Sunday, June 8, 2014

RYBS: Omnisciently Playing Favorites Part 2

Read Your Bible Series - Week Five

Omnisciently Playing Favorites Part 2

Genesis 19

For week five, we're going to cover what is, to most Christians, one of the most well-known yet most abridged story in the Bible.  I'm sure most people with even the slightest knowledge of Christianity are aware of the story told in Chapter 19.  It is the wildly popular tale of the overwhelming destructive power of almighty god in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Other than a few of the supernatural highlights that are used to champion the power of god, there's another very important, very righteous character that gets lost in the carnage.  I'm sure most have heard the name, but have you really sat down and scrutinized the charming side-story of Lot, the guy that redefines the term, "family man"?

Recall from last week that there were three angels who crashed Abraham's circumcision recovery lodge.  Beginning in chapter 19, two of those angels have finally arrived in Sodom:
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. "My lords," he said, "please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning."
"No," they answered, "we will spend the night in the square."
But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom - both young and old - surrounded the house. They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."
And yes, you read that correctly.  All these men didn't just want to meet those new guys, they wanted sex.  The naughty kind.

Considering that 13 year-olds were considered men in that day and age, I'm certainly glad that our society has moved toward less invasive gestures like simple handshakes and hugs.

So, how does Lot handle this?  Let's read a bit further:
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, "No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."
And yes, you read that correctly, too.  Under the protection of his roof?!?  What about his poor daughters?  According to the Bible, since they don't have a penis, their holes aren't covered by Lot's roof.  What a great message for half of the young people in the youth group this Wednesday.

Moving on:
"Get out of our way," they replied. "This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them." They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.
But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.
The two men said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here - sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it."
So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished."
Try not to get bogged down too much with the obvious questions that I'm quite sure you must be thinking.  For instance, why don't the, "angels of the Lord" already know that Lot has other family and loved ones in the city?  Did they not read their holy email?  What about those sons-in-law?  Didn't Lot just offer up his daughters to that horny mob?  How do those poor saps feel about their future father-in-law condoning the gang rape of their betrothed?

¡Ay, caramba!  See what I mean?  Just let it go, and breathe.
When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!"
But Lot said to them, "No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it - it is very small, isn't it? Then my life will be spared."
He said to him, "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it." (That is why the town was called Zoar.)
By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah - from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities - and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
And that's the point that most preachers, children's classes and Bible study groups will stop.  They make sure to include the pillar of salt story, the carnage, murder and absolute destruction of the twin cities.  Oh, and even the vegetation...  But if you ask most people what happened to Lot and his daughters, they honestly don't know.

Let's find out:
Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children - as is the custom all over the earth. Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father."
That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
The next day the older daughter said to the younger, "Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father." So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.
And yes, you read that correctly, too.  The servant who found favor in god's eyes became the father of two kingdoms by fathering his own grandchildren.  Bravo, Lot.  Bravo.

What a great story.

Okay.  Come on, Bible...  I know how alcohol works for older men - and it's either one or the other, not both.  As a man, you don't get to be unconscious and still pitch a tent.  Once you're to the point of being "unaware" that someone in your immediate family is trying to date rape you, your wedding tackle is as limp as the rest of you.

Furthermore, by the way the end of this chapter is written, it seems perfectly reasonable that Lot's daughters would get the bizarre idea to sleep with their father.  Sure, they knew they had to liquor him up first, but to these young women, this seemed the best and most legitimate means of preserving their family line.  I don't know, maybe all of the men in the city of Zoar scared those poor girls too much to consider using a couple of those fellows as sperm donors.

Again, too many questions.  But what a great story, right?  Just absolute perfection from an absolutely perfect book!  There's really nothing like digesting the messages of morality, righteousness, and purity that are found in the Bible.

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