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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Remember Lot's Wife

John Bradshaw - Remember Lot's Wife

John Bradshaw - Remember Lot's Wife
John Bradshaw - Remember Lot's Wife
TOPICS: In The Word

Hi, great to be spending this time with you. Together we are going to open up the Bible and explore God's Word, and God will speak to us and bless our souls. Before we do, before we open God's Word, let's pray together:

Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the opportunity to be in the Word. We ask that Your Spirit would speak to us at this time. As we gather around the Bible and investigate some of what it says, I pray You would answer the prayer of our heart. I pray You would minister to our needs, that You would grow us spiritually, and draw us to Yourself. Bless us, please, we pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.

It's said it was the fairest among the cities of the Jordan Valley. It was set in a plain, which was, according to Genesis chapter 13, "as the garden of the Lord". Imagine that! There were palm trees there, olive trees there, grape vines there. This place was fertile. Things grew. It was a center of art and commerce, business, creativity. It had to have been a bustling sort of place. It was undoubtedly a land of plenty. And this plenty, the wealth of the land, the blessings that the people enjoyed... well, ended up that the people didn't have to work so hard. It led them to indulge in sin. You know, that's not good. Ezekiel wrote about this.

Ezekiel chapter 16, starting in verse 49, he wrote that "pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty," Ezekiel wrote, "and committed abomination before me". That's some strong medicine. You know, it seems that there's nothing people want more than riches and leisure. We want to have plenty. And yet riches and leisure in this case gave birth to the sins that brought destruction upon the cities of the plain. Their useless, idle lives made them a prey to Satan's temptations, and they ended up defacing the image of God and becoming satanic rather than divine.

Somebody wrote that "Satan is never more successful than when he comes to people in their idle hours". The people of Sodom were idle. Idleness is a curse, and it definitely proved to be a curse for them. Angels talked to Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed. Now, here's what's interesting. These cities were wicked, and they were filled with wicked people, but Abraham interceded for the people of that city. It was a thoroughly wicked place. And yet Abraham asked God to spare it. "Would You destroy it if there were 50 righteous people there"? Abraham asked. "Forty? Would You destroy the place if we could find 30 righteous people"? The angel assured Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah wouldn't be destroyed if there were 10 righteous people who could be found there. But God couldn't even find 10 righteous people in those cities.

In his little book, Jude wrote that Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them were destroyed by fire. You know, it isn't easy to really grasp the power of a calamity like that. Just pause for a moment. Think about this. A fire so devastating cities were destroyed. It came from nowhere. The heat had to have been beyond intense. Lives were ended. People were killed. Imagine witnessing this. Imagine being on the outskirts of that place. I don't know, I'm speculating, but I'm sure you won't mind this kind of speculation. Imagine living 10 or 20 miles away. Would there have been a glow in the sky? Would you have said, "What's going on over there"? This was a serious thing. Sometimes we hear Bible stories, Jesus rose somebody from the dead, we shrug and move on. Wait a minute! This was a big deal. Walls of Jericho fell down. Uh, okay. No, no, this was huge.

In fact, Rahab told those two spies visiting Jericho, "We have heard about the things your God has done," and she confessed that they were terrified. God sent fire from heaven, and Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them were burned up. This was big. Let me tell you a man named Ludger Sylbaris was living on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean way back in 1902. Now, he did something he shouldn't have done, and as a consequence, he was imprisoned, thrown into solitary confinement, wasn't much of a place. His cell was underground, and there were no windows. It was even reinforced with bombproof walls just to make sure that nobody could escape. Day after he was arrested, at breakfast time, a volcano erupted. Pyroclastic flows formed and rushed down into the city, completely flattening it and killing everybody who lived there.

Just a moment, I'll tell you how many people there was. These pyroclastic flows, let me explain that to you. It's like gas mixes up with ash and rock and dust and so forth, flows down the side of the volcano. It's not a lava flow. It's deadly. It's like a river of rock and ash and dust just swallows people up. In Martinique that day in 1902, 40,000 people were killed. Everyone was turned into dust. Everyone, of course, except for three people. Two others, one who was on a boat on a lake or something, and this man, Mr. Sylbaris, who was inside the bombproof cell. He was badly burned, but he survived. He was rescued from the rubble four days later. Interestingly, he was pardoned for his crimes. I guess people figured he'd suffered enough. And he joined Barnum and Bailey's traveling circus, where he was known as "the man who lived through doomsday".

