Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Month: November, 2014

Samson The Greatest Type of Christ

Samson

[ The following is an unedited, unabridged post by C.J. taken from a thread on http://www.sermonindex.net. ]

Sampson: The Greatest Type of Christ in the Old Testament.

It goes without saying, that of the handful of people that are listed in Hebrews 11, there is none as controversial as that of Samson. Most messages that I’ve heard on him leave the impression that this man was a failure, a failure that just happened to straighten out in the very end. As a matter of fact, it was a challenge to find anything among the moderns of a positive nature, for most writers had little good to say of him, and many went so far as to imply that it was a mistake that he was even mentioned in the ‘Faith chapter’ at all, because of what they see as three grievous sins in his life.

SAMSON’S 3 MISTAKES WHICH RUINED HIS LIFE…

1) Dishonered his parents (by marrying the woman from Timnath).

2) Defiled his person by eating the wrong meal (honey from the lion carcass).

3) Defended his pride.

Not very flattering words. It seems that the consensus among the majority is that Samson was a failure and somehow managed to slip into Hebrews 11 by the skin of his teeth. But it was God that placed Samson among the giants of faith, listing him by name no less, and with God there are no mistakes. So why the controversy?

I think the answer lies in the fact that although we acknowledge with our lips that our right standing before God comes through faith, we sometimes inwardly hold on to the Old Covenant way, which is the way of works. This is why I believe God’s view of Samson is so different from many men that hold such a negative view of Samson. God understands us and sees us how we are.

WHY SAMSON IS IN THE HALL OF FAITH

It seems necessary to show that he truly does belong in Hebrews 11, and also call into question the harsh judgements made by many on his life. I hope to do this in showing two basic points.

  1. SAMSON IS ONE OF THE GREATEST OLD TESTAMENT TYPES OF CHRIST: For it goes without saying, that if he is found as a clear picture or type of Christ, then the only conclusion that could be drawn, is that he would have to be a great man of faith, for God would not picture his Son through a faithless failure.
  2. SAMSON WALKED THROUGH THIS LIFE WITH INCREDIBLE FAITH: Not just in the last couple hours as many claim. Now the word is faith, not law. Hebrews 11 doesn’t list the men that had the cleanest records (for otherwise David may have been excluded), nor the ones that played it safe and protected their reputations among men the best (for then the Pharisees would have been found here). Hebrews 11 is not nicknamed the ‘Hall of Law Keeping’. It lists those that were sure of the unseen, who believed in God’s promises, who had their praise from God and not men. (Rom 2:29)

SAMSON IS ONE OF THE GREATEST O.T TYPES OF CHRIST:

Background and Introduction:

Samson was from the tribe of Dan and was the last of Israel’s judges, most likely in direct fulfillment the prophecy, “Dan shall judge his people” from Genesis 49:16. It is important to note that the days of the judges are listed as the darkest days of Israel’s history, a condition that makes the faith of Samson shine all the brighter, for it was a terrible time to be given the task of leading this nation. It was in this time when Israel was being oppressed by the cruel Philistines for the wickedness that they themselves had committed, that God ordained Samson, before his birth, to begin the deliverance of his people, (for David would finish it some years later). Samson’s life and calling are very unusual and even appear odd at times, so it is important to see that Samson was set apart by God not so much to imitate, but rather to see a picture of the coming Savior. Consider one commentator’s words …..

“…but the truth is Samson himself was a riddle, a paradox of a man, who did that which was really great and good, by that which was seemingly weak and evil, because he was designed not to be a pattern to us (who must walk by rule, not example), but a type of him who, though he knew no sin, was made sin for us, and appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh that he might condemn and destroy sin in the flesh.”

Now because my time is far too short to include all the aspects of Samson himself and his life, let’s look at some of the events in which God used Samson to be a type or foreshadow of Jesus Christ and the great faith he had to walk this incredibly difficult road of deliverer of Israel.

1. THE CALLING OF SAMSON (Chapter 13:1-5)

  • -Samson was chosen before he was born to begin Israel’s deliverance… The only man who shared this in common with the Lord. “For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son… and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (13:5)
  • -Samson’s mother was barren. As was Isaac’s, Jacob’s, John’s, and Samuel’s. Type of the virgin birth. “And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.” (13:2)
  • -Samson’s birth was announced to his mother by the ‘angel of the LORD‘, as was the Jesus’ by an angel to Mary. In Sampson’s case this was most likely Jesus Christ preincarnate, “And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?” (13:18) “And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (13:22)
  • -The meaning of his name. It means ‘Sun’. Surely he would be a type of the Son and surely he would be a light shining in a very dark time. “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings….” (Mal 4:2)
  • -He is called to be a deliverer, to begin the deliverance of Israel from their enemies. “He shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (13:5) Samson will be a type of Christ in that Christ is the deliverer of His people and “bear the government on his shoulders” (Is 9:6).
  • -He is called to be a nazarite for life, “For the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.” (13:7) He is the first one mentioned in the Bible, and the only lifelong nazarite who gets his commission from God himself, like Christ. Samson was told by his parents that God had called him to be separated unto God from common society for life as a Nazarite, and he believed them, and he believed God. That is faith. So we begin to see from the very start that Samson was different, set apart by God to be used for his purposes. His entry into the world was proclaimed from heaven itself. The favor of God was upon the Danite, from the time before his conception. We must see these things to understand not only the man, but more importantly the special call on his life, and the special grace of God upon him to sustain him during the most incredible demands that any man has ever had to endure. The parallels between his birth and the birth of our Lord are incomparable and undeniable as a type of Christ.

2. SAMSON TAKES A GENTILE BRIDE. (Chapter 14)

  • – The Spirit of the Lord had already, scripture says, began to move Samson at times,“And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times” (13:25). Given his calling, we can assume the Spirit moved him at times to reveal the daring, courage and most likely the strength (which God never promised at any time) that he would need to strike out against the Philistines.
  • -“And Sampson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Tinmath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman of Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her fro me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not that t was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the philistines: for at the time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.” Here Samson asks his father for a gentile bride. While it was not very popular with his parents, Samson respects their authority and involves them. Though debated, this marriage does not appear to be forbidden as the Phillistines were not mentioned in (Deut 7:1-4).
  • -Sampson thus types Christ who sought a gentile bride. Sampson sought her not because of beauty (“Is not her younger sister fairer than she?” [15:2]), but because of his love for her as Christ has also done for us.
  • -In doing so Samson, as Christ did, made Israel jealous, “Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?” (14:3)
  • -Samson furthermore, shows incredible faith in pursuing that which was of God, but what men couldn’t understand. As we will see, he sought praise from God over men, even mother and father. This is the first act of Israel’s deliverance in his his taking a gentile bride (interesting parallel with the church) and we see Samson walking in faith according to the will of God. “But his father and his mother knew not that t was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the philistines: for at the time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.” (14:4)

3. DESTROYS THE LION IN THE VINEYARD. (14:5-6)

  • -”Then went Samson down… and came to the vineyards of Timnath...” (14:5) Here is a especially possible testing of his faith and obedience because he was a nazarite. (Given the extreme length of the vow, it is noteworthy that though alone here in a vineyard, he abstains. What an incredible obedience to parents and God and more so a faith in God!) Here is the type: Christ in the wilderness.-”And behold, a young lion roared against him.” (14:5) This is not a cub, but a creature in it’s prime and most fierce state. Here we see the Spirit of the Lord comes ‘mightily’ upon Samson to destroy the beast with his bare hands as though he was a kid. Samson’s faith and guidance from God will take him into some of the most dangerous places and situations that any man has ever come across, yet God was always faithful and his grace was Samson’s strength. As we look at the many times in which the ‘Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson‘, consider if it would be consistent with the rest of the Old Testament for God to do this if at the time Samson was acting contrary to God’s will and in selfish, faithless acts of sin?
  • -Samson’s killing of the lion could be a picture of Satan attacking Christ, “And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent himm as he would have rent a kid.” (14:5) Through Jesus’ victory over Satan, He destroyed Satan and defeated death, thus the sweetness of the Gospel and the resurrection came from, or out of, Satan’s defeat, “And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.” (14:8). This passage also illustrates well that that in the conflict between the Lord and Satan, Satan is no match, but like a small goat against a mighty warrior.
  • -Samson’s faith is shown as he takes on the lion with nothing in his hand, “And he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand.” (14:6). The power of the Spirit of God is displayed as well as the faith of Samson in all his conquests, for not once in his life does he ever use a man-made weapon of war, though he accomplishes the greatest single-handed victories ever had by any man. “…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD.” (Zech 4:6)
  • -Only a man of faith, one that knew the source of his strength was from God, and not himself, could have this kind of humility that he told no one of what he did, not even his parents who were but a little ways away. “But he told not his father or his mother what he had done.” (14:6) I think most young men wouldn’t mind letting their dad know they had just ripped a lion apart with their bare hands, but Samson said nothing.

