A Tale of Two Choices

Photo 113976600 © Alexey Maximenko | Dreamstime.com

The leather thongs bit into his wrist. Lot stole a quick look from his one good eye, the other swollen shut from a soldier’s fist. His girls huddled near their mother, tears streaking their dust-covered faces. Warriors strutted by, stroking his daughters’ hair. They smirked at him, laughing as his lips bled from the anger he bit back.

Five royal tents poked their heads above those of the common soldier. Servants scurried and the smell of roasted meat brought a rush of saliva to his parched mouth. The guard handed him a gourd of warm water. It sloshed against his bound hands as a piece of old bread landed in the sand at his feet. He offered the gourd to his wife first and she sucked greedily, water dribbling down her embroidered robe. His fury burned at the sight of her blistered feet and the blood on her sandals. 

The move to Sodom had been one of convenience. Closer to the market and that silly circle of friends his wife kept. Lot clenched his fists. Hadn’t seen this coming. Caught in the crossfire of opposing armies, they had been swept away. Plunder. Spoils to the victor. 

He thought of Uncle Abram and, not for the first time, wished he’d stayed far away from Sodom.

In the fictional story above, I imagined what it was like for Lot to be captured as part of Sodom’s plunder when he’s caught between two warring armies (Genesis 14:1-16). 

It need never happened. 

Let me give you some background. When God desired a people for Himself, God tapped a man named Abram (later renamed Abraham) from Haran in Paddan-Aram: 

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. (Genesis 12:1-4 NIV)

Abram was Lot’s uncle. Together, they headed south, crossed the Euphrates River, and ended up in Canaan. However, someone had gotten there first: the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, and lots of other –ites (Genesis 10:6, 15-20). Each tribe needed land for crops, pasture for grazing, and water. Guess who got the leftovers?

Tensions rose as Lot and Abram’s herdsmen fought over wells and grazing:

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.  Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. (Genesis 13:8-13)

Wow! Sounds good, doesn’t it? Lots of water. Lush vegetation. Perfect!

Except for Sodom.

Might want to rethink that one, Lot. 

All of that grass and water came at a price—compromise. 

Compromise.  It means giving up one thing to gain something different. Sometimes it’s to come into agreement with someone else. Like you can have your favorite meal for dinner tonight, but I get to pick tomorrow. Compromise can be good, but if we give up our values, it can end badly. 

And it’s easy to do. Like watching the latest movie, which is really great except for the language, violence, and sexual content. We rationalize a little bad if we get something good too. 

We make choices every day. What to eat. What to wear. To do our work or to skip it and play instead. To be kind to others or to ignore them. 

Every choice has consequences. As Lot discovered, a wrong choice can be deadly. But how do we choose? 

We need a standard. Something that helps us make the right call. Culture today often relies on feelings to guide choices. But feelings are like an untrained dog on a leash. They’ll pull you all over the place.

God has a better way. Truth. And that truth is found in His word, both His spoken word and His written word, because God’s spoken word will always line up with His written word. 

James 1:5 reads, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Rock solid. Time tested. God’s wisdom was available to Lot. 

Too bad he never stopped to ask. 

Activities:

With what kind of choices do you struggle?

Find a journal. Customize it with art if you like. Write down your questions for God. Date them. Record His answers. Note when He answered and how. 

P. S. Read the rest of Lot’s story in Genesis 14 to learn about Abram’s daring rescue. God also introduces us to a very important figure named Melchizedek. Melchizedek shows up again in Psalm 110 and in Hebrews 5, 6, and 7. Check out the map to track the invasion, the battle, and the rescue.

Map

(Note to parents: This blog is an excerpt from a preteen Bible study I’m writing called In the Thick of It: An Exploration of OT Battles. This section comes from the chapter on Lot and the War of the Kings: Genesis 14:1-16.)