This morning, Ed Bousman talked about the things that Jesus did, even though he didn't have to, focusing on the story about the temple tax and the coin in the fish's mouth. Which got me to thinking of other moments when God did what he didn't have to. I settled on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18-19) and Moses saving the Israelites after the Golden Calf (I think Ex. 33). Both of them related moments where a large group was about to be destroyed by God for unrepentant wickedness, only to be somewhat spared by the intercession of holy men. But even the prayers of these two pillars of faith- Abraham and Moses- were not sufficient to save all. The more I looked at them, though, the more I got the most out of the story of Abraham and Lot.
You see, I figured out that while there were certain common elements in the stories- Both men appealed to God for others not necessarily appealing for themselves; both men were praying for God's will to be done, Abraham that He would uphold His Righteousness, Moses that He would stand by His promises- I got thinking how it went a little deeper for Abraham. You see, Abraham talked God down to ten righteous people would be enough to save the cities- and I think he had a reason for that number. Now at the climax of the story, Lot was saved with 2 daughters- but that wasn't ALL of his daughters. Look at v 7 in Gen. 19. The cowardly Lot offers two daughters THAT HAD NOT KNOWN MEN. Then, in v 12, we established that he had MULTIPLE sons-in-law that had married his daughters (though it doesn't say how many). Finally in v 15, he's instructed to take "your two daughters WHO ARE HERE" with him and his wife to escape the destruction. So how many daughters (and sons-in-law) were there? Let's say there were three sets. That makes 3 sons-in-law, five daughters, and Lot and the Missus- 10 people in all.
You get the point? I think that, while Abraham was praying for the lives of WHOEVER might be righteous in Sodom, he had his heart set on ten- the members of Lot's family that, he hoped, were righteous. And God answered that prayer as prayed. Unfortunately, even God couldn't squeeze 10 righteous people out of Lot's family. Why is that?
Let's look at Lot's character or lack thereof. So timid was he, that he stuck too close to Abraham and his herds until Abraham had to tell him to move on. And instead of going on his own, he based himself in the nearest city, Sodom. And when Sodom was moments away from fiery ends, he was so scared of being on his own, he asked the angel to spare Zoar so he could hide there. And when the angel complied, he was too scared of what the Zoarites might think of him that he didn't stay there, either.
Not only fearful, but prone to trying to fit in. He even was going to sacrifice his two youngest daughters to the mob to save his guests (and probably his own skin, more importantly). He tried to both keep his morality and to fit in, and as a result, his neighbors rejected him too. “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge", they snarled at him, before the angels- in accordance with the prayers of Abraham- saved him.
And that he had enough morality to annoy his neighbors (think about that phrase) didn't mean he was living an especially righteous life. I say this because, if you think about when he and his daughters finally fled to the mountains, and they got him drunk, not once but twice- HOW IS IT that a man fleeing into the desert had BOOZE on him?
Finally, he didn't have enough courage of his convictions to even get out of the city without the angels dragging him and family BY THE HAND out of the city(v16). It's no wonder he had so little respect even in his own family that they laughed at him (v14) and his own wife even turned back (v26). It all came back to Lot never having the backbone to stand up and take his rescue, his salvation, into his own hands.
So what is it I'm trying to draw from this? Two lessons- one to myself (yourself) personally, and one regarding God and who we pray for. The first should be obvious- the consequences of not having faith, and the courage of our convictions. The second, even when God answered Abraham's prayer, it didn't accomplish much, 3 of the ten survived, and by the way their story ended, it's unclear whether that survival did them any real favors. Did Abraham's prayer fail? No. Did God not "do the job"? Again, no. But here we see why so often our prayers for others seem to fail- the person prayed for simply did not take advantage of the opportunities that the answered prayer gave them. It was Lot that failed God, in action and authority and example. A prayer "successfully " answered by God contains three elements- It must be prayed in faith; it must be according to God's will; and it must be accepted and embraced by the beneficiary.And it's not like God didn't give Lot plenty of chances to embrace his own salvation. After all, God gave Lot: 1- the best example to follow in the whole world in Uncle Abraham; 2- He not only gave Lot plenty of warning (to the point of dragging him out by the hand), but also gave the one praying for him advance notice; 3- he gave him an example of divine power (when the angels blinded the mob, which would have made me sit up and take notice); 4-He even gave him a means of escape and support (Zoar, such as it was). All of these things Lot ignored, and thus he ended up a drunk with two kids that were also his grandkids.
