For your personal edification and reflection on this Lord’s Day

Psalm 12:8

The words of the Lord are pure words,
    like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
    purified seven times.

Psalm 42:5

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

Psalm 72:18-19

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
    may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!

Psalm 102:1-2

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me
    in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
    answer me speedily in the day when I call!

Psalm 132:8-9

Arise, O Lord, and go to your resting place,
    you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
    and let your saints shout for joy.

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And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords.19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!”21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. – Genesis 19:17-22 [ESV]

Water Lily | Missouri Botanical Gardens | July 2021

The money was in the purse conveniently left on the end table in a spare bedroom. I was in junior high. The temptation was too great. I took the money. It was a trap. My parents were concerned about my integrity in this area. My failure led me to a grounding that really managed to make an impression. And set me on a path of financial integrity. I won’t even handle the offerings at church by myself. Ugh.

Sometimes it just so simple: Do the right thing. Too often, however, we fail to do the right thing (really, it takes only one time to be too often). The expense account gets estimated to our decided favor. The juicy bit of gossip just manages to slip from our lips. The dress (or computer, or camera, or jewelry, or ???) sale manages to tug our credit card from our wallet. 

Not so with God. Lot knows this. He appeals to God’s righteousness, his true trajectory of decision-making, and his sense of mercy. Lot will take refuge in the little city of Zoar. Sodom and Gomorrah will be destroyed. And while such drastic action seems gravely stern and overly precipitous, it is not. The whole city apart from Lot and his family was corrupt. We’ve already mentioned that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah were more fundamental than their abandonment of sexual purity. They were noted for dishonesty, abuse of the weak, and injustice toward the poor. We know them for their abandonment of sexual purity. 

I would certainly wish that it was not necessary that God destroy the city because of their sin and his righteousness. Part of that has to do with my fear of coming under the same judgment. Jesus’ words are instructive here. Speaking of his care and concern for his disciples, he says, “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day (Matthew 10:14-15).

Jesus is the Word made flesh, “full of grace and truth.” Truth is, we’ve all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Grace is, we’re “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). All this is reconciled in Jesus’ incarnation, life, suffering, death, and resurrection. It will be fully culminated in Jesus’ return. All who take refuge in him will be saved.

Perhaps Zoar is a symbol for Jesus: a little town, a man of little human consequence (cf. Isaiah 53). But his commitment to doing the right thing never wavered. He never flenched from loving God. He never failed in his pure and perfect love for sinners. He is our refuge from the coming destruction of every evil power, plan, pretension, or place known to man and the powers of this world. But step through the door of this city and discover just how large is God’s heart and love, his grace and kindness. The joy of his salvation knows no bounds. It rings through eternity. To the praise of his glorious grace!  

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And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords.19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!”21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. – Genesis 19:17-22 [ESV]

Cone Flower | Missouri Botanical Gardens | July 2021

“A snake! A snake! Run for your life!” My sister Barbara and I were crawling through the bushes around our grandmother’s house out in the country. A black snake had crawled up into those bushes for reasons of which we may only speculate. When Barbara saw it, she sounded the alarm…and we ran for our lives. 

On the way home from school, in another time and different location, we would cross through a barn yard to get to our home. Living in the country for a few months while we were in transition to a new house, presented new experiences. And boy did we have one that day. Momma sow saw us coming and must have thought that we were a threat to her piglets. She took out after us on the run. Do you know how fast pigs can run? I’ll tell you: fast! We jumped the fence to get to safety.

When threats are immanent we don’t even realize adrenaline is pumping. We simply run faster, jump higher, or fight harder than we would otherwise. We may whistle past the graveyard but if we do, all our senses are heightened, and we ready ourselves for action at a moment’s notice. 

How many times, however, have we heard a very clear call to run for our lives and ignored it? I’m not thinking of COVID-19 alarms or hurricane warnings. I’m thinking of warnings from God.