4. THE WEDDING FEAST (14:8-20)

  • -Samson comes to prepare the wedding feast as Christ the bridegroom prepares the wedding feast His mostly gentile bride, the church., “And Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.” (14:10)
  • -Samson comes speaking ‘dark sayings‘ or parables, “I will now put forth a riddle unto you…” (14:12) Similarly, Psalm 78:2 prophesied that the Lord would open his, “mouth in a parable” and utter, “dark sayings of old” as he began his ministry that the Father gave him to do. “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matt 13:10)
  • -So, after much pressure, Samson reveals the riddle of the honey in the lion to his gentile bride. “And it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him.” (14:17) Just as Christ took aside his disciples and privately shared the meaning of his parables. The honey out of the lion appears to be a picture of the gospel as already mentioned.
  • -Samson’s bride tells the meaning of the riddle to her friends, “And she told the riddle to the children of her people.” (14:17) who in turn receive new garments from Samson. Here the spreading of the gospel is typed, as the church, or bride of Christ shares the truth of Salvation and those that hear it with understanding receive new garments, which always picture salvation.
  • -Samson then leaves his bride in the care of a companion and goes back up to his father’s house until the time of the harvest. “And he went up to his father’s house...”  Here is another amazing parallel to the events of Christ and the church, as the bride was left in the care of Holy Spirit, “But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.” (14:20) While Christ went up to his Father’s house, and will return in what He called the time of the harvest “But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife” (15:1).
  • -Samson shows as an incredible type of Christ here, foreshadowing events in such detail as none others do in the Old Testament concerning the Lords marriage to the gentile church, all the while walking alone amongst those hostile to him as he fulfills the will of God. Has Samson acted in total sin and faithlessness, or does God have him move in peculiar ways for His own purposes?

5. SAMSON STRIKES OUT AGAINST ISRAEL’S ENEMIES AS THE GOD-APPOINTED DELIVERER (15:1-8)

  • – In response to the ill treatment he received from his father in law, Samson uses this as an opportunity strike out against the Philistines, as the Lord had purposed back in Chapter 14:4. “And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the PHilistines, though I do them a displeasure.” (15:3)
  • -Samson catches 300 foxes that he ties tail to tail on fire, then sends them out in this dry harvest time to destroy the Philistines crops. This man of faith fears not the consequence of such radical action, for who would be foolish enough not to expect immediate retribution from the oppressing and cruel Philistines once this act was carried out? Who of us would run to the chance to strike out against the churches enemies, in any fashion, with this magnitude as a lone instigator and aggressor? Keep in mind that these actions were in no way a personal vendetta, but rather the obedient response to God’s call on his life from birth to deliver Israel and act as a one man military.
  • -After the Philistines respond by burning his wife and father-in-law, Samson responds with a most amazing statement, that ‘Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.‘ (15:7) Are there many men who compare to Samson when it comes to faith? God had told him that he would begin Israel’s deliverance, and see how this man exercises the most incredible faith and zeal as he continues to pursue his enemies as the public judge of Israel! Not only does he declare another single-handed war is about to commence with the Philistines, but has the faith in God’s power to let them know that after he “smites them hip and thigh with a great slaughter” (15:8), that he will cease his vengeance for the death of his wife! It is surreal, the faith that Samson exercised as Israel’s lone deliverer.

6. ISRAEL’S BETRAYAL OF SAMSON. SAMSON’S SAVING OF ISRAEL.

  • -Here is found, in my opinion, one of the strongest acts of faith that Samson put forth of all. When we stop for a moment and consider the incredible grandeur of the type of Christ and the events of Christ’s life that are pictured here, mingled with the atrocious treatment of the Jews against him, it makes one marvel at the enduring faith of Samson, and we can say in agreement with Hebrews 11:38 that of a surety, ‘the world was not worthy of servants such as these‘.
  • -Now we find Samson is resting in the cave of Etam, probably assured that the Philistines would come for him, now that he had slaughtered many of them in an open, lop-sided war. Just as Christ had nowhere to lay his head, we never see Samson in a home, but instead always on the move as the Spirit of God led him. He may have done this even for the safety of the Jews. But as we see, it is not the Philistines that take Samson initially, but his own people.
  • -3,000 men of Judah (the strong tribe symbolized by the lion) approach Samson. Though they are gathered in this great multitude in the presence of their fearless, God-appointed deliverer, yet they come to bind him and hand him over to their enemies. “And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines” (15:12) Even in the presence of one such as Samson who has proved both willing and able to begin their deliverance, they would have nothing of the sort. Yet Samson is unshaken in faith or zeal, though all those around him have abandoned him.
  • -The picture of Christ is incredibly clear and vivid….Joh 1:11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” In removing Samson they promise to not kill Samson themselves, but hand him over to those that will do it with far more malice and cruelty, so was Jesus rejected by his own and handed over to the gentiles to be tortured and crucified. “And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves. And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand.” (15:12-13)
  • -So they bind Samson, their kinsmen and God-sent deliverer, and take him to the Philistines. Consider yet again the great faith and meekness seen here in this Judge, for though it would have been as nothing to destroy those that came to bind him, he meekly submits and allows them to carry him away ‘as a lamb to the slaughter‘, without so much as a complaint, or a skirmish. What a picture of Christ in the garden, who’s very words leveled the Roman soldiers to the ground, yet meekly let those that were so much weaker, carry him away to be tortured and killed.
  • -When the Philistines see him they ‘shouted against him‘. Think of what this would do to most men’s spirit: you’ve just been taken by your own people and carried bound to a thousand screaming Philistines who want nothing but your slow, painful death. You’ve no weapon. You’re all alone. You’ve nothing but the God-given mandate to deliver the people that don’t want to be saved. But ‘where the Spirit is there is Liberty‘, and Samson’s cords that bound him fell as though they were burnt flax, for the Spirit of the Lord came ‘mightily upon him‘ . “And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.” (15:14) As three thousand from the tribe of Judah watch fearfully or run away, Samson reaches down and picks up a jawbone and with it slays a thousand men single-handedly. “And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.” (15:15) Have we seen a picture like this in the entire Old Testament that speaks so strong that salvation is of the Lord, whose strength and might and fury none can withstand? Who better than Samson shows the wrath that Christ will bring against his enemies?
  • – The fact that Samson was ever once in the very least, aided by a single person or weapon in the carrying out Israel’s deliverance is the greatest foreshadowing of the coming Lion of Judah and of his incomparable faith in God. (The Lord never used a conventional weapon, nor will He at His second coming) He stood completely alone in the midst of his own people. “And Sampson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.” (15:16)

7. THE MIDDLE 20 YEARS ARE MISSING

  • -Just like the account of the Lord’s life, there is no record of the prime of Samson’s life, other than that he judged his people, and in both cases it is approximately 20 years.

