Downward Path of Lot
Dr. Joe Temple

Will you open your Bibles, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 19. This chapter and the things with which it deals have been used by the Holy Spirit for a number of sermons, if we want to use that term very literally, throughout the Word of God. So we will follow a double precedure. We will learn what lessons we can from the text itself in the book of Genesis, and then we will see what lessons we can learn from the comments the Holy Spirit makes on this chapter in other portions of the Word of God.

The chapter deals with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the deliverance of Lot from that city of destruction, and at the close of the chapter the sad end to a Christian's testimony. Notice verse 1:

Genesis 19:

1And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

We are introduced to Lot, then, sitting in the gate of Sodom. This is not the first place we have met Lot, nor did Lot find himself in this place overnight, figuratively speaking. Rather, it was a series of things that happened in Lot's experience that brought him to a place where he was sitting in the gate of Sodom, and that brought him to the terrible sin which caused him to become the progenitor of the Moabites and the Ammonites, who exist today as a thorn in the flesh to the nation of Israel.

If we are to profit from this experience in the life of Lot, I think it would be a good idea for us to learn where it started. So let me suggest that we go back to chapter 13 and see exactly where it did begin.

As we go back, we will be touching on some material that we have already discussed, but we will follow a distinct line of thought through these chapters, tracing what we might term the downfall of Lot. Look at verse 10:

Genesis 13:

10And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

You will remember why Lot lifted up his eyes. He and Abram had been down to Egypt, their wealth had multiplied, and there began to be strife between the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abram. Abram did not want that trouble to occur, and he said to Lot, “There is a lot of country here. Let us separate so we will not have any more trouble.” Abram, being a friend of God and wholly yielded and dedicated to God, said to Lot, “You decide. If you go this way, then I will go that way. Let us not have any trouble.” Lot is introduced to us in the first step of this downfall by the direction in which he looked.

The name Lot means the man with the veil over his eyes . Certainly there was a veil over Lot's eyes when he looked in the direction in which he looked. All he saw with the eyes of the flesh was the well-watered plains of Jordan. All he saw was that it was like a land of Egypt from whence he had come.

Egypt Is A Type of the World

Egypt in the Bible is always a type of the world. Lot sojourned there just long enough to get a taste of it. So when he looked toward the well-watered plains of Jordan, that is all he could see. If that veil had not been over his eyes, he could have seen something else, because the word Egypt actually means trouble. He could have seen that the direction in which he was heading could mean only trouble for himself and for those who loved him.

This was long before he was in Sodom and Gomorrah. This was long before he was sitting in the gate. This was long before he was found in the cave committing the incestuous sin with his two daughters. He looked toward the well-watered plains of Jordan with a veil over his eyes, and all he could see was what appealed to his selfish nature. He could not see, beyond, the trouble that was there.

Christians Need Spiritual Perception

That is why we, as Christians…for will you keep in mind that Lot was a Christian. For all the terrible things that happened to him, he was still a child of God. If you do not keep that in mind, you miss the whole point of the story. That is why we, as Christians, need to keep in mind the need for spiritual perception. We need to pray constantly that God will remove the veil from our eyes that we may be able to see things as they are.

The Apostle Paul, in writing his letter to the Philippians, expressed it in a little different way. He said we ought to learn to discern the things that differ. If Lot had been able to see as he should have seen, there would not have been a problem. He beheld, and then if you will look at verse 11, he chose:

Genesis 13:

11Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
12Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, [That is where God told him to dwell] and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain…

Cities in the Bible are always a symbol of evil. God never intended that men should live in cities as they are living today. That is why there is about us all the evil there is. Notice the last part of verse 12:

Genesis 13:

12…and [Lot] pitched his tent toward Sodom.

You might say that that is the third thing that happened to him. He looked, he chose, and even though he said, “I just want to dwell here in the plains,” he headed his tent toward Sodom.

Downfall Occurs One Step At A Time

The Devil never makes us jump off the deep end all at once. He is too wise for that, but he does head us in the wrong direction. I wonder sometimes as I deal with people whose lives have been ruined, just when it was they headed toward destruction. We get awfully concerned, you know, and awfully disturbed about people after the destruction comes. Oh, how we would like to change the picture. If God would just give us the spiritual perception that we need to notice when people have their tents pitched toward Sodom, something could be done about it then.

As parents we should wait upon the Lord, asking God to give us the perception that will enable us to know when our children have pitched their tents. It is not hard for us to know after the brimstones begin to fall. But oh, how we need to know it when they pitch their tents in that direction.

