Spying, Lying and Dying

And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out. (Joshua 2:1-7 ESV)

Rahab lied. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. She hid the spies and lied. This brings up a troubling question. Why is she celebrated in Scripture? Does God encourage lying? Somehow Rahab made it into Hebrews’ Hall of Fame of Faith:

By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. (Hebrews 11:31 ESV)

Rahab wasn’t celebrated for lying. She was applauded for her faith! James weighed in on Rahab’s act of faith:

And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (James 2:25 ESV)

Rahab believed. To be sure, her faith wasn’t perfectly executed. Though she lied to hide the spies, once the king’s men had left, she went up on the roof and had a conversation with them. Notice her faith:

Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. (Joshua 2:8-9 ESV)

She knew that Jericho was theirs before they knew it. What they were spying out, she had figured out. What they hoped would happen, she saw as having already happened.

They spied.

Rahab lied.

God died.

That’s right. Hebrews 11 looks back on the faith of Old Testament heroes. Hebrews 12 looks into the recent past to the death of the ultimate Hero–Jesus Christ.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

Jesus died for deceitful spies. Jesus died for Rahab’s lies. And Jesus died for your sins, too. Do you believe him? Do you trust him? He’s not looking for perfect faith–he’s simply looking for you to place your trust in Him. He’ll perfect you, strengthen you and make you knew.

You are the “joy set before him.”

When God Shows Up

Moses had just witnessed the parting of the Red Sea. Israel, pursued by an advancing army on one side and a raging sea on the other walked across on dry land. The same sea that became a dry bed for them swallowed Pharaoh’s army alive. Though the people had seen God’s hand in a mighty way, their celebration soon gave way to agitation when they ran out of food. They wished once more for the food of the Egyptians. Like Esau, their stomachs cried louder than the voice of their God. “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

God’s response: manna and quail. Every evening, the quail flew into the Israelite camp. Each family had enough to fill their stomachs. The next morning, once the dew evaporated, fine flakes of delicious bread, fresh from God’s bakery, with a dash of honey. What more could they ask?

God’s provision. In His faithfulness, He provided. They moved on to Rephidim. The very name means “rest.” And the Israelites must have needed rest. Thousands of years in captivity had come to an end. A pursuing army, a parting sea and the stubborn Mediterranean climate had taken their toll. And they were thirsty.

Rephidim. A river valley. Along this valley tall palms grew in long groves providing shade and rest for all who entered. Cool streams of water mixed with the shade from the palms created the most fertile place in the land. Towering mountains provided much needed protection from the enemy. Rephidim. A place of rest and refreshment. Here the Israelites would be renewed, revived, restored. Here they would receive much needed energy and refreshment. Here, their cousins showed up—the Amalekites!

They attacked Israel at their weakest point. The sick, the faint, the weary were their targets. Those who straggled behind the great Israelite host were suddenly attacked. Amalek, whose grandfather Esau lost his birthright when he was weary, now used the same plan of attack against the Israelites. Ruthlessly, the Amalekites sought to destroy the Israelites. Cousins bitterly engaged in war.

Moses instructed Joshua, his young recruit to head the troops. This valley of Rephidim, refreshment and restoration, became the battleground of revenge for the Amalekites. There were no tanks, no hand grenades, no weapons of mass destruction. This was hand-to-hand combat. Soldier to soldier. Sword to sword. Man to man. The men of Israel confronted their cousins, the descendants of Esau. Moses, Aaron and Hur sat on the mountain nearby cheering them on. The Israelites were hardened men. Years of slavery had yielded strong muscles and resiliency. They could fight. The Amalekites were well-trained warriors. They knew how to fight—and win. The outcome was a toss-up—until God showed up.

Moses raised his staff toward the sky. When he lifted his hands, the Israelites won. When he lowered them, they lost. No other single factor controlled the outcome of the battle. Moses looked at the people he loved so dearly. To lose would mean the death of thousands of men, women and children…his own people, those he risked his life to lead from Israel. His arms became weary.

Aaron and Hur stepped in. When Moses became weary, they lifted up his arms. They too recognized that the battle was not won by skill, but by divine intervention. Winning or losing depended not on training, but on the God who had brought them this far. So they held up his hands. What a foolish thing to do! Winning a war by holding up your hands. Holding up one’s hands normally signified giving up, not overcoming. At the end of the day, Israel had won hands up.