8. DELILAH’S BETRAYAL OF SAMSON

  • -As Samson was betrayed by Delilah for silver, so was Christ betrayed by a supposed friend for silver as well. “And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.” (16:5) It is incredible to see the similarities between Samson and Jesus as they allow one they know to be a deceiver and betrayer such close proximity and fellowship. It is noteworthy that while Samson is scorned for faithlessness and sin, consider the astonishing cruelty that surrounded Samson in every recorded event of his life, by the Philistines as well as his own people. No wonder the account says that Samson’s “soul was vexed unto death” (16:16) as it said the same of Christ in the garden.

9. SAMSON AS HE TYPES THE LORD AND THE CROSS

  • -“And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.” (16:3) Why in the world did Samson do this? For it is considered by many the single greatest act of strength ever carried out by a man. The gates, bar and all, would have been too much for any who has ever lived, and yet he carried them possibly 20 miles through sandy ground to the top of a hill overlooking Hebron. And why is this feat of all feats dropped between vs 2 and 4 for no explained reason?
  • -I believe that this is a picture of Jesus and the cross. The Philistines thought they had Samson trapped in Gaza, ”And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city” (16:2) but rather he comes down at midnight and rips the city gates right off, and carries them to the top of a hill outside the city. This can’t be coincidental, for it is the exact same thing our Lord did with His cross. He put it on His shoulders, and carried it outside the city to the top of a hill. -John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” So it is here, that Samson carries this great door and places it on the top of the hill outside the city. They thought this city of Gaza could contain him. But just as Gaza could not hold Samson, in essence so it is with the Lord. Death and hell could not hold him. He took the cross, or this great gate and carried it to the top of a hill where the great entrance to heaven could be seen. We need to see Christ carrying the cross as mighty Samson carrying the gate. Not week and feeble, but full of strength and power.
  • -The last event is Samson’s greatest moment as a deliverer of his people. As you know, Samson was called by God to be a nazarite for his entire life. He was never to cut his hair. When Delilah betrayed him and his hair was cut, we read that the Spirit of God departed from him for a time. He lost his strength, had his eyes put out, was mocked and abused at the hands of his captors while they made sport of him. Then they brought him out to be a spectacle for all of them to see as they praised their god Dagon for the victory. Can you see Satan at this party laughing and stirring the people against the Lord’s anointed? It was at this time that the Philistines led Samson out in sight of all, and placed him between the two pillars. It was here that Samson asked God to strengthen him one last time. Samson believed in the Lord. It takes more faith to humbly come to God after great defeat, especially that of our own sins, than at any other, but he believed that God was the rewarder of those that diligently seek him, that he was the ‘God of all grace‘, and so he was.
  • -Again, the type of Christ that Samson is here is hard to miss. Without being able to see, Samson is mocked and scorned by the Philistines. “And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” (Luke 22:64)
  • -Christ willingly came to die as a man, he meekly put himself at the mercy of men that hated him. Samson lost his strength because the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him when his hair was cut, when he sinned by going against the separation of purity in the Nazarite vow. “And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.” (16:20) But the Spirit of God departed from Christ at the cross as he was made sin in our place, where he felt weakness and separation from the Father, after so long being separated unto the Father, so that he could be a high priest that understood the feeling of our infirmities, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
  • -God heard Samson and gave him the strength to overcome his enemies, and as it returned, with outstretched arms, Samson laid down his life, just as Jesus would do at the cross. “And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” (16:30) Consider the words of Jesus in John 10:18 concerning His life “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

And this is why no man could ever be a perfect picture of the Lord, for only he was without sin, only he had life within himself and of himself. But Samson helps us see the coming Deliverer, for with him there is no self pity, complaint or even asking God why he was given this lifelong burden to bear. From the beginning he was separated unto God to be a nazarite, a deliverer of God’s people and a judge over them. Not one complaint, not one instance of shrinking back though always alone in his calling. And here at his death is no exception. Consider his request, ‘God give me strength to finish what you gave me to do’. With head bowed and filled with strength, he feels the pillars with outstretched arms, and though blind without his eyes, I think that of all the men of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11, probably Samson, more than any other, was looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith.Now…… one last thing that I didn’t mention about the Nazarites and their vows that I found of interest. In Numbers 6, we read that at the end of the time of their vow, when the time of this special separation unto God was complete, they were to do two things; first they were to have their heads shaved. And second, they were to offer up to God a sacrifice. Now, if anyone knew the demands of the Nazarite vow, it would be Samson. Look at the sacrifice that Samson offered up unto God from between the pillars.

  • He was the first Nazarite mentioned in the bible.
  • He was the only lifelong Nazarite ordained by God from before his birth.
  • He was the only Nazarite who offered up himself, as a sacrifice to God, with outstretched arms, to complete his vow and his calling.
  • He was the only one…. , except for Jesus.

C.J.

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The Righteousness of Lot

Righteous Lot

A DEFENCE OF LOT

The North American church almost has this masochistic routine of slamming every hero and patriarch in the Bible. We rob the narrative of its teleology, its design and purpose, and subjoin our own personal “moral of the story.” We interpose our own modern conventions into their period of history. We permit our own modern presuppositions to determine the narratives. We quixotically circumvent uncomfortable realities that will collide with our modern piousness. We monitor, censure, diminish, belittle, deviate, and romanticize narratives in the name of Sunday School. We vilify Biblical men to placate the feminists who sing “A mighty Goddess is our Forte”. We turn Abraham into a fearful liar, Samson into a harlot philanderer, Jacob into a manipulator and thief, Rehab into a lying prostitute, Moses into an impatient megalomaniac, Isaac into a cowardly liar, Noah into a drunk, and the one with the biggest rap sheet is Lot. Lot is a pusillanimous caitiff, an incestuous father,  a tardy sluggard, a sybaritic, fleshly, avaricious, and supercilious fiend! In other words, Lot is the worst of the whole lot of Biblical patriarchs.  All of these men have suffered from the hands of lazy pastors, picturesque Sunday School teachers, raging feminists, and legalists. Biblical patriarchs and hero’s have been turned into miserable failures and some villains. We have deprived all of these narratives and men of the victory, valour, and virtue they were intended to inspire in God’s people. We, however, have been watchful of not conceding to such misinterpretation and manipulation, but have actively endeavoured to reclaim the glory of God displayed in their providential lives and acts. Today we endeavour to reclaim and give a defence of Lot.

“And turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them and overthrew them, and made them an ensamble unto them that after should live ungodly, And delivered just Lot vexed with the uncleanly conversation of the wicked: For he being righteous, and dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment under punishment.”

2 Peter 2:6-9

WORST OF THE LOT

Perhaps one of the most difficult of accounts in Scripture to reconcile is that of Peter’s approbation of Lot as a just and righteous man. Today Lot is scapegoated as a passive, pusillanimous, licentious, incestuous, blackguard. How is it then, that firstly God should account him as righteous and save him from judgment, and secondly how the Apostle Peter could give laudation to his righteousness? I have come to recognize that we as Christians are often given to building moralistic boxes which dimensions are determined by our cultural perspective as New Covenant, Western Civilization Christian’s, rather than by Scriptural objectivity. This is not to say in the least that Western Civilization is antithetical to Scriptural objectivity, yet only to recognize the clarity and the authority of the latter supersedes the former. I would propose that with close observation of the context and passages of Genesis 19, we are able to come to the same conclusion as the Apostle Peter did.  All without romanticizing, idealizing, and simulating the life of Lot. After all, if we do not share the selfsame illation from this sufficient, special revelation of Lot in Scripture, it is we, not Peter, who are at fault on both a homiletical and hermeneutic capacity. The approach to be given to Genesis 19 is a humble request of adoration to God. Praying for our right understanding of this passage I would restate the reformers of the 1559 Geneva Bible, “O Gracious God and most merciful Father, which hast vouchsafed us the rich and precious jewel of thy holy word, assist us with thy spirit, that it may be written in our hearts to our everlasting comfort, to reform us, to renew us according to thine own Image, to build us up, and edify us into the perfect building of thy Christ, sanctifying and increasing in us all heavenly virtues. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.”

