3-1 Lot In Sodom
The importance of leaving
the world immediately the Angel comes is shown by the consistent impression
in the record that the Angels urgently " hastened Lot" (Gen.19:15-17,22),
implying that if he did not hurry then he would perish. It was not foreordained
that he would not perish- " Arise...lest thou be consumed in the
iniquity of the city...escape for thy life; look not behind (the Hebrew
root means 'to delay') thee, neither stay thou...lest thou be consumed"
(Gen.19:15,17). It is quite possible that the speed of our response
to the call will be the proof of our acceptablity. The speed of response
was the basic difference between the wise and foolish virgins. It was
only after he had left Sodom that the Angel said that he could not "
do any thing till thou be come thither" , i.e. to Zoar (Gen.19:22).
Yet Lot " lingered" , the Hebrew meaning 'to question or argue',
as we see him doing later in the record in his discussion with the Angel
concerning the danger of going to the mountain as he had been told, and
asking leave to go to Zoar. " Lingered" literally means 'Why?'
or 'What!', indicating severe incomprehension on Lot's part. We would
be foolish to think that we too will not be prone to a serious sense of
incomprehension when the Angel appears. Only repeated meditation upon
that moment and a true love of the Lord's coming will stop us being so
flustered by the Angel's call that we fail to respond to it with the necessary
Therefore the Angel
" laid hold upon" Lot's hand (Gen.19:16), a Hebrew word elsewhere
translated 'to take courage', and definitely meaning to strengthen or
encourage. In our study of the judgment seat later the point is made that
Angels frequently said to faithful men " Fear not" when they
have appeared to them. It is therefore tempting to think that our Angel
will speak similar words of strength and encouragement to us on their
appearing. The typology of Lot would support this. But we have to remember
that in Lot's case the Lord was " merciful unto him" - such
grace as was shown to him cannot be presumed upon. " Merciful"
certainly carries the idea of pity in Hebrew- if we have had a loving
relationship with our guardian Angel now, surely we may look forward to
their 'pity' then. Despite all this, Lot's wife still looked back; and
'remember her'. The pull of family and materialism was such for that woman,
that all this supreme demonstration of mercy and love was not enough
to convince her that nothing else mattered apart from obedience to God.
Thus having given Lot
this strength, the Angel warned, or perhaps pleaded " Look not behind
thee, neither stay thou in all the plain" (Gen.19:17). " Look"
means to view intensely with love or pleasure; that these words were said
to Lot must indicate that he was tempted to look on Sodom in that way.
There seems to be a pointed contrast with Abraham, who looked at Sodom
burning without being punished, presumably because he had no attraction
towards it (Gen.19:28). Thus for all his vexing of soul for the sins of
the city, Lot was still tempted to love it. Our repulsion at the ways
of the world is not necessarily a sign of our spiritual safety- there
is an uncanny love within human nature for the environment we know. Thus
there can be homesickness for drab streets and scenes which we despised
whilst living among them. Such love, taken to its logical end, is a love
of the world which militates against our desire to see the end of this
age and to enter the Kingdom.
It is amazing that with
the clear command echoing in his ears, " neither stay thou in all
the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed" (Gen.19:17),
Lot could ask leave to live in Zoar, a small city of the plain, and not
go to the mountain. He clearly failed to appreciate the reality and seriousness
of the Angel's coming- and this will certainly be a temptation to us in
that moment when the typology of Lot is fulfilled in us. The only way
to guard against this is by consciously living our lives now in awareness
of the fact that now we have been called to leave the world and its ways,
and therefore our whole life now should have the spirit which we will
have when we leave this world when the Angel comes. This is confirmed
by an oblique allusion which our Lord makes to this Angelic command "
Look not behind thee" , in Lk.9:62: " No man, having put his
hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God"
. The context shows that starting to plough represents the start of our
new life in response to the Gospel call- but the allusion to the Angel's
words to Lot show that we should live our whole lives in response to that
call as if we are on the way to the judgment, having been called away
by the Angel.
response to the Angel's call illustrates the contradictions which abound
within human nature. He claims to appreciate that the Angel has saved
his life, but then goes on to say that what the Angel is telling him to
do will result in the loss of his life: " Thou hast magnified thy
mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and (but) I cannot
escape to the mountain , lest some evil take me and I die" (Gen.19:19).
Similarly our calling away may well present us with the prospect of apparent
pain or loss. He feared that " some evil" would " take
me" , using a Hebrew word that is not the one usually translated
as " take" . This one means strictly 'to pursue after and capture',
indicating that Lot was all too aware of the Sodomites' desire to kill
him, and feared that if he lived alone in the mountains they would easily
pursue and kill him. Instead, Lot suggested, there would be more safety
in living in the small city of Zoar nearby, which presumably the Sodomites
would be loath to invade just to take Lot.
All this shows an incomprehension
of what the Angel had said. Firstly, Sodom was to be destroyed at any
moment, including the men whom Lot feared. Either he did not properly
believe this, or he thought that God's judgment would not involve total
destruction. Secondly, he had been explicitly told " neither stay
thou in all the plain (including Zoar)...lest thou be consumed" (Gen.19:17).