“Write it down,” God said. “And tell Joshua that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

Moses built an altar and called the place Jehovah-nissi, The Lord is my Banner. In the wilderness journey, on the tall mountain surrounding the valley of Rephidim, in the middle of the battle, the Lord became the banner for Israel. And not just any banner. The Hebrew word for banner suggests something that gleams from afar and was often a shiny piece of metal raised high enough for all in the camp to see. In the heat of the battle, when the sun struck the banner, it would shine letting those engaged in war know that they were still in the battle—the war was still winnable.

What about you? Have you lost sight of the banner? Your faith so weakened by the battle that you can’t see the Son’s reflection?

“This is no ordinary battle,” you say. “You don’t know what I’m facing.” And you think God doesn’t understand either.

No one is free of the Amalekites. And often they are so closely related to how we live our lives that we fail to see them before they have attacked. Amalek was of the same flesh and blood as the Israelites. What is your weakness, your pet sin? Just when you have geared yourself up for rest and restoration, your flesh rears its ugly head. At your weakest moment, when you are straggling in your walk with Christ, you fall prey to temptation. Your head buried in the muck and mire of a bad decision, the banner no longer glistens in the sunlight. Hope escapes you.

Get up! That’s right, get up! The banner hasn’t moved–you have. The Son hasn’t gone down, you have. Look toward the hill overlooking the valley. Can you see? Their hangs the Banner. You need no sun to reflect His image for He is His own light. There is no beauty that you should desire Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:2-5)

Though the battle rages long and hard and the enemy of the flesh persists in rearing his ugly head, the Banner waves. His name is Jesus.   In the cross, God demonstrated his power over the penalty of sin. You bear the scars of battle. He bore the penalty for those scars. He was pierced through for you. The penalty for your sin has been paid in full. No longer must you lose in the battle with the flesh.

Look to the cross—the banner. Jesus keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain. Free to all a healing stream flows from Calvary’s mountain. The blood that flows through the heat of the battle is not yours—but His. He paid the price. He is Jehovah-Nissi.

The cross frees you from the penalty of sin. One day you will be free from the presence of sin. Did you miss it? Notice God’s promise to Moses. “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

One day. O, the difference a day makes. One day Jehovah-Nissi will return. Sin—gone. The war ended. Until then God provides a promise: “The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.” The Lord will have war. And you are included in those generations. The battle is His, not yours. And I have news for you—He’s never lost. And He never will.

He knows the battle. He is your Banner—Jehovah Nissi.

Pray this prayer to Him right now:

Jehovah Nissi, the Lord my Banner, I confess that I have seen the battle as mine, not yours. I’ve tried to repeat the work of the cross. Too often I look at my problem and fail to see your provision. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Now, I lift up my head. I lift up my head to see Your face, your bleeding, hurting face. On your shoulder I see my burden, my sin, my battle. And I hear you say ‘It is finished!’ I know that the battle with my Amalek will continue. As long as I live, I’ll live with this flesh. However, I also know that you won this battle. The price for sin You paid. The penalty for sin You took. Thank You. Today and everyday hereafter I lay my Amalek before you. Fight for me. The battle is yours. Your warrior child.

It May Be Friday…

Expectation is a powerful thing.  Consider this research article from the Huffington Post:

In the study researchers from the University of Turin in Italy gave patients intravenous injections of morphine on two consecutive days to help with the pain associated with dental work. On the third day the same patients underwent similar procedures but were given an injection of saline they believed to be a powerful painkiller.

The results are astounding. Patients given the placebo reported a much higher pain tolerance than you would normally find when given morphine. Think about this for a moment. The placebo was more effective than morphine in treating pain. In this case, the body’s own dispensary of natural painkillers served as a better treatment protocol.

Moses and his people experienced the power of expectation. They spent an enormous amount of time and money sewing, building and assembling the tabernacle. Its one purpose was worship. They expected God to show up. As a matter of fact they gave so much that Moses had to instruct them to quit giving! Once it was built, notice what happened:

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:34-38 ESV)

God showed up! Notice that God didn’t show up because the people expected him; God showed up and because the people expected him, they worshiped. There were people other than the Hebrews who saw the tabernacle. Only the people of God saw God’s glory!

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.