A PRELIM OF LOT

Firstly, we do well to make note of the fact that Lot acted in a significant amount of faith in following his younger uncle, Abraham, to the promise Land. Just as Abraham trusted in God, so Lot had fealty to Abraham and his holy calling. Lot as the patriarch of his father’s estate had significantly increased assets, possessions, family, and servants under his responsibility than Abraham had. Lot endured substantially far more risk in uprooting the whole of his estate than would have Abraham. Together, as brethren, Lot and Abraham traveled across deserts, through mountains, and endured famine and persecution in Egypt.  None of which Lot was obligated toward. From this alone, one cannot doubt Lot’s considerable belief in the promise of God, the calling of Abraham, and his own place in God’s purpose. From this preliminary observation we see that God had just as special a calling for righteous Lot in Sodom as he had for Abraham in Canaan.

UNTO SODOM

An oft repeated critique of Lot was the fact he had chosen before and above Abraham to settle his herds and family in “the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent unto Sodom.”  Lot is accused firstly of a haughty pretence to select his land before Abraham. Contrarily to our modern presuppositions, Abraham was in fact obligated to give to Lot the first selection of the land to be taken, because Lot was the oldest son of Abraham’s eldest brother, Haran. Lot, in those days, thus had the right of succession by which the whole estate of Abraham’s father and Lot’s grandfather, Terah, was passed onto. In addition to receiving the majority of assets and belongings of his grandfather’s estate, Lot would have been responsible for both the assets and family of his father’s estate. In some respects Lot would have been responsible for Abraham himself. Furthermore, Lot is estimated to have been 20-40 years older than Abraham, which would have made him about 114 around the time of their parting. Abraham honoured Lot’s position as the older family patriarch and protector in giving Lot the first choice. The second impeachment against Lot is that the grounds for his choosing Sodom was from an inordinate inclination toward the sinfulness of Sodom. However, the Apostle Peter makes it more than clear that Lot was only vexed “from day to day with their unlawful deeds.” Still and all, when we observe the context of Abraham and Lot’s parting we see the pressing demand of both their ever bountiful estates, Lot’s equitable position to select first and foremost, and his realistic selection of a superior and beneficial property. “So when Lot lifted up his eyes, he saw that all the plain of Jordan was watered everywhere (for before The Lord destroyed Sodom and Gamorrah it was as the garden of The Lord like the land of Egypt, as thou goest unto Zoar.)”

ONE AND THE SAME

To establish our observation of Lot having that special fealty and belief as Abraham, Scripture gives a parallel account of Lot receiving the Angels in Chapter 19. The manner of both Abraham and Lot’s reception of these angels registers with us their their active awareness of the presence of God, their amenability to worship the beauty of holiness, their acknowledgment of their servitude, and their amiable hospitality to their lords. Firstly, they were actively aware of God’s presence. Speaking of Abraham, “And he lifted up his eyes, and looked” of Lot, “and Lot saw them.” When the angels and the Lord appeared unto Abraham, he was resting during the afternoon of the day as was customary. However, Lot was sitting at the gate in the evening. Often, it is said that Lot had garnered a position of power and importance in that wicked city, which was signified in him sitting at the gate as was the customary capacity of such officials. However, righteous Lot sat by the gate at evening. After the business of the day was done and everyone had departed, Lot sat at the gates of Sodom at dusk. This is far from ordinary and customary for officials. Why Lot would be far from hearth and home at this late time of day, at the outskirts of the city is largely unknown. Was he expecting the angels, was he their to protect sojourners and strangers entering in at that dangerous hour? This is but speculation. However it does confirm in addition to verse 9, that Lot had not entered into a position of power and affluence in the city as some would indict him of. (Even if Lot was in a position of power, this is still no fault on his part as all Christians should endeavour to actively reform their cities.) Second, is both their amenable response of worship. Speaking of Abraham, “And when he saw them he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the ground”, and of Lot, “and rose up to meet them, and bowed himself with his face to the ground.” This is a remarkable quality of these two Biblical patriarchs. Holy men who from an acute awareness and familiarity with the presence of God could recognize his holiness at any time and in any place, and furthermore spontaneously react in a fitting manner of worship due to God. God need not have told them they were standing on holy ground, they sensed it from the outset. It is an interesting pattern, as far as I am aware in Scripture, that all God’s prophets and patriarchs and them only, were at some point in life met or preceded before birth by angels or divine revelations that prepared them. Lot is certainly no disruption in this design of God. It could have been very easy for Lot to miss the angels and not immediately recognize their holiness in such an odd place for holy men to be, at such an odd time, and in the darkness of the evening. But righteous Lot had an acute awareness to God’s aseity. The third quality is their acknowledgment of servitude. Speaking of Abraham, “And he said, Lord.” and speaking of Lot, “And he said, See my lords.” Of the two, Lot had received the highest position of authority, yet he too bows before God’s men and addresses them as both his earthly and heavenly lords. It could also be said, that of the two, Lot had a special sense of the presence of God. For he had only the two angels to discern, and not the Lord himself with two angels accompanying as was Abraham’s case. The fourth excellence of these men was their hospitality to God’s men. Speaking of Abraham, “Let a little water, I pray you, be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may comfort your hearts, afterward ye shall go your ways: for therefore are ye come to your servant.”, and of Lot, “I pray you turn in now into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early and go your ways.” Once again however, Lot receives double the difficulty than that of Abraham. Initially, Lot is refused and tested by these men of God, but righteous Lot “pressed upon them earnestly, and they turned in to him, and came to his house, and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” “The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, if it be fervent.” We may observe the character of both these men. Lot acted just as Abraham did, and even went the extra mile to do so in several instances. The righteousness of Abraham and the righteousness of Lot were one and the same towards God’s angels.

SACRIFICE OF WORSHIP

The sacrifices of Lot for the holiness of God were in no wise symbolic rituals, but very real offerings in very real situations. As one theologian wrote, “It is difficult for us in our normative and regular sphere of life to recognize ourselves with the utter extremity, and extraordinary situation and action of Lot. There is little point of continuity for us to find comprehension and relation.” Lot first has sacrificed his position as patriarch and leader in bowing down to these men as his earthly and heavenly lords. “Cast down yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Lot secondly sacrificed his home in bringing them in and readily making for them a feast. “And they turned in to him, and came to his house, and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” Lot and Abraham both underwent great expense in lavishly catering to their visitors and waiting on them as a servant would have. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have received Angels into their houses unawares.” This was no mere meal, but an oblation, a sacrifice of worship which was received by the angels.

LOT’S SHOES

The third sacrifice of Lot I would argue to be the greatest of all his sacrifices, because it was verily his own life. “But before they went to bed, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom compassed the house round about, from the young even to the old, all the people from all quarters. Who crying unto Lot said to him, Where are the men, which came to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. Then Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him.” Firstly we ought to observe the severity of the situation in which Lot had become enveloped. Verse 8 makes it obvious that all the men of the city, young and old, from every quadrant and quarter, of every age and demographic, were both represented and present in the crime to be perpetrated agains the angels of God. As one commentator wrote, “Truly the city was thoroughly and utterly depraved from wall to wall.” In addition, these depraved men had “compassed the house round about.” There was no way of escape for Lot, his family, or his guests. Furthermore, the offenders openly requested lude acts without shame or denial. There was no possibility of misinterpretation, no avenue of escape, no avoidance of the situation. Far from the common labelling of Lot as a miserable caitiff, Lot went out of his house to confront these men and stare them down in the white of the eye. Such an act could surely have only been realized by Lot at that time as suicidal. Lot did not do as a coward would have done and cower inside, or waver at the door, or question the safety of the deed, or capitulate to their request. Rather Lot, as that same true follower to the calling of God we first saw in this lecture, stepped out in faith as the leader and chalcenterous man he was for his high standard of righteousness. He, without hesitation or deliberation, went out, and “shut the door after him.” For Lot there was no turning back, no acquiescence to their request, no diminishing of his high standard, and all without defence to the violence of his offenders. Lot was willing to face the open rage of men who would give no hesitation to do unspeakable acts, who had no limitation to their moral conscience, who had no shame in their doings. Few men would have done as Lot did and confront their assailants, never mind shut the way of escape behind them. When Lot shut that door he became both a martyr and protector. Lot is the example of a righteous, masculine, patriarchal protector if there ever was one. Scripture is remarkably clear in this account to each seemingly unmindful detail so as to give us an adequate defence of the extreme actions of the extremely righteous man in the face of extreme situations which are completely extraordinary to us in our normative and regular spheres of life. It is a fearful thing to even contemplate walking in Lot’s shoes out the door, facing these violent men, and sealing your only way of escape and their only way of entrance behind you. This is the picture of a mediator such as Christ is.

PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Lot was furthermore a preacher of righteousness under the unction of holiness. “I pray you, my brethren, do not so wickedly.” Lot addressed their actions specifically and forthrightly. Lot refused to romanticize, refused to evade, and refused to waver in the front of their most populous and pressing opinion. Few preachers are willing to walk out the doors of their church, shut the door behind them, and directly face the onslaught of a radically perverse sexual culture to protect the brethren of God inside as Lot would. Lot not only addressed their action as wicked, but furthermore referred to them as brethren. Lot was not in Sodom to partake in the “conversation of the wicked”, he was present to minister to them as a preacher of righteousness. If he had been unrighteous then his oppressors would give no railing against him. Just as Lot was vexed with their unrighteousness so was Sodom vexed with Lot because of his righteousness. “Marvel not my brethren, though this world hate you.” “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” The following passage makes it plain that Sodom hated Lot, “Then they said, Away hence: and they said, He is come alone as a stranger, and shall he judge and rule? We will now deal worse with thee than with them. So they pressed sore upon Lot himself, and came to break the door.” Lot is referred to as a lone stranger just as God’s people are to be a holy people to God. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should whew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

GENESIS 19 & JUDGES 19

We have now seen Lot sacrifice to these angels without question or qualification his position, his worship, himself, and now we will see his same willingness to sacrifice his family as Abraham later had. “Behold now, I have two daughters, which have not known man: them will I bring out now unto you, and do them as seemeth you good: only unto these men do nothing: for therefore are they come under the shadow of my roof.”  Never has Christ’s call to leave father and mother, brother and sister for His sake ever been so radically displayed. Before I pass judgment on the means Lot used, I would give us a few considerations of praise toward the defence of his guests. We must comprehend something of the righteousness of his actions in proportion to the holiness of God’s angels under his protection. We have to understand they were worth Lot’s sacrifices and it would have been cowardly and ludicrous for Lot to go to the extent he had for anyone less than the holy angels of God. Moreover, up to the point of sacrificing his family, Lot had sacrificed everything else he possibly could. It was a means of last resort. Summarily, this was a situation of extremity on every site. Extremely wicked men without the door and extremely righteous men within the door and Lot was the mediator between the two where only extreme sacrifices would do. Few men would have even made it as far as Lot has in this passage or executed their duties with such equity. Now then, Scripture is silent in this passage as to judging the events, but does later provide for us judgement in a much similar case from Judges 19. There is a principle in Biblical hermeneutics that states we are to interpret Scripture with Scripture. On this ground, I would argue that the hermeneutical key to Genesis 19 is Judges 19. In Judges 19 & 20 we read of a similar patterned account with uncannily common wording and sequence of events. To brutally summarize, an old man saw a young man and his concubine wayfaring into the city to visit the Ark of God. The old man invited them into his house and when they washed their feet and had a feast the men of the city surrounded the house and smote the door demanding the young man to come out of the house that they might know him. The old man and master of the house went out and refused them, but offered his own virgin daughter and the man’s concubine to them. The men of the city would not hearken to the master of the house and so the young man brought out his concubine to them. She was abused all night and died at the threshold of the house. That excellent prophet, Samuel recounts the following of the event, Judges 19:30, “And all that saw it, said, There was no such thing done or seen since the time of the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt unto this day: consider the matter, consult and give sentence.”. Even the prophet Samuel could only cognize, “Consider the matter, consult and give sentence.” I fear that the church of our day gives sentence without consideration and consultation as that fine prophet commends. After much consideration all of Israel went up against the wicked city that had done the deed and the tribe who protected that city. Three times Israel prayed to God if their judgement was just, and three times the Lord the lord confirmed their judgment. In other words, the judgment was not given against the one who offered the concubine or daughters, but to the abusers of them. The two scenarios are remarkably similar in nature. However, Lot’s is still far more extreme. He was not protecting a couple who were off to visit the Ark of the Covenant, he was protecting angels. He was not surrounded by his own people, but by the most notorious, infamous wretches the Bible has to mention. Never once was Lot or the master of the house passed in judgement. Rather Scripture is clear to state that the judgment was given to the city’s that perpetuated the dipravity. Gibeah in Judges 19 had guaranteed their destruction just as Sodom in Genesis 19 had by that same act. [In addition, some site the controversial fact that prior to Moses in Leviticus 19 there was no prohibition against giving daughters as harlots when every man did what was right in his own eyes.] So, in light of Genesis 19, Judges 19, and Leviticus 19 “Consider the matter, judge and give sentence.” 

EXTRA-ORDINARY

Now am saying that it is hypothetically permissible for us to give our own daughters over to such depravity in our own time and place? Absolutely not. Am I saying that Lot’s righteousness was being tested in his own doing so? Yes. Does this contradict my former statement? No. How so? Because the Apostle Peter states it was done for “our ensamble.” The Apostle Paul too clarified this reasoning for the remarkable accounts of the Old Testament in that they were “For examples, and were written to admonish us upon whom the ends of the world are come.” They are extra-ordinary, super-natural scenarios and ought not to be judged or evaluated as ordinary, natural occurrences. You and I will never entertain angels in our house, in Sodom, and have the most depraved, blackguardly men known to history pressing against the front door. This is extra-ordinary, super-natural so it can be “an ensamble.” They were done not to show the supposed unrighteousness of Lot, but the very real unrighteousness of Sodom, Gomorra, and Gibeah. “And made them an ensamble unto them that after should live ungodly.” For our example God was extraordinary, supernaturally testing the righteousness of Lot  and confirming the depravity of Sodom. It was an example not to show that Lot was wicked but oppositely, “For he being righteous, and dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth to deliver the godly out of temptation.”

LOT’S FAITH & LOVE

What is interesting to note is that while Lot, the righteous mediator, was confronting the extremely wicked men without the door the extremely righteous men within the door were not standing idly by. Only until Lot had sacrificed everything, his position, his worship, his house, and finally his family did they pulled him in and shut the door. Only after Lot had been tested so that there was no sacrifice he was not willing to make did God’s men act.  They could have acted much sooner and prevented much of the crescendoing extremity, but they did not. God had himself provided Lot with a means of deliverance as He would do for Abraham and Isaac. As one commentator wrote, “It is unbelievable firstly that the angels waited so long in delivering Lot while Lot was trying desperately to deliver them, and secondly how even though the wicked men of Sodom were struck with blindness they still sought the door to the point of exhaustion.” Thus, both the righteousness of Lot and the wickedness of Sodom was then and there proven by God. At that point Sodom had sealed their judgment and Lot’s faith was accounted to him as righteousness just as Abraham’s act of faith was later.

