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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Genesis 19

 

 

Verse 17

DISCOURSE: 31

LOT DELIVERED OUT OF SODOM

Genesis 19:17. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain: escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

IT is extremely profitable to observe how ready God is to honour those who honour him. Lot had been a very distinguished character in Sodom. He had seen and heard with much concern the iniquities that were committed by those around him: “he had vexed his righteous soul with their unlawful deeds from day to day;” and had set them a pattern of piety and virtue. Nor was he inattentive to the welfare of strangers: he was ready at all times to exercise the rights of hospitality, and to shew to others the same liberality which he would wish to meet with at their hands. Indeed his sense of honour in this respect carried him beyond the bounds of prudence or propriety: for when he was protecting his guests from the assaults of those who would have injured them, he even preferred the sacrificing of his daughters, to the suffering of the laws of hospitality to be so grossly violated. That he erred in this matter, we have no doubt; because he had no right to commit one sin in order to prevent another. But he meant well: and probably was so agitated with fear and horror, as scarcely to be aware of the impropriety of his proposal. His zeal for God, and his attention to his guests, were well rewarded. He was informed that the persons whom he had received under his roof were angels in human shape; that they were sent to destroy the cities of the plain; and that they were commissioned to rescue him and his family from the common ruin. In what manner they executed their commission, we may judge from the urgent advice which they gave him in our text; and which we shall consider,

I. As given to Lot—

If we consider the circumstances of Lot, the advice given him was,

1. Most salutary—

[The measure of this people’s iniquities was now full: and God had determined utterly to destroy them. This determination had already been announced to Lot; and he had been sent to his friends and relatives to declare it to them; though, alas! they had only treated his message with contempt and derision. His own mind indeed was convinced that the wrath of God would fall upon those devoted cities: but yet he was disposed to linger, and defer his flight. Whether he felt regret at leaving so many relatives behind him, or was grieved at the thought of losing all his substance, or had an idea that some time would elapse before the threatened judgments should be inflicted, he was not sufficiently earnest to escape the impending danger. The angels therefore took him and his wife and daughters by the hand, and led them forth without the city; and gave them the counsel which is contained in the text.

The time for executing vengeance was just at hand—There was no safety but in flight; nor any refuge but that which God had appointed—A little longer delay would prove fatal to them all—Though they were out of Sodom, they were at a considerable distance from the mountain—To reach it, required their utmost exertions: it became them therefore to strain every nerve in order to secure the proffered mercy—

To promote this was the direct tendency of the advice: so suited was it to their condition, and so conducive to their welfare.]

2. Most benevolent—

[It is obvious that the extreme earnestness expressed by the angels, together with the whole tenour of their advice, was exceedingly alarming. It was calculated to inspire Lot himself with terror, and to extinguish in the weaker females all the powers of reason and reflection. But shall we therefore say that these divine Monitors were impertinently officious, or needlessly severe? Suppose that, having received a commission to warn Lot, they had yielded to a mistaken tenderness, and forborne to alarm his fears: suppose they had gently admonished him of his danger, and suggested the expediency of providing against it: suppose that, when they saw him lingering, and knew that one hour’s delay would involve him and his family in the common ruin, they had contented themselves with hinting in a distant manner that more expedition would be desirable: would such conduct have become them? Would they have acted the part of friends? Yea, would they not have been awfully responsible to God for their unfaithfulness, and been really chargeable with the death of all the family? Assuredly, the more faithful and earnest they were in the discharge of their duty, the more real benevolence they exercised: nor could they have displayed their love in any better way, than by seizing hold of them to quicken their pace, and urging them by the most powerful considerations to secure their own safety.]

We shall not depart from the real scope of the advice, if we regard it,

II. As applicable to ourselves—

Our condition is certainly very similar to Lot’s—

[God has declared that he will destroy the whole world of the ungodly, as soon as ever they shall have filled up the measure of their iniquities: and the judgments that he will execute upon them were typified by those that were inflicted upon Sodom. “The cities of the plain were set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire [Note: Jude,.].” And it is doubtless in reference to the destruction with which they were visited, that the place of torment is described as “a lake that burneth with fire and brimstone [Note: Revelation 20:10.] ” But there is a place of refuge provided for us; a mountain where no storms can assail us, no judgments ever hurt us. This refuge is the Lord Jesus Christ; “whose name is a strong tower, to which the righteous runneth and is safe.” On the other hand, there is no salvation for us, unless we flee to him. While we continue of the world, we must take our portion with the world: we must “come out of it, if we would not be partakers of its plagues [Note: Revelation 18:4.].” We must “bear our testimony against it, that its ways are evil,” and must in the whole of our spirit and conduct be separate from it [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:17.].]

The same advice therefore is proper for us, as for him—

[Two things are indispensably necessary for us, if we would enjoy the benefits which God has offered us in his Gospel; and these are personal exertion and persevering diligence.

It had been declared to Lot, that the threatened destruction could not be executed till he should have arrived at the place provided for him [Note: Genesis 19:22.]. But could he therefore say, I am in no danger; I may take my leisure; I may leave myself in God’s hands? Surely if he had acted in so presumptuous a manner, he would have perished with the ungodly multitude. When he had come out of Sodom, his exertions were no less necessary than before. He must flee to the mountain: he must escape as for his life: he must not delay a moment, lest he should be consumed. Thus it is with us. We cannot say, God has sent his only dear Son to save me, and therefore I have nothing to do: we must rather say, God has offered to have mercy on me, and therefore I must “work out my salvation with fear and trembling.” To found our hopes upon the secret purposes of God, would be to delude ourselves, and to ensure our eternal ruin. We might as well hope to win a race without running, or to gain a battle without fighting, as to get to heaven without personal exertion. We must seek; yea not only seek, but strive, to enter in at the strait gate, if ever we would find admittance into it.

