Bible Prophecy and the Return of Jesus

As it was in the days of Lot

 

By I Gordon

 

You would have seen from the study on the days of Noah that Jesus compared His return to the days of two men – No prizes for saying Noah, because I have just given that away! And I can’t really hand out prizes for the correct identification of Lot either because his name is in the title of this study! So we can learn, Jesus said, something about the last days and His return by looking at the days of Noah and the days of Lot. Now, you don’t have to be the biggest scholar in the world to know that these were not ‘the good old days’! In fact, they stand out in the Bible as probably being the two most extreme judgements by God in the entire Old Testament. This study then will focus on the days of Lot. We will look at what is written concerning Him in the book of Genesis and will conclude by looking at what the New Testament emphasises the most when speaking of the days of Noah and Lot

 

Oh that dreadful sin of inhospitality!

 

Gen 18:16-21 ‘When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?  Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.  Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous  that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.

 

So we have picked up the story in Genesis chapter 18 where the Lord Himself has come down to visit Abraham and to see if the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is as bad as it really is. Now, obviously, God knows everything and doesn’t need to come down and look! But He has done so here so that His servant Abraham would understand the need for the coming judgement. And it would give Abraham the chance to see the justice of God in sparing those who were innocent. Now I’m sure you know what sin it was that was so grievous that the Lord Himself came down to see if it was really that bad… that’s right, it was that terrible grievous sin of inhospitality![1] Well maybe not! Despite what some scholars with their own agendas may say, the Bible is clear on the reason for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

Jude 7 ”In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”   

 

With Jesus contrasting His return to the days of Lot, it shouldn’t be surprising that sexual immorality in the form of homosexuality[2] is increasing in our day. That some so called Christian ministers just see it as an ‘alternative lifestyle’ should surprise and shock us however. 

 

Will God judge the righteous with the wicked?

 

Gen 18:22-25 ‘The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.  Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?

 

As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be. God’s patience with sinful men has its limits and judgement will come. As the Apostle Paul told those in Athens

 

Acts 17:30-31 ‘God … now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.’

 

That ‘day’ is called the ‘day of the Lord’.[3] Now the question that Abraham asked in the days of Lot is essentially the same question that many ask today. We know from the Bible that this day of the Lord, the day of Judgement is coming. But will the righteous (the Church  - the Lord’s bride) go through this time? Will they experience the judgement of God along with the world? To ask it, is to answer it is it not? You don’t have to be Einstein to know that the Lord does not judge the righteous with the wicked! He is just! Peter picks up on this very point in 2 Pet 2:6

 

‘..if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless … if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment…’

 

Paul also speaks of the coming day of the Lord and again confirms that the Church will not experience this time of judgement upon the earth. 1 Thess 5:2-5

 

‘…you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.  You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

 

Lot’s solemn responsibility

 

Gen 19:12-14 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here  because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”  So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

 

We pick up the story again in the next chapter. The two angels that came to Lot have warned him to tell his other family members about the coming judgment from God. What a responsibility Lot had! He knew that the judgment was coming. He knew that anyone who remains in Sodom would perish because of that judgment. You can probably imagine his pleas with his sons in law to escape. And yet they didn’t listen. And why should they listen? “Cities don’t just get destroyed by fire” they would have thought. “God doesn’t just judge like that… He is a God of love. Lot must be joking or possibly the lift isn’t going to the top floor anymore! We’ll be fine!”

 

If you are a Christian then Lot’s responsibility is also your responsibility. This time, we are the ones that have been given the warning in advance that judgement is coming[4]. And we are the ones who alone know that only by fleeing to Christ is true safety found.

 

The hesitation of Lot

 

Gen 19:15-17 “With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.  As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

 

Lot knew that God was going to destroy the whole place… yet he hesitated to leave! Why do you think that was? Mmmm? Why would he hesitate? To get his possessions and spare cash? A bite to eat maybe? Favourite television program?[5] Not quite… There is only one logical answer – because of the people. His heart was still with his sons in law who would not accept what he said. That is what made him hesitate. Nothing else really mattered. Let me ask you a question… Is there someone who would make you hesitate? Is there someone that the Lord has put on your heart to share the good news with and you’ve put it off? If so, tell the Lord again that you are willing to be obedient and ask Him to give you the opportunity.

 

Well, you probably know the rest of the story. Lot and his daughters escape Sodom. But as the judgement of fire falls, Lot’s wife, disobeying the commands of the angels who had rescued them, looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt[6]. 

 

Ready, ready, ready!!!

 

Luke 17:28-30 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.’

 

Matt 24:37-43 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;  and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

 

I want to end this study with one last look at the main point that Jesus wanted to portray in using the examples of both Lot and Noah. And that is the importance of simply being ‘ready’. This means don’t fall asleep in your faith! Watch and be aware of the time in which you live! Look for the signs of the Lord’s near return and realise that it could be this very day.[7] There is nothing that could stop Jesus coming back for His church today. There are no prophecies that have to be fulfilled before the bridegroom can return to take His bride back to the home he has prepared for her.[8] When we look at the two passages above, we see that the main point that Jesus is making is that life in the times of Noah and Lot was going on as normal. They were eating, drinking, getting married. It was business as normal. They had no idea that judgment was right at the door. And yet, like a thief in the night, it came. Jesus’ return for His bride is going to occur just as quickly and suddenly. Are you ready?  