What an experience. But no cell was gonna protect anybody in Sodom and Gomorrah. Every last person there was destroyed. That's not the only thing we can take away from this experience. Of course, we may think, "Ah, this was sin, and God punished them. They did wrong, and they were destroyed". You may be thinking, "Sin has consequences". Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death". And if you were thinking that, you'd be right every time. There are some more things that we can think about in relation to this. Consider this. Lot. Who was Lot? Lot was Abraham's... do you know? Abraham's nephew. And he'd been given a very serious warning. He was told, "Lot, get out of Sodom. Flee for your life".

Genesis 19, verse 15 says this, and this is remarkable. Genesis 19 and verse 15: "And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, 'Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.'" But look at verse 16; it says, "And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city". Do you notice what the Bible says? Lot lingered. That's the same word Judah the son of Jacob used when he told his father they could have been back to Egypt and back home again and brought more food if they had not lingered. Lot dillydallied. He tarried. But the angels hastened him. They pressed him, urged him. They made him hurry along. If they hadn't, the story may well have ended very differently. And doesn't that say something about the mercy of God?

"Lot, get out," and Lot... did this. And then the angel said, "Lot, you may do this, but we're here to tell you to do that and get out of here". Tell you something, God is merciful, and frequently He comes to us while we are twiddling our thumbs. While we know better, God often comes to us and moves us along. Well, then, in Genesis chapter 19 and verse 17, the angels give some serious advice: "And it came to pass, when they 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 though be consumed.'" Don't look back. Luke 17:32 has Jesus uttering just three words, but those words are important words. Jesus says, "Remember Lot's wife". Genesis 19, verse 24: "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt".

Now, you might think this story tells only of God's justice, but it's a story of God's mercy as much as anything. God was merciful to Sodom and Gomorrah. He would have saved the entire place if He could have found more people that He could have saved. That's what God was willing to do. He was merciful to Lot and Lot's family, even willing that his sons-in-law be saved, but they ridiculed Lot, and they were lost when the fire and brimstone fell. God would have saved them. God hurried Lot along, as we said a moment ago, or Lot might have been too late to get out of the place. This demonstrates God's mercy, and the fact is it was Lot's own impetuosity that got him into his fix in the first place.

Back in Genesis chapter 13, there was strife. Do you remember that story? There was strife between Abram's herdsmen and Lot's herdsmen. Abram, which of course is Abraham before he was Abraham, suggested that they go their separate ways, and quite incredibly, he deferred to Lot, his nephew. And Lot chose the plain of Jordan, which Genesis says was like "the garden of the Lord". Selfish Lot chose the best of the land. You'll notice Abram didn't remonstrate with him. Abram understood Lot had made a terrible mistake. Genesis chapter 13, verse 12: "Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom". Verse 13 says, "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly". Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom. He was enamored by the beauty of the land, like people who are drawn by the bright lights in the big cities. You can't think to consult your own ease. You want to think about, in situations like this, you want to think about what advances the cause of God and what develops your Christian character.

Let's consider this. Just think for a moment. When you're relocating, what is it you're thinking about? Well, location, location, location. Maybe you want to be in the big city; maybe you don't. When you cross town, what are you thinking about? Well, consider this. What you want to be thinking about... well, with all things, but certainly when you're moving from point A to point B, is how will this impact me spiritually? What will this do to my spiritual existence, to my Christian walk? Man, Lot should have thought about that. He should have been thinking about how this move would impact him and his family spiritually. Well, that's not what was on Lot's mind. You know, one of our wonderful volunteers at It Is Written was getting ready to move. So the question arose: "Where shall we move to"? Now, she had criteria. She wanted to buy a home in a place where there were no church members so she would have neighbors to study the Bible with.