My wife and I pray constantly that the Lord will keep us alert to the direction of the tent. That is the only way to save yourself trouble. Keep yourself alert to the direction of the tent.

Notice verse 13. The word but should really be and , because it is an explanation of why it was such a serious thing for Lot to pitch his tent toward Sodom:

Genesis 13:

13[And] the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.

Turn with me now to chapter 14, because we are noticing just this downward path of Lot and not noticing all the verses in between. Look at verse 11:

Genesis 14:

11And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
12And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

You will remember from our discussion of this chapter that this is a record of how the five kings of the plains invaded the city of Sodom and made war against the King of Sodom. The statement we are primarily interested in is the statement in verse 12 that Lot was now dwelling in Sodom. You see, he started out just pitching his tent in that direction. Now he is living there. Do you see how slow the progress is, but how certain it is? If anyone had told Lot that he was going to wind up in a cave in the sin that happened, he would have said, “Not I.” It did not happen all at once. It did not happen overnight. It was a gradual thing. First he looked, then he pitched his tent in that direction, and now he is living in Sodom.

Lot Is A Leader In Sodom

Turn to chapter 19, the place at which we began this backward discussion, and notice again verse 1:

Genesis 19:

1And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom…

This means that Lot was either the mayor or one of the city councilmen in the city of Sodom. He had gotten into politics. Not only did he make his home there, but he had accepted a position of responsibility in the city, sitting in the gate.

If you will look at verse 2, you will see that it was not all as it should be. He saw these angels who had already appeared to Abraham and had told Abraham that the city of Sodom was to be destroyed. They then went on down to the city of Sodom to investigate matters and to see to it that Lot was delivered from destruction. They came where Lot was sitting in the gate of the city, and Lot said:

Genesis 19:

2…Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

If we read our Bibles hurriedly, we might just skip over that and say, “I guess they just decided to stay in the streeet.” But do you know why they did? Because Lot was out of fellowship. Lot had reached such a sad spiritual state in his own experience that the angels did not want to come into his house. A Christian, mind you, a child of God, born again, but so far away from God, and so far out of fellowship that the angels could not have fellowship with him. You say, “How do you know that is true?” Go back when you have time to chapter 18. What happened when they came to Abraham's tent? They went right into his tent and had fellowship. What does Revelation, chapter 3, verse 20, say?

Revelation 3:

20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

God has promised to fellowship with anybody that invites him to if he is in the place of fellowship, but Lot was not. So the angels did not want immediately to go into his house. But as you noticed, though they did not desire to enter into his house for purposes of fellowship, they did enter into his house for Lot's protection. We are seeing now how far Lot had come. Look at verse 9 with me. Lot had gone out to reason with the people of the city, who had foul intentions in regard to the angels. Lot remonstrated with them, and in response to that, they said in verse 9:

Genesis 19:

9And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

Compromising of Convictions Does Not Increase Influence

Lot had lost all influence in the city. I am sure, because human nature does not change through the years, that Lot was like a lot of people today. He rationalized his compromise by suggesting that it would be an open door for influence, and it was not. Whenever you compromise your testimony, whenever you compromise your convictions for the sake of influence, you are only fooling yourself. One of these days someone will say about you as they said about Lot, “This fellow came in to sojourn. He thinks he can talk to us. He is no better than we are.”

How Spiritual Level Causes Lack of Concern

Notice in verse 12 the sad spiritual state to which Lot had come. So low was Lot spiritually that he had even lost the burden and concern for his loved ones that he ought to have had. The angels had to remind him, because in verse 12 we read:

Genesis 19:

12And 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:
13For 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.

Mind you now, they had come for the destruction of the city, and Lot was unconcerned about his own loved ones. They had to remind him, “Do you have anybody here, Lot? You'd better get them out.”

A lack of fellowship and concern for those who are nearest and dearest to us goes right along with our lack of concern for those who do not know the Lord. Lot was utterly unconcerned.

Look at verse 14, and you will notice an even sadder suggestion still:

Genesis 19:

14And 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.

What happened to his influence? What happened to it? He had none. When he came to warn his sons-in-law, he said, “I have been talking to God, and God is going to destroy this city. Hurry and leave.” They laughed at him and said, “When did you talk to God last? We have not noticed you very much interested in God and the things of God.”

