|THE VEXATION OF SODOM|
The dictionary defines "vexed" as "annoyed, perplexed, or to bring suffering to." But the Greek word used in the original text of the Scripture below, is the word "basanizo", which means something a little different. Although one of its definitions is "to torment or cause pain", it also means, "a touchstone used to test the purity of gold and other metals," or "to struggle at sea with a head wind." Let us consider all of these definitions, as we attempt to understand the condition of Lot as described in the Book of 2nd Peter:
"And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)" 2Peter 2:7 (KJS)
First let us recall how Lot ended up in Sodom. It occurred when Abraham and Lot realized that their possessions were too great to live together, as we read in Genesis:
"Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold." Genesis 13:2 (NKJV)
"Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents. Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. "Genesis 13:5-6 (NKJV)
Divide and Conquer
"And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Mark 3:25 (NKJV)
The first thing we notice here is that the material possessions of these two men, who were uncle and nephew, caused them to live apart from each other. Here they were, in a strange heathen land, where they would need spiritual and emotional support, and they divide over property. We read that both of them had much livestock. Cattle have always represented wealth – even today people in poorer countries do not eat much meat, and consider it a luxury.
The livestock also represent the golden calf, which Israel worshipped when they left Egypt. The golden calf became the national idol for them when the kingdom split and King Jeroboam set up two golden calves to stop the Israelites from going to the temple in Jerusalem to worship. It effectively curtailed the worship of God, except for the most dedicated believers, who traveled to Jerusalem regardless of the pressure not to. And so it also is in our current times.
Today, however, that calf has grown up and become a raging bull. And the false god of the bull market (which represents our escalating stock market) is also destroying families and separating them, even as it separated Abraham and Lot. Parents are selling out their children by using their energies to seek the trinkets of this world, new cars, clothing, houses, etc. Besides the literal time that is lost while they pursue these things, their relationships remain superficial because many of them do not want to invest time and effort in other people, even their own children. Consequently, Christians in the church feel disconnected and separated from the body, because many of us are in bondage to materialism and self-indulgence.
Lot Chose the Best Land
Abraham gave Lot the first choice of land. Let us read how he responded:
"And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar." Genesis 13:10 (NKJV)
The choice that Lot made was one according the flesh, (meaning it was a materialistic choice rather than a spiritual one) revealed by the fact that the land he desired looked like Egypt, which is always a type of sin and worldliness in the Bible. He did not consider the spiritual ramifications of his actions, nor did he think of the welfare of his family. The golden calf was already being worshipped in his heart. But as it has been said, "all that glitters is not gold". Or we might say, in this case, the gold would just turn out to be worthless, for we read:"They will throw their silver into the streets,
Let us remember that the Bible calls Lot a righteous man, so we know that he was a believer in God. But that righteousness was imputed to him, even as ours is through Christ; it does not mean that he was not capable of some terrible sins. In fact, we find him engaging in some abhorrent behavior when the angels visited him to take his family out of Sodom before they would destroy it. Homosexuals from the city asked for the men to "know them carnally" and Lot replies:
"See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof." Genesis 19:8 (NKJV)
Can we even believe this is happening? Lot is willing to allow men to rape his daughters to protect some visitors! Think of what a debased view of women the culture of Sodom must have had. And how Lot must have soaked up the perverted notions of that land. And yet, can we not see this very thing happening in America?
Who Are Your Daughters?
Not all of us have daughters in the natural realm, but we all have them in the spiritual realm. A human daughter represents a miracle creation from God, a person to be cherished and protected, and to live after we have died. And a spiritual daughter is similar, representing the essence of our lives which continues to work in the world after we are gone. It speaks of the fruit of our labors here. Jesus said, in Luke 7:35, "But wisdom is justified by all her children." He was being accused and His statement reveals that the fruit of something is not always readily apparent – but will eventually be proven. In other words, even as children grow up and we find out what kind of people they are, our deeds have an affect that will continue in this life and bear either good or bad fruit – most likely even after we die. I am the beneficiary of the labors of many Christians who lived before me in a number of ways. People like John Wycliffe, who stood strong against the corrupt church in the 1300’s and inspired John Hus to do the same in the 1400’s, and who in turn inspired Martin Luther through whom God brought about the Reformation.
