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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Genesis 19

 

 

Verses 1-25

Abraham and Lot Contrasted

Genesis 19:1-25

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

As we enter into Genesis nineteen we are struck with many contrasts between it and Genesis eighteen. The eighteenth speaks of Abraham and the nineteenth speaks of Lot. Abraham represents the spiritual Christian, and Lot the carnal Christian. There is a difference as vast as noonday and eventide between these two characters. Both were worshipers of Jehovah, but the one was living in the light of Jehovah's smiles and favor and the other was courting the favor of men and of Sodom.

1. The spiritual builds with gold, silver, and precious stones; the carnal builds with wood, hay, and stubble. The Spirit tells us not alone of two foundations, the rock and the sand, but He also tells us of two ways of building on the Rock, Christ Jesus. The unbeliever builds upon the sand. The believer builds upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and yet he may build that which will no more than afford a big bonfire in the day when his works are to be tried.

2. The spiritual lives for the things not seen; the carnal lives for the things which are seen. Here is a vast distinction in motives and ideals. One centers in this world which passes away, the other centers in the city which is Heavenly and which shall never pass. The one loves the things which are seen, the temporal things of time; the other loves the things which are not seen, the things of eternity. The one lays up treasures upon earth, the other lays up treasures in Heaven.

Abraham and Lot certainly expressed this contrast. Abraham lived as a tent dweller, looking for a City whose Builder and Maker is God; Lot lived as a city dweller, devoting his time and energy to carnal activities and centering his hopes on earthly things.

3. The spiritual lives as a developed man, full grown in grace; the carnal as a babe, desiring milk and not meat. The distinction in this picture of the carnal and the spiritual is set forth in the Book of Corinthians in strong terms.

Here it is: "I * * could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk * *. Ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"

Beloved, as we study Abraham and Lot in contrast, let us seek in all sincerity to discover whether we are the one or the other, and let us definitely determine to follow that which is spiritual from this very hour.

I. A CONTRAST IN THE TIME OF DAY (Genesis 18:1 with 19:1)

1. The Lord appeared unto Abraham in the heat of the day. Reading this casually, there may come no discernment of the significance of the time of the day when the Lord came to Abraham. However, as we ponder the words, "Heat of the day" many visions of truth come to our minds.

(1) The heat of the day is the time of light. We know that we are children of the day, and children of the light. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. God hath called us out of darkness into His glorious light. We are taught to walk as children of the light.

(2) The heat of the day is significant of warmth. The believer should always walk with a heart warm with love. Warmth speaks of affection and of comradeship. It suggests that there is nothing between. Cold speaks of the lack of love and throbbing life. Cold is chill, informal, lifeless Christianity. The blood is warm we speak of blood heat. This means life vitalized, effectual, and full of strength.

2. The Lord appeared unto Lot at even. What do these words suggest to us?

(1) There is a lack of vision as the shades of eventide come on. We cannot see clearly. Spiritual vision is growing dim. The mind is darkened so that we cannot grasp the things of God. We cannot see afar off. We are looking at the things which lie in our immediate pathway.

(2) The sun is sinking at even. Hope seems to be taking wing. Darkness is approaching apace. Night shades are about to enclose us. So the carnal Christian passes into a cloud. He can see nothing with clear spiritual insight. He is beclouded in his spiritual vision. Sometimes he even doubts that he is saved. He has no clear conception of truth. He looks as through a glass dimly. He knows nothing of assurance and perfect peace.

Poor Lot it was certainly even time with him. Lot was about to pass out of Sodom shorn of all worldly possessions and bereft of all his hopes. He was about to see part of his family consumed in the flames of Sodom and his wife turned into a pillar of salt. God save us from such an eventide.

II. A CONTRAST IN LOCATION (Genesis 18:1 with Genesis 19:1 )

1. Abraham sat in his tent door. Once again we pause, wondering if the fact that Abraham sat in a tent has a message for our heart? It has. The tent suggests that the believer is a transient and not a resident in these mundane scenes. Tent dwelling is the lot of every true believer. Spiritual Christians reckon themselves to be no more than strangers and pilgrims journeying through a desert land.

So far as Abraham was concerned, he was a tent dweller by choice. He lived looking for a City whose Builder and Maker is God. He actually accounted himself a stranger. Should we do less? Is not our citizenship in Heaven?

2. Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: Is this not a striking contrast? Abraham in the tent door, Lot in the gate of Sodom. Abraham a sojourner, Lot a resident. Abraham unentangled with the affairs of Satan's dominion, Lot engulfed in headship where Satan reigned.

We know that Lot seated in the gate of Sodom expressed the real inner conceptions of Lot's life ideals. He had looked toward Sodom in the months past; he had looked with a longing of which his seat in Sodom was his expectant realization.