GOD’S MEDIATOR

“And when the morning arose, the Angels hasted Lot, saying, take thy wife and thy two daughters which are here, lest thou be destroyed in the punishment of the city. And as he prolonged the time, the men caught both him and his wife, and his two daughters by the hands (the Lord being merciful unto him) and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.” While there are many who accuse Lot of acting tardily toward obeying God’s commands, Scripture contrarily portrays Lot immediately, and unequivocally offering his worship, position, life, and family in defence of God’s righteous standard. There was no place Lot was unwilling to go, no promise he was unable to believe, no service he was unwilling to perform, no sacrifice he was not willing to give, and no saving he was unwilling to do. It is moronic to say that the fact the angels had to physically force Lot outside the city was due to a disbelief, or cowardace, or unrighteous love of the city on his part, when just the night prior the angels had to force Lot inside the house due to his radical faith, profound courage, and righteous standard. Lot was only prolonging his stay in the city in the same sense that he prolonged the restraint of the violent men of the city as both were acts of sacrificial salvation. The former to save angels, the latter to save his family and brethren. “Then Lot went out and spake unto his sons-in-law, which married his daughters, and said, Arise, get you out of this place: for the Lord will destroy the city, but he seemed to his sons-in-law, as though he had mocked.” This is the language of a man struck by urgency and belief for the love of his friends and enemies, not of tardiness and doubt from a callous heart. “Greater love than this hath no man, when any man bestoweth his life for his friends.” Never-mind his mocking enemies as Lot was so willing to do. Here again is righteous Lot, the faithful mediator. The Lot of this day was the same Lot as the day before, a mediator between God and men.

HUMBLE REQUEST

“And when they had brought them out, the Angel said, Escape for thy life: look not behind thee, neither tarry thou in all the plain: escape into the mountain, lest thou be destroyed. And Lot said unto them, Not so, I pray thee, my Lord. Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life: I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil take me, and I die. See now this city hereby to flee unto, which is a little one: Oh let me escape thither: is it not a little one, and my soul shall live?” Once again Lot’s accusers blindly blame him for entreating the Angels, while just a chapter earlier Abraham took the liberty to entreat God himself. We fail to realize there is no sin in this. Lot did not deliberately disobey their command and flee into the city without permission, nor did Lot even demand this option, rather he simply, and humbly requested it. How can we still be questioning Lot’s perseverance and faith at this point when He has given everything. Such a request is only reasonable for a man who has undergone such trials. May we have mercy as God had mercy on Lot. Only after the Angels rescued him by hindering his martyrdom did Lot take care for his life thereafter that he may be able to take care of his family’s in return. The fact his request was accepted verifies there was no sin in it. “Then he said unto him, Behold, I have received thy request also concerning this thing, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Hast thee, save thee there: for I can do nothing till thou come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun did rise upon the earth, when ot entered into Zoar.” It is almost needless to point out that Lot’s supposed “tardiness” was not a matter of days, but of mere moments. As the sun had only just risen by the time the events listed in verse 15 to 23 had transpired. (Nor could one say Lot would have disobeyed had his request been denied as he eventually took shelter in the mountains as the destruction continued anyways.) As Rushdoony writes, “Before we condemn Lot, let us remember that in like circumstances, few men would do better.”

LOT’S DAUGHTERS’ FAITH

Prior to Moses there was no law against incest. It had obviously been practiced since Adam and his descendants. Abraham himself married his half-sister. As Rushdoony clarifies, “When God through Moses forbad incest and required the death penalty for most instances of it, it was, first, a radical break with accepted worlwide practice, and second, established a roadblock to genetic damage which was to appear only many centuries later, as inbreeding began to become more prone to concentrate defective genes.” It is quite clear that Lot’s daughters viewed their action as good as the names given to the offspring indicate pride in their deed. Moab means “From my father,” and Ben-ammi, “Son of my kinsman.” However, it is clear that Lot would not have approved of the deed, hence the necessity of his unwitting inebriation. The fact Lot “perceived it not” indicates they drugged him unawares. The very fact of its happening could only be motivated out of a feeling to save the human race from extinction and Lot’s family line. In the face of the unprecedented destruction they had fled first to the Zoar, then to the mountains as the destruction continued, and then to a cave as the destruction did not cease. “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, And overthrew those cities and that grew upon the earth.” The scope of the destruction would have relatively appeared to Lot and his daughters as astronomical. Even Abraham, a full two days walking distance from the cities could witness its destruction. “And looking toward Sodom and Gamorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, behold, he saw the smoke of the land mounting up as the smoke of a furnace.” Thus Lot’s daughters are not depraved, but are however defective in their desperate deeds. Rushdoony adds, “Something more must be said about Lot’s daughters. They left Sodom with their father, and chose not to return with their mother.” Their city abandoned them, their betrothed husbands abandoned them, even their mother abandoned them, but the daughters followed Lot. However they too still failed by making their father drunk and fornicating, although it is humanly understandable. “Depraved” writes Rushdoony, “they were not; sinners, they were. They were not unbelievers, and in a critical situation, they had acted on faith, but their faith was a defective one.”

CONCLUSION

“And delivered just Lot vexed with the uncleanly conversation of the wicked: For he being righteous, and dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment under punishment.” Having dispelled the misapplications of the text, the misappropriations of the situation, and the misunderstanding of the times, maybe we can now view Lot as “a righteous soul from day to day.” Even through the days explained in Genesis 19. Lot was courageous in defending the angels of God. Lot was righteous in worshiping God. Lot was humble in serving God’s men. Lot was missional in being a preacher of righteousness to Sodom. Lot was faithful in believing the purpose of God. Lot was a leader to the end, brought down by everyone about him. His city, his in-laws, his wife, and even his daughters. May we stand here in some sense of awe and encouragement from this Biblical patriarch. No one to this time has done or seen any such thing as Lot had righteously persevered through in just a few days.

“Consider the matter, consult and give sentence.”

Eating is Believing

“Now in this that I declare, I praise you not, that ye come together, not with profit but with hurt. For first of all, when ye come together in the Church, I hear that there are dimensions among you: and I believe it to the true in some part. For there must be heresies even among you, that they which are approved among you, might be known. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For every man when they should d eat, taketh his own supper afore, and one is hungry, and another is drunken. Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? despise ye the Church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which I also have delivered unto you, to wit, That the Lord Jesus in the night when he was betrayed, took bread. And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do ye in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye show the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Let every man therefore examine himself, and so let them eat of this bread, and drink of this cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh his own damnation, because he discerneth not the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak, and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, because we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye are come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man be hungry, let him eat at home, that ye come not together unto condemnation…” 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

TABLE OF MY GOD

It was 1553. An infamous Libertine named Barthelier was forbidden to eat the Lord’s Supper in a local church in Geneva. The pastor of the local congregation refusing Barthelier had stated emphatically, “I… took an oath that I had resolved to meet death than profane so shamefully the Holy Supper of the Lord… My ministry is abandoned if I suffer the authority of the Consistory to be trampled upon, and extend the Supper of Christ to open scoffers… I should rather die a hundred times than subject Christ to such could mockery.” Despite such a stern indictment, Barthelier and his compatriots attended this pastor’s church one Sabbath day, intent on eating the Lord’s Supper by means of violence. The pastor had finished his sermon and was preparing to give the Lord’s Table to his congregation when without warning their was a clamourous march pushing towards the communion table. The pastor recognized these armed assailants flouncing towards him as the Libertines led by Barthelier. The pastor fearlessly hurled himself in front of the table to protect the sacramental vessels from this sacrilege. With outstretched arms he rang out in a powerful cry, “These hands you may crush, these arms you may lop off, my life you may take, my blood is yours, you may shed it; but you shall never force me to give holy things to the profaned, and dishonor the table of my God.” Stunned in silence by this astounding display of holiness, the Libertines ceased their advance. One of the witnesses wrote of this encounter, “After this the sacred ordinance was celebrated with a profound silence, and under solemn awe in all present, as if the Deity Himself had been visible among them.” The pastor from this remarkable account was none other than John Calvin.

The New Testament sacrament of the Lord’s Supper instituted by the Lord Jesus in the night he was betrayed as a memorial to his death and return is a central and defining practice to the universal Church throughout all ages and likewise to our congregation. Maybe this unbelievable account of John Calvin might instil in us a newfound respect for this ordinance and help us as we consider it in today’s lecture.