Salt Water and Fresh?
However, Luther also said and did some things which bore bad fruit. In the beginning of his ministry he was supportive of the Jews, but later he hated them, and said that their homes should be burned and they should be killed. Consequently, Adolph Hitler used Luther’s own words as justification for the Holocaust. How could a man so mightily used of God say such terrible things against God’s chosen people? How was Lot willing to shame his daughters? Friends, let us see clearly the potential for us all not only to bear good fruit, but also to bear rotten fruit. Salt water and fresh water should not come from the same source, but it is evident that they can.
Lot Was Self-Deceived
The influence of Sodom was apparent in Lot’s life. As a matter of fact, it was also obvious in his daughter’s lives, because they seduced him with wine and had an incestuous relationship with him after they left Sodom. And by the way, those children grew up to be staunch enemies of Israel, the Moabites and the Ammonites.
But what about us? Are we not similarly deceived? And are we not in a place quite similar to Sodom, which was prosperous until the fire fell and destroyed it? Is that same prosperity blinding us to the perverseness of our society? Perhaps we may not wish to acknowledge how bad it is, because we are getting what we want. Remember, Lot made his choice of where to live based on how the land looked, which would mean that his great possessions, mainly his livestock, would thrive. In the end however, he barely escaped and the livestock, gold and silver, and all the rest was lost.
This is Our Test
As we saw earlier, the word used for vexed (some versions use tormented) in the Greek has two unusual meanings, one of which is defined as follows:
Here we see that the vexation was a test, even as the touchstone was used in earlier times to determine the quality of a metal, the testing of Lot was used to determine his character, particularly in the environment of a prosperous and ungodly society. The hard black stone speaks to us of the worldly test, whereas the white stone mentioned the Book of Revelation is a reward for enduring the testing. In any event, the testing of gold always speaks to us of the test of a believer, even as we read in Job:
Job said, "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10 (KJS)
Let us then not consider prosperity as always a blessing, for it is definitely a test, as well. Many will seek God in desperation, but what about when things are apparently going well for them materially? There is no sin in prosperity per se, nevertheless it becomes sinful when we come under its power. Money is not inherently sinful, but the love of it is. However, how do we know if we love something or someone? Simply because we spend most of our time thinking about them. And so it is with any idolatry. We know of the terrible sexual sins of Sodom, but interestingly God does not mention those when he indicts Sodom, rather He says:
"Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." Ezekiel 16:49 (NKJV)
Was it not these sins which were the root of the problem, and which led to others?
Escape From Sodom
"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 "For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities." Revelation 18:4 (NKJV)"Therefore ‘Come out from among them
After the angels warned Lot of the coming destruction, he tried to convince his sons in law, but they thought he was joking and would not leave. You see, Sodom was corrupt, but everything was easy there, and that life of ease and lust had blinded them. But it had also blinded Lot:
"When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city." Genesis 19:15-16 (NKJV)
The mesmerizing affect of this perverted city blinded not only the non-believing crowd, but it also caused Lot to lose his discernment. Given the chance to escape, he hesitated, and it almost cost him his life.
Our Ticket Out of Sodom
The American lifestyle, which is centered around entertainment, smothers our spiritual lives. The endless preoccupation with sports, and the portrayal of lurid promiscuity, sexual perversity and violence on television has blinded us to our true spiritual condition. Coming out of Sodom, (or Babylon) requires that we separate ourselves from everything that might turn our hearts or minds from godly thoughts and activities. Unless we stop our complacency we will be drawn away from God and destroyed. Right now the angels of God are seeking to take our hands, and mercifully take us out of the cesspool of the culture of this country, but many of us, half-blind, are resisting, and others are joking about it.
