Daily Distinctives, March 23, 2018 – Pillar of the Community

Greetings all, and a happy Friday to you. I have to say that this week ranks up there as one of my busiest of the year. I missed writing my devo yesterday because when I got off work I went in and laid down “for a minute” to rest, next thing I know my wife was calling me to breakfast. I had some crazy dreams too. In one of my dreams an old friend of mine showed up where I was dressed like a transvestite, I asked him what he was doing and he told me that he was transitioning to another gender. The only thing I could think of is that perhaps my wife came in after I fell asleep and turned on the television. She likes to watch TLC (what I call The Loser Channel). When she does that I have strange dreams about weighing 600 lbs., making cakes, and getting married in 90 days. What’s up with that? Anyways, back to my devo.

When I left off last, Lot and two angelic visitors were under siege by the local townsman who wanted to naughty things to the angels. The angels strike the mob with blindness and the crowd disperses. The angels ask Lot if he has any family members, and that he should probably go tell them that they need to get out soon. And so coming to verse 14 we read…

[Gen 19:14 NKJV] So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.

So it would appear that Lot had several daughters because we know that when he leaves Sodom he has two of them in tow. So Lot goes out and tells his sons-in-law (notice the plurality) who had married his daughters (plural) to get up and get out of this place because the LORD was going to destroy the city. The Bible tells us that they blew him off like he was joking with them. I am reminded of Aesop’s story of the Boy Who Cried, Wolf. Perhaps Lot had warned them on numerous occasions that the city was going to be destroyed because of the sinfulness. I remember when I was young thinking the world was coming to an end because my dad used to always say, “the world is going to hell in a handbasket.” I did not know what a handbasket was (I still don’t–let me look that up), but I knew it was a bad thing. For a while there, I was thinking that it was imminent. Of course 30+ years later and I am still waiting, only now I find myself saying the same thing. Great, I am becoming my father. So, they ignore Lot and miss their opportunity to escape.

[Gen 19:15 NKJV] When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.”

The time had come for judgment and the angels tell Lot to get out before he and his family are consumed along with the inhabitants and the city itself. Now, I don’t know about you, but if two angels told me to leave I would be gone in a heartbeat. But that is not what we see Lot doing.

[Gen 19:16 NKJV] And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.

It says here that he lingered. It was as if he was reluctant to leave. How often do we linger when it is time to give up something? I know when I quit smoking cigarettes years ago I would linger on that last few cigarettes in the pack, savoring them, and reluctant to put them away for good. Now, the smell of cigarettes makes me want to vomit. Occasionally I will take one from someone randomly and light it up just to remind myself, but I don’t get very far before I feel like I am going to puke. But here we see Lot and it says that while he lingered the angels took hold of him and his wife and two daughters and brought them outside of the city. It reminds me of getting my kids out the door for church on Sunday morning. They are so reluctant to go, but when they get there they always have a great time.

[Gen 19:17 NKJV] So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”

And so the angels command Lot and his remaining family to escape for their lives. There is a real sense of urgency here. They tell them not to stay anywhere in the plain, which indicates that the city and the surrounding area would be consumed by this judgment. The angels also tell the family not to look back and to stay in the mountains or they will be destroyed.

[Gen 19:18 NKJV] Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords!
[Gen 19:19 NKJV] “Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die.
[Gen 19:20 NKJV] “See now, this city [is] near [enough] to flee to, and it [is] a little one; please let me escape there ([is] it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.”

We saw in an earlier study how Abraham haggled with God over the city and its inhabitants, now we find Lot haggling himself. The only difference is that Abraham was concerned about other lives; whereas, Lot seems to be only concerned about his own. I am not sure what was in the mountains that worried him, but I would be more concerned about getting out of the plains which were about to be destroyed. And so Lot bargains for refuge in one of the local cities. Perhaps he had grown so accustomed to living in luxury that the thought of roughing it in the mountains was too much for him. I think about my sister and brother in law who recently decided to go camping as a family on a regular basis. Now, knowing my sister and brother-in-law the way I know them, I was a little surprised to discover their plans. That is until I saw the giant RV they purchased splashed across their Facebook page. Sorry, but that is not my idea of “roughing it.” I am a bit wild myself, give me a roll of twin, a knife, and some matches and we have all we need for camping!

[Gen 19:21 NKJV] And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken.
[Gen 19:22 NKJV] “Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

And so the angels relent and let him escape to the little city. Now what I thought was interesting is that verse 22 implies that their judgment was restrained for the sake of Lot, as they could not do anything until Lot arrived in the city. This is interesting to me because it shows me the lengths that God will go to save us. Even when we are reluctant and not wanting to move, God gently takes us out of our sin and even allows us time to adjust. While it would be better to just “rip the band-aid off,” so to speak, and be done with it, sometimes going “cold turkey” is overwhelming. I can’t be sure, but I think that Lot was completely convinced of the magnitude of destruction that was about to transpire.

[Gen 19:23 NKJV] The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar.

I like the mention of the sun rising as Lot enters into the city. The interesting thing about light is that exposes the darkness. I can only imagine Lot and his family walking into this little town as the sun began to rise and with every inch of darkness slowly being exposed I picture Lot seeing the ugliness of sin that was in this little town too. But content to stay, Lot got a front row seat to the show.

[Gen 19:24 NKJV] Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.
[Gen 19:25 NKJV] So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

God utterly destroys the cities and the entire plain from whence Lot and his family had come. The scripture speaks of brimstone and fire. This is a painful foreshadowing of what awaits all who reject Christ as LORD and Savior. We read in other passages of Scripture about the lake of fire which is waiting to for those who deny Christ. To look at the scene of judgment behind them would be more than any human could bear, but Lot’s wife did just that.

