The Rescue of “Righteous Lot”
One of the verses in the Bible that has always confused me is found in the book of Second Peter. I am still somewhat perplexed by it, but not so much as before: Peter tells us that God “rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men.”
Note that the writer Peter calls Lot “righteous.” Then, to emphasize that point, he adds, “For what he saw and heard, that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:7-8 NAS).
Three times in a single sentence, Peter uses the word righteous to describe the man Lot. Is he talking about the same Lot about whom I have read in the Bible? Is this the Lot who “moved his tents as far as Sodom”?
When Lot’s uncle Abraham, in order to keep peace between him and his nephew, suggested that they separate their flocks and then gave Lot first choice on where to go, Lot immediately chose the valley of Sodom. He did this even though we read that “the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13).
Not only did Lot settle in the same valley, however, but even moved his tents very close to the city itself. From this action of Lot, we can see that he was trying to get as close to the world of the wickedness of Sodom as he was able without actually entering. However, it could not have been long before he did enter. Indeed, Lot later became one of the city leaders of Sodom, a city which is often thought of as one of the wickedest cities in history.
Is Peter, in calling Lot “righteous,” speaking of the same Lot who, when he was visited by angels from God, offered his two virgin daughters to the mob to rape and abuse in any way they chose rather than allowing these evil men to have their way with the angels? That is, after all, what Lot did.
The angels had been sent to the city of Sodom in order to destroy it. Lot saw them coming because he was sitting in the gate of the city, an indication that Lot was probably part of the ruling council of Sodom.
When Lot saw the two angels approaching, he recognized them as such. He invited the two to his home, perhaps not so much out of hospitality but out of fear of what might happen to the angels in that wicked city. The angels at first refused, but Lot was insistent, and the angels were finally persuaded to come to his home. However, that evening, the men of Sodom surrounded the house and demanded that Lot send out the two angels so that they could rape and molest them sexually.
Lot, instead of rebuking the men of Sodom, attempted to appease them. “Please my brothers,” Lot said to them, “do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you , and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof” (Genesis 19:7-8 NAS).
Can this be the same Lot to whom Peter was referring when he called him “Righteous Lot?” Perhaps surprisingly to us, it is the same Lot.
In his writing, Peter certainly seems to go out of his way to make the point that Lot was a righteous man. Three times in a single sentence, he calls him righteous. Why should Peter have gone to such great lengths to emphasize this point?
Despite Lot’s series of very bad choices; despite the fact that he had all but lost the light of God’s presence in his life, the Lord still considered Lot “righteous.” Do we see that our true righteousness does not depend upon our actions, as the very extreme example of Lot shows us? Rather than this, it depends instead upon whether or not we belong to God.
I know that immediately, there will be some that will say that if this is true, then it does not matter how we live our lives. If one could live such an unrighteous lifestyle as Lot and still be considered righteous in God’s eyes, what is the point of trying?
There are two things that I want to say in response to this thinking:
In a couple of days I tell you what those two things are in the the conclusion of this article