(You will just be so close to safety and yet still be lost!!!)
It is natural for the people of the world to love things of the world. It should also be natural for the people of God to love the things of God and be heavenly minded. However, it is a different matter if a people styling themselves as the “people of God” who are supposed to be heavenly-minded, loving the things of God are rather head, mind and heart in love with the world.
Furthermore, experience shows such exists, and in numerous cases, this love or I should say lust is so deep and all-encompassing that they have now reached the stage where such so-called Christians see the things of heaven through the eyes of the world, and only in terms of what is wanted and acceptable by and in the world. This is in spite of the fact that the infallible word of God clearly warns:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1John 2:15-16).
Before you say “such ones must be baby Christians or that they are ignorant of the word of God.” Let me inform you that these thinking cuts across the whole strata of Christendom: from the pew up to the pulpit all the way to the seminaries and bible colleges.
It is no hyperbole to say that almost anywhere you turn within Christendom, you only hear and see the world and its things being eulogized so eloquently that it brings out the truth of the word of the Lord.
The Lord asked the question:
“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).
Then as if sensing the need for reassurance of the faithful gives what amounts to that required assurance that all will not be lost for He said:
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Mat 24:22).
It is not out of place to ask the question:
“How can so many people who claim to know God and be worshipping that God walk daily and consistently contrary to the word of that God and still believe that they are serving Him?”
I seem to hear you say: “So many people cannot be wrong. You are the one raising a false alarm.” Some of you are even saying right now that: “It is not possible to be in the church for so long, being actively engaged in spiritual activities and not love God.” But I dare say that there are many antecedent examples in the Holy Scriptures.
There were those who “feared the LORD but also served their own gods after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away” (2Kgs 17:33).
Truly, many have been carried away by the nations (world) around them but still are claiming to be Christians.
So, of the many examples, let us take a closer at the one told in the book of beginning – Genesis.
I pray that examining this one person’s story will open the understanding of many who are already or may otherwise be deceived. Those who on the surface seem to fear the Lord but in reality worship their own gods in the midst of God’s people are not just hypocrites but are actually deceived, and are captives of the devil.
These are the ones the word of God instructs the true believer concerning that:
“in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2Tim 2:25-26).
There was a woman who was all her life in close proximity to the people of God. She actually was married to the nephew of a friend of God and who was himself a child of God. However, the Holy Scriptures give an ignominious epitaph of this woman bearing record that:
“But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Gen 19:26).
The person being referred to in that passage is a woman, though we are not told her name but she is identified as the wife of Lot the nephew of Abraham, the great Patriarch and friend of God.
Her story is true and so important that our Lord Jesus Christ referenced her as a warning to the ungodly.
Background – a bit of history
Lot was the son of Haran, Abraham’s brother and therefore he was the nephew of Abraham. After the death of Lot’s father, Haran, Abraham took him and brought him up as if he were his own son. So Lot followed his uncle from Ur to Haran and onward into Canaan (Gen 11:31; 12:4-6; 13:1).
His uncle, Abraham loved him, granted him a high degree of independence and helped him to be established in his own business of animal husbandry. As their flocks increased it must have become apparent that the area of Canaan in which they settled could not peacefully sustained them, and thus their herdsmen began to quarrel.
His uncle showed his love and magnanimity, not using his position as the head of the family but gave him the first choice of where to move and settle (Gen 13:5-7).
Lot sized the opportunity with both hands and apparently following his sight rather than his faith: he chose the area of the land that appeared to be the most fertile (Gen 13:10-11).
It later turned out that the “plain of Jordan that was well watered everywhere” was not only fertile in terms of growing crops and breeding animals, it was also a breeding ground for another group of animals with two legs and two hands: the wicked in the sight of man and God.
For we are told:
“But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” (Gen 13:13).
At the start Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Gen 13:12), thus venturing too close to walking in the counsel of the ungodly (Ps1:1).
He probably had forgotten that “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1Cor 15:33).
Initially, his choice seemed to have been good for business for he apparently prospered in the material things of this world while he lived in Sodom. Yes, business really boomed for Lot, so much so that he apparently became almost like the sodomites.
He chatted and jested with them, traded with them, took their money, progressed to being a leader amongst them and gave his daughters in marriage to their sons all the while squirming at their apparent and obvious wickedness and their hatred of and rebellion against God.
This apparent prosperity would appear to have played a major part in his glaring refusal to leave the environment in the face of brazen wicked activities of the Sodomites and even when their destruction was imminent.
God visited His friend, informed him about Sodom (Gen 18:1-33)
Meanwhile, and without Lot being aware, incessant reports were reaching the desk of God as to the continuing and escalating wickedness of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. It got to the point when God needed to act. Accompanied by two of His angels, God made His way towards Sodom to see what was happening there.
