Posts tagged ‘compromise’

Living In Zoar

It sounds like a planet from a science fiction book, doesn’t it? But it was a little village in ancient Canaan located down on the plains of Sodom. It was so small that it would have passed into history and never have been remembered. But Lot and his family put it on the map of scripture for all time. Let’s see what we can learn from little Zoar from Genesis 19.

The angels of the Lord have condemned Sodom due to their sin, and are telling Lot to take his family and flee.

When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.” (Genesis 19:15-17 NASB)

Notice that the angles tell Lot to get completely away from the Valley and to flee to the protection provided by the mountains so that they will not see what is about to happen. Here is where Lot makes a critical mistake. He is willing to leave the city, but he doesn’t want to go too far away. He is leaving, but his heart is still back with what they have just left. So Lot asks for permission to exercise partial obedience and just go to Zoar. The name Zoar means “smallness”.

But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords! Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar. (Genesis 19:18-22 NASB)

This was another in a long line of foolish decisions for Lot. They began in Genesis 13:10-13 when he saw what looked like an easy life down in the Jordan Valley near to Sodom. A few years later in chapter 19, Lot has moved into town and has let the culture corrupt his thinking. This is evidenced by his offer of giving his two virgin daughters to a crowd to be sexually assaulted like it was normal practice.
And now, he takes the easy road again, and it will cost him dearly again. Rather than make the trek to get completely away, he begs to make the shorter journey and stop at Zoar. The problem with Zoar was that he would be able to look back and long for what they had just left.

The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone 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 his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:23-26 NASB)

So what lessons are there for us in this story?
First of all, the will of God is rarely, if ever, the easy way. In Genesis 13 Lot had chosen to live by Sodom without ever praying and asking God what he should do. How often do we make decisions we have not prayed about just based on how wise it looks in our own eyes.

This is also a story with application to repentance. Lot started by getting close to sin. Finally, he was comfortable moving in with it. He became so used to it that when he left, he wanted to keep it close by, just in case. So often our repentance can be the same if we are not intentional about it. We decide to leave a sin, but give it our forwarding address, too.

Christ has called us to be holy. That simply means to be set apart for Him. We cannot do that if we insist and keeping our favorite sins close by. Lot had been told to completely leave and forsake Sodom. Instead he settled for smallness in Zoar. So instead of dwelling in the place of protection, he tried to see how close he could stay without actually being inside the city. And yet Christians have a bad habit of seeing how close we can get to sin without crossing over the line. When instead we should be getting as far away from it as we can. And we are not the only ones who suffer the consequences of our decisions. In Lot’s case, it cost the life of his wife. There are no victimless sins. Someone is going to be hurt. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) so why are we hanging out with it? Satan is a serial killer and there will always be a price to pay for compromising with sin.

Christians, let’s go all the way with God and forsake out sin completely. Let’s go to the¬†protection of the mountain of the Lord. God has wonderful good works prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). There is no need (indeed there is real danger) to settle for a Christian life of smallness in Zoar.

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; (Acts 3:19 NASB)

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Are You Going To Eat That?

Are You Going To Eat That?
Today’s post starts with the inspired narrative telling about dire situation that ensued when Samaria was under siege by Syria and was totally cut off. No longer could they go to Jerusalem to worship at the temple and offer sacrifices to God. They were isolated and starving physically and spiritually.

“Now it came about after this, that Ben-hadad king of Aram gathered all his army and went up and besieged Samaria. There was a great famine in Samaria; and behold, they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!” He said, “If the LORD does not help you, from where shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?” And the king said to her, “What is the matter with you?” And she answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son and ate him; and I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.” When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes-now he was passing by on the wall-and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body. Then he said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on him today.” (2 Kings 6:24-31 NASB)

This is such a heartbreaking scene, but it is typical of what happens when people are completely cut off and begin to despair of life. Desperation breeds panic, and people find themselves doing things that they would have once been unthinkable.
The Israelites had been reduced to eating dove dung and donkey heads. Can you imagine what it would be like to come home to Dove Dung Soup or Donkey Head Surprise? What type of hopelessness brings people down to that level? And during their fight to survive they keep seeing the prophet, Elisha, who had told them how to keep out of this danger by turning to God and forsaking their idols. Instead of heeding the Word of God, the wanted to kill the messenger.

In many ways, we are the same way personally. When we cut ourselves off from God, we inevitably, eventually will find ourselves doing things we never would have done before, accepting as normal things that were once an abomination, and wanting to close our ears to any who would show us the way back to God. Take a look at the things you watch and listen to. Look at the activities you see or even participate in that once would have been shocking. How desensitized have we become? How seared over are our hearts against being sensitive to what pleases God? It is like in our day, we have replaced the idols which brought judgment on the Northern Kingdom of Israel with full length mirrors. With great seriousness and piety we look into the mirror and say, “My kingdom come, my will be done” as we submit to our ideas instead do to the Word of God.

Our national conscience has also been deadened. We have a society that openly promotes that which God condemns. It stands in defiance to the commands of God, and declares that he has no place in government, as if somehow that means God will be able to leave our nation’s sin unjudged because we have declared ourselves “secular”. We are consuming toxic, filthy, garbage (i.e. dove dung soup and donkey head surprise) and calling it normal, and freedom. But in the end it will kill us as a nation! And just like in the narrative above, the children are the ones who suffer and are consumed.

We have to wake up and see our situation the way God sees it! We have to take another look and what we watch and listen to and laugh at, and measure it by the Word of God and decide one thing – if I am taking this in, is it pure food, or is this dove dung and donkey heads served on a silver platter. Because filth and garbage served in a fanciest restaurant by waiters in tuxedos, is still toxic and it will slowly kill you.

Our God loves us so much that, even while we are wallowing in the gift wrapped filth of the world, He demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son to die for us. (Romans 5:8) His desire is to give us the bread of life and living water. To fill us with things that bring life instead of corruption so we will never hunger and thirst again. God said it this way through the prophet Isaiah:
“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:1, 2 NASB)

All of this sustenance is to be found “in Christ”. How do we get into Christ? By hearing and understanding the Gospel, repenting of our sin, confessing faith in Him, being baptized into Christ.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26, 27 NASB)

There it is. It’s simply beautiful and beautifully simple. Obey the Gospel and be added to the body of Christ. Then you can forsake the filth of the world (repentance) and follow after Christ.
Don’t delay.
The world will try to convince you that right is wrong and wrong is right.

Come to Jesus, on His terms, today!
(Acts 2:38)

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