Insufficient attention to the words of the Angels therefore resulted in
his foolish reasoning which almost cost him his life. It is easy to imagine
that the moment of the Angel's coming will fill the weak latter day believer,
perhaps distracted as he will be by the persecutions of the holocaust
to come, with such a sense of confusion and incomprehension that he too
will fail to take careful note of what is said to him. A love of God's
word now, rejoicing in its detail, is surely the preventive for this.
flustered reasoning continued: " Behold now, this city is near to
flee unto" . The Hebrew for " flee" is also translated
'to hide in', carrying the idea of being chased into. Again, his fear
of the Sodomites is shown to loom large in his thinking. The Angel had
bidden him flee from the Divine wrath that was soon to consume all the
cities of the plain. But instead Lot was preoccupied with the fear of
human vengeance against him. Such an attitude appears crazy to our cool,
armchair analysis of what happened. Yet Lot is certainly a type of the
believers who are alive at the Lord's return. There can be no doubting,
therefore, that whatever our theoretical willingness now to leave all
and follow the Angel, there will then be at least the temptation to get
consumed with the kind of double-think that seized Lot's reasoning. He
even tried to accommodate his human desires to the desires of the Angel:
" Is it not a little one?" , as if to imply that there was little
wrong with the place spiritually. The Hebrew translated " little
one" is also rendered " a short time" - as if to say 'You
are asking me to be quick about leaving Sodom- so I'll go to Zoar,
as it won't take long to get there'.
" The sun was risen
upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar" (Gen.19:23) invites comparison
with the description of the second coming as the rising of the sun in
Mal.4:2. " But his wife looked back from behind him" (Gen.19:26)
suggests the picture of the wife following behind Lot, filled with remorse
at the loss of all she had held dear. Our Lord comments concerning not
desiring our " stuff which is in the house" in the day of his
coming: " Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever (like her) shall seek (Greek:
'plot') to save his life shall lose it" . We can infer from this
that she plotted and schemed how to save her possessions- i.e. her 'life',
seeing that for her, her life did consist of the abundance of the things
which she possessed (Lk.12:15). These feelings grew so strong that she
paused to take a loving, wistful look at the city. Remember that the fire
only fell after Lot was in Zoar; therefore the city was looking as it
normally did. Their exodus was at night- " the sun was risen upon
the earth when Lot entered into Zoar" (Gen.19:23), so she would have
seen the flickering lights of the city in the distance. Compare this with
how the virgins of Mt.25 go out to meet their Lord at night.
She was walking "
behind him" , so Lot would not have actually seen her turn into a
pillar of salt.As he ceased to hear her footsteps behind him he must have
guessed what had happened- but now the Angel's words seemed more vital
to him: " Look not behind thee" . Likewise it will be a sore
temptation for us to be side-tracked from our obedience to the Angel's
call by consideration for our natural family. Dt.29:23 and Zeph.2:9 show
that Sodom was turned into an area of salt, which explains why Gen.19:25
says that the fire destroyed " that which grew upon the ground"
, by making the area salty. This salt was presumably formed through the
fire intensely burning the rocks and earth until the elements dissolved
into a 'salt'. It is reasonable to think that as Sodom was turned into
salt by fire, so Lot's wife suffered the same punishment through a bolt
of fire striking her and turning her too into salt. This is a prime example
of how the unworthy will suffer the same punishment as the surrounding
world which they failed to truly leave. There is good reason to think
that their punishment may also involve an element of literal fire, as
that of Lot's wife did.
" Remember Lot's
wife" suggests that we should meditate upon her position as it has
especial warning for the last days. Her leaving of Sodom appears to have
been due to the personal influence of Lot her husband, yet ultimately
she failed to have that personal desire to obey God. It would not be pushing
the type too far to suggest that the wives of latter day believers may
feel that they can enter the Kingdom in the spiritual shadow of their
husbands. One cannot help wondering whether she left Ur not through personal
response to the promises but because the others were leaving. Doubtless
her uncle Abraham would have led her and the whole family in regular prayer
and meditation during the journey towards Canaan. But somehow the reality
of the God of Israel was never allowed to touch her inner being, and the
years of the soft life in Sodom would have sealed her spiritual state.
It is hard to avoid making the point that many of us may be in a similar
Gen. 19:14 RVmg. brings
out the likely immediate background to her decision. Lot’s sons in law
“were to marry” his daughters. The Lord too perceived that they were marrying
and giving in marriage the very day the flood came, and He pointed out
the similarities with the Sodom situation (Lk. 17:27-29). Could it not
be that the very day of the double wedding, they had to leave? With all
the build up to the wedding, Lot and his wife would so wanted to have
stayed just another day to see the wedding of their two daughters. It
is to the girls credit that they both left. But Lot’s wife had invested
so much in it emotionally that she just had to look back.
Thus the typology of
Sodom is a warning which hits present day believers where it hurts. Surely
Abraham is our real example; who in the years of his pilgrimage chose
the barren uplands, despising worldly advantage, and who could look at
Sodom's burning with no feeling of desire or sense of loss. Abraham dwelt
on the mountains, from where he could look down upon Sodom; if Lot had
been in these mountains, he would not have suffered when Sodom was invaded
the first time (Gen.14:10); it took the final coming of the Lord to make
him flee to the mountains (Gen.19:10), i.e. to the area which Abraham
had chosen at the first. If we can only see the world for what it is,
then the equivalent of Lot's experiences will be unnecessary for us.
It is recorded for our
learning " that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst
of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt"
(Gen.19:29). Thus in the type of the last days, the prayers and loving
spiritual concern of the faithful remnant really can have an effect on
the salvation of our weaker brethren. Note that Abraham's prayer that
Sodom would be saved if ten righteous were found there, was not answered;
but God knew the real spirit of his prayer, that Lot should be saved,
and that God's justice should be upheld in not destroying the righteous
with the wicked. It was this which God recognized and answered, even though
Abraham had not specifically verbalized those thoughts in prayer. Our
true spiritual love for our brethren, expressed in such intense prayer,
will likewise be heard in these last days.