Revive Our Hearts Podcast

You’ve Been Warned

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with some Bible trivia.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Okay, if I were to ask you, “What is the shortest verse in the Bible?” most of you would know the answer to that question. What is it? (Audience responds: Jesus wept.)

How many of you know what the second shortest verse in the Bible is? I’ll give you a clue: It’s something that Jesus said in the gospel of Luke. Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for April 30, 2019.

Nancy is addressing a subject that may not be appropriate for little ears to hear. If there are younger children with you, you might want to get them occupied elsewhere before listening to today’s program.

Okay. Here’s Nancy to talk about one of the shortest verses in the Bible.

Nancy: Remember Lot’s wife? Does that put a question mark in your head? Here’s a woman who lived 1900 years, plus or minus, before Jesus said those words. Today, that would be like saying: “Remember Mrs. So-and-so, who lived in 200 AD!” Like, how are we supposed to remember her? And why are we supposed to remember her? What’s so memorable about her?

Well, for some reason, Jesus thought it was important for those in His day, and in our day, to remember this woman. “Remember, remember Lot’s wife.”

That word remember means “to be mindful of, to call to mind, to hold in your memory, to keep in your mind.” Don’t forget it. “Remember Lot’s wife.” So over the next several days, I want us to take time to “remember Lot’s wife.”

Who was she? Some of you are wondering right now: Who in the world was this woman? Maybe you’re a newer Christian or new to the Scripture, and you’re saying, “Who in the world was Lot’s wife? And what did she do? And why are we supposed to remember her? What can this woman teach us who live in the twenty-first century? And what should we learn from her life and her tragic death?”

Now, for starters, I’m going to tell you that it may be hard for you to imagine how we’re going to spend four days talking about Lot’s wife because we know very little about her from the Scripture. There are approximately fifteen words about her in the Old and New Testaments combined. So how are we going to make four programs out of that?

We don’t even know her name. So, could we just call her Mrs. Lot, for purposes of this series? We don’t know where she was from. We don’t know where she met her husband. We know so little about her. And yet, Jesus said, “Remember her. Don’t forget her. There’s something really important about her.”

Now we know a lot more about her husband whose name was Lot. Lot’s wife was married to Lot. Today I want to just give you a little bit of background on Lot.

I read somewhere recently, someone was saying to those who teach the word, “Don’t say, ‘As you all know,’ about this story because today so many people aren’t familiar with some of these stories that you may have grown up with all your life, but for some, they’re new. So I want us just to remind ourselves about Lot. So whether you’re new to the Scripture or have heard it many times, I want to just remind us some of what we know about Lot.

We know, first, that he was the nephew of an important man in the Scripture named Abraham. Abraham was chosen by God to start a new people, a new family, in a covenant relationship with God. God set apart this family to belong to Him. He promised to bless the people, the descendants, the family, the community that came from Abraham.

And not only was He going to bless them, but His desire was that they would become a blessing to all the peoples and nations of the world, that they would be a light, that they would show the people of the world who God is and His great redemptive plan for this world.

So Abraham was the patriarch, the first initial founding father of this new people, the Israelites, and Lot was Abraham’s nephew.

Now, Lot struggled to embrace this calling that God had put on his family. Lot always seemed to feel pulled in two directions. He was pulled toward the world while at the same time wanting to be a part of the people of God. So he was conflicted. He wanted a life of comfort and prosperity and ease, and he was willing to sacrifice relationships and to make compromises in order to have everything that he wanted.

At one point we read in the Scripture about how Lot separated from Abraham. They went in separate directions. Lot chose to settle in the land that looked the most fertile and promising to him. In fact, it says that it looked like the Garden of Eden. It looked beautiful and promising and productive and fertile. It looked like he could flourish there.

Now, this choice, as we know from the book of Genesis, was self-centered, and it was short-sighted because, as a result, Lot ended up exposing himself and his family to grave spiritual danger and temptation.