Now, this is an elderly woman, not a young woman. She's already studied the Bible with one woman who's accepted Jesus and is close to baptism, and she's starting studies with more. You see, she believes in being the salt of the earth. Her move was predicated on "How will this impact ministry"? That's certainly not the only consideration, but what a wonderful thing to be thinking about when you're considering a change in life. So, in a sense, Lot's wife was set up. In a sense, she was set up by her husband. If he'd made a decision that was in the best interests of his family, if he had not chosen the path of ease and relative comfort, it would all have turned out differently. Mrs. Lot learned to love her home in Sodom, so much so that when they were fleeing the place, as fire and brimstone were being sent by God, she...looked back. She was out of there bodily, but her heart was still back in town. Mrs. Lot is one of the great "almost" people of the Bible. She was almost saved, but her heart was back in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Can you think about other "almost" people in the Bible? I can think of somebody who spent 3 1/2 years with Jesus, one of Jesus' closest companions, and yet Judas was lost. Jesus even washed his feet in an effort to get through to his heart. Judas was so close, ended up so lost. Ananias and Sapphira, they could easily have been saved, but they chose to lie to God. They chose to be lost. While her body was upon the plain, Mrs. Lot's heart clung to Sodom, and she perished with it. She rebelled against God because His judgments involved her possessions and her children. Although she was so greatly favored by God in being called out of that wicked place, she felt she was severely dealt with. She felt that she was hard done by because the wealth that had taken years to accumulate had to be left behind. Instead of saying, "Thank You, God, for delivering me," she presumptuously looked back, desiring the life of those who had rejected God's mercy. Mrs. Lot demonstrated that she was unworthy of everlasting life because she was so ungrateful for God preserving her and keeping her.

Now, we know something. We know the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was serious. It was. And let me pause and suggest this. There are times that Christian people look at places like Sodom and Gomorrah and act as though the sins committed there are the worst sins that could ever be committed. Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not watering it down. Immorality is a bad thing. Turning your back on God, rejecting His commandments, oh man, that's not good. You read in some detail about what was taking place in Sodom and Gomorrah, oh man, not good. Let me tell you this. There are worse sins, and I share this with you because I have it on good authority.

Listen to this now. If you were to ask Jesus, I'm absolutely certain that He would say there are greater sins than that for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. I'll tell you one. People who hear the gospel invitation calling sinners to repentance and reject it? They're more guilty before God than the people who dwelled in the Vale of Siddim. And there's a still greater sin. Listen to this. It's professing to know God and to keep His commandments, yet denying Christ in your character and in your daily life, that's worse. It's worse than what they did in Sodom and Gomorrah. In the light of the Savior's warning, the fate of Sodom is a solemn call. Not simply to people who are guilty of terrible sin, but it's a warning to people who are trifling with the light and privilege that have been sent by God.

When God calls, man, that's a privilege. You don't want to trifle with the mercy of God. Would you be an "almost" person? Would you? There are so many of them in the Bible. Would you be one? You know so much, yet would you be like Judas and turn back? Would you be like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram? You know that Korah was a Levite? He'd been chosen by God to minister. He came close... not close enough. Would you be like Achan? You remember Achan, or Akan? There they were, they went to Jericho, they sacked the place, and they were told, "Don't you take anything". What did Achan do? He took wealth. He took a "goodly Babylonish garment". And he paid for it with his life. He demonstrated that his heart was not with God. Ananias and Sapphira, there are just so many people who are "almost" people. We can't be "almost" people. We've come too far.

Let me share this story with you. My wife and I were driving across the United States. We were on Interstate 40, this was many years ago. It was some years "BC", some years before children. And as were driving west, there was a sign, and it said something like "Grand Canyon, 740 miles". Something like that. And then hours later, there was another sign that said, "Grand Canyon," uh, "500 miles". And then later, "Grand Canyon, 200 miles". And then, "Grand Canyon, that way," and it said, "You've come too far to miss it now". Friend, we've come too far to miss it now. If you've known Jesus all your life, you've come too far to miss heaven now. If you've known Jesus a few months or a few years, you've come too far to miss it now. If you are just being introduced to Jesus, you've heard too much now. You know about mercy and grace. If you've held a Bible, if you've just held a Bible, you've come too far to miss it now. Eternity is offered to you.

What did Jesus say? "Remember Lot's wife". She turned back. God says to us today what He said to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and you read it in the book of Revelation in chapter 18: "Come out of her, my people". Come out of the world! Come out of sin! Come out of Sodom and Gomorrah! Don't look back! Sometimes we are tempted to look back, and it's the worst thing we can do. You know why we're tempted to look back? I'll give you some examples. We can be tempted to look back, look back to the old life, look back to where we used to be, because of sin. People say, "I have failed too greatly," and they shrink away from God, and they look back. No, man. You cannot afford to look back because of sin. You know what God says about sin. Yes, He says it's bad. There's no question about that. But the Bible says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from", do you know how much? "all unrighteousness". You must not let sin cause you to turn back. There is no need. "Oh, I've done badly". Yes, you have. "Oh, maybe I've gone too far". No, you haven't! "Maybe God won't forgive me".

