Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Lot of Jawbone

“... if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)-- if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.” (2 Peter 2: 6-9, NIV)

He rescued Lot, a righteous man,...tormented in his righteous soul... These two phrases have long puzzled me. Lot, a righteous man?

According to Jawbone’s Shorter Biography, "Lot was the nephew of Abram and traveled with him after Abram’s call by God to leave his father’s native land. On Abram’s (Abraham’s) coattails, Lot became wealthy. Because of the subsequent crowding, these two were forced to separate. Lot, given first choice, greedily chose the plains area of rich pasture lands and abundant water. Lot was captured during a war and taken away. He was rescued by and freed through Abraham’s courage. Lot willingly returned to live in Sodom within the ‘modern, hip culture’. When warned of impending destruction, he, his wife, and two daughters had to be forcibly removed to escape the disaster. (The prospective sons-in-law refused to go.) Lot’s wife turned back toward Sodom as her heart lusted to return. While hiding in a mountain cave, Lot became drunk on successive nights and impregnated both of his daughters, whose progeny rose to become thorns in the side of God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel."

If I were to hang around someone like Lot, I would be apt to judge him a scumbag and not ‘touch him with a ten foot pole’. Then how is it that the Apostle Peter calls him righteous?
Along came the prophet Nathan. (Nathan was the prophet who came to King David to ask an opinion. He related a story of two men. One was very rich in flocks and herds. The second was very poor, having only one lamb that was loved as a member of the family. As a distinguished visitor came to stay with the rich man, he wanted to throw a feast in the visitor’s honor. Instead of taking a fatted lamb from his own flocks, the rich man forcibly took the family lamb from the poor, butchered it, and held his feast of 'Kobe Lamb'. Nathan asked David what ought to be done to this man. David exclaimed that he deserved to be killed. The story was just a cover for David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah, a faithful soldier in David’s army. Nathan’s response to David’s decree of capital punishment was, “David, thou art the man!)

I told Nathan about Lot and asked him whether Lot was a scumbag or righteous. So Nathan began to relate to me many details about Lot’s life that were not commonly known. It was pathetic. In the end, Nathan asked me the same question I had asked him. I was certain and proclaimed to him that Lot was most assuredly a certifiable scumbag. Nathan gazed at me with a look that bared my soul and said, “Jawbone, thou art the man!”

If it weren’t for God’s own gracious choosing and his gift of faith in the incarnation, life, death, descension, and ascension of His Son, Jesus Christ, Lot and I, as well as all humanity would receive the eternal justice that we earned by our own efforts.