III. A CONTRAST IN PERSONALITIES (Genesis 18:2 with Genesis 19:1 )

1. There were three Men who came unto Abraham. The Three were composed of the Lord, and two Angels. Abraham had ever been the friend of God. He had often talked with the Lord, and the Lord had often talked with him. There was a hallowed and sacred comradeship existing between Abraham and the Lord. Thus, when the Three appeared, Abraham ran forth to meet Them. He said unto Them, as he bowed himself to the ground, "Wash your feet, * * rest, * * comfort ye your hearts." They said, "So do."

2. There were two men who came to Lot. The One who tarried behind was none other than the Lord. When the two men arrived Lot rose up to meet them; Abraham had run to meet them. Lot said: "Turn in, * * wash your feet, * * rise up early," etc. The two angels said, "Nay; but we will abide in the street all night."

Say what you will but there is a marked contrast all the way along. Lot did show good manners and courtesy, but he lacked Abraham's enthusiasm. The Heavenly Visitors at once accepted Abraham's invitation; but they refused Lot's.

(1) The Lord did not go to Lot He only sent an ambassage. Is it not always true? Carnality may not break sonship, it does break fellowship. People who live in the meshes of Sodom never have communion with the Lord.

There was an utter lack of spiritual contact between Lot and his Lord, Lot vexed his righteous soul with the filthy conversation of the wicked, yet he did not saturate his righteous soul with the presence of Jehovah.

(2) The two angels seemed loath to accept Lot's hospitality. When they did enter in it was only as forerunners of judgment. Mark also that as soon as Lot housed God's messengers and made them a feast that the men of Sodom immediately broke with Lot and came in a rage against him.

We cannot walk with God and the world both; we cannot have two masters. If we love the one we will hate the other; if we follow with the one we will leave the other.

IV. A CONTRAST IN FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS (Genesis 18:19 with Genesis 19:12 ; Genesis 19:14 )

1. Abraham had a household who followed with him. God said of Abraham, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord." How many households are there like this? Many? Yes. However, the many are all too few. In homes supposedly Christian in their headship the children are allowed to run riot after the world. The family after has long since passed into obscurity. Parental fidelity is broken down both toward God and toward the family.

2. Lot seemed as one who mocked to his sons-in-law. Lot's two virgin daughters did go with him when he fled from Sodom. His wife started, but turned back. His sons-in-law and married daughters stayed behind to be caught in the destruction.

There must have been a reason for the "mocking" of the two sons-in-law. Evidently Lot, or Lot's wife, or both of them, had never made any deep impression upon the two youths of Sodom. We feel sure that their testimony had not been given for God; or, if given, it did not weigh up to their lives.

We need to back our talk with our walk, our words with our way. Consistent Christian living is even more vital than consistent Christian thinking. God wrote: "Take heed to thyself and to the doctrine."

V. A CONTRAST IN FUTURE HERITAGES (Genesis 18:18 with 19:13)

1. Abraham looked upon the future with large hope. To him the Lord had given promise that his seed would possess the gates. From him were to come many nations. He and his seed were to inherit a wonderful land, the pick of all of the lands of the earth.

The spiritual Christian looks forward with joy to his eternal heritage. He has laid up treasures where moth and rust do not corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal. Everything ahead is rosy and filled with colors of glory.

2. Lot looked forward with dark forebodings. It is sickening to see Lot pleading with the angels for the privilege of escaping to one of the little cities that lay not too far from Sodom. It is sickening to see him going out empty-handed as he fled from Sodom's destruction. Let Christians fear lest they build their treasures upon this earth. If they live for Sodom, they must expect to feel the fires of Sodom's undoing.

"Saved, so as by fire" is one of the startling words of the Bible. These words cannot be applied to the unsaved, simply because they are lost altogether. They do apply to believers who have eternal life, but have nothing laid up in Heaven.

Alas, alas, how many there will be in the judgment who will find their works all burned. That which is sown to the flesh, will, of the flesh, reap corruption. If we fulfill the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and walk as men walk minding earthly things we can certainly not expect to find a harvest of spiritualities in Heaven.

God has forewarned us to add to our faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, etc., for so shall an abundant entrance be. administered unto you into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. If we want a full reward we must follow our Lord's conditions of reward. Lot was saved, but saved so as by fire.

VI. A CONTRAST IN PRAYING FOR SODOM AND FLEEING FROM SODOM (Genesis 18:24 with 19:17, 20, 22)

1. Abraham prayed for Sodom. In fact, Abraham prayed for Lot. This was the burden of Abraham's prayer, "Wilt Thou destroy the righteous with the wicked?"

