4 Sobering Lessons from the Tragic Tale of Lot’s Daughters

Sheila Alewine
| Author
2021
22 Apr
Woman reading the Bible intenetly

I don’t believe it’s an oversight that God did not tell us the names of Lot’s two daughters. Their story is inextricably linked to their father’s actions and has implications not only for young people who find themselves in difficult situations, but a warning to every parent. It’s a sad story in many ways, but also reveals God’s merciful and redemptive character. We don’t know their names because they could be any of us, were we to find ourselves in the similar circumstances.

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What Do We Know about Lot?

We first meet Lot in Genesis 11:31; we learn that he was the grandson of Terah and Abraham’s nephew. Since his father, Haran, had died, his grandfather took him out of the land of his birth, Ur of the Chaldeans, to a place called Haran. After Terah’s death, God called Abraham to begin his journey toward Canaan, and he takes Lot with him. This is to Lot’s benefit; by Genesis 13 we learn that Lot had accumulated flocks and herds and was wealthy in his own right, just like Abraham.

To avoid strife, Abraham decides to separate from Lot, and gives him first pick of the land. Lot chooses the fertile Jordan Valley, and in a decision he will come to regret, pitches his tents close to Sodom, despite its reputation as a city of exceeding wickedness (Genesis 13:12-13). Lot’s desire for wealth and comfort drew him into a place where he would compromise all he had been taught about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

By Genesis 19, at least twenty-five years have passed since they left Haran, and about fifteen years since he separated from Abraham. Lot and his family are firmly entrenched in the city of Sodom. He has achieved a place of influence; we find him sitting in the gate, indicating he was some type of city official. His daughters are engaged to men in the city; likely they are older teenagers. 

Two angels approach Sodom in the evening and Lot welcomes them into his home after convincing them not to sleep in the city square. Lot knows they will be accosted and abused by the wicked homosexual community. Unfortunately, word gets out that there are two new men in town, and the evil men try to break down Lot’s door. In a foolish moment of panic, Lot offers the hostile group his two daughters to satisfy their lust. I can’t imagine what his daughters were thinking at that moment; thankfully, God intervenes, and the angels cause the men to go blind and unable to find the door.

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What Happened to Lot’s Daughters?

The angels reveal their purpose; they have come to destroy the city because God has judged its wickedness. Lot finds his future sons-in-law and begs them to come with them, but his compromising lifestyle gives no credit to his words. They laugh at him and dismiss the warning. Even as the angels warn of the impending destruction, Lot hesitates. Again, God intervenes, and the angels literally drag him, his wife, and his daughters out just before the fire and brimstone fall. Lot’s wife reveals her own love of the wicked, worldly society she is leaving as she disobeys the angels and looks back longingly. Her daughters watch as she is turned to a pillar of salt.

The angels give Lot permission to flee to the nearby town of Zoar but fear overcomes him and he takes his daughters into the nearby mountains. Shaken and bewildered, the three of them huddle alone in a mountain cave. It’s at this point in the story that Lot’s daughters play out what is surely the result of Lot’s compromising lifestyle. 

Scripture indicates they believed the rest of the world had been destroyed, not just their city. Let’s give them grace for thinking they truly were the last living human beings. Knowing they needed to procreate to keep the human race going, for two nights in a row they cause Lot to be drunk with wine, so he will sleep with them and impregnate them. Their plan works. They give birth to two boys, Moab and Ammon. 

Here are four lessons we can take away from this unusual and disturbing account of events.

Lesson 1: Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Sinful Environment to Sear the Conscience

In our modern culture, we are quick to judge these two young women and assure ourselves we would never resort to such desperate actions. We would be wise to learn from their experience.

Lot’s daughters had grown up in a city where sexual immorality was commonly accepted. They were engaged to young men who scoffed at God’s warning. God told Abraham, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave” (Genesis 18:20). Apparently, there were not even ten righteous people in the city. Being surrounded by such influences had obviously seared the consciences of these two women; their idea to have sexual relations with their father seemed a logical and acceptable solution.

Left to ourselves, the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Without the restraining and redeeming influence of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit, we can’t imagine the depths of sin to which we might go. Lot had failed to teach his daughters the truth about who God was; they were simply acting in accordance with the lifestyle and knowledge they had been given.

Titus 1:14 – “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.”

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Lesson 2: Choose Faith; Fear God, Not Your Circumstances

Lot’s daughters were not entirely without knowledge of God. Surely Lot had told them stories about their great uncle Abraham and how God had led them out of Ur and into Canaan. According to 2 Peter 2:7-8, Lot knew God; he was a righteous man “oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men” and “felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds.”

We can conclude that Lot was weak in his faith; he chose not to leave the wicked cities, yet he retained in his heart a knowledge and respect for God. No doubt he told his daughters what was wrong in the city but lacked the courage to lead them out of it. 

