I just want to quickly share something with you. Many of us remember the simple but meaningful (and frightening) sentence, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). That one phrase has sparked many sermons. As I thought about this instruction to the Jews who would need to flee at the time, I thought that maybe I should remember Lot also. It wasn’t the escape from destruction I was considering but number of people who left.
I considered the conversation between the Lord and Abraham before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Gen 18:16-33
“16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 17 And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. 20 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? 25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? 26 And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: 28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.
30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.
32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. 33 And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.”
I looked at this conversation. Abraham knew his nephew, Lot, was living in the city the Lord would consider destroying. Remember, Abraham had seen the city for himself when he formed a small group of fighting men to rescue Lot and Lot’s family (Gen 14) and knew what was going on there. At least 13 or so years had passed (Ishmael was born when he was 86, and the Lord appeared to him at age 99) since he was there. By this time, one would figure Lot was well-established and probably had a larger family. Abraham is immediately concerned that part of his family would be destroyed in judgment. Lot had spent time with Abraham, so Abraham would have shared with Lot his faith in God. It’s likely that Abraham believed that Lot would have taught others. I would likely wonder if the number for which I asked to spare the city was too large. Ten seemed like a safe number to find that many righteous in a city while also showing the Lord’s great mercy in that he is long-suffering and willing to continue extending chance after chance to the wicked for the sake of His people. As long as there are people living for the Lord in an area, there is a chance for another to listen, learn, and come to the Lord. Ten in a family seemed safe, right? That’s Lot, Mrs. Lot, two daughters, two sons-in-law, possible grandchildren, maybe in-laws converted, any servants and their families with Lot would likely follow the same God, and maybe some friends. After all, Lot left with quite of bit of flock and workers (herdsmen) who were managing the flocks when he separated from Abraham. Ten seemed to be a number low enough that just Lot’s family and those closest to him should be able to fill the number of righteous needed to prevent destruction.
Ten. Just ten people were enough for the Lord to say that He would not wipe out 5 cities for their exceeding wickedness, which would give them time to repent of their ways and turn to Him.
“27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord: 28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. 29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.” – Gen 19:27-29
I can’t imagine what it was like to see that sight. But God remembered Abraham, and Lot (and those who went with him) were spared the judgment of God. Now, do we know if Lot was saved because he was righteous? Yes. The answer is found in 2 Peter.
“4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.” – 2 Peter 2:4-10
“Just” in this sentence does not mean “only.” It means “righteous, upright, keeping the commands of God.”
I used to wonder why there weren’t more people that left. I also wondered why Lot’s sons-in-law didn’t take Lot seriously (Gen 19:14). What was it about his character, actions, and warning that had the young men react that way? Did he come across as not being serious enough about God that when the time came to warn his words were meaningless? Was the only reason the daughters and wife went because they had been at the house when the angels gave them warning after blinding the men who banged on the door, was it because they were following the man of the house, or was it because they believed, too? I looked at the event, the reason the Lord would spare the city, as well as the future judgment to come. I asked myself, “As of today, have I been enough of a Godly influence that the Lord could spare my area for 10 people following Him?” That may not have been the exact question, but you get the point. I wondered if I stood before the Lord today, would there be anyone that I influenced for the Lord. We often talk about the “work” we do or things we consider acts that would please the Lord. However, the Kingdom of God is bigger than ourselves. Heaven rejoices over ONE sinner who repents. No one is turning cartwheels because we hold doors for people, are on praise teams, or have discussions with other Believers. Yes, they all are appreciated and have their place, but at the end of the day, people are still falling into deception and into hell.
Periodically, over the past couple of years, I asked myself this question. Who am I actively invested in to help bring them to Christ? Can I at least work with 10? I don’t mean that I want to count “decisions” for Christ or want to be part of the church-growth movement where people are interested for a while and then leave. Those numbers get high pretty easily. I looked to my family first and decided that I would start here. I would not just have a routine of church attendance but would have sit-down discussions to explain things from the Bible. I considered my close friends. I considered my circle.
There’s a judgment coming, and we won’t be able to grab our loved ones and run to safety. Everyone has to give his own account. So, I thought I’d share with you. What have you done or are you doing to actively help people come to Christ and/or grow in the Lord? If the exact same judgment were to be pronounced on your area, would there be enough Believers (including you) that you have influenced/helped strengthen in Christ to hold back the wrath of God? Can we find 10 in our individual circles? (Just something to consider) Ten is just the number here, but it made me wonder. How would our lives look, or what would we be doing if we all invested in 10 people for Christ (teaching, answering questions, being an example, etc.)?
I realize that not everyone will listen or come to Christ. Just looking at 2 Peter, we’re reminded that only 8 were in the ark. Only 3 escaped from the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah (not counting Lot’s wife who was turned to a pillar of salt). However, that doesn’t mean we don’t teach or warn. It reminds me of a quote I heard a couple years ago:
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon
Just my thoughts…