“Oh no, my lord!” Lot begged. 19 “You have been so gracious to me and saved my life, and you have shown such great kindness. But I cannot go to the mountains. Disaster would catch up to me there, and I would soon die. 20 See, there is a small village nearby. Please let me go there instead; don’t you see how small it is? Then my life will be saved.” “All right,” the angel said, “I will grant your request. I will not destroy the little village. 22 But hurry! Escape to it, for I can do nothing until you arrive there.”—Genesis 19:18–22 (NLT)
Fleeing from the judgment of the wicked Sodomites, Lot and his family lamented the abandonment of their urban life. Accustomed to the convenient, comfortable life the city offered, they recoiled at the idea of seeking refuge in the mountain, where they would find neither shelter from the weather nor protection from wild animals.
In that fear, Lot reasoned that seeking refuge in a small village would present no problem. The degenerate citizens of Sodom certainly deserved their punishment, but surely the village dwellers would evidence a superior moral character. “Everyone knows” that more evil exists in cities than in small towns. Despite the obvious divine power that the angels weilded, Lot assumed that conventional wisdom served as a better guide for his rescue than his wandering visitors. What do outsiders know, anyway?
But “everybody” was wrong. Sin and rebellion against God does not emanate from the urban context, but rather from the human heart. Although small towns often know how to hide away their sins with greater secrecy than cities, they do not have an exemption from the univeral sin that afflicts human beings. After a short time among the villagers, Lot realized that the mountains would provide him a more secure hiding place.
After a very short time in their new homes, immigrants realize that you can’t migrate away from evil. As an old Latin American proverb says, “People cook fava beans everywhere.” Ironically, the phrase errs on a literal level, since not everyone even knows what a fava bean is. Still, the universality of human problems resulting from sin remains. They only look different from place to place. Leaving an evil context means nothing if we smuggle sin in our hearts as contraband. We must let God expel it from the inside of our lives. Personal repentence provides much greater relief for our personal moral condition than a mere change of venue.
Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.
Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington. He is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus.
Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.