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Finding these words made me think really hard that it is true: if you cannot see beyond what your eyes actually see, then you are blinder compared to a blind person. Having a dream and vision is just such an important aspect of this life. That is the thing that should drive you forward and motivate you more to achieve many things in this life. And most of us want to achieve a good and healthy life and become successful. Nobody wants to fail.
Remember what Caesar used to say: Veni, Vidi, Vici! I came, I saw, I conquered. We also want to be able to show up in a moment, see what we want and able to achieve it in this life. We carefully train these eyes to focus, to concentrate in order to be able to seize an opportunity in this short life that we have. So when we talk about “focus” and “concentration”- I would say that Lot is a better example than his uncle, Abraham.
Who is LOT?
Genesis 12:4-5. “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him… And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son.”
Lot was only the son of Abraham’s brother, Haran (Genesis 11:31), not Abraham’s own son. He was not called by God, but Abraham was. Anyway, Abraham still took him along. Most likely it was because Abraham thought instead of letting him stay alone in the city of Haran, it would be better for Lot to follow him to a new land. His father had passed away before they came to Haran (Genesis 11:28), and his grandpa was just recently died (Genesis 11:32). So, Lot followed Abraham from Haran (Genesis 12) to the Land of Canaan.
Some people feel that Abraham was not supposed to take Lot with him because Lot’s was nothing but trouble for Abraham. Furthermore, as was mentioned above: Abraham was the one that was called by God and not Lot. But would you leave behind your relative when you are going somewhere for good? Especially when they were still so young. Lot was a nephew that had the opportunity to follow his uncle’s footsteps, a journey to answer God’s calling.
According to 2 Peter 2:7-8, Lot was called the righteous man that lived among the wicked. This is the only verse in the Bible that mentioned Lot as a righteous man. Interestingly, when the Bible states someone’s name as righteous then it means the man is righteous before the eyes of the Lord. That was most likely the reason why God sent the 2 angels to save Lot and his family before He destroyed Sodom. Genesis 19:1.
Lot LEVELED UP his uncle, Abraham.
But Lot was not only an ordinary person or just a ‘common’ nephew. No, he was a fine young man with high potential to achieve many things and success in his life. He had a business sense with a strong ambition to go to the top. The story in Genesis 13 was not a regular dispute between the shepherds of Lot and the shepherds of Abraham. In Verse 7, there was an argument between the keepers of Abram’s cattle and the keepers of Lot’s cattle. The reason is seen in 6, the land was not wide enough for the two of them. Well, what was going on here? Weren’t they supposedly a family that united together and all the land belongs to them together? This is what had occurred: Lot had grown so big on his own (verse 5) separately from his uncle, Abraham. In other words, he matched Abraham in his own wealth. Could you imagine having a nephew that would still live in your house and eat from the same table but he was able to make the same amount of money as you or even more? That nephew should be on his own, right?
Abraham as a good uncle gave him an offering of peace, (even calling Lot now as brother or brethren). In verses 8 and 9, Abraham gave him the first chance to choose for himself what he wanted from the land that was promised to Abraham first. Lot without hesitation chose directly for himself the best part of that promised land: verse 10. He chose the valley of Jordan: a well-watered land from every corner, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. Remember that Lot had come back from Egypt because he was there with Abraham as well when they were running from the famine in Genesis 12:10. Another thought here, he probably regretted his uncle’s decision to return to the land of Canaan, as he remembered Canaan had famine and drought not long after they have arrived there (Genesis 12:6-9).
Lot MOVED to Jordan Valley.
Genesis 13:10-11, Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plains of Jordan… then Lot chose him all the plains of Jordan… He lifted up his eyes to look, then made the choice based on what he had seen. Verse 12, he pitched his tent toward Sodom. Lot was really focused on what he wanted. He saw the opportunity, seized it and conquered it. When the Bible said that he pitched his tent toward Sodom, it literally meant that Sodom would be the first thing he would see every time he got up in the morning. And would be the last thing he saw before he entered his tent to end his day. Focused!
Lot was a good businessman that would not miss an opportunity to expand and needed a big city such as Sodom to accommodate his hunger for success and wealth. He did not care if Sodom was a very sinful city and he was warned about it (verse 10). He was very focused on what he wanted for himself. He didn’t mind getting rid of his uncle’s domain so he could grow in his wealth by taking away the best part of the promised land in order to expand his territory. Very quickly, he accelerated his life in the pursuit of blessing and wealth!
Not long after, in fact, 1 chapter later, we would find out that Lot was now in Sodom already. Genesis 14:12, and they took Lot.., who dwelt in Sodom. He would not only journey east toward Sodom (Genesis 13:11) but stayed close by and now he already dwelt inside Sodom. Genesis 14 was a story of the war between the 4 kings of Chedorlaomer (verse 1) against 5 kings of Sodom (verse 2) and Lot was caught in the middle. Abraham came to save Lot and defeated the 4 kings to take everything back to Sodom.
