Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 8

OT: Gen 18:20-19:38

You may have caught on to this, but I stay a day ahead of our reading schedule. When I wake up in the morning, I post that day's blog, and then read and blog for the next day. This morning, however, I read and didn't blog. Instead, I have pondered on and off throughout the day just what was wrong with Lot. And now at the end of the day, I still have no real insight.

Well, I do know that he was obviously and extremely screwed up by his culture. While he didn't go all in for the hedonism, and he had enough civility not to let his houseguests be gang-raped, his actions reflect just how morally compromised he had become. For instance, he thought it was acceptable host behavior to substitute his daughters to be raped by an angry mob. That was apparently Lot's version of being "protective." To his credit, he does believe the angels when they say that God is going to destroy the city. Of course, having a sex-crazed homosexual mob literally beating down his door probably lent credence to their accusations of Sodom. But then on the other hand, he hesitates when it is time to leave. And then, when they say to flee to the mountains, Lot starts whining that that's too hard, and that he wants to go somewhere closer. I mean, what the heck? What part of "rain down burning sulfur" makes you think that this is the time to stand around and split hairs?

All of that is weird enough. But I truly cannot understand what he does next. I mean, put yourself in Lot's shoes. You just had to flee your home. You lost all your possessions, and it is just you and your daughters left. What do you do? Where do you go? If only you had a rich relative near enough to see the smoke, a godly relative who had earlier pleaded with God for the righteous of the city...

But Lot chooses not to do that. Instead, he chooses the oh-so-alluring option alone in caves. Why??? Did he and Abraham have a falling out? Maybe after Abraham rescued him the first time, he didn't want Lot to return to Sodom. Maybe they fought over that. Maybe they fought over Lot's lifestyle. Maybe Lot was just too proud to come, hat in hand, to his uncle. I have no idea. But I just can't fathom his decision.

And of course, Lot was not the only one negatively influenced by his culture. His two daughters cooked up a hair-brained scheme to have children by their father. This is one seriously distorted family. Hearing about them makes me wonder how much my culture is distorting my morals? If Lot could see himself the way God saw him, I bet he would be shocked. I wonder how much the same idea applies to me.

NT: Matt. 6:25-7:15

I love the "worry" passage. Even as a teenager, it was incredibly encouraging and comforting to me. Jesus is so right. There is no point in worrying about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. And if we seek first God's Kingdom and His righteousness, there will be no point to worrying about those things anyway.

Waiting until tonight to blog wasn't a great idea. My brain is fried, and the concept of not judging, the idea of the speck and the plank, and the idea of God giving good gifts to his children all seem so simple and straightforward. My brain can't get past the simplicity to find something to comment on. But if anyone else has a thought, please share!

Psalms 8: 1-9

What a beautiful psalm! Unlike mine, David's brain was very capable of pondering deep thoughts here, as he looked at the magnificence of God's creation and wondered, "What is man, that you are mindful of him? The son of man, that you care for him?" (v 4). Whenever I look at the stars, I am struck by similar thoughts (probably influenced by this psalm). I see the stars, and then I picture how infinitesimal my planet is from the point of view of those stars. And how I'm just a speck on this planet, and what do my problems matter in the big scheme of things? I find that in itself an oddly comforting thought, but the idea that despite my tininess, God still sees me, is just mind-blowing to me. What an amazing God.

Prov. 2: 6-15

Whenever I get to this point in Proverbs, I'm like, "Okay, you sold me! Let's let the learning begin!" Reading all the benefits of wisdom makes me want it all the more.


  1. I was a little perplexed by how the Lord says, "the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if that they have do is as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

    Who presented the outcry? There wasnt but 1-ish (I am not convinced that Lots wife/daughters were righteous in anyway, but rather God spared them as a favor to Lot) person in Sodom..that wouldnt constitute an "outcry". And, what is this idea of God "coming down" to check it out ...he didnt already know? With the angels so prevalent through this section of scripture (they say THEY are going to destroy the city) I wonder if they themselves are the ones who "outcry" to God. They seem to have such a dominant role.