You know, it is a sad thing, but it is true. The world may welcome our fellowship. They may welcome our support of their various causes. They may even pat us on the back in the process and tell us how wonderful we are. But when the real crisis comes, they do not have any confidence in us. They are not interested in our prayers. They are not interested in what we are able to do for them. Do you know the person in whom they are interested when the real crisis comes? They are interestd in the person who refuses to surrender his convictions. They are interested in the person whom they call an old square, an old fogy, an old fanatic. We are the ones to whom they go when the real crisis comes.

Lot came to them and said, “Hurry. Let's get out of here. The city is going to be destroyed.” They said, “Why, you old fool, you. What are you trying to do? Scare us?” They were not the least bit interested in what he had to say. Why am I mentioning this? Because this is all part of Lot's sad spiritual declension. Look at verse 16 and see how dark and cold his spirituial experience had become:

Genesis 19:

16And 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.

Do you get the picture? Here were the angels saying, “God is going to destroy this city.” Instead of being spiritually perceptive enough to believe the message of God and saying, “Hurry. Let us all get out with our loved ones,” Lot lingered. He was not in any hurry to go. The angels had to lay hold on him and literally yank him out of the city. That is an indication of his cold indifference.

Christians Should Desire Christ's Return

We will see before we are through with this study how this experience parallels some things that are going to happen at the end of the Age…things which are future. I want to say now, while it is on my mind, and I want to say it very reverently, that there are people living in our Age who will be just like Lot. They will be irritated at the coming of the Lord. When the Lord comes to take them out of destruction, as the angels came to take Lot out of destruction, they will be a little bit irritated. They will want to linger here a little bit longer.

It is true that some folk who are not instructed in the things of God might say, “Oh, I hope the Lord does not come until such and such a thing happens.” We are tolerant of that because we know that not everyone is as instructed in the Word of God as he might be. But I say to you that there is something wrong with the experience of any Christian who does not long for the coming of the Lord. There is something wrong with an individual's spiritual experience, provided he knows the truth, if he feels as though it would be an interruption for the Lord to come. But there are people today who, like Lot, feel just that way.

Look at verse 20. Even after the angels had literally yanked him out of the city and said to him, “Go up yonder to that mountain. It is the only safe place there is,” Lot said:

Genesis 19:

20Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.

The city had such a hold on him that even at the risk of losing his life, he wanted to spare the city. They said, “Get to the mountain.” He said, “I don't want to get to the mountain. What about this little city, (the city of Zoar, Zoar meaning little )? It is not very big, and there is not as much evil there as there is in Sodom, so let me go there.” So the angels let him go, because quite often…if you have not already learned, you will learn…God lets us have our own way when we insist upon it.

I do not know what happened in the city of Zoar, but Lot got to the mountain, and he had to run there for fear of his life, you will find. Then in verse 30, you find the sad end to which Lot came:

Genesis 19:

30And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.

You are familiar with the sad sequel to that experience. Think about it now…a man of God as far as his spiritual life and experience is concerned, coming to such a sad end. It all began when he pitched his tent in the wrong direction.

It was too late to do anything for Lot now. If anyone wanted to help Lot now, and went to see him in the cave in the mountain outside the city of Zoar, there was not anything he could do. It was too late. But if only someone had seen in which direction his tent was pitched and had done something about it then!

I do not want to be melodramatic, but I do want to emphasize that I believe this is the greatest need for those of us who have the watchcare of precious human souls. Whether they be the souls of our children, or the souls of some young people with whom we work, or the souls in some Sunday School class, or the souls that come under the watchcare of a Pastor…this is the thing we need to be concerned about: Which direction are the tents pitched?

If we watch the direction in which their tents are pitched, then we may be able to do something to save them some sad experiences, as we wait on the Lord.

These are the lessons that are within the chapter itself. As I suggested, this one chapter in the Word of God is used by the Holy Spirit as much, and perhaps even more, than any other one chapter in the Word of God, as a basis for exhortations, as a basis for lessons that need to be learned. Let's go through the Word of God and notice some of the lessons which the Holy Spirit draws from this particular experience.

God's Justice Requires Judgment

Turn with me to the Epistle of Jude, which speaks about the judgment of God upon men who are false, the judgment of God upon men who do not do as God wants them to do…false prophets, if you please. There was in the day when Jude was contending for the faith the same idea that there is today. It is that God is too just, God is too loving, God is too kind, to visit his people with punishment. God is just going to love people into obeying Him. Well, the Holy Spirit of God emphasizes that God is a god of vengeance. God is a God of judgment and justice. One of the proofs He gives is chapter 19 of the book of Genesis. Look at Jude 1, verse 7:

Jude:

7Even as [God is going to judge] Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

The part of this verse in which we are interested at the moment for our comment is the last part. Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Here were two cities that suffered the vengeance of God because of their sins.