The time has come that saints everywhere should begin to plead earnestly for their loved ones who are mixed up in the world. How can we hold our peace when we know that coming judgments are reaching out toward our dear ones?

2. Lot fled from Sodom.

(1) Lot hesitating. At first Lot was loath to leave because of his family and his goods. He felt that he could not go away with his daughters and their husbands left in the city of destruction.

(2) Lot urged by the angels. While Lot lingered the two angels laid hold upon him and his wife and two of his daughters and said, "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, * * escape to the mountains, lest thou be consumed." Lot pled, "Not so, my Lord." But the angels still urged, "Haste thee, escape thither."

(3) Lot finally, obedient to the angels, went his way and entered into Zoar. Then, it was, that the Lord rained down fire upon Sodom.

(4) Lot was sent out in answer to prayer. We read, "God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out." Here is a marvelous example of the power of prayer, for the angels said, "I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither."

3. Lot's wife turned back. It was a terrible thing for her to do. Against the direct command of the angels she looked behind her. You excuse her, perhaps, on the ground of her love for her children who stayed behind. Perhaps you urge that she looked back because all that was dear to her socially, and financially, and every way was in Sodom. We grant it. However, God did not excuse her folly, for she was immediately slain and turned to a pillar of salt.

VII. SODOM'S DESTRUCTION (Genesis 19:24-25 )

1. God made an end of Sodom's wickedness. God rained down fire and brimstone. Young people need not imagine that the God they know and serve would not rain down such dire destruction, for this very age in which we are now living is fast hastening toward a similar judgment. God waits long, but when wickedness reaches its utmost limit to which grace can allow it to go, God, in mercy, must destroy the wicked.

The reason that the average age limit of man's lifetime was cut down after the flood, was so that wickedness could not grow to the lengths of pre-Noachic times.

2. God will soon arise to judge this very world of our day for its sins. Soon, how soon, will the angel of the Lord cry, "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap * * the harvest of the earth is ripe."

The first universal judgment was at the time of the flood, when the world system that then was, was destroyed by water. The second universal judgment will be during the Great Tribulation, when a third, at least of the world of men will fall under the wrath of God. The third and final judgment will be when the Great White Throne is placed, from whose face the heaven and the earth will flee away. Then will come the period of which Peter wrote in the Spirit, "The elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."

AN ILLUSTRATION

BIRD TIED BY A STRING

Lot was tied to the earth by his carnalities.

"' A bird that is tied by a string seems to have more liberty than a bird in a cage; it flatters up and down, and yet it is held fast.' When a man thinks that he has escaped from the bondage of sin in general, and yet evidently remains under the power of some favored lust, he is woefully mistaken in his judgment as to his spiritual freedom. He may boast that he is out of the cage, but assuredly the string is on his leg. He who has his fetters knocked off, all but one chain, is a prisoner still. 'Let not any iniquity have dominion over me' is a good and wise prayer; for one pampered sin will slay the soul as surely as one dose of poison will kill the body. There is no need for a traveler to be bitten by a score of deadly vipers, the tooth of one cobra is quite sufficient to ensure his destruction. One sin, like one match, can kindle the fires of hell within the soul.

The practical application of this truth should be made by the professor who is a slave to drink, or to covetousness, or to passion. How can you be free if any one of these chains still holds you fast? We have met with professors who are haughty, and despise others; how can these be the Lord's free men while pride surrounds them? In will and intent we must break every bond of sin, and we must perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, or we cannot hope that the Son has made us free. O Thou who art the tree Spirit, break every bond of sin, I beseech Thee." Spurgeon.


Verses 14-30

Lot Fleeing from Sodom

Genesis 19:14-30

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

We have before us one of the greatest conflagrations of all history, dual cities and their neighboring villages utterly consumed by fire sent down from Heaven.

In this great conflagration we have a forecast of the coming great tribulation into which the world now seems about to enter.

Many are the Scriptures which speak of the terrific judgments which will be upon the earth in those days.

Joel calls it: "A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness." He goes on to say that a great people and strong will come forth in those days. Then he adds, "A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth."

Nahum describes the same day as a day when the hills melt, the mountains quake and the earth is burned. Nahum cries out, "Who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him."

Thus do other Prophets describe the same day of judgment that awaits this Satan dominated world.

The New Testament gives the same story. Christ forewarned the time of His Coming as a time of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. Then He said, "All these are the beginning of sorrows." And in speaking of this tribulation, the Lord spoke of it as a sorrow such as was not since the beginning of the world nor ever shall be. He said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall tall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."

The Book of Revelation concludes the story of the tribulation. First of all we have the seals which are broken and the coming forth of the four horse riders. Next we have judgments intensified as the trumpets are sounded; then, we have the pouring forth of the vials of God's wrath and the completion of the judgments of Almighty God.