Now Lot was one of the leaders of Sodom.
Genesis 19 was the story where God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. When He sent the two angels to save Lot and his family after He met with Abraham on chapter 18, Lot was the one that met these two angels on their way coming into Sodom. Genesis 19:1, and there came two angels to Sodom at even, and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them. He was sitting on the gate of Sodom when the angels were approaching. What would he do there? Sitting like men in this time: drinking coffee or tea and have some chat with each other while smoking some cigarettes? No, the people who were sitting by the gate in times of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were the people who governed the city. As they would be the ones who would decide the fate of that city they watched over. If they allowed bad things to come into the city, the city will become a bad city. If they allowed good things to come into the city, the city will become a good city. This group of people was the one called ekklēsia, a Greek word that has a meaning of the ‘called- out ones’ (to govern the city) which translated to church. Lot was there. It means he was one of the leaders now of Sodom. Not just only a wealthy and successful businessman he had become but also one of the influential men in the city: a leader. If you would notice this is the trend that is happening everywhere: when a man has been become very successful in making a lot of money then the next thing he would pursue is power, the position of influence, especially in politics. This trend is not a new thing, it had been there since the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
But it was on Lot’s watch of leadership that Sodom got its end!
Lot hesitated to leave Sodom.
Genesis 19:1, And there came two angels to Sodom … God sent the two angels to save Lot from the apocalypse of Sodom. The two angels had one mission: to save Lot and his family. God knew that only four persons worth saving from all the people of Sodom that should be saved. But in verse 16, “and while he (Lot) lingered…” the word simply means he hesitated. Why? Didn’t he understand that God is about to destroy the city he lived in, the place he resided in? He got the two angels with him now ready to save him. But why did he hesitate to leave the city? A blessed person always got too much to leave behind.
And in the end, he did not only lose everything but also lost his wife which turned to become a pillar of salt (verse 26). His daughters were not married, then they had this idea to get their father drunk so they could take turns to sleep with him in order to carry their next generation on. In the end, they gave birth to 2 (main) enemies of Israel: Moab and Amon.
Lot must have missed something.
What was going on here? Lot seemed to have missed something here. He accomplished so much and had been a very successful man to the extent of being a leader in the city that had helped him grow his wealth. He was already in the position of returning the favor back to Sodom which had supported him in his success. But everything just came to a horrible end. Lot must have missed something here that led to an awful end to his life.
In Genesis 12:7-8, we can see that wherever Abraham would go, he would build an altar and call upon the name of the Lord. Here he stopped at least twice, and in each place, he built altars. Altars speak of your relationship with God in prayer. Lot was there with Abraham in Genesis 12. He must be helping Abraham his uncle with building these altars as it was not an easy job to do. He probably even watched the whole sacrificial act on the altar too. The strange thing was, the Bible never mentioned even only once, that Lot ever built an altar himself!
No, there was no single verse ever written to mention that Lot ever built an altar to call upon the name of the Lord. We all understand that an altar means sacrifice, wherein the Old Testament especially in the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy everything centers on the sacrifice. Furthermore, we do know that the altar is a symbol of the cross in the New Testament. The sacrifice Jesus made was for all of us. But altars also simply speak about our prayer life. That was the thing Lot missed. He was so focused on building his life, building his own success when he missed doing one simple thing that we need the most in this life: to pray.
An altar speaks of our relationship with God, our dedication, worship, and sacrifice to Him. That is where we would find our blessing, protection, and guidance that we need the most. Yes, you can be very successful in this life with hard work. But of course, your prayer will bless your hard work. It will protect your blessing. Prayer gives you guidance of where you should go or what decision you should make. Furthermore, a life that prays will always be closer to God. We all need that more than everything, we all need Him most.
Abraham was so focused on building the altar on his life. Not only in verses 7 & 8 of Genesis 12, but throughout his life, In many chapters of Genesis, we always find out that he was always there in the altar he built. We do understand that Abraham was not only a man of prayer, but he was also a husband to Sara (Genesis 12:4), a father to Ishmael (Genesis 16) and Isaac (Genesis 19) later. He was also a shepherd of his flock. Moreover, his flock was in great numbers (Genesis 13) that he had many helpers, workers, maids, and slaves: both men and women. But the Bible mentioned more about Abraham building altars than anything else. Other things in Abraham’s life were just casually mentioned.
Yes, Abraham’s life was so focused on the altar he had built for the Lord. You would think if a man who would focus so much on the altars in his life would miss many things? He actually got his focus correctly! And God to which his focus was, had blessed him so much in his flock and the trades he did. Through the dispute with Lot, he got protected and was led away in a long time before from the disaster that would hit Sodom and Gomorrah. In turn, this situation had saved him from losing so many things he had built. Imagine if he had to run in just a day or a night before the disaster. He could just suffer much such as Lot.