Will you listen to yourself? Jesus forgave people. He cast multiple demons out of certain people. He found people who had been taken in the midst of terrible sin, and He said, "I don't condemn you". You must not turn back on account of sin. If sin does anything in your life, let it make you run towards Jesus and grab hold of Him and say, "I can't do this without You! Do not let me go"! And He won't! Just make sure that you don't let go of Him. Other people turn back because of discouragement. "I can't go on. Things are going badly. I'm just too down, too bummed". I'm not talking about depression, clinical depression. That's a thing and, and, please, if you battle depression, please talk to somebody; please see somebody. Please get a hold of a depression recovery seminar or a physician or a counselor. Do something about that. But some people become discouraged by any number of things, say, "I can't go on". Oh, yes, you can.

Let me tell you something. When Jesus comes back, discouragement is gone. There'll never, ever, ever be another discouraged thought or inkling in eternity. You keep looking forward; don't be discouraged. Other people turn back because of people. "I came into the church, and these people were nasty. I've been let down". Of course you have, because wherever there are people, there's going to be somebody who will let you down. That's just what happens. But you aren't looking to people, you're looking to Jesus. Did Jesus ever let you down? No. You come to church, and somebody stiffs you or is rude to you or whatever it might be. You can't let that put you off. You just can't. People are people. We are all faulty. Many times we give offense without even meaning to. And many times people take offense, and they really ought not.

Don't let people cause you to turn back. There's no need for that. There is one person, capital "P," that you need to look to. His name is Jesus. You can't afford to look back. Keep looking forward. Remember Lot's wife. Look forward. And what's coming when you look forward? The latter rain is coming, a great outpouring of God's Holy Spirit. Look forward. Souls are being won where you are and all around the world, and God wants to use you in that soul-winning, more than ever. "Can He use me"? Yes, He can. If you pray for a divine appointment, pray, "God, use me to share light with somebody; God, use me to share Your Word with somebody," God will. You don't want to miss out on that. Look forward! Jesus is coming soon! This is no time to be looking back, no time at all. Remember Lot's wife. Don't look back. Look forward! What's going to keep you from looking forward and pressing forward into the heart of Jesus? You don't want to let anything keep you from the heart of Jesus. We get over to Revelation chapter 18, I touched on that a moment ago, and what does Jesus say? "Come out of her, my people".

Now, here's the thing. We want to come out of the world, out of the world, not go back to sin, not go back to where we came from. Jesus calls us out of sin and into His heart. Let me ask you a question. How's it going with you personally? God calls us, doesn't He? He calls us out of our own personal Sodom and Gomorrah, whatever that might be. God calls us to full commitment to Him. That's what He calls us to. God calls us to surrender our heart to Him. What happened? The angel came and said to Lot, "Get your family out". Lot said to his family, "We've gotta go". Off they went, Lot and his daughters and his wife. Mrs. Lot looked back, and that looking back...was deadly. It cost her eternal life. We don't want to look back.

Let me share a story with you that I think underscores the importance of responding when God calls. Not too long ago I was in Guatemala with an It Is Written mission team. This mission team, a group of lay people, had planned to visit Guatemala from long ago, but in the intervening time, shortly before they went, a volcano erupted, Volcán Fuego, the "volcano of fire". The results were devastating, devastating. Let me share something with you. When we got there, and we filmed an It Is Written television program there Danger at the Doorstep, or "Danger on the Doorstep". If you haven't seen it, I hope you'll see it. You really want to see this program. We went to the town of San Miguel Los Lotes. We noticed that heavy equipment was clearing what used to be a road. The road was now covered over in places, in many places, by 15, 20, 25 more feet of volcanic material. It was a pyroclastic flow, like the one I mentioned earlier in relation to the man in the underground prison cell.

The pyroclastic flow, that's the ash and the rock, superheated, and gas, all together flowing down the side of the mountain like a river. Well, it had done that, and we were there standing on what was like a glacier of volcanic material. Later, when we interviewed a man whose family had died in the volcano, the man said that there had been 15,000 people living in San Miguel Los Lotes. Well, I'd been there. I saw a roof sticking up out of the ash and rock. I saw the second floor of a two-story house. Over in the distance, there I saw another roof, but that was all I saw. I said to Carolina, our translator, one of our It Is Written team, I said, "He said 15,000. Do you think he meant 1,500"? And she said, "Well, he very definitely said 15,000. And the words are different". I said, "Oh, it must have been a slip of the tongue because there certainly was not 15,000 people there".