Thus it is that the destruction of Sodom brings before us in graphic portraiture the story of another day of unspeakable tribulation upon an earth made ripe in iniquity.

I. A SAINT WHO SEEMED AS ONE WHO MOCKED (Genesis 19:14 )

In our last study we spoke of Lot's appeal to his sons-in-law, and how he seemed unto them as one who mocked. It seems to us, however, that we should place special stress upon this remarkable statement found in Genesis 19:14 ,

1. There are many mockers who will rise in the last days. This is the statement of the Apostle Peter, and also of Jude. These mockers, however, are apostates men who deny the faith once delivered.

They cry out, "Where is the promise of His coming?" Thus they ridicule that Blessed Hope of the Return of our Lord.

2. There are many mockers of Truth, however, who are supposedly the heralders of Truth. They stand in the sacred desks proposing to proclaim the Truth of God and yet they deny that Truth. They join hands, therefore, with the apostates described above. They sneer at men who preach Christ in His fulness emphasizing the fact of coming tribulation as "little men," "dolts," "untutored," "following fables found in the Word of God which should long ago have been relegated to the theological scrap pile."

3. There are many also today who seem to mock. Lot had no desire to mock the truth of Sodom's coming judgment. In fact, Lot fully accepted the statements of the angels, and with all concern for the safety of his children he hastened to warn them.

He who laughs most of the years of his pilgrimage, as though nothing was about to happen, and then suddenly changes his whole attitude as though everything was about to collapse, may easily seem as one who mocks. He who lives in all worldliness and carnality can hardly expect to give an acceptable warning to those who have judged his spirituality an unimportant factor in his life.

II. A BROKEN FAMILY (Genesis 19:15 )

How sadly do the words ring out, "Take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here." The real thought which stands embossed before our mind is, "Where are the others?" Some of them were about to go out of the city, others were about to be left to the city's flames.

1. A divided household bespeaks a divided and weakened testimony. When in the same family and under the same roof there are some who are for God and some who are against Him, there cannot be the same weight given to the testimony to truth that should be given.

It was for this cause that God commanded that elders or deacons should have their children in submission and well taught in the things of God. The impression on the outside is that a man whose life does not lead his own family into the love of Christ can hardly be right himself. The impression also is that if a man cannot guide his own household aright, he cannot guide aright the larger household of his God.

2. A divided household bespeaks in most instances, a lack in the lives of those who are supposedly true. We know that Lot vexed his righteous soul because of the ungodly deeds and words of the Sodomites. We know, also, that he did not give a strong and vital witness against their iniquity. He certainly did not warn them of the corning judgment of a righteous God.

How many there are who live before their children without any seeming convictions of truth and without any particular warnings to them of their evil ways. When some great evangelistic movement sweeps the community such parents may become awakened to their children's danger of being eternally lost. Yet, their efforts to win their children will carry but little weight owing to their past unseemly conduct.

III. A LINGERING SAINT (Genesis 19:16 )

2. The things that held Lot back. Some may wish to excuse Lot by urging that he had so many things to hold him to Sodom. His family was anchored there. His business associates were there. His home was there. His money was invested there.

The difficulty in all of this was that the things which Lot had in Sodom, he had against the command of the Lord. Perhaps unwittingly, and yet just as certainly he had allowed himself to be engulfed in a great sweeping wave of world-centered ambitions. He was looking at the things that are seen, laying up his treasures on earth, and loving the world.

2. With what difficulty many of our day will face the Coming of the Lord. Some, indeed, will draw back from Him at His Coming. Some are so engrossed in the things terrestrial that they would give half of all they possessed if they could delay the Lord's Coming. They are so much buried in the debris of this world that they have lost their desire for another world. They are set on some earthly city that they have no longings for a city that is Heavenly. They are so in love with men, that they have no longings for the Lord.

3. Obedience delayed is only obedience made more difficult. Lot, by lingering, and halting did not make it easier for himself to sever connections with Sodom. Indeed we believe that obedience put off is obedience spoiled. The commandments of the Lord require haste. To stand to one side and look at a responsibility only augments the burden of responsibility. Duty postponed is duty made irksome.

IV. THE MERCIFUL GOD (Genesis 19:16 , l.c.)

1. What justice apart from kindness might have done. It is only natural for man to meet human frailties with more or less of disgust. If some one delays our call we are liable to leave the delinquent to his. fates not so the Lord. Our God is long-suffering and patient. He remembers that we are dust. He deals with us in all tenderness.

2. What God did do. As Lot lingered the angels laid their hands in loving urging upon the hands of Lot, Lot's wife, and his two daughters. Then they brought them forth outside the city.