What are your expectations for worship this Sunday? Do you expect God to meet you there? The Hebrew people were guided by worship. “Throughout all their journeys” they followed the cloud. When the cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud settled, they settled.”

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming. Prepare your heart today for Sunday. And worship expectantly.

William Carey, the “father of modern missions” from the late 1700’s/early 1800’s said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

A Disastrous Word for Difficult People

The people have blown it. While Moses is on the mountain receiving the law, they decided they couldn’t wait any longer. So they asked Aaron to make a golden calf for them. He did and they worshiped the golden calf even saying, “These are the gods who brought us up out of the land of Egypt.” They attributed that fantastic miracle to a golden calf they could make with their own hands.

Aaron built an altar in front of the golden calf. The next day they offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. “And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

And God got angry.  The way you get angry when you provide for your children and they forget what you’ve done.

God got angry. The way you get angry when you work 50 hours a week and your children think you owe it to them.

God got angry. He spoke to Moses: “I have seen this people and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

God was furious. Moses pleaded with God and God listened to Moses. He sent a plague on the people—which was gracious in light of the fact he wanted to destroy them. God was so angry.

In his anger God promised them His power:

The LORD said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 33:1-3 ESV)

God would not go with them–he would send his angel who would fight for them. Sadly, this would have been enough for most of us. But wait, God “sweetened the deal.”

In his anger, he promised them his provision:

Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 33:3 ESV)

Milk and honey. That’s like pumpkin spice and latte. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes. That’s everything you’ve ever wanted or needed. Case closed. Deal made. Most of us would have been content with God’s power. Surely now his provision would be enough. Thankfully they weren’t.

In their repentance, they begged God for his presence:

When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’” Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward. (Exodus 33:4-6 ESV)

To them this was a disastrous word. Moses would later say, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring me up from here.” How about you? Are you content with what God can give, not who God is? Are you satisfied with the good things of God without enjoying His good presence? Do you want God for who He is or what He can give you?

Worship Wars

Every day we engage in an gruesome war, a colossal battle. Multiple opportunities vie for our attention. Work wants more attention. Family demands devotion. Sports scream for more time. God knew this would happen. Before there were iPods and iPads, God called this. His 10 Commandments bear out the reality that our devotion will deviate, that our desires will become distracted. Consider the first four commandments:

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:1-8 ESV)

When you consider God’s commands to have no other gods, what gods come to your mind that people have instead of God today? Do you see any of these in your life? Your family?

You shall not make any idols (carved image). What images do we tend to worship in our culture today? (Movie stars. Athletes. Academically elite.)

You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain. What do you think it means to take God’s name in vain? As a parent how does it feel when your child says your name but doesn’t respect you? In that moment, he or she is using your name in vain. So it is with God. God will not be used–he is to be revered and respected.

Remember the Sabbath. Slow down. Take a break. Remember God. Worship him. What are your worship habits? Do your children know Sunday worship is a priority? Or is it something you do when it is convenient?

You will worship something.

Make sure it is the Lord God.

What joy.

Why You Want God to Pass Over You

The Passover The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. (Exodus 12:1-7 ESV)

Talking Points: What do you think is the significance of killing a lamb? Remember when Adam and Eve sinned? They tried to cover themselves with fig leaves, which of course didn’t work. God killed an animal and used the animal’s skins to cover them. Sin always requires a sacrifice. The only way God will “pass over” the houses of the Israelites living in Egypt is if they have the blood on the doorposts.

The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13 ESV)

The people obeyed God. Note that God did not passover them because they were his people. He passed over them because the blood of the lamb was applied to their doorposts:

At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!” (Exodus 12:29-32 ESV)

How does this point forward to the cross? Where is the blood applied to us so that God, in his judgment, passes over us? Jesus’s blood shed on the cross cleanses us from all sin. When applied to our hearts we are clean and accepted.

God Will Always Have His Way

The Failure of Favoritism

These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. (Genesis 37:2-4 ESV)

Talking Points: What did Joseph do? (Tattle!) What did Joseph’s father do that was wrong? (Favored Joseph) What problems does favoritism create? How did Joseph’s brothers respond?

The Sovereignty of God

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind. (Genesis 37:5-11 ESV)

Talking Points: Who gave Joseph this dream? (God) Even though Joseph’s father made a fatal mistake in favoring Joseph, it did not undo God’s plan for Joseph. Our failures are not fatal. God’s sovereignty refers to his divine rule over the course of human history. God is in charge and will have his way.

