Surely You Don’t Jest!

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The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

12 Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. – Genesis 19:1-14

Busy Bee | Houston Botanical Garden | July 2021

I’ve gotten myself into trouble on more than one occasion by making a comment in jest that was not understood or received as a light-hearted or in jest. I offended some brothers by a cavalier and insensitive comment to them when they were in a vulnerable place. I once also spoke too quickly about a somewhat controversial issue only to be trapped by one of the people who was party to the controversy. Words can have powerful impact – even when spoken in jest. I even did that to my granddaughter today! Needless to say we patched things up, and I learned a lesson. Kind words spoken in a fitting moment are like golden apples in silver baskets (Cf. Proverbs 25:11). 

The words of this section of Genesis are sometimes golden, sometimes rotten to the core, and sometimes rejected out of hand by those who ought to hear them. 

The words of gold are those spoken by Lot to the angel visitors. He invites them to come into his home and stay. He also speaks words rotten to the core when he invites the men of the city to take his daughters and have their way with them in place of the visitors. Thankfully the angels rescue Lot and inflict blindness upon the men who are menacing Lot and his family. But when the time comes for the angels to leave, and they warn Lot of the impending doom of Sodom, those Lot warns dismiss Lot’s warnings a so much jesting. They understood sincere words of warning as exaggerated hyperbole. They were so wrong in doing so. 

Lot and his family (who dismiss Lot’s and the angels’ warnings) were submerged in an atmosphere of sin. No doubt – as shown here – the obvious sin was that of a flagrant and petulant homosexual lifestyle. But in Ezekiel 16, Israel is called the sister of Sodom and the sins of Sodom that made them targets of judgment were the sins of pride, idleness, injustice to the poor, and such. Leave aside the homosexual sin, the wanton and unbridled desire of a person for sexual pleasure at all costs betrays a brokenness far deeper. 

A life of gluttonous indulgence of any kind certainly does not honor God. And pride in any sort of lifestyle that does not honor God is idolatry of the worst kind. I have no doubt that the most obvious sin of Sodom seen here is a lustful homosexual desire. But I know from my own heart that sin too easily deceives. And warnings that we might dismiss as excessive and unnecessary ought not to be taken lightly, nor spoken in jest. 

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