Lot’s daughters also had seen God act on their behalf, personally and immediately. They knew the men who visited were angels; they saw their supernatural power to blind the wicked men and save them from their father’s foolish offer. They knew God had protected them by removing them before the city was destroyed, even while their father hesitated. They certainly knew the city was destroyed because of its wickedness, and understood God meant what He said as they watched their mother turn to salt. They had enough knowledge of God to make a choice: faith, or fear.

Unfortunately, both Lot and his daughters chose not to exercise what little faith they might have had and gave in to fear, choosing a quick resolution to what they perceived was a problem too big for God. Lot’s fear led him to the mountains instead of the neighboring city, where his daughters would have realized the world had not ended. The girls’ fear led them into compromising, sexual sin (Leviticus 18:6).

Faith waits on God to act on our behalf. Fear of circumstances leads us to make decisions according to our own abilities, decisions which often result in more pain and suffering and drive us farther away from God. A proper fear and respect for God leads to what is right and good. 

Psalm 33:18-19 – “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who wait for His faithfulness, to rescue their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.”

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Lesson 3: Choose Humility, Even When You’ve Burned Your Bridges

One has to ask, why didn’t Lot seek out Abraham when he found himself homeless and afraid? Did his pride get in the way of humbling himself to return to the family he had selfishly abandoned? Genesis 14 might suggest a reason. 

Not long after Lot had chosen the “better” land, he had moved into the city. He found himself in the middle of a war; four kings against five kings! When the winners were announced, he and his family had been carried off as captives. When Abraham heard the news, he took more than three hundred men from his own household and pursued. He defeated Lot’s captors and rescued his whole family. We don’t know what conversations took place as Abraham said good-bye to Lot after delivering him and all his worldly goods back to Sodom, but we might imagine his uncle warned him about living in such a wicked, dangerous environment. 

Scripture is silent on the years between this event and the destruction of the city, but we do know Abraham negotiated with God on his nephew’s behalf, hoping that Lot had influenced at least nine other people for good in the ensuing years. Abraham had not forgotten Lot, but perhaps Lot was too proud to humble himself and ask for help again. What a difference that might have made in his daughters’ lives! Instead of taking things into their own hands, they might have found a large family to embrace them and had their pick of available young men to marry.

Proverbs 11:2 – “When pride comes, then comes dishonor; but with the humble there is wisdom.”

Proverbs 29:23 – “A person’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”

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Lesson 4: God’s Sovereignty and Grace Can Bring Good from Our Failures

Let’s not leave Lot’s daughters in the cave before we discover the best lesson of all. God is able to bring good out of all our failures and foolish choices. The two boys born from an incestuous relationship grew into nations which would be a thorn in the side of God’s chosen people, the Israelites. Yet despite the conflict between the nations, God would still get glory. 

The nations of Moab and Ammon battled over boundary lines for centuries, doing their best to destroy Israel. Balak, king of Moab, once hired a prophet to curse Israel, although it backfired and God brought blessing instead (Numbers 22-24). The nation of Moab invited the Israelites into idol worship (Numbers 25). According to the teachings of the Torah, Balak’s grandson was Eglon, king of Moab who met his death at the hand of Israel’s judge, Ehud (Judges 3:15-25). The Torah also teaches that Eglon had a very special granddaughter, whose name might be familiar to you: Ruth.

Ruth was a Moabitess, the heroine in the one of the Bible’s most famous love stories. She met and married her husband, the son of Elimelech and Naomi, who had fled to Moab to survive during a famine. When her husband and father-in-law died, she returned to the land of Judah with Naomi, where the sovereign hand of God guided her to meet Boaz, her kinsman redeemer. Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed, a grandson named Jesse, and a great grandson, David, through whom Jesus the Messiah would come. God indeed had the last word to say on Lot’s family.

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

In spite of Lot’s weak faith and his daughter’s foolish choices, God was able to bring good out of what was the very worst circumstances we can imagine. What great hope this gives to every believer. God knows our weaknesses and yet He moves to rescue us from our own foolishness. And when we find ourselves at what we believe is the end of our world, He redeems and restores, taking what the enemy meant for evil and using it for good.

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Author Sheila Alewine is a pastor’s wife, mother, and grandmother of five. She and her husband lead Around The Corner Ministries, which serves to equip Christ-followers to share the gospel where they live, work and play. She has written several devotionals including Just Pray: God’s Not Done With You YetGrace & Glory: 50 Days in the Purpose & Plan of God, and her newest one, Open The Gift, as well as Going Around The Corner, a Bible study for small groups who desire to reach their communities for Christ. Their ministry also offers disciple-making resources like One-To-One Disciple-Making in partnership with Multiplication Ministries. Sheila has a passion for God’s Word and shares what God is teaching her on her blog, The Way of The Word. Connect with her on her blogFacebook, and Instagram.

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