How easy it is for us to dismiss the urgent call to repent, reorder our lives, abandon evil pursuits, or escape judgment or destruction! Lot almost falls prey to the lure of waiting and ignoring the imminent danger that will soon befall Sodom and Gomorrah. Had the angels not compelled him – taken him by the hand – he likely would have perished. 

I suspect there are some lessons for me here. There may be a sin to confess, a promise to claim, a warning to heed, a hope to embrace, a vice to abandon that I need to act on more urgently. Perhaps you do too. While it is day, there is time to do so. But we who really do need to recalibrate must not be lulled into a false sense of security in our laxness toward God just because The End has not yet come. 

God’s gracious desire is always for our rescue, redemption, and salvation. Will we listen to his voice and heed his call? It is far better that we do! 

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters.[f]Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.15 Remember what it says:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
    as Israel did when they rebelled.” – Hebrews 3:12-15

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And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords.19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!”21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. – Genesis 19:17-22 [ESV]

Black Eyed Susans | Missouri Botanical Gardens | July 2021

I’m not inclined to push my agenda in the short term. If I get resistance, I back down. I may try a different tact later. And if the goal is really important, I won’t soon give up. In the bargaining game, I’m not as insistent. I don’t drive a hard bargain. I might pay a little more for that car than someone else. I might not negotiate the best deal on a rental car, or other negotiable deals.

It seems, however, that Abraham is masters of the art. Abraham negotiates a stay of destruction if 10 righteous people can be found in Sodom. Lot, on this occasion, pushes it with the angels. His prayer, however, is not like Abraham’s. He seems more to plead from weakness and fear than boldness and faith. But his weak and fearful plea does not go unheeded. The town of Zoar is allowed to be a place of refuge for him and his family. 

Sometimes we may pray boldly. We might throw the sack at the door of God’s throne of grace. I’ve previously quoted this prayer of Luther for his friend and colleague Philip Melanchthon:

Filled with fear, [Luther] said: “0 God, how the devil has shattered this instrument for me!” Then the faithful and manly friend approached his God in prayer for his much beloved friend, by throwing, as he, himself afterwards said, “the sack before the door, and by rubbing his ears with all the promises from His own word.” He exhorted and commanded Melanchthon to be of good cheer, because God did not desire the death of the sinner, but needed further services from him; told him that he himself would rather depart now; had food prepared for him when he was gradually becoming convalescent, and upon his refusal to eat, threatened: “You will have to eat, or I will put you in the ban.” Gradually the patient improved in body and spirit. Luther could write to another friend: “We found him dead; by an undeniable miracle of God he lives.”*

Sometimes, though, our prayers are faint whispers, and we may wonder whether they get above the ceiling, much less reach the throne room of God. But take heart! The prayers of Lot are heard as well as those of Abraham. Abraham is the father of faith. And his strong faith shows up in the manner in which he speaks to God. Bold. Direct. “Sack against the door” Strong. 

Lot is weak and pleading. Both are heard. This is good news. For we’re not all Abraham-like in our faith. We might occasionally feel very weak. While there may be times for us to claim a faith like Abraham’s, we can lean into the goodness, mercy, and kindness of God in every situation. In those weak and uncertain moments, we can remember this encounter with Lot and the promise of Isaiah 42:3, which says that God “will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.” Knowing that may make even the weakest prayers stronger.  

*Julius Kostlin, Life of Luther, trans. John G. Morris (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1883), 440. Also see Julius Kostlin, Luthers Leben, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: Fues’s Verlag, 1883), 546-547. As quoted by Albert B. Collver III, in the April/May edition of the Concordia Theological Quarterly

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At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!”
When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the LORD was merciful. When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” – Genesis 19:15-17 [NLT]

Purple Blossoms II | Tomball, Texas | July 2021

Dennis and Robert were in my 6th grade class, when they befriended me. They left a note on my desk that ended, “Zattd!” The rest I don’t recall, except that it was a jumble of letters that did not make sense to me. They had to tell me that it was code, a cypher actually. “Zattd!” meant, “Hurry!” They helped me understand that once I had figured out a few things (word lengths, spacing, punctuation, etc.), I would be able to break the code. I think they actually helped me decode the message. It was an invitation to be a member of their club. 