God does not ask us to go alone, but He goes with us as far as it is necessary. It was a memorable sight to behold the man of large business ability and success being led by the hand out of Sodom, accompanied by his wife and by two of his daughters.

3. Why God did lead Lot out of Sodom. The Word is plain "The Lord being merciful unto him." Let us stop and consider Where would we be today, if God had not been merciful unto us? Had God dealt with us after our sins we had long ago been banished from His sight. When David sought for any of the house of Saul, David said: "Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" What did David do? He sent down to Lo-debar, the place of no pasture and he fetched Mephibosheth to his palace. He restored unto Mephibosheth all that had belonged to Saul, and he fed him his portion in the king's house.

This is just what God does for us. He lays His hands upon us, being merciful unto us. Then He lifts us to a standing more effectual than we had ever known, and asks us to eat at His house forevermore.

4. God is today calling us out of Sodom. Sodom is this world of folly and of shame. Christ died to save us out of it. We are not of the world, for we are other-worldly. Let us give heed to ourselves, whether we are entangled again in the gardens of the world's pleasures.

V. ESCAPING TO THE MOUNTAIN (Genesis 19:17 )

1. Sodom stands for the world. There is a verse of Scripture in Galatians which says, that He died to save us from this present evil age or world according to the will of God our Father. This is exactly what we see in the case of Lot. God was delivering him from the powers of darkness which held him in their sway.

Paul, in the Spirit, spoke of the Cross by which he was crucified unto the world, and the world was crucified unto him. It is this Cross with this double crucifixion which should be our glory.

Lot was inveigled in the world against the will of God. As long as he was there he might prosper in the things of the flesh, but he could not prosper in the things of the Spirit.

2. The mountain stands for those higher realms of Christian life to which we are called. We are to set our affection on the things above. In Ephesians, the whole story of how we are to live in the Heavenlies in Christ Jesus is marvelously foretold. We may be upon the earth and in the world, but we are not of the world. Our treasures should be Heavenly, not earthly. Our hope should be on high, not beneath.

Heavenly people may use the world, but they must not abuse it. They are sent into the world, but they are not constituent parts of the world. Let us each examine our own hearts to discover whether we are living in the low-lands of carnal activities or upon the highlands of spiritual endeavors.

VI. A SELF-CENTERED VISION (Genesis 19:19 )

1. Lot preferred the lowlands to the mountain top. When Lot said to the angel, "I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die"; he plainly showed that while he was getting out of Sodom Sodom was not altogether out of him.

It is not enough to be saved, we need to be sanctified. This is the will of God for us. It is not enough to have life, we want life more abundantly. Too many believers are, apparently, satisfied to be saved as Lot was saved, so as by fire. Too many are willing to go with Christ only part of the way.

2. Lot put his will against the will of the Lord. Lot said unto the angel, "Not so, my Lord." He pled his way, his ideas, his preference. As an excuse Lot said, "I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die." Lot's whole contention was a lack of trust in the Lord. He was afraid to risk God, to do what God said, to go where God told him to go.

The fact that the Lord accepted Lot's plea does not mean that God thought Lot's choice better than His own command. God's attitude toward Lot is always His attitude toward His children. He who refuses to take God's first best will receive His second or His third. In this, however, the loss is always ours.

The Bible says, "Oh, that My people had hearkened unto Me, * * I * * should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat." From the moment that Lot took his own choice and refused God, he passes out of sight. Had he gone to the mountain top, he might have become one of God's great ones, he might have had his name written in God's galaxy of heroes. He chose his own way and suffered thereby.

VII. LOT'S WIFE (Genesis 19:26 )

We have been speaking of Lot's carnality, of Lot's perfidy, of Lot's unwillingness to go through with God. We now come to the consideration of Lot's wife.

1. Lot's wife was saved from Sodom's overthrow. When Lot went out she went with him. She had faith enough to leave Sodom, but she did not have courage enough to go all the way with God. We believe that Lot's wife left Sodom through fear more than through faith. She could not but believe the angel's testimony, and yet, the power that dominated her in her flight was the fear of being consumed.

We suppose it is always right for any one to flee the wrath to come. Fear of hell may be a just reason for coming to Christ. Fear, however, is a motive that is in danger of leaving us stranded as soon as we are out of the terror of conflagration. Fear as a motive lies far behind gratitude and love. If we do anything because we have to and we are afraid not to, we are not liable to do more than is actually commanded. If, on the other hand, we are prompted by love, our life will be filled with excesses of every kind. We will do more than is required.

