Daily Bible thoughts 1661: Monday 30th April, 2018: Genesis 19: 30-38: Trickle-down effect. Sorry everyone this is yesterdays note I somehow put on todays twice!
“30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the elder daughter said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is no man round here to give us children – as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.’ 33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the elder daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. 34 The next day the elder daughter said to the younger, ‘Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.’ 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. 36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The elder daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.”
This could be a lovely story of family harmony; of a lonely man being comforted in his later years by the pure, familial love of his daughters. But it’s not. It is rather a tale of woe; of shame and ignominy. Note the role played in it by too much ‘’wine.’’ Although you cannot make a case for teetotalism from the Bible (at least, I don’t believe you can), it is more than obvious that we need to be careful around it. Too much alcohol can lead to lowering of inhibitions, and even loss of control altogether. It can make sexual sin much more likely. (This story reminds me of an earlier one in Genesis, about Noah: 9:18ff). From this sordid episode, the Ammonites and Moabites entered the world, and they would be thorns in the side of God’s people. Our behaviour has consequences.
Like it or not, the father sets the spiritual tone and atmosphere for the family. God has made him a leader, and who he is will affect the quality of life in the home. There will be a trickle-down effect, from his example, to his children. Lot’s family life was dysfunctional. I believe this stems from his being a worldly, compromised believer. Someone observed that although Lot had been saved from Sodom, he had not been saved from himself. It was easier to get Lot out of Sodom than to get Sodom out of Lot. In a previous chapter, Lot wanted to give his daughters to a rabid rabble at his door who were clamouring for sex with men. We can only begin to imagine the effect of that on these girls. Also, you wonder what else went on under that roof to damage them. This is not to excuse the daughters for their blatant sin. I believe it’s true to say that every culture in the world condemns incest (A little bit like Abraham with Hagar, they were scheming rather than trusting). But the parents have a major influence on their children, for good or for ill. Lot had sown a lot of bad seeds in his own back garden. We should not be surprised to see the moral weeds which sprang up in due course.
There are some bad dads in the world, sad to say. Bad men, who you feel should never have children. There are also many great dads. Somewhere in the middle, most of us carry on with good intentions, knowing we don’t always get it right. We are conscious we are flawed. There are occasions when we sense we’re getting it wrong, but we’re not quite sure how. But it’s tough being a parent. Most of us grow up reacting against certain things our parents did, and our children will undoubtedly repeat that pattern- given the chance. Even with the best of intentions, none of us gets it right all the time. We regularly experience the pain of seeing our sinful selves in the mirror of our kids’ behaviour, and a rebuking voice says, ‘Thou art the man.’
I read this sad, sad, story today, profoundly humbled by my own imperfections, but also grateful for the grace and mercy of God. Can any earthly dad fail to feel this? As Jesus put it, we are ‘’evil.’’ We have sinful natures, even though we love our children and want to give ‘’good gifts’’ to them. There is only one perfect Father, and He is ‘’in heaven.’’ Today we can count on His love, and cast ourselves upon His mercy, asking Him to ‘’forgive us our trespasses.’’ The fact that we’ve missed the mark often, as dads (and mums), does not disqualify us from His loving embrace, as we find our refuge in Christ.