They were merciful. I didn’t have many friends in 6th grade. And their kindness to me was more merciful than they or I realized. They were good boys, not troublemakers. They were studious and relatively smart. I was not a troublemaker, but I was adrift when it came to my studies. They may not have realized I was in a difficult situation, but they were kind enough to be my friends.

Grace is undeserved love and kindness. Mercy is a kindness in response to someone’s pain and withholds punishment we do deserve. We see both played out in this encounter between Lot and his family and the angels who will rescue him and destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, Moses even uses the word, “mercy” to describe the LORD’s attitude toward them that led him to wait for their escape before raining down destruction on these cities. 

Sometimes we’re aware of our need for mercy. When we’re in the throes of sickness and pain, we call out, “Lord have mercy!” Sometimes, however, we may not even be aware of our need or the dire straits we’re in. Like Lot and his family who wanted to delay their flight from Sodom, we might not be aware of the danger we’re in before we are rescued. 

A traffic delay prevents a more serious accident. A sick and absent co-worker preempts a relational meltdown over office politics. A job transfer removes the possibility for an illicit office romance. These may seem coincidental. But if a sparrow does not fall to the ground apart from the Father’s knowledge, then why would we remove his providential engagement in the everyday affairs of men and women? 

On one occasion Paul and his mission partners were prevented from entering into Asia Minor by the Spirit of Jesus (cf. Acts 16:6-12). That was to make possible the entry of the gospel into Europe. Here in Genesis, God’s mercy delays the city’s destruction to allow Lot and his family to escape. Ours may not be as dramatic or obvious. But one thing remains: God’s mercy is a precious gift. If grace is receiving something we don’t deserve and mercy is being exempted from punishment we do deserve, we can rejoice in both. We see it here in Genesis. We ought to look for it every day of our lives and give thanks to God for it. 

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At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!”
When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the LORD was merciful. When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!”
“Oh no, my lord!” Lot begged. “You have been so gracious to me and saved my life, and you have shown such great kindness. But I cannot go to the mountains. Disaster would catch up to me there, and I would soon die. See, there is a small village nearby. Please let me go there instead; don’t you see how small it is? Then my life will be saved.”
“All right,” the angel said, “I will grant your request. I will not destroy the little village. But hurry! Escape to it, for I can do nothing until you arrive there.” (This explains why that village was known as Zoar, which means “little place.”)
Lot reached the village just as the sun was rising over the horizon. Then the LORD rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt. – Genesis 19:16-26 [NLT]

Purple Blossoms | Tomball, Texas | July 2021

The crash came at about 5 AM. The whole house shook. But I couldn’t identify its source. We were sleeping in the middle bedroom with plywood covering the window of that room. Hurricane Ike was doing its thing in the greater Houston area. And We were hunkered down.

The wind had swirled all night. The rain was incessant. This was no little storm. Sometime around 6 AM I walked from our middle bedroom toward the closet in our master bedroom. Then I heard the drip, drip, drip coming from the ceiling of our bedroom. Something had happened. Upon inspection outside I discovered that the something was a pine tree (one of 12 in our back yard) had been broken off about 20 feet in the air, its top crashing into our roof. One of the 1 inch branches had pierced our roof. Truly a minor bit of damage all things considered.

Previously we had experienced Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. People had fled New Orleans and made a run for safety. People from northwest Harris county had also fled. We had remained in place, and were actually able to offer shelter to a family with a small baby fleeing from his studies at Tulane University. This time, many people ignored the warnings. There comes a time when the warnings simply go unheeded. That had been one of those times.

The angels warn Lot and his family to flee. There would come cataclysmic destruction as a judgment of God. Had they not taken Lot and his family by their hands they would surely have been destroyed. As it was, it took more than a warning, but in the mercy of God, they were spared.

Is there a warning you’re ignoring? Are you too ready to conclude that people are crying wolf when they sound the alarm? I have no strong opinion about the current crises call about climate change. I’m pretty certain that the COVID-19 crisis is real. But I’m totally convinced that God’s call to repent and believe the gospel is absolutely vital. It is a message that must be heard. And believed. And heeded.

