Lot's Lingering

Scripture: Luke 17:32, 2 Peter 2:6, Genesis 19:1-29
Society tends to encourage a victim mindset by hesitating to call sin by its right name. But iniquity will be judged. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, places where God's mercy was extended to a great length, a day will come when God's wrath against sin will be expressed.
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Do you realize that it's getting mighty, mighty hard to find a plain old-fashioned sinner anymore? In the language of modern society the drunkard is not a sinner. He's a sick man suffering from an inferiority complex and in dire need of psychiatric attention. If the prodigal son were living today, he wouldn't be a sinner either, just a juvenile delinquent in a burst of youthful exuberance. Liars today are not considered liars at all. They're simply extroverts with an over-extended imagination. Adultery may be considered a sin in the slums and ghettos, but not for the university campus free spirits. For those people it's just a night of fun and frolic. The sex pervert is rebelling against childhood restrictions and inhibitions. He's just trying to express himself in a restrictive age. The murderer and rioter must not be blamed either. Society must be blamed for permitting the social evils of poverty that caused him to revolt and get even with society by killing people. So since society is to blame, why punish the poor murderer who is simply the victim of society's ills?

How much more mixed up can men become than to call evil good, and good evil? The truth is that there is only one hope for any or all of us, that is to get back to the Bible, back to the ten commandments, and start calling sin by its right name. Let men everywhere know that God is not mocked, and that someday every man must give an account to God for the evil done in the body.

There is only one text in the Bible that I could read today that really fits my subject perfectly. It is a very short text in Luke 17:32: "Remember Lot's wife." Those three words make a very short sentence coming from the lips of Jesus, but somehow there is a solemn warning in those three words, "Remember Lot's wife." Immediately with them I quote 2 Peter 2:6, "And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly." And add 2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night."

If you read the verses which immediately precede Luke 17:32 you see that Jesus was talking about these last days, the end of the world, and the verses that we have read from Peter say plainly that the punishment given Sodom and Gomorrah was for a warning to us in these days. They were burnt as an example to all future ages. So this story of the tragedy of Lot's wife is well worth our study today.

Now we turn back to Genesis 13 and onward to trace that tragic story and its warning for us. Abraham, of course, was a patriarch called out of idolatry, over in Ur of the Chaldees. God had summoned him to separate from his own family and move to the land of Canaan for an inheritance. Lot was Abraham's nephew and went with Abraham to the land of Canaan. Both men were very prosperous in business and had large flocks, so much so that the country could not sustain all of their possessions. So Abraham liberally suggested to Lot, "Look over the country here and pick out the part that appeals to you most. You settle there and I'll take what is left." The Bible says that Lot looked over toward the plain of the Jordan and saw that it was well watered and as fruitful as the Garden of Eden almost, so he chose that. But the unfortunate thing was that this particular plain was dotted with wicked cities. Genesis 13:13 states: "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly." And Sodom became Lot's home.

That was the beginning of sorrow in Lot's family. Sodom was already a wicked city when he settled there and he had little hope of raising his children in the fear of the Lord after he settled in that wicked city. Life looked easy down there in those plains where it is warm the year around, but the trouble with Lot's choice was that while it offered him temporal prosperity, it was almost sure to lead to spiritual destruction. Abraham settled in the hill country of Judea and prospered.

One night Abraham was surprised by the visit of messengers of doom. Angels from heaven came down to wreak destruction on the city of Sodom. Even the Lord came too. In Genesis 18:20, 21 the Lord said to Abraham, "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know." It shows God's personal interest in mankind.

As the Lord opened to Abraham His plan to destroy that wicked city of Sodom, Abraham immediately thought of his nephew, Lot, and his family, and others that Lot might have influenced to accept the true God; and he asked the Lord, "But what if You should find fifty righteous people in Sodom, would You spare it?" And the Lord said He would. Then Abraham got to thinking that maybe Lot hadn't brought that many people, besides his own family, to God. Abraham said, "What if you find forty there, will you save Sodom?" And God said, "Yes." Then Abraham thought, "Well maybe if he has brought some into the church, maybe some of them have backslidden. Perhaps I'd better make it thirty. "Lord, even if you find thirty souls, can you save Sodom?" And the Lord said, "Yes." At last Abraham got as brave as he dared and he thought to himself, "That man Lot, if he has been any witness to God at all in that city, he certainly has a church of ten members." So he asked, "Lord, when you go over there to investigate the awful condition of Sodom, if you even find ten faithful members in the church, will you spare the city and give Lot a little more time to do evangelistic work?" And the Lord said he would. My, how long suffering God is! He'd spare those wicked inhabitants just for the sake of ten true followers. But Sodom didn't have that many believers. What a terrible testimony to the low spiritual influence Lot had had on his neighbors. I tell you, friends, many of these wicked American cities would have been destroyed long ago were it not for the few honest hearts that God finds in them.