2. Lot's wife became a pillar of salt. I wonder if we can dissect the look of Lot's wife as she turned back to view Sodom. Did she begin to wonder after all if the angels had told the truth? Did she turn to see if Sodom was actually burning? Did Lot's wife turn back because everything that was dear to her heart was there; two of her daughters were there, her sons-in-law were there, her social life was there, her home and its surroundings were all there.

God has said where your treasure is, there will be your heart also. When we see Christians turning back toward the world and. speaking longingly of their old walk and way, we fear that they love the things which are seen. God help us to go all the way with Him.

AN ILLUSTRATION

A LONG LEASE ENHANCES VALUE

Lot had much in Sodom but he had to lose it.

"' If a man might have a cottage on a hundred years' lease, he would prize it much more than the possession of a palace for a day.' Of course he would; and this it is which adds so much preciousness to the joys of Heaven, for they are eternal. The pleasures of this world, however bright they seem, are but for this one day of life, which is already half over. If they were all they profess to be, and a thousand times more, they would not be worthy to be mentioned in comparison with 'pleasures for evermore' at God's right hand.

O Thou who fillest eternity, impress me with the solemn import of that word, and let me feel that all time's fleeting cares and caresses are as dreams; while the things of eternity alone have substance in them. Give me Thy grace that I may 'lay hold on eternal life.' " Spurgeon.


Verses 25-28

Where Lookest Thou

Genesis 13:8-11 ; Genesis 18:20-22 ; Genesis 19:25-28

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

Our Scripture today presents four looks toward Sodom. 1. There was the look of Lot, or the look of worldly advantage. 2. There was the look of the Lord, or the look of coming judgment. 3. There was the look of Lot's wife, or the look of folly and of pride. 4. There was the look of Abraham, or the look of compassionate submission. Let us examine these four looks, one at a time.

1. The look of Lot. There had been a strife betwixt Abraham's herdsmen, and the herdsmen of Lot. Abraham realized that the time for separation had come.

There are some who may feel that Lot had a keen business vision, and that he could see a dollar a long way off. We agree, but we add that Lot's vision was circumscribed by his own personal advantage, and that, in reality, he was blinded and could not see afar.

2. The look of the Lord. This was the look of judgment. The Lord saw everything that Lot saw, but he saw more than Lot saw. The Lord beheld in Sodom a city that reeked with sin. He beheld the wreckage that would come to Lot and his family by reason of Lot's foolish choice.

"The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him." Those same eyes, however, look in judgment upon all whose heart wanders from the Lord.

3. The look of Lot's wife. As they fled from Sodom, Lot's wife turned, and looked back. We can hardly wonder at her folly. Everything she loved was in Sodom. She had left the daughters, who had married Sodomites, and her sons-in-law behind her. She had left her friends of fashion and of pomp behind her. She had left her beautiful home and its luxuries behind her. She had left more than all of this she had left the affections of her own heart behind her.

When Lot's wife looked toward Sodom, she looked toward her treasures, and toward those things which were dearer to her than life. Let us fear lest we, too, become entangled again in a yoke of bondage, and begin to long after the "flesh pots of Egypt," and thus look back.

4. The look of Abraham. Abraham had prayed earnestly for Lot. The result of Abraham's prayer was that Lot and his two daughters were saved. God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out.

I. PRAYER, AND THE UPWARD LOOK (2 Chronicles 20:12 )

Moab and Ammon came against Jehoshaphat to battle. They were a great multitude, and Jehoshaphat was afraid. Then Jehoshaphat prayed unto the Lord and said, "O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee."

In answer to Jehoshaphat's prayer, the enemy was overthrown. We need to place our eyes upon God. God has said, "Fret not thyself because of evil doers." To the contrary, we must learn to "rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." When everything seems against us, it is only God's opportunity to show His strength. Sometimes, in earnest prayer, we need to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.

"Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." Habakkuk came to the place where the fig tree did not blossom, neither was there fruit in the vine; the labour of the olive failed, and the fields yielded no meat; the flock was cut off from the fold, and no herd was found in the stall: yet, the Prophet said, "I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

It was the clinging prayer of Jacob that made him a victor. It is when we come to the end of ourselves, and lift up our face with beseeching unto God, that He comes to our help.

God has said, "My grace is sufficient for thee." It is sufficient everywhere. What we must do is to lift up our eyes unto the Lord, and get in touch with His power. We will. always find that there is a larger balance to the credit of faith when we draw upon Heavenly resources.

II. SERVICE, THE OUTWARD LOOK (John 4:35-36 )

The Lord told the disciples to lift up their eyes, and to look, for the fields were white unto the harvest. When our eyes were upon the fields for service, His eyes would be upon us for blessing. When the Children of Israel faced the land of Canaan, God told them to enter in, and to possess the land. Then, said God, "I will be with thee."

