In ancient times, there existed an entire city so wicked that those who, for generations to come, performed the same acts were referred to as inhabitants or descendants of that city. Sodom, the Bible calls it, was the original “Sin City” if you will, and the stench of its filth filled God’s nostrils until He became nauseated and chose to have a look himself.
He obviously had no choice but to destroy the entire city and all of its inhabitants, but before doing so, He made a deal with Abraham. If there were found 10 righteous people in the entire city, God said that He would not destroy it – for their sake.
He sent two angels down to Sodom from Abraham’s tent, presumably to verify the situation, and they encountered Lot and his family. This same Lot was Abraham’s nephew and the New Testament refers to him as both just and righteous.
“And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their righteous deeds.” (2 Peter 2:7,8)
So, if we begin to count Lot’s family, who surely he would have raised properly and evangelized so that they too would have been seen as righteous in the eyes of the Lord….if we count them, then there might have been some degree of “hope” for Sodom.
How many people were in Lot’s family?
According to my reading of the scriptures, I find that Lot had a wife, at least two sons and at least four daughters, two married and two unmarried. In Genesis 19:12 the angels ask Lot, “Hast thou any here besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters…” Then in verse 14 the Bible says, “And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters…” So, we already know that he had a wife, who shortly will be turned into a pillar of salt. We know that he had at least two sons, simply because of the plural form found in verse 12. We know that he had at least 2 married daughters because spoke with their husbands in verse 14. That number alone brings Lot’s family to 8 people if he only had 2 sons and 2 married daughters (including his sons-in-law). However, we know from verse 8 that he had 2 unmarried daughters still at home. There he says, “Behold, I have two daughters which have not known man….” So, if only his family members were believers, Sodom would have been spared.
But all that, while very important, simply serves as an omen for what ultimately shows the sad state of Lot’s spiritual life. Although God saw it as just and righteous at the core, one must remove many rotten layers to arrive at that conclusion, and that is what I’d like to deal with today.
Some would say that Lot’s early decisions provide the most telling evidence of his worldliness. His workers didn’t get along with Abraham’s workers so uncle and nephew had to part ways. Lot looked toward the plains of Jordan (in the direction Sodom) and decided that he could make a lot of money if he chose to live there. Very soon after, he would pitch his tent “toward Sodom” (Gen. 13:12). Then a short time later, he moved to Sodom (Gen. 14:12), and finally we find him sitting at the gate in Sodom (Gen. 19:1), denoting a position of authority in the culture.
But, none of that bothers me as much as one word that describes Lot in verse 16 of Genesis 19. There, the Bible reads, “And while he lingered…”
linger |ˈlɪŋgə| verb [ no obj. ]
stay in a place longer than necessary because of a reluctance to leave: she lingered in the yard, enjoying the warm sunshine
God’s destructive hand stands waiting for Lot and his family to flee from the surroundings of the sodomite lifestyle, and he lingers.
He stays longer than necessary because of a reluctance to leave. Lot almost loved Sodom as much as he loved living. He was so comfortable in that culture and that environment that he didn’t want to leave.
He paused. Given a way of escape, he hesitated until the angels pulled him away to safety.
But why? Why did Lot linger? And more importantly, what can we learn from this wavering?
1. First, I believe that perhaps Lot lingered because he knew that he had done a poor job of evangelizing. He knew that he had failed in his duty as a father and as a friend to his neighbors to point others to the truth.
He failed at being salt and light in that wicked place. He knew that neither his married daughters, nor his sons-in-law had paid him any attention. They openly jeered him and apparently had no respect for him at all. Genesis 19:14 states, “…But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.”
It seems as though he tried to win their trust by being more like them than by being different. While we know that many churches today want to appear like the world so they can have a greater influence in the world, we know that the opposite effect is true. We never want to be seen as pharisees, but we do want to live holy and separate lives that please our Lord. Judging by what took place shortly after the destruction of Sodom, Lot probably knew that the situation was the same with his unmarried daughters and his wife. Neither of them had paid him any attention either.
2. Lot lingered because he had more invested in Sodom than he did in heaven. We know that where our treasure is there will our heart be also. Lot invested all of his treasure in Sodom and his heart was firmly planted with that treasure. He paused because he didn’t want to leave all of that behind. Houses, lands, possessions last for a very short time and will all be destroyed one day. He became so attached to the things of this world that he had forgotten about that heavenly city that his uncle Abraham always told him about. He sunk his roots deep in Sodom, and when the time came for God to uproot him from there, it was difficult for him to let go.
His mind told that him that it was time to go, but his heart didn’t want to leave.
3. Lot lingered instead of leading. At the most crucial moment in his family’s history, rather than firmly declaring that they would leave everything behind and flee from destruction, Lot chose to debate the merits and logistics of such a move. He took his time packing. He allowed the influence of those he should have been protecting to cause him to doubt whether he should leave Sodom. When a strong voice was needed, Lot’s wavered. He told his sons-in-law to get out of town, but he didn’t really want to heed his own device. In difficult times, a leader needs to move with a sense of purpose and urgency. Rather than lead, Lot simply lingered. Perhaps his actions influenced his wife to look back even though the angels instructed her differently. Maybe his lingering had an effect on his daughters actions with whom he committed drunken incest. When there is an absence of leadership, there will be a multitude of negative consequences.