Maybe it’s a relationship that gets patched up. Perhaps it is a sin to be abandoned. It could be an overall laxness toward God’s word and will. It might be a failure to pray. But wherever God is calling you to repent and believe, take heed! And rejoice! God’s call is to life, salvation, blessing, and true joy.

For your personal edification and meditation on this Lord’s Day

Psalm 5:1-3

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
    consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
    my King and my God,
    for to you do I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

Psalm 35:9-10

My soul will rejoice in the Lord,
    exulting in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say,
    “O Lord, who is like you,
delivering the poor
    from him who is too strong for him,
    the poor and needy from him who robs him?”

Psalm 65:1-4

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
    and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
    to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
    you atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
    to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
    the holiness of your temple!

Psalm 95:1-7

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.

Psalm 125

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the Lord surrounds his people,
    from this time forth and forevermore.

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Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place.13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. – Genesis 19:12-14

Bright Yellow | Houston Botanical Garden | July 2021

Who would you warn? If you had moments to sound the alarm, who would you first call? Second? Third? And what if your warning went unheeded? Almost every parent has struggled with that last issue: What if your warnings go unheeded? Hopefully you have not failed to warn that special loved one of the dangers that are out there. Destruction. Deceit. Death. Damnation. Ugh…that last one: damnation. Must we talk of that?

Some people, for fear of rejection or other loss simply don’t speak up. They don’t want to look silly in the eyes of others. They don’t want to sacrifice relationships for the sake of a clear witness. They don’t want to sound extremist, or alarmist. Or fanatical. Maybe I’m one of those people. 

I haven’t always been. In college I took my Bible to a philosophy class and shared Jesus’ words from Matthew 5. I was jeered at and summarily dismissed. The girl I was really interested in dating told me, “Don’t be a fanatic, Dave.” That hurt. I’ve had other times when I’ve sounded the alarm, and it had short-term success. But it was short term, and I abandoned the clarion call – for reasons only God can ultimately judge. More recently Diane and I have had conversations with a family member or two about Jesus, faith, grace, and godly living. We’ve not been shown the fullest extent of our effectiveness. We do at least hold on to hope that we will see the impact of God’s word. 

But I’ll stand first in the line of those wiling to admit that I’ve not been as bold or challenging as I might have been in every situation. I’m thinking of friends in my photo club. I’m wondering about neighbors. Maybe the opportunity will someday come. 

And I think of my sister. She died 10 years ago. I wish I had known she was so close to death’s door. She was a believer. I have not worries about her eternal wellbeing. She believed in Jesus. She shared his grace and truth with her friends and family. She lit up the room when she smiled, or when she reminded me of a need for greater tenderness toward my wife. But she died too soon. And I didn’t have the opportunity simply to be with her as much as I wish I had. 

Not every missed opportunity is that of calling someone to repentance. Not every failure to speak up is a failure to speak truth to power. Or truth and grace to a friend, family member, or a loved-one. Even if they reject the message – the clarion call to repentance or the precious message of grace – we must take every opportunity to speak the truth in love to all with whom we have the opportunity to do so. 

That’s what God did 2000 years ago. In sending Jesus he spoke truth and grace in bold strokes. May I personally urge you to listen to his voice, and learn of his message? Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). And if you want a very personable interpretation of his message check out The Chosen, a remarkable TV series that brings the message of Jesus into real-life situations. Not everyone will hear and heed his word. But those who do are eternally blessed. Imagine your own joy as you see that word taking root!

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Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place.13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. – Genesis 19:12-14

Three Leaning Cone Flowers | Houston Botanical Garden | July 2021

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a line from one of my most favorite movies, Hunt for Red Okober. The Russian general is sorting through mail or talking with someone on the phone. He’s completely dismissive and unengaged. Whatever he’s reading or hearing is of no consequence to him. Until he opens a letter from his nephew and protégée, played by Sean Connery. Ramius is defecting with a newly-designed and highly-classified Soviet submarine as the story goes. As soon as he reads Ramius’ letter he spills his tea and yells for action! The hunt is on!

