Tag Archives: Lot

Genesis 19: From Moab to Jesus

There are many themes from Genesis 19 worthy of reflection (e.g. Lot’s failed leadership of his home; the spiritually corrosive effects on Lot and every member of his family of longterm exposure to the wickedness of Sodom; the extravagant mercy of God in extricating him from Sodom before its destruction; or the perversity of his daughters’ incest).  A chapter full of one sobering lesson after another.

But I’ll restrict my reflections in this post to vv.30-38, or rather, their stunning place within the wider arc of the story of redemption that Scripture presents to us.  The question that concerns me is not what led to the incest of Lot’s daughters, but what God, in His grace, brought forth from it.

In verses 37-38, Moses explains the bitter consequences of the incest of Lot’s daughters.  He tells the Exodus generation (his original audience) that the Moabite and the Ammonite peoples trace their respective lines back to Lot’s daughters.  This doesn’t mean much to us, I’ll grant you, but to Moses’ original audience, this was an enormously relevant connecting of the dots, since the Moabites and Ammonites were bitter antagonists of the Israelites as they emerged from the wilderness on their way to the promised land.  It was Moab that hired Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22; Deuteronomy 23:3-6).  Later, as Moses charges Israel to remember this historical hostility in Deuteronomy 23, he concludes his warning with this note of God’s triumph on Israel’s behalf:  “instead the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loved you” (Deut. 23:6).  God turned the curse into a blessing.

The rest of Scripture shows us that He continued to turn the curse of Moab into a blessing for His people.  Remember that King David’s great grandmother was Ruth (Ruth 4:17-22), and consider that this Ruth was a Moabite (Ruth 1:4).  This fact of Moabite blood flowing in David’s veins, by the way, explains why the book of Ruth (in our English Bibles) is situated so appropriately between Judges and 1 Samuel:  it explains this fact about Israel’s King (who was a man after God’s own heart) by demonstrating that, even though she was a Moabite, his great grandmother Ruth was a woman after the Lord’s own heart.  So, rather than besmirching David’s kingly credentials, his Moabite blood–given  that he comes by it through Ruth–actually embellishes them!

So much so, in fact, that Ruth–the Moabitess–is given a place of honor in the opening chapter of the New Testament, as Matthew details the genealogy of our Lord Jesus:  “and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king” (Matthew 1:5-6).  The clearest proof of Ruth’s greatness is not that her Moabite blood flowed in King David’s veins, but that it flowed in the veins of Jesus Christ, the sweetest fruit and purest seed of blessing that God, in His amazing grace, brought forth from the curse of Lot’s daughters.

SDG.

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Genesis 14: God Most High Made Most Low

After rescuing Lot, Abram is met by Melchizedek, who is both a king and “priest of God Most High” (14:18).  The writer to the Hebrews will later place great weight on the literal meanings of both his name and the city he rules:  “He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness [i.e. the literal translation of ‘Melchizedek’], and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace” (Hebrews 7:2).  The author of Hebrews understands the Melchizedek of Genesis 14 as a real figure, whose two-fold identity (a king who is also a priest) and ministry of blessing Abram (14:19) point us (through Psalm 110:4) toward fulfillment in Jesus Christ, who is Himself the King of Righteousness and High Priest of God Most High.

Melchizedek reaffirms God’s promise to bless Abram (14:19-20), echoing the seminal promises of 12:1-3, and interpreting Lot’s rescue as proof of God’s enduring blessing upon Abram.

The king of Sodom immediately tries to reward Abram, but Abram declines the opportunity, by faith (14:21-24).  Although Genesis records a number of Abram’s failures and mistakes, this is one of the episodes where his faith in the Lord is strong and he acts from an accurate vision of the Lord’s faithfulness toward him.  Abram stands his ground.