What power is it that has grasped us? It is the same deceptive power that induced Lot to offer his daughters, and tried to keep him in Sodom. It is the narcotic power of selfishness and the desire for pleasure and riches, which the world so cleverly markets as the way to success and happiness, but which in reality is a self-devouring and bitter existence. It is the opposite of the self-denial that Christ requires of us, when He tells us to take up our cross daily. It is the message that our self-indulgent hearts do not want to hear, but it is the only way out of Sodom, and the warped worldview of this perverted generation.
This is not a message about the literal physical destruction of America, although that appears to be the course we are on. This is rather an exhortation regarding our spiritual lives. Our culture has taken such a turn for the worst that we will be blinded and swept up with the sin that God is turning it over to, if we do not repent and separate ourselves from its ungodly lifestyle.
I remember a statement by Mark Buntain, who was a dedicated missionary to India who died some years ago. He said, "I must keep every off-color thought out of my mind." Mr. Buntain was speaking of the battle for the mind, which where the spiritual attack on us begins. However, let us remember that that to win the battle we must put all of our effort into it. The United States, as powerful as it has been, has found out that it cannot be completely victorious in a war that it is not totally committed to win. And so it is with us. Purity in mind must be a priority if we are to extricate ourselves from Sodom.
Do You Care?
Lot did not seem to be very worried about his daughters, or the society he lived in. He must not have taken the problems seriously, or he would have left a long time before the angels took him out. Evidently the sin bothered him, but he had also become comfortable in it and did not really care very much. What about us? As we watch our worldly sitcoms and cheer wildly for our home team, do we realize that our society is not only on the brink of judgment, but that this cursed and dying world is hell-bound? Do we think about the fact that the majority of believers in the world are under severe persecution? Do we care that children are being sexually exploited not only in third-world countries, but right in our own neighborhoods? Let us see from the Scriptures how God views those who care:
"And the Lord said to him, "’Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’" Ezekiel 9:4 (NKJV)
But for those who do not care:
"To the others He said in my hearing, ‘Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.’ So they began with the elders who were before the temple." Ezekiel 9:5-6 (NKJV)
Notice that the judgment began with the death of the elders who were "before the temple". Does this not correlate to 1 Peter 4:17, which tells us that judgment begins at the house of God? And what can that death represent to us today, if not spiritual death?
Leave Sodom Now
Lot did not leave Sodom, and so it was essentially taken from him. How much easier it would have been for him if he had left it voluntarily long before the judgment arrived. And how much easier it will be for us if we let go of the idols of this society before God tears them from us. Even in the church, many have accused others who completely dedicate their lives to the service of God as being fanatics. Nevertheless, it seems clear that only those who are "fanatics" for Jesus will survive the shaking that is coming upon our world. The long distance runner prepares and trains for the Olympic competition. Likewise, should we not prepare for the battle that is looming with prayer, Bible study, fasting and repentance? Let us consider this Scripture:
"If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?" Jeremiah 12:5 (NKJV)
Remember that another definition for vexed was "struggle at sea with a headwind". The sea always represents masses of people in the Bible, meaning we struggle against the world. God knew Lot was going through this struggle, and He was merciful to him, and had the angels lead him out of harms way. Even so, his wife disobeyed and was destroyed, for she was not only in bondage to the "stuff" of Sodom, but also did not truly believe God’s solemn warning. Let us not be blinded by the mild preaching we generally hear. This is the time to repent of our lukewarmness, and completely commit ourselves to Him. And as we trust Him we will say:"Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed,
Living a godly life in a society such as ours does seem sometimes like a struggle against a head wind. However, let us remember that Jesus is the deliverer who will guide us through any storm.
"Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm." Mark 4:39 (NKJV)
God is calling his people out of the lifestyle of this perverse generation. The time is short, and the call is becoming stronger for us daily. Let us not harden our hearts and laugh off the warning as Lot’s sons in law did, to their great eternal regret. Nor should we continue to long for a life which is riddled with corruption and lustful titillation, as Lot’s wife did. May their tragic mistakes be a warning to us, to guide us on the paths of righteousness, for Jesus is seeking a pure church.