God’s Plan…Foiled?

They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 37:18-28 ESV)

Talking Points: God has already given Joseph a dream though his brothers hate him. Now God has to work around his brothers’ hateful actions. God is sovereign even when life doesn’t make sense.

Close your devotional time with this song:

O The Difference a Day Makes

Twins. Not one child, but two. And though they came from the same womb, they grew to be worlds apart. Their names are probably familiar to you. Esau, born first, loved to hunt. Isaac, his father, loved him for it. Jacob, riding out of the womb on the heel of Esau, hung out at the tents—a homebody of sorts. Rebekah loved him.

Esau could hunt, Jacob cook. Esau was passionate, emotional and sporadic. Jacob, cunning and deceitful. Isaac kept on loving Esau, Rebekah continued to favor Jacob.

One day. How a day changes everything. Esau, as the firstborn owned the birthright. He owned it for no other reason than the fact he was born first. As owner of the birthright, he knew that several privileges awaited him at his father’s death. First of all, he would receive twice as much of his father’s property as any other heir. His wealth was secure. Second, he received authority over the other family members. He became the new patriarch, the newly respected leader of the family. His authority would be in tact. Finally, he would receive the much-desired blessing from the father which secured his relationship with Almighty God. His spiritual heritage was pronounced. All because he owned the birthright.

One day. Esau came home from the field—exhausted, famished, weary. Almost home, he smelled lunch. Jacob was practicing his culinary arts again. The aroma of the freshly cooked stew floated through the dry desert air. Esau’s empty stomach screamed for food. His tired, aching body begged for relief. His mind listened to nothing else but their voices.

“Jacob, please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished,” Esau begged.

Jacob had plenty of time to fill his stomach and his heart with a devious plan. Seeing Esau’s desperate condition, he went for the jugular.

“First, sell me your birthright.”

Esau’s eyes grew larger than his stomach. Hunger overwhelmed him. Forgetting that in his father’s house was plenty of food, in his father’s house were servants who could have responded to his request for food, he chose a swallow of lentil soup— a simple stew of red beans. Where he could have enjoyed a leg of lamb, he gulped a mouthful of beans. When he could have feasted at Isaac’s table, he begged at his brother’s trailside soup kitchen. Overcome with emotion, Esau responded:

“Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?”

Jacob, wanting to clearly understand that he had so easily won the coveted birthright asked Esau for further assurance. “Swear to me.” The steam from the bean soup slowly wafted to Esau’s nostrils. Swearing that Jacob could have his birthright, Esau lunged for the bowl of soup.

Jacob served Esau for the last time. From now on, Esau would serve Jacob. With each swallow of the soup Esau’s birthright disintegrated into nothing. A full stomach gave way to an empty heart. Esau despised his birthright.

Family Discussion: What should Esau have done differently? What did Jacob do wrong? What kinds of decisions can we make hastily (like Esau) and end up making a mess rather than trusting God?

Twin Cities Destroyed!

The Power of Sin

God is angry with Sodom and Gomorrah–twin cities. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, lives there and Genesis 18 is about Abraham praying that God will not destroy the cities. However, the sin is so bad in Sodom and Gomorrah that ten righteous people cannot even be found there. Consider this:

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door. (Genesis 19:1-11 ESV)

Note the power of sin. (And be careful how you talk with your children about this!) These men are so overcome by their lust that they can’t help themselves. They “wore themselves out” groping for the door all night.

Discussion: What kinds of sin are “dangerous” for you or your children. (This is a great opportunity to talk about technology and boundaries for it.)

The Power of God

Morning comes and the angels urge Lot to get his wife and daughters out because God is about to destroy the cities.

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived. (Genesis 19:23-29 ESV)

Discussion: Why did Lot’s wife die? (Because she looked back and longed for the sinful place God was destroying.) What does this say about sin’s power that Lot’s wife would risk everything? What does this say about God’s power that he would destroy those cities? How seriously does God take sin?

Talking Points: Why was Lot not killed? (Because Abraham prayed for him.) What role can you have in praying for family members and friends who go on in sin? How might God use you to pray? Who should be on your prayer list? What does this say about God’s grace and love that he would go to the trouble to rescue Lot?