Thursday, August 28, 2008

Genesis 19:15-17 When God says, "Get out of Dodge now!"

Genesis 19:15-17: And when the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters, who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. And it came about that when they had brought them outside, that one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, lest you be swept away.”

In the previous passage, Lot is told what he must do to save his family and he goes about doing it, even though they think he’s joking. He returns home most likely as a disappointed man unable to convince his relatives of what is about to happen to the city and to them if they don’t flee. Everyone in his house either goes to bed or stays up all night planning their flight out of the city. We don’t know, but the scripture tells us that when the morning dawned, the angels basically said, “It’s time. Let’s go. Take your wife and your two daughters and go, lest you be swept away in the punishment God is about to release on the city.” Great advice and one would think Lot would act on it without question, especially since he had seen their power exhibited the night before on the men from the city right outside his house.

Then, once again the text adds that famous word that changes so much -- “But” only this time with respect to Lot’s reaction to what God was saying. “But he hesitated.” It is not clear exactly why he did that. Perhaps it was because all of a sudden he just did not want to let go of what was familiar to him. How many times do we hesitate when God says, “Up. Move out. Now.” And how many times does God have to do with us what the angels did with Lot – they seized his hand and that of his wife and daughters and brought them “outside the city.” When God arranges for us to “move out” of a situation He does not want us in, even against our hesitation or perhaps against our will, it is because “the compassion of the Lord” is upon us as it was upon Lot that day. God knows what is coming and we may know too – but only God knows the real impact or consequences on us. He wants us out of that place wherever it may be or that sin whatever it be, because He loves us unconditionally and He has great compassion for us. Yet we often pay Him less heed than men and women pay their commanding officers in the armed forces when they issue similar orders. Still His love won’t leave us there – He forcibly moves us.

But here’s the condition. It’s very similar to the condition that one of the angels placed on Lot and his immediate family. “Escape for your life! But don’t look back. Don’t stay or go anywhere nearby but flee to the mountains because the impact of what I’m going to do to what you left behind may still reach you if you’re anywhere nearby.” What’s He saying to us as we read these verses?

I believe it is this: If we’re involved in sin, He wants us out for our sake. And if we resist, He may forcibly take us out, but once He does, He does not want us wishing we could be back there, longing for the good old sinful times. He wants us removed from the scene so far that there is no way we could re-associate ourselves with it again through the lure of the Enemy. He hates the sin so much He will destroy those involved with it. Let me give you a couple of examples of what God wants may look like in real life. If you are reading or watching pornography and you want to stop, you do not just put the magazines or the books or films away on a shelf or even in a box and store them in your basement. No, you burn them or destroy and make sure they’re gone from the house. If you are involved in a sinful relationship, you do not keep the person’s telephone number in your wallet, just in case. You throw it away along with everything else that belongs to or came from that person. God wants you as far away from the scene of the sin – whatever it be – as possible. You can do nothing less.

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