THE EUCHARIST

The Lord’s supper is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.” Westminster Larger Catechism

The Lords Supper is one of two sacraments of the New Testament next to baptism. As with both sacraments, it was ordained by the Lord Jesus. For only God alone can make a thing that is common to be holy. Christ ordained the Lord’s Supper on the night he was betrayed. Each sacrament of the New Testament is a metonym, where a name of the visible object is given to the thing signified. For instance, the bread is the body of Christ, the wine is the blood, the dove is the Holy Spirit, the burning bush is God, the rock in the desert from which the water flowed was Christ. So it is that the sacraments are a kind of metonym, an outward sign of God’s inward work. Calvin writes, “Since, however, this mystery of Christ’s secret union with the devout is by nature incomprehensible, he shows its figure and image in visible signs best adapted to our small capacity. Indeed by guarantees and tokens he makes it as certain for us as if we had seen in it with our own eyes. For this very familiar comparison penetrates into even the dullest minds: just as bread and wine sustain physical life, so are souls fed by Christ.” Particular to the Lord’s Supper as Calvin notes, is the outward signs of the giving and receiving the bread and wine and eating and drinking them in a solemn, holy manner. The bread simply signifies the broken body of the Lord Jesus, crucified on the cross of calvary. The wine symbolizes the blood of Christ shed upon the cross. Each action within the practice of the Lord’s supper is too symbolic in nature. In receiving the Lord’s Supper we signify our unconditional acceptance of Christ as offered to us in the Gospel. By eating what we have just received we signify the satisfaction and nourishment of our souls in Christ by faith. Jesus’ intent in instituting the Lord’s Supper for his bride, the Church, was too set a memorial of his death and ultimately his return. Each of the New Testament sacraments are thus covenantal and furthermore a continuation of the Old Testament sacraments of circumcision and the passover. The Lord’s Supper is a sign and seal of the new covenant of grace which God has made and fulfilled to us. Finally, as a sign of the covenant of grace, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is only to be both ministered and received worthily by the local Church, the whole local Church, and the universal Church.  One theologian observed, “The Supper is no personal affair between the individual believer and Christ. It is the covenant meal, the congregational meal, par excellence… the Supper is the foundation and criterion for the unity of the church as the new people of God… baptism as entrance to and incorporation into the body and the supper as the unity of the body repeatedly received and manifested afresh in eating one bread.” In addition, contrary to heresies of the Lord’s Supper outside the protestant Church, the sacrament is not for our salvation, but rather our sanctification. There are two types of sacrifice in the Scriptures. The first is a sacrifice made for sin and the second a sacrifice of divine worship and thanksgiving. The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice of expiation, to atone for our guilt before God and appease his wrath. Or as Spurgeon said of the Lord’s Supper, “Remember religion does not begin with ordinances… It is not a converting ordinance, nor a saving ordinance; it is an establishing ordinance and a comforting ordinance for those who are saved.” Rather, it is a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Calvin wrote, “The Lord’s supper cannot be without a sacrifice of this kind, in which, while we proclaim his death and give thanks, we do nothing but offer a sacrifice of praise.” This is why it is called the Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving” or “grateful.”

THE MANNER OF GRAMMAR

This short summary of the doctrine and practice of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper would be rather easily received by the layman in today’s Church. However what obstacle remains to the layman is how he or she is to receive this covenantal sign lest they partake, “unworthily.”  Albert Barnes recognized this spiritual quandary the layman wrestles with. “Unworthily – Perhaps there is no expression in the Bible that has given more trouble to weak and feeble Christians than this.” Says Barnes, “It is certain that there is no one that has operated to deter so many from the communion; or that is so often made use of as an excuse for not making a profession of religion. The excuse is, ‘I am unworthy to partake of this holy ordinance. I shall only expose myself to condemnation. I must therefore wait until I become more worthy, and better prepared to celebrate it.’  It is important, therefore, that there should be a correct understanding of this passage.” I concur very much with Barnes having myself struggled with such doubt and uneasiness in myself. There are antinomians, arminians, and legalists today who at each moment of the Lord’s Supper foist unbearable and unmeetable standards upon their congregations. They withhold their congregation from receiving the nourishment of the table on uncertain and unscriptural grounds. God’s poor layman is racked with an ill conscience and hindered from presenting himself at the Lord’s holy table. God’s table, the Eucharist, meant as a time of victory, and a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Christ is turned into a slough of sorrow. The laymen is told that if he is not living in holiness, if he is not at peace with the brethren, if he is living in known sin, or if he has secret sin that he is then unworthy and thus eats and drinks judgment to himself. It is sadly a common thing in modern churches that the communion service sermon turns more into a stern warning against taking communion than a victorious invitation to receive it. Laymen are more encouraged to abstain then they are to partake. Some tables are closed so as to keep the sacraments from hands not yet determined “worthy” by the Church authorities. The standards dictated by the ministers to their congregation for being “worthy” of receiving the table are so rank it is no wonder that most churches only have the supper half a dozen times or even once a year. However these legalists read Paul’s passage in Corinthians too isolated and far too fast. Read again verse 27. “Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily…” Morecraft observes, “Paul does not speak of the worthy eater, for no one is worthy to come to this Table, but of ‘worthy eating,.’” The English Standard Version makes this critical distinction quite plainly, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.” This text is so often misapplied to mean “whoever unworthy drinks,” not “whoever drinks unworthily” as the text actually states. There is a mind-blowing distinction. Paul is not concerned with the state of the individual partaking, but the manner in which the individual partakes. Albert Barnes on this point notes, “Most persons interpret it as if it were ‘unworthy,’ and not ‘unworthily,’ and seem to suppose that it refers to their personal qualifications, to their ‘unfitness’ to partake of it, rather than to the manner in which it is done. It is to be remembered, therefore, that the word used here is an ‘adverb,’ and not an ‘adjective,’ and has reference to the manner of observing the ordinance, and not to their personal qualifications or fitness.” Barnes makes an astute, simple point. As many of you know, in the English language, when you take an adjective (Which is a word that describes the state of a person, place, or thing) and ad the simple suffix, “ly” to it you make it an adverb (Which is a word that describes a verb or action.) Thus “unworthy” when combined with the suffix “ly” no longer describes in this passage the state of the individual partaking but describes the state of the manner in which they partake. So dear Christian, who is tormented with the infirmity of their soul and hindered by it in receiving the Lord’s Supper, let me now encourage you by firstly discouraging you further. You’re right, you will never be worthy of approaching the table of the Lord. You are unworthy to receive the token of the new covenant of grace. You are unworthy of receiving the nourishment it provides to your soul. You are unworthy to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving in the Eucharist. You may never partake of this ordinance in a worthy state. Never. You are unworthy of being called a follower of Christ. You are unworthy of fellowshiping with his bride. But, dear Christian, take heart, it does not mean that you may not receive this ordinance. You may receive it, if you receive it in a proper manner, not a proper state, in a worthy manner, not a worthy state, in a right manner, not a right state. Because there is no such possibility as a right state before the Lord’s table. “Therefore” writes Calvin, “Although we feel to be imperfect, and our conscience not so pure that it does not accuse of many vices, that ought not to hinder us from presenting ourselves at the Lord’s holy table.” Still, you may say, “Well I shall wait an pray till God brings me into a better state.” But what makes you think that if you are unfit to receive the table now that you are somehow able to pray to God then. Listen to reminder from Calvin, “He who would exempt himself from receiving the Supper on account of unworthiness must hold himself unfit to pray to God.” Calvin goes on to encourage the troubled layman, “I mean not to force consciences which are tormented with certain scruples which suggest themselves… Only I wish to show that no one ought long to rest satisfied with abstaining on the ground of unworthiness, seeing that in so doing he deprives himself of the communion of the Church, in which all our well-being consists. Let him rather contend against all the impediments which he devil throws in his way, and not be excluded from so great a benefit, and from all the graces consequent thereupon.”  As a matter of fact, coming to the table with a sense of unworthiness is the best manner and disposition to come to Christ’s Table in and receive the benefits of the covenant of grace.  Read the grammar, its not about the state, its about the manner.