We read in Genesis chapter 13 that Lot separated from Abraham, and he set up his tent in the vicinity of Sodom, the city of Sodom—we’re going to hear a lot about Sodom over these next few days. He just lived facing that direction. He set himself up in that area. But by the next chapter, Genesis 14, Lot was living in Sodom. He moved closer and closer until finally he was living in the city.

Then by chapter 19 of Genesis, Lot was “sitting in the gate of Sodom,” verse 1 tells us. That means that he was involved in the commerce, the legal affairs, the business of the city. He was a respected, influential leader in Sodom.

He had started out just in the vicinity. Then he moved in, and he assimilated to the city. He became part of it. Then he arose to a place of prominence in the city of Sodom.

Now, what’s so important about Sodom? Well, Sodom was known for great wickedness. Genesis 13, verse 13, tells us that “the men of Sodom were wicked. They were great sinners against the Lord.”

The little New Testament epistle of Jude tells us that “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.” That’s what was characteristic of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding towns. Sexual perversion was widely practiced and accepted in these ancient cities.

Sometimes we think these are new things, that these are new problems, that today it’s just as bad as it’s ever been. It couldn’t get any worse. Well, you go back to the early parts of the book of Genesis, and you find Sodom and Gomorrah that were exceedingly wicked cities.

And then in Ezekiel 16 we read some more about Sodom. It talks about the heart attitudes that were underlying the sinful actions and behaviors of the people of Sodom, because wherever you have sinful actions and behaviors, you have sinful heart attitudes. What we do flows out of what’s in our heart. So the critical point wasn’t so much what they did. It was sinful. It was wicked. But what mattered was the kind of hearts that they had that produced that kind of behavior.

So Ezekiel 16 tells us, beginning in verse 49, “Now this was the sin of Sodom”—and you think it’s going to say, “sexual immorality, perverse, unnatural desires,” and that was true, but you know what it says was the sin of Sodom? “She and her daughters were arrogant. They were overfed. They were unconcerned. They did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me,” says God (paraphrased).

So the people of this city—and sometimes we say, “Sodom was guilty of,”—well, it wasn’t the city that was guilty of these things. It was the people who lived in the city who were guilty of these things.

  • They were guilty of pride.
  • They were self-centered.
  • They were greedy.
  • They lacked concern and compassion for others.
  • And out of that flowed all manner of sexual sin and perversion.

Now, the book of 2 Peter in the New Testament tells us that Lot, who by this time was living and influential in Sodom, was disturbed by what he saw going on around him. So he moved in. He became influential. But it always bothered him. He never felt quite right about it. In fact, there’s some pretty strong language here in 2 Peter 2, beginning in verse 7. It talks about “righteous Lot.”

The New Testament tells us that Lot was a believer. He was a righteous man. He believed in what had been revealed about God and His way of salvation to that point. But “he was greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard.”

That sounds like a conflicted man doesn’t it? He had a heart that went after God, but he was drawn to this very worldly, ungodly place, and he was torn by it. He was distressed. He was greatly distressed by what he saw. He tormented his righteous soul over the lawlessness that he saw around him. He knew right from wrong, and he was bothered by what was going on around him, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave this wicked environment until it was almost too late.

So now we come to Lot’s wife –Mrs. Lot. What do we know about Mrs. Lot? Well, we know that she was married to a wealthy man, which made it possible for her to have considerable wealth, materially speaking, and to live a comfortable lifestyle. And as we’re going to see, as the story unfolds, that may be the very thing that leads to her ultimate destruction.

She’s married to a wealthy man. And it’s also important to notice that she was closely associated with people who knew the one true and living God. Her husband was the nephew of Abraham and Sarah. She was married to Lot, who we just read in 2 Peter was a righteous man. He was conflicted. He compromised at times, but he was a man who had faith and who knew God.

The fact that she was closely associated with these people meant that she had greater knowledge of God than the other people around her, and that meant that she had a greater accountability. She was held more accountable in the end.

