You thought cable TV had some unsavory and mind-blowing story lines. Lot’s story ends in the worst way possible and all we can do is cringe as we read each verse. Again, it did not have to end this way.
How We Got Here
The first verse in this passage gives us something of a clue as to how Lot got here. Because of fear, Lot left Zoar. Now, the angels had promised Lot he would be safe there. It was no issue for Lot and his daughters to remain in Zoar for the rest of their lives. The girls could have found husbands in that village. Yet for fear, Lot went into seclusion. What was he afraid of?
Well, it would be more important to ask, why was Lot afraid, because it was nearly everything that petrified him now. He was afraid because he lacked a trusting relationship with God like Abraham had. Lot needed the more lush valley, Abraham was content trusting God in the hillside. Lot couldn’t get out of the valley on his own strength, Abraham who was likely twice his age had marched around the entire region multiple time already because God was with him. Staying in Zoar was too dangerous for Lot, Abraham settled wherever the Lord led him.
Why else is this Here?
This passage is also a sordid, tawdry, and unsavory etiology for the Moabites and Ammonites. An etiology is a theological origins story. Why are there so many different languages on Earth? That’s explained in the story of the Tower of Babel. In this specific instance, we hear about the origins of the Israelite’s cousins, people who will not exist for another 400+ years. We only run across the Moabites and Ammonites again when Israel is wandering through the desert after the Exodus on their way to Promise Land. Both the Moabites and the Ammonites mistreat Israel. Later, during the Kingdom Period, we hear of Ruth the Moabitess and then these peoples are subjects of Israel and/or Judah.
Is it just propaganda? A way to discredit Lot’s claim on Abraham’s estate? Once Abraham had biological children (Ishmael and Isaac) that was not necessary. Is it simply trash talking ancient tribal enemies? You’ve got to reach pretty low to go this far, “Your mama slept with your grandpa!” So if you were going to say that, why would you continue to retell the narrative, “Oh, and we’re still cousins.” We all have black sheep in the family, but if you really wanted to smear somebody with propaganda, why keep any of the good connections in the story? One could just talk about this random guy named Lot that hung around Father Abraham until he became a pest and then worse! So, I’d argue there is truth, gross and disturbing truth, but truth to this etiology.
This mess, as it unfolds, returns us to the issue of trusting God. That is the bottom line, even Lot’s daughters, following the example of their father, take matters into their own hands rather than trust in God. So how are you trusting God lately? Is God leading you? Is God with you? Are you doing things in your own strength? Do you act more in fear than trust? The consequences of not trusting God affect more than yourself, they will hurt those around you and generations to come.
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