A crumbling pillar
Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.” Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. So Abram settled in the land of Canaan, and Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord. (Genesis 13:8-13)
Abraham and Lot realized great increase in flocks, herds, silver, and gold - so much so that it was possible arguments were breaking out among the keepers of the flocks and herds as to watering holes and grazing lands. One wanted this grazing land, while the other wanted the same piece of land. One wanted that watering hole, and the other wanted it, too. The 'closeness' was getting to be too much for the 'wealth' of these two men to remain that close to each other in the land. So, they come to an agreement - one would choose all the land to the left, the other to the right. A brief 'survey' of the land by Lot had him quickly enthralled by the lush pastures, deep watering holes, and beauty of the landscape he beheld. The whole valley would be his - he would select that which looked the most inviting and 'best' for his livestock. Isn't it just like us to look upon something, becoming more enthralled by what we see as 'good' without ever looking beyond what we see on the surface?
Lot headed toward Sodom - a land we would soon come to understand as 'full of sin' and about to undergo God's judgment because of the depravity of their sin. What had 'surface beauty' really had a 'hidden ugliness' that would soon become the undoing of Lot and his family. Sin has a way of 'masking' its true character until we are so engulfed in its presence that we find it is quite hard to escape it. Abraham did not take the best for himself but left the choice of the land to Lot. Did this mean he didn't look upon Sodom's landscape and see a thing of beauty himself? We don't know that, but we do know he was a man of his word. He told Lot he'd let him choose the division of the land, and he did just that. As the nephew of Abraham, he should have deferred the decision to Abraham. I wonder if anything would have happened differently if he did? We will never know, but we do see the consequences of only looking at the superficial and the resulting loss it brings.
Sin doesn't roll out a red carpet for us, but it certainly does a great deal to hide what is just beyond the 'good stuff' we see with our eyes. Visual appeal is one of Satan's most used 'tricks' to lure us into places and actions we would be best to avoid. Maybe this is why scripture warns us: "Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever." (I John 2:15-17) The one look can create a craving we find hard to resist - just like Lot began to crave the goodness of the lush pastures and well-watered places for his herds and flocks. The lust of the eyes is something we need to ask God's help to recognize quickly, so we aren't found moving closer and closer to entering into sin's 'locale'.
The rest of the story? Lot and his wife actually settled too close to Sodom and became accustomed to the activities that went on there. This is how sin works - it moves us closer and closer to its 'hub' until we find it hard not to 'conform' to the things we see and hear. We might not 'indulge' in the action of some given to the sinfulness all around us, but we certainly don't do much to counteract it! Were it not for Abraham's appeal to save Lot from the coming judgment, he might have been brought to total ruin. Looking at what sin does to our hearts, we see Lot's wife - looking back, longing for what she had in the most sinful place she could have dwelt. Sin has a way of getting us to constantly 'look back' and long for what we had, but we fail to see that what awaits us when our hearts are so 'given over' to sin is that we become crumbling pillars, unable to stand in the presence of a holy and powerful God. Sin might lure us in with promises of goodness, but the end of sin is judgment. All the goodness sin held out to lure us in will never keep us standing in the presence of a holy and just God. Just sayin!