What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
In Lot's family was a measure of contempt. Lot seemed to his sons-in-law to be joking. It is as if they said, “Who cares for anything you say?” Was Lot's wife different? She looked back. Lot's daughters? They escaped, and then proceeded to involve Lot in one of the vilest sins in the entire Bible, incest. Contempt is not unusual for a lingerer, for they are despised by their families, who cannot deal with the person's inconsistency. They are hot, then cold. They blow this way, then that. They command, “Do this,” but they do something different. Their lives do not live up to the words that they say. Lot was a man whose works burned, but he himself was saved (I Corinthians 3:15).
This is not a way that God wants His children to live. Even though He mercifully intervenes and saves, He wants His children to enjoy the best of the abundant life and to be prepared for His Kingdom.
Most are familiar with Herbert Lockyer's series of "All" books: All the Prayers of the Bible, All the Parables of the Bible, All the Promises of the Bible, All the Women of the Bible, etc. In All the Men of the Bible, he says that Lot is the representative man:
Perhaps there is no figure in the Bible who represents so many men of today as Lot of Sodom. Where you will find one Abraham, one Daniel, or one Joshua, you will find a thousand Lots.
Lot had much wealth, but he did not have the abundant life of God because of his choice to coexist with the world, whose constant, degenerate pressure virtually destroyed his true spirituality. Lot was not a sinner in the normal sense, but a spiritually small and lean man.
There is an interesting contrast between Abraham and Lot. Abraham was probably exceedingly wealthier than Lot, but Abraham lived in a tent, while Lot lived in a house. This clearly shows that Abraham lived his life in such a way that everybody understood that Abraham was just a pilgrim. He did not put roots down in this world, while Lot, his nephew, did.
Lot was converted but carnal. He was a man of weak faith. His hopes and dreams were in the world, and his interest was in the things of this world. Lot had the same vision as Abraham, but by choice, he was firmly anchored in the world. All of Lot's goodness was virtually wasted because his spiritual life was going nowhere.
One might say that, because Lot was "saved," there is more than one way to skin a cat. There might be many poor ways of skinning a cat, as well as some good ways, too. But there is only one best way to skin a cat. Why not choose the best way of doing it? That is the lesson of Lot's life. Why let our works that we have built burn up? Instead, why not do things the way God says?
God was not in all of Lot's thoughts (Psalm 10:4) because he was living by sight. Lot might very well be what we might call the quintessential second-generation Christian. He believed, but all of his passion was spent pursuing the amusements of this world. Lot, whose faith was weak at best, was not committed like Abraham was. The whole aim of Abraham's life was to give glory to God, while Lot, though righteous, lived by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). His aim was essentially to grasp at life, to do it now and enjoy it, rather than work to develop his relationship with God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 4)
The situation in verse 15 is a paradox, an irregularity from the way one would expect a thing to be. A paradox is an inconsistency in circumstance, statement, activity, or conduct contrary to what a person would consider normal. Here, the paradox is found within a relationship with God. The sinner prospers, but the righteous suffers all kinds of difficulty in life. Is it not more natural to think that the sinner would have difficulty and the righteous, a prosperous, smooth-running life?
A paradox, in turn, creates a conundrum, that is, a riddle or puzzle. A righteous individual may ask, “Why should such a situation exist?” “Where are the blessings God has promised?” “Where is God in this picture?” “Has God not promised prosperity and long life if we obey Him?” Yes, He has.
Solomon's paradox could spur a carnal person to assume that doing evil, because it can be profitable, is the better way. This especially seems so when the evil person lives to old age in relative peace, is honored in the world, and has more-than-enough wealth. In contrast, it is not rare for a righteous person to die early, perhaps following a time of difficult persecution.
One way of understanding these verses involves misjudging both God and the circumstance, which generally results in expounding on what we might consider “normal” self-righteousness. As Ecclesiastes teaches, God is sovereign and rules His creation all the time. So thorough is His care of His creation that His eye is even on sparrows (Matthew 10:29). Therefore, God is fully aware of any circumstance like that described in verse 15. In fact, He may have directly created it and is using it for His purposes.
The challenge for us, then, is whether we find fault with Him in allowing or arranging this sort of circumstance. Do we even think that God overlooks what any of His children might be going through? It is likely that He is directly involved, having caused the circumstance.
Could we be calling God into account, deciding—without knowing all the facts—that what He is overseeing is unfair? Understand, however, that even though He may or may not be directly involved in causing such a circumstance, He is not indifferent to human conduct and attitudes whenever or wherever they are. Our judgment must begin with knowing that His governance contains no complacency at any time. Though the righteous may die young, who knows God's entire judgment that lies beyond the grave for either the righteous or the wicked?
In addition, in this world prosperity is frequently associated with some level of evil. God Himself says that He sometimes sets the basest of men on thrones of great power, but He does not mean He favors them in terms of economic prosperity. We should understand those persons are in that position for some good reason, and God is fully aware. The wise person grasps and accepts that God is never out of the picture. He rules!
There is, therefore, a primary lesson about judgment here: Things are not always as they may appear to our narrow perspective. This verse teaches us to be cautious when making judgments about a person's spiritual standing before God and his morality as we might perceive them in his day-to-day surroundings.
This supplies insight into why Jesus cautions us about judging. The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man contains a clear example of the pitfalls in making these kinds of judgments. The rich man could easily have been judged as favored by God. But which man was truly favored by Him? It was Lazarus, the beggar, who was the better spiritually.
We should not allow ourselves to jump to self-righteous conclusions about people and to misjudgments about God's involvement. In either case, we are fully capable of raising ourselves spiritually above them. Thus, an overall lesson in these verses is that we must learn to be cautious about accusative thoughts that may arise within us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Ten): Paradox
Ecclesiastes 7:15 presents a Christian with a paradox about Christian living. A paradox is a circumstance, statement, activity, or conduct that is contrary to expectation. It is an inconsistency, a sharp irregularity, that often produces a conundrum, which is a riddle or puzzle. In Solomon's paradox, the righteous person may ask, “Why should such a situation exist? Where are the blessings God has promised? Where is God in this picture? Has He not promised prosperity and long life if we obey Him?” Yes, indeed He has.
There are two problems that may arise from this experience, both of which involve misjudgments made by the righteous. The first is to misjudge God and accuse Him of being unjust, assuming we know a better way than He does. Not much humility is shown in coming to this conclusion! We need to spend no more time on this one.
The second problem arises when one misjudges, not only God, but also the self, the circumstance, and the possible “solution.” This combination can lead to making the paradox truly destructive to one's spiritual health.
In the vivid description in Psalm 73, we see the spiritual and emotional agony of a converted man experiencing a situation similar to what Solomon describes. The author survived it because he responded in the correct way. God intervened to ensure his rescue, or he might have slid “right out of the church,” as we might say today. The author never slid into the “righteous over much” mode, as the King James Version phrases it in Ecclesiastes 7:16, or into “super-righteousness,” as some modern commentators call it. Solomon warns us that this reaction is destructive.
In Ecclesiastes 7:16-17, Solomon gives a warning right on the heels of his mention of the paradox, making a clear connection between the paradox and the possible reaction of a righteous person. He does it with a strong admonition: “Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself? Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time?” A stern caution indeed. Super-righteousness is a misguided response that seems to arise from our judgment that we are having all this trouble because we are being punished.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Eleven): Paradox, Continued
Find more Bible verses about Inconsistency:
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