Now, let me ask you to turn in your Bible, or scroll in your Bible, if you want, to Genesis chapter 18. I want us to park today in chapters 18 and 19 in the book of Genesis—just giving some backdrop to this whole story of Mrs. Lot.

In chapter 18 you remember that God sent three men to Abraham’s tent. Two of these men were angels, as we learn in this passage. One was the Lord Himself in the form of a man, God who took on a human form. We call this a “theophany,” an Old Testament physical appearance of God.

God told Abraham that God knew what was going on in Sodom, and that God was going down to investigate it. “I’m going to find out what they’re doing there, and I’m going to do something about it.”

Abraham understood that God was going to send judgment to the people of this wicked city, and Abraham immediately thought, Sodom? Sodom? Lot lives in Sodom! Lot and his family. So Abraham was burdened for his nephew Lot and his family who lived in Sodom. He immediately began to appeal to God not to destroy this city. He understood that God was just to destroy the wicked, but he said, “Lot lives there. Lot’s family lives there. Please don’t destroy this city.”

So look at verse 23 in Genesis chapter 18: “Then Abraham drew near and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?’”

Look at verse 25: “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

Now, that’s an important line, and it’s going to come back to us. We’re going to reflect back on that as things happen in and around this story that are confusing to people today. And we want to keep coming back to, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth”—who’s that? Jehovah. God. He’s the Judge of all the earth. “And shall He not do what is just?” He will.

So in this case, Abraham is interceding on behalf of his nephew Lot and his family. And he says, “How can you . . . When you sweep away this city, if there’s some righteous people there, how can you sweep them all away in this judgment?”

He knew that this city deserved God’s judgment, but he prayed for mercy for the sake of those he loved. He pled with God.

You remember how he started at, “What if there were fifty righteous there?” Well, there’s no chance there were fifty righteous people there. So they whittled down the number until finally God agreed that if there were as few as ten people living in Sodom, people who walked with Him, who were righteous by faith, that He would not destroy the city.

Now, God knew there were not even ten righteous people in the city and that He would have to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. But for Abraham’s sake, as we learn later in this passage, for Abraham’s sake, in response to Abraham’s intercession, in His mercy, God sent two angels to Sodom to warn Lot and his family to get out of the city before He poured out judgment.

So God says, “I’m going to destroy the city. Yet, for ten I won’t destroy it, but there aren’t ten there.” So God sent the two angels who had come to see Abraham, He sent them on to Sodom to give a warning to Lot and his family so they could get out of the city before the Judgment.

So look at chapter 19 of Genesis, verse 1:

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth.

Now, keep in mind, these two angels looked like men. (I’ve seen some pictures on the Internet that are supposed to be recreations of what this might have looked like, and they show these angels as, like, Roman era men in armor and their breastplates and their swords and their shields.) These looked like normal men. They were angels in human form.

And so Lot saw them, and he was respectful to them. He bowed himself with his face to the ground, and he said, “My lords—(this is like, “Sirs,” just a sign of respect)—please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.”

Now, hospitality was a huge part of the DNA of this whole civilization, not just godly people, but even those who were ungodly people. The whole Middle East at that point . . . hospitality would have been really important. So Lot is doing what any good citizen would do. He’s showing hospitality.

“Come and spend the night here, and then you can get up and go in the morning.” They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square." But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. [So he opened his home to these two strangers. He didn’t know who they were.] And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate (Gen. 19:2–3).

It’s interesting as you’re studying Lot’s wife. You’re just curious, like, you don’t see or hear anything about her. It sounds like Lot did the cooking in this house, and he bakes bread. (laughter) Now, that’s not to say she wasn’t involved, or this may have been speaking for both of them, but together they opened their home, prepared a meal, and sat down to eat.

But before they lay down, [this was evening now] the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house (v. 4).

