14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry[a] 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. 15 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.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped 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. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” 18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 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. 20 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.” 21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.) 23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. 29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
So often I’ve read this passage as one about God’s judgement. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had become so evil in God’s sight that He could not even find ten righteous people in them (Gen 18:32), so He destroyed them.
But today I’m struck by God’s mercy. For the sake of Abraham He saved Lot and his daughters. But Lot did not respond to this saving mercy instantly. He had to be told repeatedly by the angels to flee. When he still hesitated he had to be physically led out of the city. Once out, he begged not to have to go too far from his old life, asking to stay in a nearby town instead. Despite all this his wife still looked back as they fled, back to her old life, becoming a pillar of salt in the process.
So often I’m like Lot. I get stuck in thought patterns that I know are destructive to myself and aren’t glorifying to God. Yet despite knowing this I repeatedly return to these old habits and still sometimes need to voice my thoughts to someone I trust to have them pull me out of them, pointing me back to Jesus.
Reading this passage today I praise you God that you are merciful and so patient with me. Help me to respond to you when you first call, loving the life you call me to more than the one I’ve left behind.
Written by Rhiannon Mellor