But He Lingered
In Genesis 19 you find the familiar story of God destroying Sodom and all the cities of the plain. Lot and his family had decided to live there back chapter 13 when he and Abram needed to separate due to lack of room for them both to dwell. What’s typically well known about this story is Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt as she looked back to see the city being destroyed. The Lord’s messengers had told them to escape from the city and not look back, or stop anywhere in the valley. No doubt because of her disobedience and obviously longing for the city she was punished.
While the focus of this story is often put on Lot’s wife, I think there are three words that demand some attention be put on Lot himself. In Genesis 19:12-14 Lot has already been told that the Lord was about to destroy not only Sodom but the other cities as well. As the morning came upon them the messengers from God said “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” Here’s the three words that demand some attention on Lot’s part; “But he lingered.” (v.16)
There’s no mistaking that Lot fully understood what was about to happen. He could have left at any point during the night. Now, even at the last moment, when told to flee the city because it’s about to be destroyed he lingers. Even after he starts to leave and is told to go to the hills he stops and argues with the men and asks permission to go to one of the nearby smaller cities of the plain.
I can’t help but think as Lot eventually made it to live in the hills that he didn’t constantly ask himself what he should have done differently. What could he have done that may have prevented his wife from losing her life. “What if I had left when I first heard the news that the city was going to be destroyed?” “What if I hadn’t lingered when I was told to leave at once?” “What if I hadn’t argued to stay close by in one of the cities that should have been destroyed?” “What if I had kept those I love out in front of me to make sure they didn’t waver?”
While none of these questions could change the outcome for Lot and his wife, asking these kinds of questions can change the outcome for our spiritual walk and the walk of those we love. I’d like to encourage us to keep in mind the following things that we can take away from this tragic account
- Don’t Linger: Don’t we find ourselves doing that? We’ve and heard no doubt God’s warnings, promises, commands, examples many times over and we understand them yet we linger. What made Lot linger? I’m sure it’s the same thing that makes us linger today. We seem to deceive ourselves at times thinking we can find some common ground between God and the world. We can’t
- Look Ahead: Jesus uses Lot’s wife as an example in Luke 17 describing the coming of the kingdom. The application is also in Luke 9. Essentially Jesus is saying we can’t serve two masters (Matt. 6:24) I think it’s what Paul was also saying in Philippians 3:12-16. We have to put the things of the world behind us and keep pressing and looking forward.
- Keep Those You Love Out In Front: And lastly I’d like to encourage us all to keep those we love out in front. I don’t think it was for nothing that Moses decided to pause the sentence and say “behind him.” Maybe, just maybe had Lot kept his wife and daughters in front he could have seen her begin to waver and prevented it. This is true for all of us, to lead by example but also keep a close eye on those we love and look for tendencies to look back or turn back and be ready to encourage, rebuke, correct, or motivate to keep looking forward.