Not that God did not already know what was happening there, but perhaps He wanted to use the opportunity to also visit His friend and confidant – Abraham as there was still the small matter of His friend’s promised seed to confirm. After some refreshment provided by His friend, Abraham, and the usual banter between friends, God and His angels made their way towards Sodom and Gomorrah.
But God could not leave His confidant in the dark concerning what He was about to do – so, He told Abraham. Please, save the city if you find up to ten righteous persons there pleaded Abraham with His God and friend.
What are friends for! God gave His word to His friend – if I find ten righteous men there, I will spare the place.
Perhaps Abraham had in mind his nephew, Lot and his family in mind, that is – Lot plus his wife plus two married daughters and their husbands plus possibly two unmarried daughters plus any other two persons would make up the 10 righteous persons he might have thought.
He must have counted on his nephew having some positive spiritual impact on his immediate environment – his nuclear family, servants and immediate business associates. Thus Abraham returned home in the happy assurance that he had struck a bargain good enough to save his nephew and those dear to him. How wrong he was to be proved!
Angels entertained (Gen 19:1-14)
The angels in the form of men visited Sodom arriving in the evening. They were prevailed upon by Lot to stay in his house. Lot and his family thus entertained them. They informed Lot of their mission – they had come to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities because the LORD had sent them. They blinded the aggressive and unrepentant sodomites who were determined to violate them.
Then Lot failed to convince his sons-in-law of the imminent destruction of Sodom and the necessity of fleeing the city immediately (Gen 19:14).
By now it should have been obvious to Lot and his wife that these men were angels. That knowledge should then have translated to unquestioning and immediate obedience to the instructions of the angels. But it was not to be.
Saved in despite his reluctance (Gen 19:15-26)
In spite of all that had happened during the night, Lot seemed to be unwilling to leave Sodom immediately. We would never know whether as an astute business man he was hoping there would be some way of keeping on his business. For Lot lingered, so much so that the men had to literarily hold his hand, his wife’s hand and his daughters’ hands and brought them forth outside the city (Gen 19:16).
Place of safety provided in the midst of ruin (Gen 19:17)
On being brought out of the city, the men said: Escape for your life. It’s like saying, “run for your dear life!” Do not look back. Looking back will retard progress and lead to delay that could prove fatal. Don’t do it. Do not stay in all the plain. Because it is part of the place to be destroyed.
Escape to the mountain. The mountain will be safe because of them. And if they are there, they will not be consumed. They will be destroyed elsewhere.
You are only safe where God has chosen to protect you.
Lot the bargain hunter (Gen 19:18-20)
But Lot rejected their plan and proffered his own:
“not so, my Lord…I cannot escape to the mountain” (Gen 19:18-19).
Why? He said because some evil might happen to him there!
What a strange lack of faith and endurance! It is unthinkable that the God who had organised his rescue, would not have also protected him on the mountain He had chosen for his safety. But such was the low level of his faith and high state of his confusion that he seemed to doubt. His preferred choice:
“let me flee to this little city nearby.” (Gen 19:20).
Request granted, punishment of the ungodly temporarily suspended (Gen 19:21-23)
That request, as unreasonable as it might have seemed, was granted.
Was this an example of the prayer of the righteous that avails for much?
For his sake, the little city, Zoar, one of the Satellite sin cities that was going to be destroyed was spared destruction.
Could it be that the ungodly around you could be spared destruction because of you?
Perhaps they are presently being spared because God expects you to share the gospel news with them so He can grant them repentance unto salvation?
Will you help to avert their possible destruction by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with them?
For the sake of Lot, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was temporarily suspended till he reached the safety of Zoar (Gen 19:22).
Could God be suspending the destruction of the ungodly around you till your own obedience is complete because He does not want to count you with the wicked?
Eventually, Lot and two daughters entered Zoar possibly sometime in the afternoon (Gen 19:23).
Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed (Gen 19:24)
Then the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah commenced in earnest.
What a marvelous demonstration of the care God does take of His people!
What a wonderful proof of the love which God bore to a righteous though weak man!
Remember, that Lot’s wife had been an active player / observer of the whole event from last evening up to now.
The ungodly destroyed, including the one associated with the believer
Then the unthinkable or I should say the inevitable happened: his wife looked back! This was one disobedience too many. There was instant manifestation of her judgement: she became a pillar of salt!!!
They were to spare the place if they found up to ten righteous persons there. As it turned out there were not up ten righteous persons in Sodom. In reality, in a population that would have numbered in the thousands, there were only three or I should say three and a half seeing that the fourth person only went as far as the gates. So they were only able to spare Lot and two of his daughters (Gen 19:12-13).