Nor will it avail us any thing to put forth our strength to the uttermost, unless we maintain a constant, vigorous, persevering diligence in the course that we have begun. Lot’s wife was a partner of his flight, but not of his preservation: for she looked back, and was therefore made a lasting monument of God’s displeasure [Note: 6.]. And if Lot himself had remitted his endeavours, he also would have perished in like manner. We may “run well for a season, and yet be hindered:” we may “begin in the spirit, and yet end in the flesh:” we may “escape the pollutions of the world, and yet be again entangled therein, and overcome.” We may come out of Egypt, and yet never reach the promised land. It is not he who begins well, but “he that endureth unto the end, that shall be saved.” “If we put our hand to the plough, and look back, we are not fit for the kingdom, of heaven.”]

Address,

1. Those who are at ease in Sodom—

[We would not willingly speak reproachful words, or address you in terms that are needlessly offensive: but we are sanctioned by the prophet Isaiah in saying, “Hear the word of the Lord, ye Rulers of Sodom, and ye people of Gomorrha [Note: Isaiah 1:10.].” We bless our God that the abomination referred to in the context, is held in universal abhorrence; and that the very thought of it excites as general indignation amongst us, as it did in Sodom a general concurrence and approbation. But in all other respects those wicked cities are a glass wherein we may behold ourselves. “This,” says the prophet, “was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her [Note: Ezekiel 16:49.].” And what can be conceived more characteristic of our state? Our pride, our luxury, our love of ease are not a whit inferior to theirs. Again, our Lord says, “As it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all; even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man shall be revealed [Note: Luke 17:28-30.]:” and let me ask whether it is not so at this day? We are attending to our temporal concerns, our cares and pleasures, with avidity: but notwithstanding we are warned continually of our guilt and danger, how backward are we to flee from the wrath to come! Know ye then that the wrath of God is about to be poured out upon you: and that if ye flee not with all earnestness to the Lord Jesus Christ, ye must inevitably and eternally perish. Perhaps in warning you thus we appear “as persons who mock [Note: ver. 14.],” or, at best, as needlessly harsh and severe: but we affirm, that what we speak will soon be found true; and that in discharging our duty thus, we perform an office worthy of an angel. We believe God’s denunciations, and therefore we speak: and if we should “speak smooth things to you, and prophesy deceits,” we should prove your bitterest enemies. In this urgent matter, concealment is treachery, and fidelity is love. Arise then, every one of you; and “escape for your lives.”]

2. Those who are lingering, and deferring their flight—

[Many, we doubt not, are convinced of the necessity of taking refuge in Christ, yet are so immersed in worldly cares or pleasures that they know not how to commence their heavenly course. They think that a more convenient season will present itself; and that they shall carry their purposes into effect before the day of vengeance shall arrive. But how many have grown grey with age, while their convictions have led to nothing but abortive wishes and ineffectual resolutions! And how many have been overtaken with the storm, while they were thinking and intending to escape from it! There are indeed many, who have come out of Sodom so as no longer to participate in its grosser abominations; and are, in profession at least, advancing to the place of refuge; while yet in their hearts they are attached to the things that they have renounced. To such persons we would say, with our blessed Lord, “Remember Lot’s wife [Note: Luke 17:32.].” She looked back, while she was following her husband’s steps. We inquire not what her motives were; it is sufficient, she looked back; and for that she was struck dead upon the spot; for that she was made a monument to all future ages, to assure us, that if our heart be in Sodom, we shall perish like Sodom: whatever be our professions, or whatever our progress, if our heart be not right with God, “we shall take our portion in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death [Note: Revelation 21:8.].” “Make haste then, and delay not, to keep God’s commandments [Note: Psalms 119:60.],” and to “lay hold on eternal life.” Rest not in any purposes, professions, or attainments. Turn not back even in thought: but “forgetting what is behind, press forward toward that which is before.” It will be time enough to “rest from your labours,” when you are got safe to heaven.]

3. Those who are daily running in the way prescribed—

[Faint not, dearly Beloved, “neither be weary in well doing.” For your encouragement you are told to regard Lot’s deliverance as a proof, that “God knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, as well as to reserve the ungodly for punishment [Note: 2 Peter 2:6-9.].” Whatever difficulties therefore you have to encounter, fear not. And do not unbelievingly wish that your way were shorter than God has appointed it. This was Lot’s weakness and folly. God did indeed graciously condescend to his request; and spared Zoar for his sake: but his unbelief was punished, not only in the fears which harassed him in Zoar, but in the awful dereliction that he afterwards experienced. From this time we hear nothing of him except his drunkenness and incest: and, if St. Peter had not given us reason to believe that he became truly penitent, we should have had ground to apprehend that he was, after all, an outcast from heaven. Plead not then for any other refuge, or for the indulgence of any sin. Say not of any thing that God has proscribed, “Is it not a little one?” A little one it may be in comparison of others; but, whether little or great, it must be renounced: we must abandon for ever our connexion with it, and let our regards terminate in God alone.

But let not those who are hastening towards heaven, be contented to go alone: let them seek to take all they can along with them. Let them exert their influence to the uttermost over all their friends and connexions, in order that they may be instrumental to their salvation also. Let them especially manifest their conjugal and parental affection in this way. Yet if, after all, they be derided as visionaries by some, and be forsaken in their progress by others, let them not for one moment intermit their diligence in the preservation of their own souls. If their labours prove effectual only to one or two, it will be a rich consolation to them in the day of judgment, that, though many who were once dear to them have reaped the fruits of their supineness, there are others for whom they have “not laboured in vain, nor run in vain.”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Genesis 19:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/genesis-19.html. 1832.

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