This is not going to go well. This is not just a few extremists in this city. This whole city was warped and perverted and violent and bent on evil, and it comes out in this very dramatic showdown here.

And they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them” (v. 5).

They wanted to have sexual relations with these men. The men of the city wanted to have sexual relationships with these men who were visiting the city. This is where we get the term “sodomy.” “Bring them out that we may have sexual relations with them.”

Lot was distressed by this. So he had accommodated too much of this city, but this was, like, the red line. No way was he going to let this happen.

[He] 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” (v. 6).

He still had some sense of right and wrong because we read in 2 Peter he was a righteous man. He knew in his heart and he knew in his conscience that this was wicked.

And then he says—and this is where you see he was such a product of the environment. He had so assimilated into the environment that he had lost his moorings, in one sense. He said,

“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” (v. 7).

You’re going, “WHAT?!!” This is a dad. He’s supposed to be protecting these women, but he was so far gone into the environment here, and he was so desperate, he didn’t know what to do. So he says, “Let me let you have my daughters.” This is unthinkable. You can hardly bring yourself to read this. But he says,

“Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof” (v. 8).

You see this conflict between Lot’s values and those of the culture in which he lived, the values to which he had become accustomed. He’s a torn man. And now he ends up in this situation that there is no good answer. It looks like every option is an evil one.

But they said to him, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, [speaking of Lot. He came to just visit here. He just parked his tent outside our city] and now he has become the judge!” (v. 9).

So they had become friends. He had developed relationships with these people, but now the lines are drawn. They’re now going to criticize the very one that they had embraced. He’s become the judge.

“Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” [They’re talking to Lot here.] Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. [This is an incredibly, violent, tense standoff.] But the men [that is the angels who were in Lot’s home] reached out their hands brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. [The power of God is more powerful than the power of evil.] 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” (vv. 9–11).

God was protecting Lot in a way Lot didn’t deserve to be protected. Lot belonged to God, and God was looking out for him even though Lot had compromised; he had blown it. He had sacrificed the ways of God in order to live in this city that he thought was so great. And now he’s experiencing some of the consequences of that. But God said, “Look, this is My story. And you are Mine, and I’m going to protect you here.”

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. [Get them out of here!] 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.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, [his daughters apparently were betrothed, engaged to these men of the city, and Lot said to his sons-in-law], “Up! Get out of this place, [the very message he’d just received from the angels] for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” [Lot believed that what the men were saying was true.] But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting (vv. 12–14).

They didn’t believe him. Well, in verse 15 we have the first mention of Lot’s wife.

As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife [there she is, Mrs. Lot] and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city” (v. 15).

So we see that God sent messengers to warn Lot and his family about the impending judgment on the city that they had come to call home. But He not only told them that judgment was coming, He offered them a means of escape, and He urged them to take it. “Get out of here! I’m letting you out of here before the judgment begins.”

Now, fast forward to what this has to do with our world and us. God has revealed in the Scripture that this world is going to be judged for the wickedness against God. But in His mercy, God has offered a means of escape for all who will believe and all who will flee from the wrath to come—flee to Christ to save them. So this is an Old Testament picture that we need to be reminded of today that judgment is coming, but God has provided a means of escape.

Now, if you didn’t know this story, what would you suppose would have been the response of Lot and his wife? The angels told them twice, “Get up! Get out of here! Take your wife. Take your daughters. We’re about to destroy the city. Get out of here!” What do you think their response would be? Get out of here! Right? Get out of Dodge. Get out of Sodom.

But look at verse 16: “But he lingered.” He lingered. He lingered? Why? He was in no hurry to get out of Sodom. He was reluctant. He was hesitant to leave. You know why? Because he was double-minded. He wanted to love God, and he wanted to love this evil world. And perhaps he was wondering, Was the city really going to be destroyed? There’s no evidence of that yet. Or, if they ran, would this be all for nothing?