Some pertinent questions again
- Why did Lot linger or was reluctant to leave?
- Why did Lot’s wife look back?
- What type of look did Lot’s wife look back?
- Was is just the casual look of curiosity as to see what was happening?
- Or was it more that physical eye perception?
- Was it a heart-look?
- A hidden desire, a longing and craving for the fruits of unrighteousness?
Whatever the case may be, an unabated and unbridled clinging to the cursed thing led to her becoming a symbol of God’s judgement upon the disobedience.
More on the man, Lot
He was a man of faith – his uncle had not only brought him up in an environment of faith in the God of Israel, he himself had believed in that God for we are told that he was righteous and was:
“vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2Pet 2:7-8).
Being vexed means that what he was seeing in Sodom caused him distress through oppressive means. That he was tormented to the point of being worn out by what he daily experienced! Yet he stayed!
To my thinking, I would say that as a man of faith, he either went into backsliding or compromised on his faith and continued to carry on his business with and among the wicked people though his spirit was continually grieved by what he was witnessing (2Pet 2:7-8).
Tell you the truth, if not that Scripture tells us that he was righteous, I would already call him an unbeliever or a false convert!
He apparently had allowed his love for God to grow very cold, so cold that it must have been down to the point of almost being extinguished.
This cold love was nowhere more apparent than in his ability to make decisions – he seemed to have lost the capacity to make wise decisions i.e. decisions in keeping with the righteousness of God:
- He was captured during the war of the five kings against four kings and was later rescued by his uncle (Gen 14:1-16).
- Yet, he returned to the same place after he was set free from captivity.
- He offered his daughters to the attacking Sodomites in place of the men (the angels) demanded by them (Gen 19:8).
- He did not believe he could be safe at the place God had designated as his place of safety, rather he thought that harm could come to him there and he would die! (Gen 19:17-19).
- He could not (at least it is not on record) pray for the sparing of the soon-to-be-destroyed people of Sodom.
Some pertinent questions
- Why did he not stay closer to his uncle after this apparent miraculous rescue in which everything was recovered and returned to him after the war of the kings?
- Why did he not move elsewhere but chose to return to the same Sodom?
Return to Sodom he did anyway! He was to loose almost everything safe his life and faith in God, and two of his daughters. Lot however seemed to continue in righteous conduct to some degree and became one of those who:
“have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2; Gen 18:3; 19:1-3).
Yes, Lot was still a believer!
Were it not for the testimony of the Holy Scriptures we would have concluded that Lot was a lost sinner. But he was saved and commended for we are told:
“and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)” (2Pet 2:7-8).
His situation is akin to that of those described in Scripture as those saved as through the fire (1Cor 3:15; Jude 23). And truly:
“the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2Pet 2:9).
Hence, whatever are your circumstances, stay true to your faith in the Lord and walk in the light He has given you. He is always aware of the circumstances of His people, and has a habit of doing the right thing at the right time for them.
Obviously, there were not ten like Lot found in Sodom and Gomorrah otherwise the place would not have been destroyed (Gen 18:32; 19:24-25).
The family of Lot – typical or atypical?
Lot was the head of the family at the age when that position carried much authority and influence. At a time when men were men and women were women and both genders recognised they were different by design, and not by an accident of nature.
No doubt Lot’s leadership must have had some effect upon his family. Though such impact would seem minimal as it appears that he had no good testimony in the sight of his sons-in-law (Gen 19:14).
But then, his wife!
Ordinarily looking at the family of Lot one would have thought that this was a family of believers in the God of Israel. It would have been natural therefore to expect or assume that his wife, the lady of the house was a believer in God too.
But as it transpired, she was an unbeliever enjoying the trappings of her connection with believers, especially her husband.
You see, unbelief leads to indecision and confusion. Thus, Lot’s wife might have been confused between obeying God, and following the world. The fact that she and her husband must have had a thriving business in Sodom and its environment, and would have been part of the movers, shakers and shapers of that society might have numbed her sensitivity to her lost condition. She might have been deceived by the apparent wealth of her family, possibly brandishing their enormous material endowment as evidence of her approval by God!
Ungodly deceived by wealth
There are many like that in the society in our day that equate the gains of unrighteousness with having a true and healthy relationship with God. It is even more evident when such a one has a semblance of Christian or church association. They flaunt their material acquisition as evidence of God’s approval of their ungodly and wicked lifestyle.
However, the love of the world and the love of God cannot mix. The two cannot go together for the love of the world is enmity with God and verse vasa (1John 2:15).
Disobedience follows indecision. Then ultimately come the danger of a forfeited offer of salvation and subsequent ultimate punishment of separation from God in hellfire as seems apparent in this case of Lot’s wife.
