How Not to Save Your Family
It all started with a choice. Abraham and Lot’s flocks had grown too great. In order to stop infighting between their shepherds, the men agree to go into separate areas. And it says “Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt” (Genesis 13:10). It seemed like a no-brainer, the right choice for his and his family’s continued thriving. I doubt there was overt greed and covetousness in the decision. When given the choice between two options, who of us consistently chooses the lesser? Whatever Lot’s motivation, it started him on a path. He moves into the Jordan Valley and “pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Gen. 13:12), an exceedingly wicked city.
That is not to say that Lot was ignorant of the wickedness of Sodom. Nor did he condone or appreciate the wickedness. In fact, the very opposite. Peter tells us Lot was “greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked,” and “he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds he saw and heard” (2 Peter 2:7,8). And we see this in the Genesis account. Later we find Lot sitting at the city gates (Gen. 19:1), a place in ancient times where the judges and elders of a city would rule and judge the city. The men of Sodom even complain that Lot, a foreigner, was acting like a judge in the city (Gen. 19:9). Lot may have been attempting to positively influence the city of Sodom. And the moment he sees two strangers walk into town, Lot does everything in his power to protect them from the evils of the city’s inhabitants (and Lot certainly goes too far in that regard).
Much like his ancestor Noah, Lot found himself in the midst of a wicked people about to face the judgment God. And like Noah, Lot was given specific instructions by which he can save his family. While Noah was given the task to build an ark, Lot is simply told to get his family and run. Only running seems to be a lot harder than one would suspect. Lot goes to talk to his sons-in-law to try to convince them to flee, but to no avail. The angels are there with Lot throughout the entire evening through daybreak despite the warnings of impending doom. It says that the angels actually had to grab Lot, his wife and two virgin daughters by the hand and physically take them out of the city because they lingered (Gen. 19:16). And it goes on to say that the angels did that out of mercy. Destruction was coming, and despite the warnings, Lot tested the limits of how long he could stay. Even his wife, as they were fleeing, can’t help but look back, and is lost in the process. Noah, on the other hand, did all the Lord instructed (Gen. 6:22).
There are many similarities and contrasts between Noah and Lot. Peter describes them both as righteous men surrounded by wickedness who were saved from judgment (2 Peter 2:5-9). And they both save portions of their families. But it’s important to note that even though they were both saved, one man comes out far better with far more of his family intact than the other. For example, even though Noah was surrounded by a world of wicked people, he somehow found wives for his sons, or taught his sons well enough to find good wives. They at the very least did not inhibit the building of the ark, and entered into it to be saved. It seems that Noah’s sons were able to find the three best women on the face of the earth. Lot’s children were not so fortunate. Lot had some daughters who married men of Sodom, but those men did nothing to heed the call of salvation, and that portion of Lot’s family were destroyed in fire.
Even at Noah’s lowest point of sin, he comes out better. While the wickedness of the previous world still comes through in Ham’s disregard for his father in a vulnerable state of drunkenness, Noah still had two sons who respected him and covered him. Even though Lot’s youngest daughters had escaped the destruction of Sodom, the wicked influence of that city persevered through their actions, taking advantage of their father in his inebriation. This influence did not spring up overnight, however. To quell the riotous men of Sodom, Lot offered up his daughters to them (Gen. 19:8). But in truth, he had offered them up to Sodom long ago. While he had not offered them up physically, Lot had offered them up to the spiritual influences of the city, and their later actions show evidence of it.
What are the lessons to learn from Lot? Are we to say that it is wrong for someone to try to be a good influence on wicked people? I would not go that far. If that were the case, we would need to remove ourselves completely from the world, which is impossible (1 Corinthians 5:11). The command of our Lord is to go into all the earth, making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). It is evil and wicked people who need the message of God, and we are to bring it to them. But for all of Lot’s effort to try to reform Sodom at the city gates, it seems his family was further down on his priority list. Perhaps Lot was strong enough spiritually to withstand the evil influences of Sodom, but every other member of his family fell to evil one way or another. Do not just assume that because you’re making it, your family is. Encourage and build them up spiritually. Do not leave your family behind before it’s too late.