us as well.  Some folks are stuck in this cycle their entire lives and some of us are in and out. 

 

Now the good news!  Did you witness in the story how patient God is with Lot?  Did you notice how God listens and responds to him?  Did you observe how Lot asks God for exactly what he wants?  If God will do that for a man like Lot, will he not do the same for a woman like me?  Will he not be patient, long-suffering, forgiving of you?

 

And having an awareness of God’s goodness, even in my badness, encourages me to live more gratefully which leads to living more righteously.  It reduces trips to the grocery store to replenish the junk food and helps me to be satisfied with an apple instead!

 

Friends, our God is patient.  God loves you and seeks to make you holy.  What choice will you make today?  God will honor it, so choose wisely.  Amen.