We fail to receive from God, because we refuse to undertake for God. He who sits still, and never ventures, in faith, will find God waiting for him to step out, instead of working for Him.

The eyes of the Lord are looking for men ready to leave father, mother, brother, sister, houses and lands, that they may go forth to reap.

Do you see the ripened fields? Do you hear the voice of God saying, "Who will go and reap?" God grant that you may say, "Here am I, Lord, send me."

When the Lord commanded Joshua, saying, "Arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people," there was no time for fear, no time to weigh the difficulties of the wilderness. What mattered if there were difficulties ahead; God had commanded, "Go!" They dared not hesitate.

The Lord told Philip to go in the road which was desert. Immediately Philip arose and went. Can we not even now hear the voice of God saying to us, even as He said to Israel of old, "Go forward"?

The Lord Himself has promised, "I will be with thee." We must not cease to go until we have preached the Gospel to every creature; until every stock of ripened grain has been harvested home.

If barriers lie across our way, they will disappear before our march of faith.

'Tis the voice of the Master, "Press forward today,

The fields are all ripened with grain";

'Tis the voice of the servant, 'I'll haste to obey,

Not counting the cost, but the gain."

III. CONFLICT, THE INWARD LOOK (Romans 7:18-24 )

When we look within and view our human heart, in its sinful estate, we are crushed, even to despair. Paul said, "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." Do you marvel that Paul then cried, "O wretched man that I am"? The vision of his own sinful self was enough to cause him to bemoan himself.

It is always true that when we look within and see the contumely of our old man, we are disturbed and disheartened. What then shall we do? Let us reckon the old man as dead. Let us refuse to listen to its voice, to walk in its ways, or to fulfil its desires.

On the contrary, let us look away to the Holy Spirit, remembering that He, likewise, dwells within. If we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. If we walk in the Spirit, our moans of despair will be changed into paeans of victory. Instead of self-condemnation, we will have "no condemnation." Instead of the works of the flesh being made manifest, we will bear the fruit of the Spirit.

The believer must guard against being overwhelmed by introspection. He must remember that Jesus Christ is stronger than self, that the Holy Spirit will give deliverance from the dominion of the self-life.

It is unwise for the Christian to boast in the flesh, or to walk by the flesh, or to pamper the flesh. Paul said, "I die daily." There is only one place for the self-life and that is on the Cross, to be crucified with Christ. It we live the life of victory, we must not walk by the old man, but by the new man.

Christ has said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself." In the Christian experience Christ must be All, and in all, and the old man nothing at all.

IV. RETROSPECTION, THE BACKWARD LOOK (2 Timothy 4:8 )

As Paul looked backward over a fruitful ministry, and a faithful life, he could say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." Here is a retrospective that was worth the while.

We need to look backward now and then, not with the spirit of boastfulness, but with the spirit of honest contemplation.

At the end of every day it will profit us to study what has been done, and said, and thought. Thus we can profit by our mistakes, and increase our victories. The first will cause us to be more careful; and the second will bring us encouragement by the way.

In retrospection, however, we must never be overwhelmed or discouraged by reason of our failure; nor, must we be satisfied with our successes. We must watch against resting upon our past accomplishments. We should use what God has done through us in the past, as an incentive to renewed and enlarged undertakings in the future.

If we would make our final retrospective, at the close of life's day, a cause for thanksgiving and praise, we must be very careful to fill in each day, as it passes, with faithful service; with fidelity to the faith; and with holy living.

When the Lord Jesus approached the end of His earthly ministry, He said, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do."

V. THE PERSPECTIVE, THE ONWARD LOOK (Habakkuk 2:3 )

We like the word spoken by Habakkuk: "For the vision is yet for an appointed time * * though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."

As we look at present world-conditions we are disheartened. We are walking through a valley of the shadow of death. Sin and sorrow are wreaking out misery everywhere. Satan is renewing every effort against the race.

The Word of God promises no relief. Unto the end wars are determined. Evil men are to wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. Iniquity will abound. God paints no roseate picture of the last days. He tells us, rather, that "perilous times shall come."

What Habakkuk saw, however, was a vision that looked on far beyond the present hour, far beyond the hour of Jacob's trouble. We know that Habakkuk saw the overthrow of Israel, and the cup of sorrow which she must drink; but he saw also the Lord coming, with His glory covering the Heavens, and he saw the earth full of His praise. He saw Christ coming in judgment against the nations that had despoiled Israel. He saw the sun and moon standing still as the Lord's arrows went forth. He saw the Lord marching through the land in indignation, threshing the heathen in His anger. Then, he saw the salvation of God's people, with the head of the house of the wicked cut down.