She became the ultimate symbol of the damned as alluded to by our Lord Himself:
“Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32).
Yes, the Lord was referencing Gen 19:26:
“But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt”.
And thus holding her up forever as a warning example of what would happen to all those who will trifle with or reject His offer of salvation.
Do remember that: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
Looking closely at the case of Lot’s life, we observe that:
- She had enjoyed great advantages living in proximity of believers and even entertained angels.
- She had many opportunities to become a believer in the God of Israel like her husband and her uncle-in-law, Abraham.
- She apparently passed on such opportunities, never availing herself of them.
- She had loved the world in spite of the faithful life of her husband being lived out before her eyes.
- She is an example of the truth spoken of by the word of God: those whose desires are of the earth are earthy. Such ones will gradually increase in their desire, come more and more under the power of the world till they come to bear the image of the world.
The deceptive herself is the only one deceived, God was not mocked
Though to an onlooker, Lot’s wife would have seemed to be a believer in the God of Israel, it would appear that in truth, she was not.
Possibly she thought her husband was just being “too religious and God is love and will never punish anyone” as many are thinking today.
So, possibly thinking that “God will understand by and by” she continued in her path to destruction.
What with all the material gains and the influence she had in society. The trappings of wealth and power with influence peddling she enjoyed must have been quite overpowering!
What other evidence do you require that she showed to prove that God was with her and blessing her? She might have snapped in anger if one had dare asked her to put her faith in the God of Israel as her husband. Yes, she might have thought along those lines and so possibly rejected any admonitions from her righteous husband to change or mend her ways in the sight of the God of Israel.
Does that ring a bell?
Have you never come across those who frequent fellowship meetings though they do not know the Lord? And when you try to witness to them to repent, they throw their wealth or position in your face as evidence that they are already approved of God!
Of course, Lot’s wife never lost the love of the world in her heart neither did she shed the image of the world that had a stronghold there, and as such, she could not bear the image of the heavenly (1Cor 15:48-49).
- She was lost though she had numerous wonderful opportunities presented to her!
- She was so close to the kingdom, yet she did not enter.
- So close, yet lost in the end!
- What a tragedy of immense proportions!
Do remember: the world is powerful, its combination with the flesh can be lethal
- Her life thus shows the enormous enticing power of the world and the enormous influence that the world wields upon the people it entices and entraps as it creates or incites their interest in itself.
- She perished after a prolonged, sustained association with believers.
- She had explicit and real-time life warning
- She was afforded divine help in the persons of the angels to escape the danger of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
- Though the very detestable sin of Sodom had been presented to her, she apparently was not ready to let go.
- And so it happened that though the angels of God who minster to the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14) got her bodily out of Sodom, they could not unwrap her heart from its tenacious clinging to the soul-damning goody-goody of the sin city.
- In her case is it true that the dog that will get lost will not hear the whistle of the hunter no matter how loud!
Observe, learn and change NOW!
The unbeliever cannot be saved by association with the saved no matter how close that association may be.
Whether you are:
- Born to,
- Sibling to;
- Married to;
- Or a friend with a believer, their faith can only help to encourage you to come to faith in Christ.
- Their faith can go no further.
- Their faith cannot save you.
- You must and should make the decision yourself NOW!
You the unbeliever yourself must come to faith in Christ by the grace of God.
What about you?
- Are you closely associated with a believer or with a church?
- We see here that even the holiest influence and the most entwining relationship with a believer by the unbeliever may result in some temporary temporal benefits for the unbeliever, e.g. in this case ministration of angels, but it can never save that unbeliever unless he comes to the place of repentance himself.
- Going to church or being associated with a Christian is not an indication that you have been saved.
- The Lord Jesus Christ Himself spoke of someone who was “not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34), but that person was not within it either.
- There must be many like that including Lot’s wife.
- I care to repeat again, PLEASE, understand and accept this:
- Being born to Christian parents;
- Being a sibling to a Christian;
- Being married to a Christian;
- Donating money to a church or so-called good causes do not constitute being saved or salvation.
That you are reading this means you still have the opportunity to make amends while you are still on this side of God’s creation if you are not already a true Christian.
If you have not been genuinely saved through the finished work of Jesus Christ of Nazareth on the cross, you are a none-starter no matter what you may claim.
Today is the day of salvation. The word is near you, in your mouth.
If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God had raised Him from the dead you shall be saved. With the heart you believe unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom 10:9-10, 13).
I am appealing to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to seek the face of God till He grants you repentance onto salvation.
PLEASE, do not delay.
I pray that what you have read now will help you, and you will make that decision now to cry unto the Lord for your salvation, and God will accept you into the kingdom of His Son in Jesus’ name, Amen.