Posted by Gary on February 20, 2007
My Bible reading recently brought me to the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is much to learn from this well known story not least among the lessons, the fact that God detests some sins more than others. How we need to be mindful of this in our day, most recently as the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that homosexual unions are a state right. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was total, God’s displeasure with sodomy could not have been made more clear. Do we think that we will escape judgment as a nation?
In the midst of this story filled with destruction and judgment is the most beautiful picture of God’s electing love. While it is true that the two angels went to Sodom to destroy, they also had another assignment, to save. The recipients of this mercy as we know are Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family. There are a few statements in this chapter that are powerful in their revelation of God’s determination to save those He has chosen, in spite of ourselves:
Genesis 19:15-16 “When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.”
Lot has been warned by two angels (whose miraculous powers he has seen when they struck the men of the city blind). Lot knows the wickedness of this city and the holiness of God. We would imagine that upon hearing of God’s intention to destroy Sodom that Lot would be quick to leave with his family yet we are told something amazing, “He hesitated”. Hesitated? What could Lot have been thinking? Probably thoughts like many of us who are saved thought when God was calling us out of this sinful world that is destined is for fire. Yes, we knew we were in danger, that God’s judgment was set to fall on us and this world yet even when called to forgiveness and escape, we looked around at our life of sin and balked.
What we are told next is one of the most beautiful pictures in Scripture, “So the men seized his hand”. Wonderful, merciful love of God. God was not willing to let Lot stand and think any longer. Why not? Certainly God knew the folly of sinners, Lot would have waited too long, he would likely have been overcome by the temptation to stay and so God through His angels grabs Lot’s hand and moves him by force. Where is Lot taken? The Bible tells us outside the city, not he alone but his wife and daughters with him. Not only did God move Lot in an initial sense, He brought him where he needed to be, outside the city.
I wonder how my Arminian friends deal with a passage like this? Didn’t God infringe upon Lot’s will? Free will theology would insist that God would never grab someone’s hand while he is pondering his options. Free will theology would say, “Lot wasn’t sure about what he wanted to do and God being a God of love, who always bows to the will of the creature would never have forced Himself upon someone who had not made the decision for themselves.” Thank God that He does act and move upon us according to His will and intention. When God has chosen to save someone, he saves them in spite of their foolish thinking and possible decisions.
You would think we would be at the end of the matter here but as we continue we find we are not. When given instructions by the angel to flee to the mountains, Lot again does not want to cooperate:
Genesis 19:17-21 “When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.” But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords! “Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.”
Lot didn’t get it and neither did most of us when God was rescuing us from the danger of His judgment. Did I cooperate perfectly with God’s mercy and grace when He was drawing me? No, I didn’t. I can look back and see my return trips to sin and my refusal to break cleanly from certain areas of disobedience. I had many areas where I said, “Oh no, my Lord”. Lot deserved to be struck down for his refusal to submit and obey and so did many of us and yet God is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
Child of God, let this last statement warm your heart as you consider God’s choice of you and His mercy:
Genesis 19:21-22 “He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. “Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.”
“For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” There it is, God’s electing love in full bloom. Yes, you have been foolish and difficult Lot, no, you don’t deserve to be rescued but God loves you (for Abraham’s sake) and you will be saved. The entire plan of God concerning Sodom is on hold for you Lot, you must be safe before the first spark falls from the sky. God has chosen to save you and you will be saved.
Christian, know this, you do not deserved to be saved. You are not saved because you are righteous or because you cooperated with God as you should have, you didn’t and neither did I. You are a Christian because God took you by the hand while you looked back toward your sin and folly, He placed you outside the gate of this world and held off his judgment until you were safe in His Son Jesus and you are safe, you will be safe because God has determined to save you.
May God’s great kindness in saving us lead us to love Him more.
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