 



[1] I kid you not. A couple of years ago, a new study Bible came out. It was the Oxford Annotated Bible. It was edited in part by pro-"gay" and feminist scholars and adopts "gay" revisionist interpretations of Holy Scripture such as that God allegedly destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of inhospitality — not homosexual sin. The actual note in the Bible concerning the destruction of Sodom says ‘The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was a prominent example in Israelite tradition of God’s total judgment. As in the case of 18:1-8, the main issue here is hospitality to secretly divine visitors. Here, however, the sanctity of hospitality is threatened by the men of the city who wish to rape (know) the guests. Though disapproval of male homosexuality is assumed here, the primary point of this text is how this threat by the townspeople violates the value of hospitality…As a result of his protection of his guests, he (Lot), like Noah, "finds favor" with God and he and his household are rescued out of destruction. Other passages in the Bible which condemn homosexuality are similarly reinterpreted.

Rev. Troy D. Perry, founder of the homosexual Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), wrote on the church’s Web site: ‘I’m excited to share with you today one of the most important theological breakthroughs in the 33-year history of Metropolitan Community Churches .. the world renowned biblical scholars who prepared The New Oxford Annotated Bible have adopted a great deal of MCC’s own scholarship and theology: There is no biblical condemnation of homosexuality — only prohibitions against its misuse, just as there is no biblical blanket condemnation of heterosexuality, only prohibitions against misuse of that gift.’


What a load of rubbish! You might as well just rip the sections of the Bible that you don’t like out, instead of getting so called ‘scholars’ to make white black and black white. As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be. It is just scary that acceptance and practice of such gross sin is happening in the “church”. Romans chapter 1:18-27 specifically says that the wrath of God in this age includes a ‘giving over’ to sinful desires of homosexuality because they would not believe the truth. And Isaiah 24 tells us that the judgment in the Day of the Lord will be because the people’s sins have polluted and defiled the earth. Therefore they are under a curse and will pay for their guilt.

 

[2] The country that I live in, New Zealand, just passed what it calls the ‘Civil Union’ bill this past month. It is essentially gay marriage. It was passed by parliament despite the vast majority of New Zealanders opposed to it according to the polls. It was encouraging to see that ‘morality’ was the biggest factor in the recent US elections however.

 

[3]  The day of the Lord is a term used to define the time of God’s judgment in the last days. It is not a literal 24 hour day, but a period of time. It is sometimes called ‘The Tribulation’ or ‘Daniel’s 70th week’. From Daniel chapter 9 and passages in Revelation we can determine that it will last a period of 7 years. A description of the judgments during this time can be seen in Revelation chapter 6 – 19. Also look at Isaiah 2:6-22, 13:6-16. Isaiah 24 contains a very concise, yet graphic description of this time. The purpose of the Day of the Lord, according to Dr Arnold Fructembaum, is threefold –

1)       To make an end of wickedness and wicked ones (Is 13:9, 24:19-20)

2)       To bring about a worldwide revival (Rev 7:1-17)

3)       To break the power of the Jewish nation – in order to bring about repentance and a calling out for the Messiah to return (Dan 12:5-7, Zech 12:10)

[4]  And like Lot, we too may be rejected more often than not. It is actually prophesied that in the last days scoffers will mock the thought of Jesus’ return and the coming judgment. Nether the less, it will all take place and not one word of the scripture will be left unfulfilled. See 2 Pet 3:3-12

 

[5] I remember reading a question in a book that said – ‘If you could push a button that would take you to be with the Lord (and He was sweet with you pushing it!), would you push it?’ It was a good question because it forces you to access where your heart is and what things make you ‘hesitate’. What would you do? I’ve heard some say they would want to get married or have a career first. If you were to ask the Apostle Paul he would have been chomping at the bit to push the button! But, like Lot, it was only the people that he cared for and needed him that caused him to hesitate. See Phil 1:21-26.

 

[6] William MacDonald, in his ‘Bible Believers Commentary’ writes ‘Although Lot’s wife was almost taken by force out of Sodom, her heart remained in the city. This is indicated by the fact that she turned back. She was out of Sodom, but Sodom was not out of her. As a result, God destroyed her by turning her into a pillar of salt.’

 

[7] A read a story recently which I liked. Horatio Bonar was a great Scottish minister who loved the Lord and lived with an expection of the Lord’s soon return. One day, as he sat with a number of fellow ministers, he asked them a question. ‘Do you really expect Jesus Christ to come today?’ he asked. One by one, as he went round the circle of ministers, they all answered honestly with a no. ‘No…we don’t really expect Him to come today.’ Horatio then began to write something on a piece of paper and handed it round the circle of ministers. It simply said ‘So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’ They got the point!

 

[8] I don’t believe that these passages before us concern the return of Jesus at the end of the tribulation because that is not a time when people will be carrying on with their normal lives. You only have to look at the judgments in Revelation to understand this. But life will be business as usual for the world at the time of the rapture. There are heaps of prophecies that have to be fulfilled before the return of Jesus to earth at the end of the tribulation (as portrayed in Revelation 19) but there are no prophecies that have to be fulfilled before Jesus returns to take His bride home. Because of this, Peter could write in 1 Peter 1:5 that we are

shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.From the time that Jesus ascended to heaven, it could always be said that our full salvation ‘is ready to be revealed’. It is ready. There is nothing else that has to be accomplished. On a scarier note for those that don’t know the Lord, Peter also wrote in 1 Pet 4:5 ‘But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.’ Not only is our full salvation ready to be revealed (our new bodies at the return of Jesus) but it can also be said that God IS READY to judge the living and the dead. Nothing else has to happen. He is ready. Only his patience and mercy prevents this judgment. So if God is ready, then the only question left is ‘are you ready’?