Lot’s sons-in-law are saying, yeah, yeah, yeah in the face of Lot’s warning. They should have known better. These visiting men had shown their power. They are angels in every sense of the word: messengers (that’s what the word means), and holy beings in service to God. They have extraordinary power as well. They not only save Lot, but will oversee the destruction of Sodom. Angels are not to be trifled with. They are no nonsense, powerful, purposeful, and dedicated servants of God. And they’ve come to deliver a message to Lot, and to deliver him from destruction.

We might think we can distance ourselves from this kind of attitude toward God. We might assume that we always pay attention to God’s warnings. We might even labor under the false idea that since God hasn’t done one of his direct and dramatic acts of retribution in our recent memory, he won’t deal summarily with us. We’ve skated this long. We’ve been able to bend God’s will to ours all this time. He won’t come down on us. If you know how this story unfolds, you’ll recall that the sons-in-law and Lots’s wife’s nonchalance will not be well-rewarded.

Sometimes a sailor goes rogue. Sometimes the boss catches wind of poor behavior. Sometimes warnings signal real danger. They’re not always like the pesky warnings to read user agreements when you install new software. They’re not always the irritating small print or fast talk we’ve learned to ignore on pharmaceutical commercials. Chicken Little isn’t always the only one sounding the alarm. 

As we see this story unfold, we’ll also see how God is true to his word and faithful to his grace. That’s a good combination, fully expressed in the Word Made Flesh, our Lord Jesus, who is filled with grace and truth (John 1:14). He is one we must never dismiss with any sort of yeah, yeah, yeah, but one rather we should fully embrace, with a resounding yes! For he is truly good, and faithful, and true. 

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But before [the men who came to Sodom and entered Lot’s house] lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door.11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door. – Genesis 19:4-11

Cone Flowers | Houston Botanical Garden | July 2021

It was early summer. Not yet fully hot. But the corn was as high as an elephant’s eye in the rolling hills of Iowa. The transmission of our car had given out. We were parked on the side of Interstate 80. Chevy Chevelle and U-Haul trailer. Diane and our unborn son stood nearby while we hoped that someone would stop and rescue us. Thankfully someone did. Two days later we were on our way again in a new-to-us car. We had been rescued. 

Maybe you’ve been in a similar or even worse situation. Life threatening or peace-disturbing situations and dangerous predicaments are all around. Like the life-taking chaos of Afghanistan, the dangerous and destructive winds of Hurricane Ida, the earthquake in Haiti: these all put people in situations of rescue’s need. If no one comes to the rescue people can die. 

This is what unfolds outside Lot’s house in Sodom. The men of the city are threatening him and his family. He was in mortal danger. His pleas had been ignored. His life threatened. His situation was dire. And at just the right time, the men (angels) in Lot’s home reach out and pull him to safety. 

I wonder why they needed to do that? Couldn’t he just have come back into his home on his own? Was the door barred from the inside? Was he physically restrained by the mob? Or was he trying to plead with them? Trying to get them to be reasonable? It seems he went out to them to appease them. He tried to make a (very bad) deal with them. Maybe he thought he could reason his way out of the situation.

I wonder whether we’re a lot like Lot. We live in the midst of evil and we think we can reason with it. We imagine evil isn’t really that bad. We’ve been jaded by being immersed in the rotten culture of our day. We may even have a higher opinion of ourselves than we should. We might think we don’t need God’s rescue. We may not even really want it.

Thankfully that doesn’t stop God from acting. Like the angels reaching out and dragging Lot back into the safety of his house, God sometimes intervenes dramatically. Sometimes obliquely. And sometimes he waits for us to admit our need. In this case Lot didn’t admit his need. But God rescued him. 

Maybe you’ve seen or felt the rescuing hand of God. Maybe you’ve not. But the angels of God watch over his people. And sometimes circumstances unfold that can only be the providential care and rescue of a loving God who wishes none to be lost, for all to be found and be saved from eternal doom.