God's People: Lot

Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city—bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up, get out of this place; for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Get up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be consumed in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and left him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, they said, “Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, or else you will be consumed.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords; your servant has found favor with you, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, for fear the disaster will overtake me and I die. Look, that city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” He said to him, “Very well, I grant you this favor too, and will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there, for I can do nothing until you arrive there.” Therefore the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. ~ Genesis 19:12-23

This is from one of the more troubling stories in scripture. Over time, we've come to us the word "sodomy" as something many still consider the sin of a homosexual act.

But the sin of Sodom was not so simple. The sin of Sodom began with a lack of hospitality. It went on to include forced sexual acts - including, but not limited to, what the men of Sodom wanted to do with the two men (angels) whom God had sent to investigate. But that wasn't the only example of their sin. The sin of Sodom included all manner of violence and oppression.

Right before Lot is warned to take his family away, a series of events happen. First, Abraham treats these angels with hospitality and begs for innocents in Sodom and Gomorrah to be spared. Then the angels go on to investigate Sodom, and Abraham's nephew Lot offers them hospitality, albeit not in the best of ways. Lot attempts to save these men from being sexually assaulted by a mob by offering his virgin daughters to take their guests' place and be raped by the mob instead.

And immediately after this section, Sodom and Gomorrah will be destroyed by sulphur and fire and Lot's wife will turned to a pillar of salt.

Pretty awful stuff.

And yet it all begins with hospitality. Abraham offers it and then Lot makes a rather feeble attempt at it, in a way that I'd not really recommend.

But Sodom and Gamorrah go out of their way to not even attempt it at all. In fact, some Jewish scholars make a point of demonstrating that the two cities did the opposite: they tortured strangers.

So what does it mean to be truly hospitable?

Moving forward, God will have a lot to say about it. By the time the law is given to Moses, hospitality will be codified. Loving the stranger - the alien - will be required.

And yet we still struggle with it. Not as feebly as Lot does, but it is still hard.

We still forget that the stranger among us is to be treated with respect. We still forget that for God all are worthy of hospitality. 

And we forget that Jesus himself came not to build walls, but to bring everyone to the table.

Prayer: Lord of hospitality, open our arms and hearts to the strangers among us. Amen.

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