    Abraham's discussion with God, and then the imagery of him standing on the hill overlooking Sodom and seeing the smoke 19:27, is powerful to me. I can see that deep sense of disappointment rising up in him. Of course, he trusted God would follow through with his promise to spare 10 people ..but what a feeling he must have had to realize there wasnt even that many to spare. Also, God doesnt say specifically that he will spare Lot, at least not written for us. Did he know Lot was spared, or did he grieve for him not knowing for sure that he was saved?

    The whole thing with Lot and his daugthers was just weird, but consistent with the sexual deviant world they lived in. I am always a little shocked by Lot's wife turning to look back and becoming salt ..and I thought today, God is a little harsh on women sometimes! Lot hesitated, but he got off scott free. Abraham laughed but Sarah got scolded for doing the same.

    Just a thought :)

    Matt - I think it is interesting with the breaks this bible makes, its like an abrupt change from law vs law contrast to real heart stuff. He is dealing with real life, real heart issues now (not that it wasnt before). He moves away from hear related issues that the law has mentioned before, but now a whole different set of stuff that would make one thing "wow, he is really serious!" Worry, judging ..some personal stuff for sure.

    Of course, the "ask, seek, knock" idea is great too. It is simple, but very profound.

    And, not to be disrespectful, but if he really taught this way, jumping from one subject to another ...can you say ADD? :)

    At the end of tomorrows reading though (I gotta work, I had to get ahead!) it says that they were amazed at his teaching. I bet their minds were numb at that point! :) And, they were learning all new ideas. What a mindful for them! But, I figure like any good preacher, he taught the same lessons over and over again. I bet the same people could hear that same things tomorrow or the next day if you followed Jesus regularly. I figure they did that so they could catch all that stuff he said moved so fast and changed so quickly! :)

    Will hold my Psalms and Proverbs comments til later! :)

  2. I have sometimes thought God was harsh on women, too (especially when you get to the Law and all that "unclean" talk!). But I also see in some cases how He really seems to be judging the heart. I mentioned earlier that perhaps Abraham laughed out of happiness, and Sarah out of doubt. Who knows? I also know that in the New Testament, when Zechariah questions the angel, he gets struck mute for nine months, but when Mary asks the same questions, she gets off scot-free. Again, maybe it was a heart thing. My 5th and 6th graders' Wednesday night lesson was on I Samuel 16, which has that awesome verse, "God does not look at the things man looks at. Man judges the outward appearance, but God judges the heart." (That was a paraphrase, btw:)).

    Interesting stuff. I always have lots of questions while reading, but lots of good thoughts, too!

  3. I don't have the book in front of me to quote properly, but I noticed that when Abraham sees the smoke going up, it says that God kept his promise and spared Lot. It seems that's what their whole conversation had been about anyway.

    Also, when the Lord mentions that he is looking into the wickedness of Sodom, he doesn't actually say that he is going to destroy them. Abraham makes that jump himself. I guess maybe the whole flood thing left an impression that wickedness = destruction. (?)

    I wonder if Lot's daughters "raping" him was turnabout for him offering them up to be raped. I would LOVE to know what Lot thought when he found out what they did.

    ***Soap Box:***
    As for us being corrupted by our culture, I have no doubt that that is the case, and probably to a very great degree. It amazes me sometimes when we (Christians) get all upset about how our culture is turning away from God, and we try to impose our own standards on America in general. The truth is that we should not expect our physical, earthly culture to match our spiritual culture. We are SET APART. We should take it for granted that our culture is evil and just do what we know to be right without regard for what our neighbor is doing. People on TV make blasphemous statements about God. OF COURSE they do. They are part of the world. Why should we be surprised? We just need to be careful that we do not get sucked into their thinking. It is good and right to identify what the world is doing that is wrong so that we can know what to avoid, but it is not our job to make them change their ways or to get all mad if they don't. It is our job to love them. In fact, it is probably better for us when our culture goes even further with their wickedness so that it becomes more obvious what wrong things they are doing. Then, we can rally together as Christians and truly have our own set apart culture. If we are able to "save" people from the culture, it will not be by scolding them for their wicked ways but by loving them anyway. (However, do *I* actually separate myself that much from the culture? Of course not. I am not used to doing that, and I am very far from perfect. But, that would be the ideal, I think.)
    ***END Soap Box.***

  4. Becky,

    I am very much in agreement with your position on culture. People need Christ, not good morals, per se. Our job is not to teach people to behave, but to reconcile them with God. To accomplish the first without the second is useless in the eternal scheme of things.

