Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Genesis 19:10-22 The Great Escape

"But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door.  Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house with blindness so that they could not find the door."  (Genesis 19:10-11 NIV)

In this way, Lot is rescued from the wicked intents of the men of Sodom by his angelic visitors.  I used to wonder why the men of Sodom didn't just feel their way along the house until they eventually found the door.  I believe that the blindness was also accompanied by a sense of confusion, like the confusion which was threatened in Deuteronomy 28:28-29 if the Israelites did not continue to obey God's ways:  "The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind.  At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark.  You will be unsuccessful in everything you do..."  Also, during some battles, the enemies of Israel were gripped by a panic and confusion, which often caused them to fight among each other rather than attack the Israelites.  (Judges 7:15-22)  II Kings 6:8-23 is another interesting account of how foolish it is to fight against the Lord of hosts.  I think that this sense of chaos was probably present, not to mention the fact that the men of Sodom each had just been suddenly rendered blind.  That is sure to cause plenty of panic and confusion in itself.  At any rate, it is clear that God is protecting Lot and his family at this time.

Immediately, "The two men said to Lot, 'Do you have anyone else here -- sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you?  Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place.  The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.' " (Genesis 19:12-13 NIV)  Apparently, the time for repentance is over.  Although the men of Sodom did not yet realize it, when Lot had urged the men of Sodom to forsake their wickedness, it had been the last time someone would call them to repent.  Now, judgment is about to fall upon the wicked city.

First, though, "...Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters.  He said, 'Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!'  But his sons-in-law thought he was joking."  (Genesis 19:14 NIV)  What a horrible situation to be in!  Lot is unable to convey the utter danger which the men face.  Even his own sons-in-law do not look to him for direction or believe his entreaties.  Lot does not only find himself unable to give direction to the men of Sodom, but even his own sons-in-law do not ascribe any type of authority (spiritual or otherwise) to him.  We might feel sorry for Lot, but remember, he had brought this situation upon himself by choosing to live in Sodom.  Lot also apparently had married a woman of Sodom, and had agreed to give both of his daughters to men of that place, even though it was common knowledge that "...the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord." (Genesis 13:13 NIV)  Lot's spiritual carelessness was beginning to bear some evil fruit.

In my mind's eye, I can see Lot pacing, anxiously scanning the road, hoping against hope that his sons-in-law would come running to join them.  Finally, the angels can wait no longer.  "With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, 'Hurry!  Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.' " (Genesis19:15 NIV)  When Lot still hesitated, "the men grabbed his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them." (Genesis 19:16 NIV)

"...the Lord was merciful to them" -- I smile when I read those words.  It is always only out of the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, whether by our sins or by physical dangers.  Lot is certainly not the only person to have made careless decisions, to choose grass over grace, to compromise, to hesitate.

However, the danger is not over yet.  As soon as the angels had led them out, "...one of them said, 'Flee for your lives!  Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere on the plain!  Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!' " (Genesis 19:17 NIV)  Unbelievably, Lot continues to bargain with his deliverers:  "...No, my lords, please!  Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life.  But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me and I'll die.  Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small.  Let me flee to it -- it is very small, isn't it?  Then my life will be spared." (Genesis 19:18-20 NIV)

The angel agrees:  "...'Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of.  But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.'  (That is why the town was called Zoar.)" (Genesis 19:21-22 NIV)  Zoar means 'small'.

Lot and his family take off running toward the small city.

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