Pitching our Tents Toward Sodom

Samuel Carpenter

Home, Christian Living

Can the Christian pitch his tent toward Sodom? Have you ever heard of a person who “had one foot in the church and the other in the world”? This is, of course, not really possible, but pitching our tents toward Sodom is, like Lot, choosing the temporal and physical over the spiritual and eternal. Jesus said it this way, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24).

Let’s analyze this account found in Genesis 13 and 19. Genesis 13:12 says, “...Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent towards Sodom.” Why did Lot do this? Was it because there was strife between the herdsmen of Lot and Abram? Not really, Lot had a choice and he chose to dwell in the plain. Lot chose the plain because it was good farmland. He wanted the well-watered plain with its lush pastures. It was good business. Why would a farmer choose to graze his cattle in a desert? The good farmland wouldn’t only turn a good profit, it was necessary for the survival of his business and the financial well-being of his family. Lot wanted a comfortable, happy life. He made the obvious choice. He chose what many church people are choosing today, but he did not look at his decision through the eye of faith. He did not consider the moral and eternal costs as more important than the temporal, financial costs. He didn’t see things through God’s eyes. He didn’t recognize that a life of ease and financial well-being can actually stifle spiritual growth.

How about the Christian? Are we making similar decisions in our lives today? Are we judging things by what we can see, hear, feel, and enjoy? Are we comparing our choices with the choices that others are making? Or are we willing to do differently and choose differently and make decisions that make no economic or temporal sense so that we can treasure God’s eternal gifts. Many church members are swept away because they are searching for financial security, freedom to prosper and enjoy life, fulfillment in the temptations of immorality, or contentment in status and social acceptance.

Lot did not seem to think about what dwelling in Sodom would do spiritually to his family. He did not take into consideration that “...the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” When the angels came and told Lot to warn his family, it was already too late! While he was busy pursuing temporal security, his family had slipped away from God. His sons-in-law looked at him as “one that mocked.” He realized too late that life is not long enough to pursue both the temporal and the eternal. He lost every one of his family members to the clutches of the devil.

We know this. We’ve read this account. We are aware of eternity and the coming judgment. What are we doing about it? Are we choosing God? Is this choice obvious in the practical decisions that we have made in our lives such as our possessions, business pursuits, schedules, voluntary service work? Are we willing to live simply, give up social status, and “farm the desert” so that we can be the spiritual children of God? Are you known to say, “I’d like to do more for God, but I’m just too busy,” or is the structure of your life encouraging others to live with eternity in view?

Lot, his wife, and his daughters were pulled out of the city. The angels, “laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.” but despite the gracious hand of the angels, Lot’s wife and daughters perished anyway because even though they were outside of Sodom, Sodom was still inside of them.

How does your heart measure up today? Are you enticed by the glitter of the world? Are you a collector of all the latest electronics, youth games, vehicle models, and clothing styles? Do you allow your heart to be corrupted by the constant barrage of indecency in the world? What are you really interested in? What takes up your thoughts in your private hours? What fills your talk with your friends and acquaintances? What do you enjoy reading and learning about? Is the temporal world in control of your affections? Lot’s wife received the instant judgment of God upon looking back. If we were to receive God’s instant judgment on our lives, would we be welcomed into His presence or banished for eternity?

After being taken out of the city, Lot bargained with the angels to stay in the city of Zoar. He was still trying to figure out what would work best for his earthly security and well being. In seeking to control life himself, he missed out on the greater blessing he could have found by trusting in God.

How often do we retain claim to a part of our lives, seeking to control it and stake it firmly in place, fearing lest God should lay His finger on our security? How would we ever survive if I give up my job? Or if we move there, what about all my friends and family that I will have to leave behind? Or will it really be all right to stick with an older vehicle and give the money to missions?

Lot’s daughters’ decision and fate warn us against trying to justify what seems necessary or expedient when faced with circumstances. They said, “There is not a man in all the earth… [therefore] come let us make our father drink wine…” In other words, since there is no other way, we simply have to disobey God in this situation.

We may be quick to condemn such thinking given our broader perspective on the story, but remember that from their perspective they were truly the only ones left on the earth. What do we do when our decisions are pressured by circumstances? Are we doing what we “have” to do because otherwise things just won’t work out? God at times tests our faith. Sometimes we really don’t see how something could work out. but if we really believe that God is who we say He is, then we can rest in Him. We don’t need to see how everything will work out; we do need to obey the call of God. before the judgment seat, our rationalizing will look just as ridiculous and condemning as theirs did.

Is there any hope for us? must we experience the same sad fate as Lot and his family? The answer lies in the choice that Jesus outlined. Will we serve God and trust Him, seeking first His righteousness, or will we serve temporal security and seek first our well being and happiness. There is no substitute for putting God first. Those who seek all things first will never find God, but those who seek God first will find all things. Do you sometimes enjoy staying up late to read a good book? make it God’s book. Do you want a flourishing business? make it God’s business. Do you desire a large and beautiful home? make it your heavenly home. Do you want to be surrounded by encouraging people? make them God’s people. Are you busy early and late with much work? make it God’s work. Don’t pitch your tent toward Sodom. Claim the promised land, the New Jerusalem, the fellowship of the saints, and the friendship of God.

~Pensacola, FL
September 2009

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