    I think sometimes we want culture to "behave" because it would be easier for US. It would be easier for us and our children to stay on the right track if the wilderness was not calling to them so loudly. But I think that that kind of thinking is selfish and that it ultimately misses the point. Like you said, as Christians, we are supposed to be set apart. We are supposed to be counter-cultural. Yes, it might be "easier" if everyone lived like us, but the fact is, darkness and light will never look alike. And our concern should be to BRING the light to the darkness, not hope that the darkness would "lighten up" so we wouldn't have to shine as brightly.

    For goodness sakes!

    And like you said, love is definitely the first step. But I do think love is harder than just saying, "You're okay; I don't judge you." That by itself is not love. That by itself is the easy way. We are called to be voices in the wilderness, to share the truth with the world. Jesus showed love to the woman caught in adultery and saved her life, but then, he told her, "Go and sin no more." That is the hardest part for me. I am no longer tempted to throw stones at culture. But I am also intimidated by the obligation of the Great Commission. In our culture, it is much easier to be tolerant and non-judgmental. But Christianity calls people to standards. In showing people Christ, we also have to show them those standards. After all, that's where true life is.

  5. Wow, I have more. Apparently I have a soap box of my own here:).

    I am very convicted by the extent to which I am conformed to my culture. Since having kids, I've undergone a type of cultural detox, but I am still convicted when I think of the ways I buy into materialism, or into immorality-as-entertainment. Sure, I don't WANT to see a bunch of junk, but if I think the movie will be good, I am tempted to lower my standards.

    I've always known that that type of behavior is bad for me and my spiritual life. But more and more, I am convicted that it is bad for the world. It distorts my witness, it dims my light, and it feeds a system that destroys souls. When I see the darkness for what it is, I lose the desire to bring it into my mind and into my home. It's an ongoing struggle, but I know that being in the Word really helps!

  6. Oh, btw, if it sounds like I have a clear idea on how to actually DO anything I've just said, don't let me mislead you. I talk a good game, but I still regularly chicken out at the thought of sharing Christ with my neighbors. I try to shine my light, but I am often so afraid of saying the wrong thing...

  7. 2012 thoughts:

    For the purposes of following the plot in today's (and yesterday's) story, I wanted to point the key figures. In yesterday's reading, it says that "the Lord appeared to Abraham," and that "Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby" (Gen 18:1-2). Today it mentions that the men leave, but that the Lord keeps talking (Gen. 18:22). That confused me for a second, until I realized that only two men ("angels") went onto Sodom (19:1). Apparently, the third man was the Lord, and He stayed behind to talk to Abraham.

    For theological purposes, the Lord's words are fascinating in Gen. 18. He first tells Abraham that, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know" (Gen. 18:20-21).

    First of all, What?? Does God NOT know already? I recently read some hair-brained theology that maintains that God is not omnipotent, nor does He claim to be. It occurs to me that this might be one of their proof texts! He proceeds to have a conversation with Abraham that makes Him sound like just another man who changes His mind and can be negotiated with (albeit, just another man with the power to destroy cities).

    As I typed about this, I remembered how God dealt with Adam and Eve in Genesis, how He "looked" for them when they were hiding, and asked them about what they had done, like He didn't know. He did the same to Cain, didn't He, when Cain killed Abel. It strikes me that these interchanges are indicative, not of God's limitations, but of His desire to interact with the people He created. He clearly desires to have a relationship with Adam, Eve, Cain, Abraham, and Sarah. In order to do that, He limits Himself in order to talk in a real way with His creation.

    Now that I'm typing it, I remember that these thoughts have struck me before with other passages. But it is always a nice reminder that God desires to be "friends" with His creation.