Any time we question God, it’s cheeky at best and can be dangerously disrespectful, so let me begin this blogpost by reassuring the reader that it will conclude with, well, whaddya know, He was right again.
So I was thinking about the part of Genesis where God tells Abraham that He is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham, whose nephew Lot lives in the former, persuades God to spare the city if he finds at least ten righteous people in it; He doesn’t, but apparently because of Abraham’s intervention, decides to give Lot and his family the chance to escape before the cities’ destruction. See Genesis 18:16-19:38.
So how did God’s forbearance work out for Him? Well, let’s see. There were six people in Lot’s family: him, his wife, his two daughters, and their two fiancees. Lot’s wife, when fleeing Sodom, infamously looked back when she had been warned not to, and was turned into a pillar of salt. The two fiancees didn’t even get that far: They just laughed at the warnings and, presumably, were destroyed with the city. Lot’s daughters managed go escape with him but, soon thereafter, got their father drunk, seduced him, and got pregnant.
Lot himself, even if we absolve him of any blame in this last shameful incident (but should we?), still made a deliberate but dubious decision to live and continue living in a very sinful city. Thus, a recent book review in Touchstone magazine (January/February 1974 issue, at 45), in the course of decrying the common course of many modern churches, said “it seems that the world has shaped the church more than the other way around. We look more and more like Lot gradually moving into Sodom ….” And Lot happily offered his virgin daughters to the barbaric Sodomites to do with whatever they liked, as a deal to keep them from molesting his visitors — was that the better or only option? (On the other hand, in the New Testament, Lot is referred to in II Peter 2:7-9 as “a righteous man.” Jesus refers to Lot, but neutrally, at Luke17:28-32.)
Oh, and how about Lot’s progeny through his daughters? That’s the clincher: They became the Moabites and the Ammonites, permanent enemies of Israel.
So it seems this was not a very good deal, this concession that God apparently made to Abraham, right? Did God have some sort of silver lining in mind, either then or later?
Well, to an Arminian, the answer may just be that God decided to let these individuals exercise their free will, and they did not do very well. Sad but, alas, it happens all the time.
To a Calvinist, there are also a couple of possible answers that occur to me. First, God might have wanted to make this point: When you argue with me, and I give in, the results might not be what you expected. But a second possible answer is more intriguing: Guess who was a Moabite? None other than Ruth, who married Boaz, and whose great-great-something grandson was … Jesus Christ. God, as always, brings good out of apparent (human) evil.