UNWORTHILY

So what does it mean to partake in an unworthy manner? In the context of 1 Corinthians 11 we may determine that such ill manners may include firstly the irregular practice of the Lord’s Supper as many congregations today could be faulted for. “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” As one historian wrote of those who are absent from the Lord’s Table, “Shall they undervalue, by a wilful neglect, an ordinance which he settled immediately before his death, and disregard the dying command of that friend who laid down his life for them.” We are to regularly partake in the Lord’s Table. “This do as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” Acts 2:42, “And they continued in the Apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship and breaking of bread, and prayers.” For as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye show the Lord’s death till he come.” As stated before, many churches could be faulted for neglecting the Lord’s table. This mostly due to the fact that the standards for receiving it are Romish and impossible for the majority of layman to meet and thus partake on a regular basis. The second reason many churches could be faulted for neglecting the Lord’s table is the fact that their table is closed. These churches while esteeming themselves as merely being cautious of preserving the table from those whom come unworthily are nonetheless guilty for not keeping the examination Paul requires to “themselves” and not of others. A third reason is this mysterious notion that it is a neutral decision for the layman to abstain from the Lord’s table. You will always receive something from the Lord’s table. Either a blessing or a curse from the Holy Spirit who is present in it. Choosing to opt out and abstain however, is not a neutral choice. As stated before communion is a congregational covenantal meal. In abstaining, one does not “Show the Lord’s death till he come”, one refuses himself the benefits of the covenant of grace, and refuses the family of God from unity in the one bread and body of our saviour. It is thus a detrimental act of disbelief. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Secondly, it is the unholy observance of the Lord’s Table where it is as indistinguishable from the common table that is unworthy eating. “For every man when they should eat, taketh his own supper afore, and one is hungry, and another is drunken. Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Despise ye the Church of God, and shame them that have not?” The observance of the Lord’s supper is to be conducted in an orderly manner, a separate and holy manner, as a religious ordinance ought. Albert Barnes stated that, “Such ignorance can hardly be supposed to prevail now in those lands which are illuminated by Christian truth.” Perhaps he was speaking facetiously, but otherwise I’m afraid I have not so much faith in mankind as he. We must be vigilant in maintaining a composure of order, a countenance of sobriety, a conversation of respect when we are before the Lord’s table. God has made the bread and the wine holy, it is no ordinary meal and must not be treated or considered as such. We must not treat this sacred ordinance as a trivial formality, believe ourselves to be worthy and walk in where angels fear to tread. “Put off thy shoes from thy feet,” Spurgeon said of partaking in the Lord’s Supper, “for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Rush not in to the sacred place, but come with that gracious timorousness—nay, rather, with that holy boldness which becomes a sinner who has been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, and is robed in his spotless righteousness.” Thus “unworthy eating” is as Morecaft observed, “not timid and doubtful eating, it is careless and profane eating.” Calvin had no kind words for those who indulge in such a manner of eating, “Men of this sort who, without any spark of faith, without any zeal of love, rush like swine to take the Lord’s Supper [and] do not discern the Lord’s body.” Thirdly, it is unworthy eating when it is done out of mockery and ignorance of the meaning of the sacred ordinance. “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh his own damnation, because he discerneth not the Lord’s body.” “Do ye in remembrance of me.” We think again of the encounter Calvin had with the libertarians of his city and hear his cry against such, “These hands you may crush, these arms you may lop off, my life you may take, my blood is yours, you may shed it; but you shall never force me to give holy things to the profaned, and dishonour the table of my God!”  If you know not the gospel, if you cannot discern the meaning of the bread and the wine, if you refuse the covenant of grace, then take not this sacrament. It is on these grounds that Paul exhorted the Corinthians and likewise reminds us to “therefore examine himself.” While we are to make our calling and election sure, before the Lord’s table we are specifically admonished to examine the attitude, disposition, and manner in which we approach the Lord’s table and determine whether or not it is becoming of receiving it or not. We are not called to “therefore examine the one sitting beside you taking communion.” Even Jesus offered communion to Judas. We are not being admonished to imagine our souls meeting a state of prerequisite righteousness or not to receive the Eucharist. This would be unworthy eating itself.

EATING WORTHILY

So then what does it mean to eat worthily? The purpose of the Eucharist is as Paul wrote, “Show the Lord’s death till he come.” Calvin observed this to mean, “That we should by confession of our mouth declare what our faith recognizes in the Sacrament: that the death of Christ is our life.” As we partake in the Lord’s Table we are actively remembering and resting in Jesus’ act that sealed the covenant of grace God has brought us into. We are thus participating afresh in the benefits of this covenant. Hence, Reformed Christianity can speak of the Lord’s Supper as the Eucharist, a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Furthermore we are doing it as a body, a congregation, a fellowship of brethren, sons and daughters of God together in the covenant of grace. All of these blessings and benefits of worthily receiving the Lord’s Table are taken by faith. Augustine beautifully wrote, “A person cannot carry away form this sacrament more than he can collect in the vessel of faith.” This again is the metonym nature of the sacrament. The flesh and blood of Christ cannot be seen, but through the eye of faith, or received, by the mouth of faith, or grasped, but by the hand of faith. Again this foundational qualification to “worthily eating” goes directly in the face of “worthy eaters.” It is received solely by faith, not works and not by performance. As we receive the visible metonym of the bread and wine by the mouth of the physical, so we receive the blessings and benefits of the covenant of grace in the body and blood of Christ through the mouth of the soul to our nourishment. “I am the living bread, which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world…. Verily, verily I say unto you, Except ye eat of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him. As that living father hath sent me, so live I by the Father, and he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers have eaten Manna, and are dead. He that eateth of this bread, shall live forever.” Weak and weary sinner, troubled layman, lay hold of the vessel of faith and receive the nourishment from the Lord’s supper which your soul so desperately needs. Why prolong your starvation? Let your soul receive in the Eucharist, the feast of thanksgiving. Christ is present at the table by His Holy Spirit to bless those whom come and receive by that humble and contrite faith. To eat Christ is to believe in Christ and to receive Him as he offers Himself to us. Eating is believing.

The Lord’s Supper from the Puritan book of prayer, “Valley of Vision”

God of all good,

I bless thee for the means of grace;

teach me to see in them thy loving purposes

and the joy and strength of my soul.

Thou hast prepared for me a feast;

and though I am unworthy to sit down as guest,

I wholly rest on the merits of Jesus,

and hide myself beneath his righteousness;

When I hear his tender invitation

and see his wondrous grace,

I cannot hesitate, but must come to thee in love.

By thy Spirit enliven my faith rightly to discern and spiritually to apprehend the Saviour.

While I gaze upon the emblems of my Saviour’s death,

may I ponder why he died, and hear him say

‘I gave my life to purchase yours,

presented myself an offering to expiate

your sin,

shed my blood to blot out your guilt,

opened my side to make you clean,

endured your curses to set you free,

bore your condemnation to satisfy divine justice’

O may I rightly grasp the breadth and length 

of this design,

draw near, obey, extend the hand,

take the bread, receive the cup,

eat and drink, testify before all men

that I do for myself, gladly, in faith,

reverence and love, receive my Lord,

to be my life, strength, nourishment,

joy, delight.

In the supper I remember his eternal love,

boundless grace, infinite compassion, 

agony, cross, redemption,

and receive assurance of pardon, adoption,

life, glory.

As the outward elements nourish my body,

so may thy indwelling Spirit invigorate

my soul,

until that day when I hunger and thirst

no more,

and sit with Jesus at his heavenly feast.