Giving yourself increasingly in prayer and being in the presence of God, will cause God to be in all aspects of your life. When we are used to be in His presence, His presence will always be there for us. Psalm 91:1. Through this altar, Abraham came to the point of a very strong relationship with God more than everything and anything else. He was so deeply in Him where he would be willing to give back the promised son he got from Him on the altar, Genesis 22. God then swore on Himself, that He will bless him for sure. Not once did Abraham lose his focus upon the altar, not even the greatest blessing the altar had given him: the promised son.
More often than not, our prayers are only a means to get something. To merely reap the benefits of it, as it were. Many times when we have gotten that thing we wanted, we would then stop praying. Do we still come back after we received the answer? Luke 17:17 mentioned only one man would come back to the Lord after He healed 10 of them from leprosy. Or would we even return the answer of our prayer back to Him? 1 Samuel 1:11, Hannah offered Samuel back to the Lord as her oath when He answered her prayer. No, because most of us would get upset to Him when He says no to our prayer. Now, are we willing to always come back to His presence to where we literally would make it a dwelling place in the Shelter of the Highest? Psalms 91:1. When we dwell in the shelter of the Highest, we will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty definitely.
This is what Lot had missed in his life journey. In the end, he never grew in his relationship with God. Instead, he explored his relationship more with money. He got so much to leave behind when he was challenged to choose between his life and his possession. He was not even tempted to decide between God and his wealth; only between his soul and his money. And, if it had not have been for the angels who grabbed him by the hand to rescue him (Genesis 19:16), he would have chosen his possessions over his life. Matthew 6:21, for where your treasure is, there will also your heart be. This verse was never written the other way around. The money would never follow us, but we will always follow where our money is. That is why Psalms 62:10 said if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. How? Learn to give and give more like what Jesus said in Matthew 6:20, but lay up treasures in heaven for yourselves. Also, 1 John 2:15, love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. When Jesus would return today, how hard would God have to tug you out? Would you also be hesitating, such as Lot? Jesus said we can’t devote ourselves to two masters. Matthew 6:24. We will always end up choosing one of them: God or mammon. Matthew 6:24. This doesn’t mean that we need to stop making money or lose our diligent and hard-working attitude of this life. This simply means that we need to have the right focus and stay on it at all times. Yes, having to focus on God would cause us many sacrificial decisions but in the end for sure, God’s blessing will be upon us and will last for good. Don’t miss our altar, it will help us to focus correctly.
Interestingly enough, a few verses before verse 24 of Matthew 6 were talking about the ‘eyes’. There is no verse in the Bible that mentioned when you pray you should close your eyes. But in verse 23, it said when your eyes are evil (or dark in some other translations), then your whole life would be full of darkness. We often think that we need to keep our eyes open in order to find the light that we need to have, but should we really learn to close it in prayer only so we can see better. Because in prayer, our spiritual eyes would start to see when our physical eyes start to shut. Verse 22, if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. How can our eye be single, be focused, if we never learned to close it and let our inner eye open to see within the dark? Prayer moments would always help us to see better. Prayer will always be a place of reflection, a place of correction and a place to re-evaluate everything again.
The altar or prayer is never a means to persuade God to follow what we want. Many of us will see prayer as a means to change Him. No, we are the ones that should be changed in our prayer. Nevertheless, the altar is a place of offering and a sacrifice to God. We are the offering, we are the sacrifice on that altar. We should learn to surrender to His will. Isn’t His will better than ours? Isn’t His way much better than our way? On the altar, we should learn to find a good place to lay down our lives before Him. Yes, here we would learn to give up many things. Here, we would start to make decisions that will cause us to learn to let go of many things into His Hands. To let go of the doors that are closed for us. To learn to change direction to follow His footsteps and not ours. Here, we will learn to love Him even more than loving our own selves. It is on the altar we learn to lay down everything to Him.
Focus on God: on the altar, we would learn to only find Him, who will stay clear before our eyes, where everything else will be burned to ashes and gone as a sacrificial offering to Him. Yes, the others are meant to be blurred out and we should really learn to find ourselves alone with Him to the end. For only when we lose everything except Him, then we will start to have Him as everything in this life. The altar will teach us this thing: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (Psalms 23:1)
If Lot would have followed the example of Abraham’s prayer life, definitely he would not lose everything to Sodom and Gomorrah. He would still have his wife with him, they would be able to find husbands for their daughters and their offspring would not become the enemies of the promised people. But would he learn to give up the space he would need the most to grow his flock? Would he keep submitting to his uncle and follow the man with the calling? Remember that many of us would not be called like Abraham and most of us are like Lot. We love to follow the man of God because of the grace upon their lives but not to the price they paid in solitude. If only Lot would be willing to establish his own altar after the altar of his uncle Abraham, just like Joshua would stay in the tent after Moses left (Exodus 33:11, but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle). Or like what Paul said to the people of Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:1): be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. If Lot would be willing to follow the footsteps of Abraham, definitely he will develop the same character of submission: giving up and letting go. This character is only found in the altar of our prayer. If you miss the altar, you miss big!