We need a similar vision. We would not be blind to the day of wrath that is about to fall upon the earth, but we would see also another day, a day of peace, a day when men shall beat the swords into plowshares, and the spears into pruninghooks; a day when Christ shall reign in righteousness.

If we see nothing but the present hour, heading up in the reign and rule of the antichrist, we will become discouraged; but, if we see beyond that hour, the day of "the Lord seated upon His throne," we will become encouraged and full of blessed anticipation.

VI. DISCOURAGEMENT, THE DOWNWARD LOOK (Genesis 4:5-6 )

Sin had entered into the Garden, and man had been expelled therefrom. Cain and Abel had been born with the ravages of sin upon them. Abel had placed his faith in the blood of a sacrifice, which anticipated the Cross of Christ. Cain had rejected the atonement, and had placed his faith in a bloodless sacrifice art ethical conception.

In jealousy Cain rose up and slew his brother. When Cain had seen that God accepted Abel and rejected himself, he was wroth, and his countenance fell. The result of sin is always a downcast look a fallen countenance.

God made man an "uplooker." He placed his head on the top of him. He gave him as his realm of his contemplation and vision, the things which were high and holy. Sin changed man's perspective; it turned his face from the skies, where God rules; to the earth, where man dwells.

The sinner looks at the things seen, not at the things unseen; he centers his affections upon the things of the earth, not upon the things of the sky.

Saints are "uplookers" and not "downlookers." We are looking for that Blessed Hope, and the Glorious Appearing of our Lord. We are building our treasures in Heaven, not upon the earth. We are strangers and pilgrims, journeying toward a City, whose Builder and Maker is God.

The man who, Cain-like, has his countenance downcast, and is living for this present world, is blind and cannot see afar off. The god of this world hath veiled his eyes lest the light of the Gospel of the glory of God should shine in upon him and convert him.

VII. ENCOURAGEMENT, THE GOD-WARD LOOK (2 Kings 6:17 )

Gehazi must have trembled with fear as he saw the enemy closing in upon Elisha, Then it was that the Prophet prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he may see." What Gehazi saw was the mountain full of God's horses and chariots, giving protection to His Prophet.

We need the vision which God gave to Gehazi. We need to see all Heaven working in our behalf. When this is before us, we will lift up the hands that hang down and find strength for our feeble knees.

Instead of looking at our emergencies, we should look beyond them, and above them to God's provision and power. When the Children of Israel saw the mountains on one side, the sea before them, and Pharaoh's hosts coming upon them and closing them in, they needed to look away to God.

The hosts of the Lord are an innumerable multitude, and they are all working in our behalf. The Lord, Himself, has placed at our disposal all of the power invested in Him, as He sits enthroned above.

Retreat should never be found in the Christian's vocabulary. We should not even try to go around our difficulties. We should press through them.

The ten spies came back, saying, "We saw giants." Joshua and Caleb said, "Let us go up at once" they saw God.

There are giants at every turn. They are in our family life; they are in our business careers; they are in our spiritual walk; they are everywhere. If we see the powers of God around us, we will say, "They be bread for us; we will eat them up." Without the opening of our eyes, and the faith which the vision of God instills, we will be eaten up by our enemies.

Our God is a God of infinite power. Our battle, therefore, is a battle with a sure conquest at its close. We will prove more than victors, through Him who loved us. We may experience a continuous fight, but we will have a glorious conclusion.

AN ILLUSTRATION

BIRDS ON THE WING

"Birds are seldom taken in their flight; the more we are upon the wing of Heavenly thoughts the more we escape snares." "O that we would remember this, and never tarry long on the ground lest the fowler ensnare us. We need to be much taken up with Divine things, rising in thought above these temporal matters, or else the world will entangle us, and we shall be like birds held with limed twigs, or encompassed in a net. Holy meditation can scarcely be overdone; in this age we fear it never is. We are too worldly, and think too much of the fleeting trifles of time, and so the enemy gets an advantage of us, and takes a shot at us. O for more wing and more use of the flight we have! Communion with Jesus is not only sweet in itself, but it has a preserving power by bearing us aloft, above gun-shot of the enemy. Thoughts of Heaven prevent discontent with our present lot, delight in God drives away love to the world, and joy in our Lord Jesus expels pride and carnal pleasure: thus we escape from many evils by rising above them.

Up, then, my heart. Up from the weedy ditches and briery hedges of the world into the clear atmosphere of Heaven. There where the dews of grace are born, and the sun of righteousness is Lord paramount, and the blessed wind of the Spirit blows from the everlasting hills, thou wilt find rest on the wing, and sing for joy where thine enemies cannot even see thee."

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Genesis 19:4". "Living Water". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/genesis-19.html.

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