Let's not jump to conclusions. If you are remembering some of the things that we have learned in the book of Genesis thus far, you know that God did not rain down fire and brimstone upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in a fit of anger. Those of us who have children and who make an effort to discipline them correctly know that we should never discipline them when we are angry at them. We should never discipline them either by word or by hand in a manner that would make them think we are just venting our temper on them.

Let us give God credit for having as much sense as we have. God does not visit judgment or vengeance on Sodom and Gomorrah because He is angry. He visits vengeance on them because He is just.

Remember chapter 18 of the book of Genesis, when God told Abraham what He was going to do so that Abraham might enter into intercession for these two cities? In verse 20, He said:

Genesis 18:

20And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

“I have been hearing things about Sodom and Gomorrah. Their sin is great. Their sin is grievous.” But notice verse 21:

Genesis 18:

21I 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.

“I am going to investigate. I am going to see what is happening down there. I will see, and if it is not the way the reports come, then I will know.”

God Brings Judgment After Prolonged Sinning

Do not be alarmed about these terms. This is a manner of speaking which you find often in the Word of God, as God stoops to human terms in order for us to understand it. This does not mean that God does not already know, but He is examining the case very carefully so there will be no mistake. God does not blot out a city whenever He takes a notion to it. He has to be sure that the city has every chance it is possible for it to have.

If you will go back to chapter 15, you will notice that God told Abraham that one day he would be able to enter the land of Canaan. But He said, “Abraham, you will not be able to possess this land until your fourth generation. You personally will never be able to possess it. But four generations from you, your people will possess the land.” Abraham, said, “But God, why can't I do it?” In chapter 15, verse 16, God tells him why:

Genesis 15:

16But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

He said, “Abraham, in the day in which you are living the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. The Amorites who possess the land of Canaan have not gone the limit. Until they go the limit, there is always a chance for mercy. They have not gone the limit, but by the fourth generation from you they will have, and I will turn the land over to you.”

Do you see what I want you to see? Though God does visit in judgment, and though God does bring vengeance upon individuals, it is never a hurried thing.

Limits Are Set As to How Far Men May Go

Turn, please, to the book of Daniel, chapter 4, for one of the most intriguing glimpses of Heaven I think there is in the Word of God. You know, we are so used to thinking of Heaven only as a place of golden streets, angels, harps, and all the rest of it, that we fail to remember that it is a very busy place in which the affairs of this world are very closely supervised and scrutinized. They have meetings periodically about what ought to be done upon the earth.

This chapter deals with the displacing of Nebuchadnezzar from the throne of Babylon. God was going to depose this monarch, and He tells us the reason in verse 17:

Daniel 4:

17This matter [or decision] is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

We do not have time to pursue this because it would be a study in itself, but this verse of Scripture suggests to us that there are watchers, angels in Heaven, who scrutinize the affairs of the world. They observe what the nations of the world are doing. They observe what the rulers of the world are doing. Every once in a while they say, “We think Nebuchadnezzar has gone far enough.” They call a council, and they say to God, “Now, we have observed Nebuchadnezzar very carefully. We have judged him very rightly. He has gone as far as he ought to go, and we now issue this decree that he be stopped!” God has no choice but to stop him. That is all He can do. He stops Nebuchadnezzar right then.

That is exactly what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. They had gone past the place where there was any chance for mercy for them. God had to visit judgment on them. This is true of monarchs. This thing that is true of cities is true also of individuals. The book of Proverbs, chapter 29, verse 1, says:

Proverbs 29:

1He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

God pleads with an individual and pleads with him. He bows his neck, and finally God says, “That is the last time I am going to talk.” When God says that, his life is ended.

When you have time, read the First Epistle of John, chapter 5, very carefully. John says, “There is a sin unto death. I do not say you shall pray for it. There is a sin not unto death. Pray for it.” This simply means that if God says about one of His children, as He did in this instance, “You have gone as far as you are to go, and I am going to take you out of this life,” there is no use in your sending for the Doctor, and there is no use in asking God to heal you. God has said, “This is it.”