Later on, we interviewed somebody else, and that person said that in San Miguel Los Lotes there were 12,500 or 13,000 people. I don't know the exact number. It was evidently somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 people had been there. And when we visited that town, it was like walking on the moon. There was virtually no evidence that there'd been any kind of town there. I thought it was some two-horse town where 25 people lived. It was a big town. I saw the before and after photos. The entire town was swallowed up by Volcán de Fuego. Just swallowed up. So I met a lady whose name was Rosa, and Rosa was a volunteer with the government's, um, disaster warning service.

Now, the volcano had been erupting since 2002, on and off, kind of continually. And a couple of years ago there'd been a warning where 33,000 people evacuated. It was, but no damage. It was Rosa's job to go around the city warning people, "You gotta get out! You gotta get out! You gotta get out! Time to go! We are told to get out because the volcano's going to blow". But here's what happened. Rosa went to the people of San Miguel Los Lotes; she said, "You've got to go"! Many people did. But many people did not. They said, "You know what we're going to do? We're going to just shut our door, lock it, and we'll be safe". Well, they did, and they weren't safe. They're still in their homes... beneath 10, 15, 20 feet of volcanic material. I had no idea, but where I was standing, as we were filming there, just 25 yards away there had been a church. You couldn't see it; it was buried.

And somebody went to the church and said, "You've gotta go," because it happened on a Sunday, you see, and there were many churches filled with people. And the people in that church said, "No, we are going to pray to God and ask Him to protect us". Can you imagine? They prayed. God tried to protect them by telling them to get out. They didn't get out. A man I met, he said that he just took off, didn't even shut the door. He called to his father, "Dad, come on"! And Dad said, "Hey, I'm just going to use the bathroom". And that was the difference between life and death. You, you just couldn't believe it. The authorities said 200 people were missing. The locals said at least 1,500 people were missing.

Why the discrepancy? Well, because the people who would ordinarily report other people as missing... were dead. Were dead. They could have fled and gone to safety. They heard the warning. But when the fire came, when the destruction came, when the heat came, they ignored the warning. Friend, what is God calling to you about today? Is it an attitude, a sin, an addiction? Is it something illegal you shouldn't be involved in? Is it a, an Internet habit? Is it...a sour disposition? Is it faithlessness? God is calling us to come out of this world. We don't want to look back and say, "You know, Lord, I'd like to have one foot on the sea of glass, and I want to have one foot here in my sin". You don't want that.

Remember the words of Jesus, and remember Lot's wife. God calls us on. He calls us out. Where are you? Are you stuck some place? Come on, let's go; let's go together. Are you tarrying, lingering? The angel would take you by the arm and say, "Let's go". Jesus said, "Remember Lot's wife". Somebody who looked back rather than looked forward. Let's look forward. Let's look forward to the latter rain. Let's look forward to the Second Coming. Let's look forward to gravity losing its power over the soles of our feet and us going up, up, and all the way to heaven. Can we look forward together?

"But what about my sin"? You give that to Jesus. "What about my weakness"? You take hold of His strength. "What about my constant spiritual failure"? Remember, God says His "strength is made perfect in weakness," and if you will let Jesus do it, He will live his life in you so that "He who has begun a good work in you" will be faithful to perform it "until the day of Jesus Christ". You let God into your heart, He will change you and remake you. You can't do it. I can't do it. But God can't fail. Remember Lot's wife. Don't look back; look forward. Can we pray? Let's look forward.

Father in heaven, we pray together now, and we thank You for Your mercy that calls us out, for Your goodness that offers us grace and salvation. We thank You today that You're a great God and a loving God. We understand the end of this world will come. The earth and everything in it will be burned up, like Sodom and Gomorrah. But we need not be lost. In spite of weakness and failure and discouragement and doubt, we can be saved through our mighty Savior Jesus.

Friend, would you look forward today and let Jesus be your Savior? If your answer is yes, please just raise your hand. Raise it, wherever you are; whatever you're doing, lift up your hand.

God, save me. God, let Jesus be my Savior. God, keep me from looking back and grant me grace to look forward.

Have you raised your hand? Do so, wherever you are; lift it up.

Lord, give us grace to remember Lot's wife, and to remember Jesus and never forget and never let Him go. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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