In the first two parts of our article, we considered the reasons for Lot’s failure as a believer:
1. He walked by sight and not by faith;
2. He compromised with the world.
Today, we will look at two more causes for Lot’s failure:
3. “He lingered”
The two angels whom Lot had hosted hastened him to flee the city early the next morning before God’s impending judgment: “Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city” (Gen 19: 15). Lot was in a very grave situation. Just the night before, he had seen how the men of Sodom had been struck blind by the angels because of their sordid corruptions (v 11). He had also been warned by the angels of their mission to “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” (v 13).
Though he knew the dangers of delay, Lot was slow to respond to the divine message of doom. Instead of taking heed and fleeing immediately, “he lingered” (v 16). Perhaps Lot was unwilling to leave Sodom – the city where he had built his dreams. He might have found it hard to part with his comfortable life and all that he had garnered over the years.
Lot had spent most of his life in a spiritually lean state. Now that he was told to leave quickly, he could not do it on his own. So great was his reluctance to leave that the angels had to physically pull him out of the city: “And 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” (v 16). Indeed, it was only by God’s mercies that Lot and his family were preserved. Sadly, however, his wife looked back longingly at the city she loved – despite the angels’ warning to “look not behind thee” – and was turned into “a pillar of salt” (vv 17, 26).
Many in our churches today are like Lot in their weak convictions and worldly manner of life. Commentator J C Ryle elaborates: “They believe in Heaven and and yet seem faintly to long for it, and in Hell and yet seem little to fear it. They love the Lord Jesus, but the work they do for Him is small. They know the time is short, but they live as if it were long. They know they have a battle to fight; yet a man might think they were at peace. They know they have a race to run; yet they often look like people sitting still. They know the Judge is at the door, and there is wrath to come; and yet they appear half asleep. Astonishing they should be what they are and yet be nothing more!”
4. He doubted God’s Word
After the angels had delivered Lot out of the city, they urged him to “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (v 17). Instead of obeying them, Lot stopped to argue and to propose a compromise: “And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: 19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die” (vv 18-20).
Lot’s request reflected a lack of faith in the Lord Who had so kindly and graciously delivered him from danger time and again. Here, he displayed a distrust of God’s power to preserve him if he were to flee to the mountains.
“What a strange want of faith and fortitude, as if He who had interfered for his rescue would not have protected Lot in the mountain solitude” (J F Brown Commentary).
Moreover, the world had been so much a part of Lot’s life that he was loath to give up its comforts and pleasures. He therefore pleaded with the angels to let him go to a city where life would be less hard: “Behold 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” (v 20).
God graciously acceded to Lot’s request to dwell in Zoar: “And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. 22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar” (vv 21-22).
Lot lingered when he should have acted on the warnings of the angels. He had become so comfortable in his worldly environment that he found it difficult to leave it. If not for the Lord’s mercies, he and his family would have perished in God’s overthrowing of the city.
Even while fleeing to the mountains, Lot manifested a weak faith. Fearing that he might face a tough life in the mountains, Lot requested to be allowed to go to a nearby city where life would be much easier.
Brethren, let us check our lives. Are we compromising with the world? Do we take heed to the warnings in God’s Word – to turn away from the things that draw us away from Him? Do we trust God to direct our paths? Do we believe that what He has ordained for our lives will be the best for us? May the Lord help us to devote our lives wholly to love and serve Him, and to do His will.