The two angels hastened toward Sodom on their mission of destruction. Lot, being an official of the city, sat in the gate in typical oriental custom; and he hastened to invite the angels to his house for the night, showing true Christian courtesy, for he did not know these were angels.

Today it is not necessary for me to picture the vile sins of Sodom and the wicked attack of the inhabitants of the city that night on Lot's home. Enough to say that the angel saw that Sodom had certainly filled her cup of iniquity. Angels from heaven were the visitors to that city, but they were treated like the vilest degenerates. That night of sin in Sodom was no worse than many a night before, but Sodom had filled up her cup of iniquity. To me this is one of the most solemn thoughts in the Bible. God's Book makes it very clear that a city, a nation, an individual, is permitted no more than a certain amount of iniquity; and when their record is written full, God's vengeance falls. His Holy Spirit is withdrawn and they have no more desire to repent and turn from sin. Woe to him that keeps on presuming that at any time he can turn to God. I tell you, friends, this is the load I bear on my heart as I see people continuing in a pathway of sin and disobedience to God, which in any form is rebellion against heaven, when they know what is right. Someday their cup of iniquity will be filled and God's wrath, unmixed with mercy, will fall upon them.

Can you imagine how startled Lot must have been as the angels told him in the darkness of that night the plan for the destruction of the city? Hear them as they ask him if he has any loved ones who are outside his home: "And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place; For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it." Genesis 19:12, 13. Lot knew all too well that his children were not living right with God, and with heavy heart the old man slipped out from his house and went over to the children's homes. The Bible sadly records, "And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law." Genesis 19:14. When people continue in the pathway of sin too long, God's solemn warning sounds as but mockery.

Friends, I ask you today, have you loved ones who have not given their hearts to God? Are some of your children still outside the fold? Today, as back there, the angels are trying to hasten your loved ones from the destruction which is soon to break upon this world of sin. I just can't imagine the groaning agony Lot must have felt in his heart that night as he turned from his children's homes. They scoffed at the idea that their little world of Sodom was to be destroyed in the morning. Little did they realize as their old father sadly turned his steps from their home that it was the last pleading for repentance they would ever have. They had sealed their own doom and mercy could no longer wait for them.

As Lot got back to his own home the angels tried to hurry him away. Genesis 19:15, 16: "And when the morning arose then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city." Did you notice there it said, "while he lingered"? Poor old Lot just couldn't bear to leave his home for the last time, and the angels almost took him and his wife and his two daughters by force and rushed them out of the doomed city of Sodom.

From the story that follows, Lot's wife evidently almost preferred to remain with her children. Her love for them seemed stronger than her love for God. Again we hear the words of Jesus, warning, "Remember Lot's wife."

I want you to notice verse 17 of Genesis 19: "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain lest thou be consumed." Lot begged to be given the privilege of going into another little town, Zoar. The angels granted this request and as they turned back to destroy Sodom, their last warning was, "Look not behind thee." God had been merciful to them and miraculously spared their lives; and today when God delivers us from sin, he warns us, "Look not behind thee." It is a dangerous thing to turn back to sin.

Verse 23 says, "The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven." The moment Lot's feet entered the city limits of Zoar, God's judgments began to fall on Sodom and Gomorrah. And verse 25 says, "And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground."

Then a terrible thing happened, as told in verse 26: "But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt." Her heart was still in Sodom. Her body was almost inside the city of Zoar.

Now I want you to notice something in the book of Luke. So often people ask, "What was so terrible about Lot's wife looking back? How can you blame her for that?" But there's more to this story than that. First of all the angel had plainly warned them not to look back, for he knew it was hard enough for them to separate from their loved ones who were lost. But Luke 17 makes it clear that Lot's wife did more than look back. You read this chapter and see that it is warning about the coming of Christ. He refers to the time of the flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as warnings for us in these last days. He warns that when the time of trouble breaks upon this old world and God's children have to flee for safety from the hands of the wicked, as verse 31 and onward puts it, "... let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife."

Friends, that is the fatal mistake which she made, according to the words of Jesus. She started to return back. After God had miraculously spared her life, she seems to have still blamed him for the destruction of her children who had turned to the world and she determined to return back. Instantly from heaven judgment fell upon her and she became a fossilized monument to God's judgments.

Friend, I plead with you to come out of your world of sin and when you have once separated, do not turn back, even for the dearest one on earth, for it will be fatal.

Jesus says, "As it was in the days of Sodom it will be in the days of the coming of the Son of man." I tell you, it was a narrow escape for Lot. That wicked city had lived its vicious life right up to the brink of its eternity, and Jesus says the very same day that Lot stepped out of Sodom it was destroyed.

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