It's kinda like the joke about the blonde that kept praying that God would let her win the lottery. The lottery was provided, the number was right there for her, God was willing- but she had to do one thing- BUY THE TICKET. We can pray for our loved ones all we want, set them as good of an example as we can, drag 'em by the hand- but in the end, they have to buy the ticket.
Friday was the 15th annual NHFFL fantasy football draft. Yes, that means that soon we will be at that time of year when one day a week you'll say, "Crap, here's one of those boring fantasy football posts." This year, KC and I decided that we would do things different.
And that difference is, we have suspended my daughter's teams until such time as she sees fit to involve herself again. This sounds heartless on the surface, and I regret it has come to this. But For various reasons, it has become impossible to deal with the reluctance of her mother to give us time with her- and concurrently, her reluctance to fight for that time. Also, KC has had a break with them both over certain things that we won't go into here, and since she had not really "participated " in the league's activity in about 4-5 years, we decided to make it official.
So, we debated and decided to continue a 12 team league, with each of us (me, Laurie, and KC) taking on responsibility for a 4th team. Then we decided on 3 options- either three all new teams, or re-activate one of the three teams that we shut down long ago, or just each take one of Shenan's teams. KC opted to re-activate the Greenwoods, who were the winners of Super Bowl I so long ago, a 31-27 win over my KCAs. I re-activated the Aguascalientes (Aguas for short), who established a rep for being the highest scoring team that never won a title. And Laurie opted for a whole new team- and since Scrappy and Cassie both have teams (Fiery Beagles and B2s, respectively), she named her team after KC's cat, the Flying Porkchops. We will be going back to the Purple and Gold division format, with the Greenwoods and Aguas joining my KCAs, Laurie's Beagles and Angels, and KC's Rangers in the Purple, and the Porkchops joining my B2s and Ducks, Laurie's Elks, and KCs Clock BBQs and Buzz Lightyears in the Gold.
The Rangers made Tom Brady the #1 pick. The Angels made Aaron Rodgers the #2, and later backed him up with Mike Vick. The B2s made Arian Foster the #3, and went on from there to build an unconventional team (since conventional picks they make ALWAYS get hurt) which included Colt McCoy as the starting QB and Dolphin rookie RB Daniel Thomas. The Elks took Drew Brees with the 4 pick, and the Ducks grabbed Michael Turner with the 5th, adding WRs Desean Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald later. The Clock BBQs built a team of bruisers starting with #6 pick Chris Johnson, and quickly adding Peyton Hillis and Fred Jackson to a team led by Peyton Manning. I don't for sure remember which guy Buzz took first, either Sam Bradford or Adrian Peterson, but he got both so it doesn't matter. I've run the KCAs for 20 years now, four in another league, and this is I'm pretty sure the first time I didn't take a RB with the first pick, grabbing Matt Ryan at QB instead, and building a stable of Steven Jackson, Ryan Mathews, and Mark Ingram afterwards. The Beagles opened with Phillip Rivers; KC decided to use the Greenwoods as his experiment team, and took Matt Stafford #1.The Porkchops got the biggest groan and chorus of "Aww, f---" when they took BenJarvis Green-Ellis (and Followed up with Rothlesburger and Frank Gore). And finally, the Aguas grabbed Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashard Mendenhall with their first two.
The season opens in a few weeks with the defending champ KCAs opening against the team that beat them in that long ago first Super Bowl, the Greenwoods.
Finally, if it seems like I lost track in mid-sermon there, thank Blogger. Among its many lovely recent traits is erasing whole paragraphs at random, especially when one uses spellcheck. Since our gracious hosts give us no real way to contact them (and I can see why), I can only hope they search out the word "Blogger" on a regular basis to see what we're writing about them, so that they can hear me say, thank you VERRRRRY MUUUUUUCH!!!!