This is the vengeance of God. The reason I have taken so much time to go over these things with you is to show you that Sodom and Gomorrah are an example of cities which endure the vengeance of eternal fire…which indicates to us that God is a God of justice.

Will you turn, please, to the Second Epistle of Peter, chapter 2, to notice in contrast that as God visits judgment upon those who are worthy of eternal fire, He protects in mercy those who are His own. Peter is dealing with the same subject we were dealing with in the Epistle of Jude…God's judgment. But there is something a little extra here…God's protection of those who are His own:

II Peter 2:

6And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
7And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
8(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
9The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

We have just been looking at an illustration of the last part of that last verse, “The Lord knows how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment.” But let us not forget that He knows also how to deliver the godly out of temptation. This is not a temptation to sin that he refers to. Certainly, God does know how to deliver the godly out of temptation. We remember that Paul said in his first Corinthian letter, chapter 6, verse 13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” God is able. “He will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way of escape.” So there is no question if God is able to deliver the godly from the power of temptation. But this word temptation is not the word that describes temptation to sin. It is the word that describes trial. It is the world that describes judgment. God is able to deliver the godly out of the place of judgment.

Lot Is A Just Man

You say, “Was Lot a godly man? Was Lot a Christian? A man who did all these things? Was he a Christian?” Well, if you and I were looking at him, we might be inclined to say, “No, he wasn't. A man who would do those things could not be a Christian.” We have drifted into the habit of looking only at the fruits that we can see and not at the condition of the heart.

God is not like man. He does not look only at the outward appearance. He looks in the heart. I am not going to argue with God. If I look at Lot from my viewpoint, if I look at Lot with my mind clouded with traditions and with the ideas of men, I might say, “Lot was not a Christian. He could not have been a Christian! Don't even talk about his being a Christian.” But God said twice over in this passage of Scripture that he was:

II Peter 2:

7And delivered just Lot…

The word just is the same word as righteous in verse 8, where God said Lot was a righteous man.

Lot Is Delivered Because of God's Mercy

So we are reminded that God takes care of His own. When you have time, read again carefully Genesis, chapter 19, and you will find two reasons why God delivered Lot out of Sodom. There is not one word about his righteousness, his righteous acts. Not one word about his testimony, for he did not have a testimony. Did you notice that he apparently was not doing anything good for God? Why did God deliver him? Well, in verse 16 He delivered him because of His mercy. That is the only reason. We are reminded of Paul's words to Timothy in II Timothy, chapter 2, verse 13:

II Timothy 2:

13If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

That is why He stays true. He cannot deny Himself.

Then if you were to look at verse 29 of Genesis, chapter 19, you would be reminded that the reason Lot was saved out of Sodom was because of the intercession of Abraham. Let us lift that to a little higher plane today. Why is it that God is able to save us, with all of our faults and all of our failings? Why? We are told in the book of Romans, chapter 5, that “if we have been saved from death through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, how much more shall we be saved by His life.” Do you know what Paul is talking about…this intercession? It is the same thing he is talking about in Hebrews, chapter 7, verse 25, where he says:

Hebrews 7:

25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

He saves us from the uttermost to the uttermost because He prays for us. That is the only claim I have to eternal life. Christ died for me, and He lives to keep me. That is the only reason I know that my assurance of Heaven is real.

Turn with me, please, to the Gospel of Luke. Keep in mind that we are noticing these places where the Holy Spirit of God is pleased to draw our attention to chapter 19 of the book of Genesis and to use that as an emphasis upon the truth. In chapter 17 of the Gospel of Luke we have the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself while He was on the earth, speaking of the end of the Age. We will begin our reading with verse 28:

Luke 17:

28Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot [so shall it be in the end of the Age]; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
29But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
30Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
31In 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.
32Remember Lot's wife.
33Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

Here the Lord Jesus Christ takes this experience in Genesis, chapter 19, and uses it for his sermon, if we may call it that, on things that are to happen at the end of the Age. You understand what we mean by the end of the Age. God deals with man according to Ages. We are living in the Age of Grace. This Age of Grace will come to an end, and this experience in chapter 19 of the book of Genesis is an illustration of the end of the Age.

The Church Will Not Go Through the Tribulation

Some of you have been asking me to make some comment when opportunity should arise as to whether or not the Church will go through the Tribulation…that hour of trial that is to try the world. There are many passages of Scripture that say that absolutely the Church will not go through that hour of Trial. Here is an illustration. Read carefully again Genesis, chapter 19. Read carefully again Luke, chapter 17. Did you notice…I say this reverently…that God's hands were tied as far as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah were concerned until they got Lot out? God could not let one bit of brimstone fall upon those wicked cities until the righteous man Lot was taken out of the city. As soon as he was taken out, the fire came! “That is an illustration,” the Lord Jesus said, “of what it will be like at the end of the Age.”