[Gen 19:26 NKJV] But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

The angel had warned them and commanded them not to look back or they would be destroyed. Lot’s wife looked back and it says that she became a pillar of salt. It would appear that she was not looking back to in awe of what was happening to the cities of the plain, but rather, she was looking back with longing, dismayed that destruction had befallen her home. But isn’t that so like us. We have our “pet sins” don’t we? Things that we used to do in our BC days that sometimes we look back on with some kind of twisted affection. And the reason I think it is so easy for us to do that is that sin is fun. If it were not fun, then it would not be a temptation, would it? Abandoning sin requires that we walk away from it and hold it with disdain because of what it does to the LORD and the fact that it leads us to death. As a believer today, I can honestly say that I don’t long for my past. I am grateful that I have been delivered from it. When I share my testimony with others I talk about how I once reveled in my sinfulness and enjoyed it, but how empty it was when it was all said and done. I often wonder if the way I describe my past might accidentally turn people on to doing the things I once did. At the time, it was enjoyable, but it always left me wanting. that is why when I share my testimony I try not to linger on the past but focus on the present, what the LORD is doing in my life since I surrendered to Him.

And so Lot’s wife disobeys the command of the angels and she is consumed and turned into a pillar of salt. I read something somewhere about Lot’s wife that made me chuckle. It said, “The last time Lot spoke to his wife was when he asked her if someone was following them!” Ha! I know, that’s terribl….ly funny, that’s what that is! But the reality is that it was a devastating truth for us as believers. While we may not instantly turn die if we turn back to our sins, we know the certainty of sin is death.

[Gen 19:27 NKJV] And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD.

So, the scene changes here back to Abraham and we find Abraham going back to the place where he had met with the LORD earlier. If I had to wager a guess, it was to see what the outcome was of his last discussion with God. That and to build an altar. Abraham was always building altars. But then again, he was always meeting with God. I wish that could be said of me. “That Nick guy is always building altars…what’s up with that?”

[Gen 19:28 NKJV] Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.

Abraham sees in the distance the utter devastation that was promised to take place in the cities of the plain for the sin which was so wicked. This must have been a very intense heat because it is described here as rising up like the smoke of a furnace. You don’t say. This was no small swath of land. It reminds me of images that I have seen from the Vietnam War where napalm was dropped on the jungles. This was some pretty devastating stuff.

[Gen 19:29 NKJV] And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.

Now, from what I gather from this passage it would seem that Lot was saved for the sake of Abraham. I am not sure how righteous Lot was, or his family members for that matter (as we will see later on, LORD willing). I mean we see how his sons-in-laws reacted to Lot’s warning, and it can be assumed that their wives, Lot’s daughters were consumed with their husbands. We also see in this study the heart state of Lot’s wife. I am kind of getting the impression that God spares some for the sake of others. If that is the case, then if you are an unbeliever, it might do you well to start hanging out with Christians. Just saying.

[Gen 19:30 NKJV] Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave.

And so we find Lot leaving Zoar, the city he insisted on going to. He and his daughters head to the mountains because, as the verse says, Lot was afraid to dwell in Zoar. I think the shock and awe of the judgment that was just passed on Sodom and Gomorrah were enough for Lot to finally catch a clue.

Now, As I read this I thought of how suddenly the end will come upon us who are fortunate enough to be alive during the rapture. I don’t know which would be better, to go to the grave or be raptured. If you go to the grave you get to witness the rapture from heaven, but if you are raptured you literally get to be a part of it. I hope I am raptured, that would be awesome! But the thing that gives me chills is knowing that it will come unexpectedly. At least Lot had angels come and warn him, and literally pull him out of the city. For us, we have to be aware that the rapture will come at a moment that no one expects. This is why we have to vigilant and not looking back at our former ways with a lingering eye. We need to be putting sin behind us once and for all and not living in a backslidden state. The haunting words of Jesus come to mind as I read this (specifically verse 32

[Luk 17:31 KJV] In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
[Luk 17:32 KJV] Remember Lot’s wife.
[Luk 17:33 KJV] Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
[Luk 17:34 KJV] I tell you, in that night there shall be two [men] in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
[Luk 17:35 KJV] Two [women] shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
[Luk 17:36 KJV] Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be saved by the skin of my teeth. I am reminded of what Paul says about our works in 1 Corinthians. All that we do will be tested by fire, and only the good will survive.

[1Co 3:15 NKJV] If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

I just hope that my good far outweighs my bad. I want to come out of this life like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were not touched by the fire and didn’t even smell of smoke!

Prayer: LORD, help me to not be like Lot’s sons-in-law who think it is all a joke. Help me to not be like Lot and linger over my sin. Help me to not be like Lot’s wife who looked back with longing, and help me not be like Lot’s daughters who continue on in sin. But LORD, help me to be like Your Son, who lived a victorious life, suffered for our sake and to glorify Your name. I love You LORD and pray that You will continue to work in and through me so that I might be found in Your image on that glorious day when You return for Your saints. Father, I lift up my family, my friends, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, my pastor and his family and all who are in my sphere of influence and ask LORD that You would make me a light that shines brilliantly. Remove the things from my life that tarnish my witness, and help me be the man of God that You have called me to be. Thank You, Jesus, for giving me eternal life. I look forward to the day that after the judgment when I can finally begin that eternity. But LORD, for me, that eternity has already begun. The day I surrendered my life to You I was given eternal life. Still, so long as I am in this skin suit, help me to make the best of my days and bring glory to You in each of them. I pray this in the name of Jesus. –Amen

 

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