I’m thinking about the people who are warned in times of great storms, hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes. They’re warned, “Get out of here! Get out of here!” And sometimes they have notice, like, “Get out! Get out of here! Board up your house, take whatever you’ve got to and get out of here.”

But you read all these stories about people just saying, “No, I think I’ll ride it out. I’ll board up my house. My house is strongly built. It didn’t happen to me the last time. It’s not going to happen this time.” And you read these stories about people who lose their lives because they refused to evacuate.

Maybe that’s what Lot was thinking. Can’t we just hunker down here? “But he lingered.”

Well, in God’s mercy, we’ll see in the next session that God pulled Lot out of that city, and he escaped—but barely. We can’t linger. We can’t linger. God says, “I’m sending judgment. You’ve got to get out of here.”

And, Lord, I pray that as we continue to look at this story, that we would take seriously the fact that You have said You are going to judge evil and sin, and You are going to judge this world which is so set against You. And what we see in Sodom and Gomorrah is just a glimpse, just a tiny picture of what Your Word tells us will be true in a cataclysmic sense at the end of the age.

But that You, in Your mercy, You have offered a means of escape to us. I pray, Lord, even for people listening to this series this week, that they would not linger any longer but would flee to Christ, run, escape from this city of destruction, the city of man, and would flee to Christ for salvation. I pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Well I think that’s why we listen to the teaching of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth over and over. She’s helped us think about what may seem like an obscure verse in the New Testament, and she used that as a way to dig into a very complicated story in the Old Testament. And we got so much meaning from it. She’ll pick that series back up tomorrow.

She and a group of friends will be opening God’s Word to us at the Revive ’19 conference. It’s coming to Indianapolis September 27–28. Along with Nancy, you’ll hear from Dannah Gresh, Mary Kassian, Kelly Needham, and other speakers. The topic is “Seeking Him.”

You’ll hear about ways to pursue personal revival. And I think you’ll come away with a heart ready to seek the Lord with a new sense of passion. We all need times to get off the treadmill of busyness and spend time focusing on seeking the Lord. Revive’19 may be just the opportunity you’ve been looking for to do that.

Today is the final day for the early registration discount. So, if you’ve been planning on joining us, today’s the day to take action and register at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.

There are also groups meeting all over the world to watch Revive ’19 together. To find a group in your neighborhood or to start a group, visitReviveOurHearts.com.

Lot’s family was warned by angels of the coming destruction to their city, but the family lingered and didn’t take the warning seriously. Why would someone not flee in the face of danger? Nancy will explore that question tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

We left today’s teaching on Lot in a heavy place. Nancy addressed that with the audience after the recording, and we wanted to share it with you.

Nancy: One of the things that I have observed over the year in our day and age is that people want you to race to grace. Now, grace is precious, and we’ve got to get there, and we want to get there fast. But, in fact, there’s a contemporary pastor, a popular preacher, who is saying, in effect, that we can, basically, as New Testament believers, kind of cut ourselves off from the Old Testament, that we don’t need that so much anymore.

Grace isn’t precious until you have seen the wrath of God, until you have felt the threat of God’s judgment. People want to feel good by the end of the session. They don’t want us to end the message on the warning, the threat, the judgment coming. They want to wrap it all up, like of like in Hallmark movies. They’ve got to finish right—everything’s fixed. Everything’s back together. Everybody’s happy. She finally got her—whatever—her man.

But I have found that if people don’t first experience the conviction and the settling in of the sense of the fear of the Lord and the terror of His judgment, then the grace and the offer of salvation that God gives is kind of ho-hum to them. Why would you flee if you don’t think you’re in any trouble?

Think about people that you know and love who are not walking with the Lord, who are far from Him, and you want to say, “Get to Christ! Get to Christ!” And say that, but remember that sometimes they have to feel the weight of their sin and the weight of conviction before they will get to Christ.

So sometimes we just need to let conviction settle in and the people feel that they’re going to be singed with fire if they don’t repent and believe the gospel.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is reminding you of God’s mercy available through Christ. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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