All the talk we hear today about this world's being destroyed, about civilization being annihilated, and people not able to sleep at night for worrying about this sort of thing…well, listen to me. It will not happen while you are here. God has made a covenant with Himself, and He cannot permit this Age to come to an end until all the righteous people are taken out. That will occur at the Rapture of the Church, when all born-again believers are caught up to meet the Lord in the air (I Thess. 4:17). When that happens, the fire will fall.

A lot of things might be said about this. I would like to emphasize one or two things about this chapter 19, because it is a picture of the personal, spiritual condition of so many Christians. It is a picture, we are told, of a worldly Christian, a Christian who has forgotten that he is a stranger and a pilgrim, a Christian who has settled down in the world. Lot was a prosperous man. Did you know that? He was a rich man. He was an influential man. He sat in the gate of Sodom. Everything was going his way.

But do you remember what we read in the Second Epistle of Peter? Lot vexed his righteous soul from day to day with all these ungodly things, with all these ungodly people. He was in the world, and he was not happy in the world.

If you have been genuinely born again, for very many reasons you may settle down in the world, but you can never be happy. Your righteous soul will be vexed, and you will be miserable until you are back in fellowship with the Lord. There is something about being born again that ruins you for the world. There is something about a new nature that makes it so you cannot enjoy the world anymore.

I am not concerned with how much a man sins. I am concerned with how a man feels about his sin. I think we make the mistake altogether too often of weighing sin. We say, “This man is a terrible sinner, and that man is not such a bad sinner.” But I think the criterion ought to be how he feels about it. One of the reasons I know Lot was a Christian, other than that God said he was, was that he was miserable. He vexed his righteous soul from day to day with all these ungodly deeds.

I Corinthians, chapter 3, tells us how worldly Christians are saved, but saved so as by fire. The picture of a building on a foundation is given. We are told that each of us should be careful how we build that foundation, for one of these days our works will be brought into judgment before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and they will be tested by fire. Everything that is wood, hay, and stubble will be consumed. Everything that is gold, silver, and precious stones will remain. The Scripture says that if what we have built is of wood, hay, stubble…listen carefully…the Scripture says we ourselves will be saved, but so as by fire.

Lot is a perfect illustration of this. He was saved, but he was saved with the smell of smoke on him. He was not condemned along with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but everything he had lived and worked for all his life was destroyed by fire. That would be the sad testimony of many of God's dear children if the Lord were to come at this moment.

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you would be caught up in the Rapture, because that is the promise He has given. But oh, as you stood at the Judgment Seat of Christ, would you see your whole life go up in smoke? Would you stand there at the Judgment Seat of Christ naked, as far as works are concerned? Nothing for a whole life of endeavor? A lot of Christians will be that way…saved, yet so as by fire.

I would like to close with the comment that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself made with regard to this story in Luke, chapter 17, verse 32:

Luke 17:

32Remember Lot's wife.

Why did he say, “Remember Lot's wife”? Usually people associate this statement with what has come before, but this should be associated with verse 33:

Luke 17:

33Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

Why did Lot's wife turn and look back? Because her life was there. Everything she had lived for, everything she had worked for, was there in Sodom. She turned around for one last look, thinking perhaps she could save it, and she lost it. Not only lost it, but lost her own life as well, because God turned her into a pillar of salt. Do you know why He turned her into a pillar of salt? Do you know why He did not turn her into a pillar of stone? Some of the so-called higher critics say that the way she turned into a pillar of salt was that the wind blew right hard at that particulatr time and blew some of the Dead Sea on her and encrusted her and made her look like a pillar of salt. I am a simple minded soul, but it seems to me that the explanation God gives to things is much simpler than things people try to hatch up. Do you know why He turned her into a pillar of salt, not into a pillar of stone, not into a pillar of wood? Because salt is a very significant thing in the Word of God. Do you know what the Lord Jesus Christ said? “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savour, it is fit for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot of men.”

I personally believe, though I will not argue about it, that God turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt in order that there might be a lasting memorial for that generation of what happens when a Christian forgets that he is a stranger and a pilgrim in the world…when a Christian settles down in Sodom.


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