My thoughts move this morning from Genesis 14 to another proposal made by a wicked king to a representative of Abram’s line.  This one happened in the wilderness, also during the course of a rescue mission–the Greatest Rescue Mission of all–when the king of the king of Sodom, satan, offered Abram’s greatest son, Jesus Christ, all the glory and kingdoms of the world in exchange for His worship (Matthew 4:1-11).  And Jesus, the seed of Abram through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed, held His ground.  He did so not as our example, but as our Champion, who prevailed in battle for us to win a war and purchase our rescue.

It’s not just the fact of His triumph that prompts me to celebrate this morning; it’s how He achieved victory and obtained our rescue.  For “God Most High” (14:18, 20, 22) made Himself “God Most Low”:  from His incarnation to His crucifixion!  For sinners like me, and like you.  Amazing.  Wonderful.

My thanks and praise belong to Him this morning.  Blessed be God Most High!

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Genesis 13: 2 Paths to Paradise

I know, I know:  I’m a couple of days behind.  I’ve had  a rich study week mapping out the next several months of messages from Matthew’s Gospel and didn’t want to interrupt the (all too fragile) flow of thought.

Genesis 13 has always struck me as a chapter of stark choices:  Lot goes one way, Abram the other.  Lot goes short term.  Abram looks long term. Lot chooses by sight.  Abram chooses by faith.  Lot believes what his eyes show him.  Abram believes what God’s word promises him.

Lot

Subsequent events in Chapters 14 & 19 will reflect on the folly and spiritual danger of the choice Lot makes here in Chapter 13:  Lot will have to be rescued twice because of his association with Sodom.

Lot’s story is a sobering and cautionary one.  Lot is drawn to the appearance of blessing and fruitfulness in the Jordan Valley:  “And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD….” (v.10).  This is a fascinating and telling comparison:  the beauty Lot beholds from a distance triggers something deep within him, evoking comparisons with Eden (which was also well-watered 2:10-14)–what once was and was lost by man’s sin.  It’s the echo of Paradise lost that Lot hears and follows, but, as the narrative will soon clarify, it will prove a siren-song, a deadly mirage, an anti-Paradise.  Verse 13 immediately alerts us to the folly and danger of Lot’s choice:  “Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.”  

Subsequent chapters will show that, far from a return to Paradise, Lot is overcome by Sodom’s “gravitational pull” both geographically and morally.  He starts out in Chapter 13 with his tent on the outskirts of the city.  By the time we meet him again in Chapter 19, he is living within the city itself.  The longer he lives near Sodom, the closer he moves into Sodom.  This a cautionary tale, indeed:  it is never safe to flirt with the outskirts of sin, to overestimate our strength to resist or to underestimate sin’s strength to overwhelm and undo us.

Abram

Abram is on the long path to Paradise, the path marked out by the Lord’s promises.  This is the point of the Lord’s assurances to him in vv.14-17, when He commands Abram to survey the 4 points of the compass and summons Abram to believe (yet again) His promises that are utterly beyond Abram’s experience and capacity.

The Lord’s generosity to Abram here floors me.  He shows Abram far more than he will actually see in his lifetime:  something too large to be contained within the borders of his lifetime.  It feels to me like yet another deliberate echo of 1:26-28.  In effect, the LORD shows Abram the entire earth, assuring him that he will be multiplied, he will be made fruitful, and that his seed will in fact fill the earth.  In Genesis 1, the Lord commanded Adam and Eve to do the multiplying, to be fruitful and to do the filling of the earth.  Here, while the result will be the same, the path to that result has a different emphasis:  it is the Lord Himself who will undertake to fulfill His original mandate for His image bearers.  I call that sovereign grace, and it is wonderful.  The mission is secure.

It is indeed a chapter of stark choices, of 2 radically different pursuits of regaining the Paradise that has been lost.  As the writer to the Hebrews clarifies, Abram saw much further–and therefore much more clearly–than Lot.  Abram gladly passes on Sodom, because the eyes of his heart were fixed on a different city:  “For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).  It’s in that city–and only in that city–where citizenship has been purchased by Christ’s blood (Abram’s greatest Seed) for all who will trust in Him that Paradise will be regained.

May the Lord keep our eyes on the only City that will last.  SDG

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