Genesis 19:1 says that Lot sat at the gate of Sodom. At that time the custom of all the countries in the east was not like today’s court. These countries judged the civil affairs at the gate of the city. Their judges were those who were elected among the qualified ones in the city, and they served as the elders. As judges they sat at the gate of the city to judge the civil affairs. Lot sat at the gate of the city; he was promoted. He was not only a commoner of Sodom; he became a judge. Lot’s position in the world had become higher and more advanced. The way to sin is like this; it only goes faster. At first Lot was only near Sodom. Later on, he dwelt in Sodom, and finally he became a judge in Sodom.
What was the result of Lot’s doing such things? His wife died halfway, his daughters committed fornication, and his sons-in-law were burnt by the fire from heaven.
The book of 2 Peter says that Lot was a righteous man (2:7), but he forgot that he had taken residence in Sodom. He even shed tears for those who were evil, but he forgot to shed tears for himself. A person can shed tears for other Christians, but forget to shed tears for himself. Lot saw the great sins in the people of Sodom. He even wanted to help them. But he did not realize that he could not do it. Many Christians are the same way. They have become backslidden, yet they still urge others to believe in the Lord Jesus.
God wanted to destroy Sodom. But He listened to Abraham’s prayer, and two angels went to rescue Lot. Genesis 19:12-14 says, "And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it. And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons-in-law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law." Lot had no testimony in front of his sons-in-law. They thought that he mocked them. People may believe if you say that the street is on fire. But no one will believe if you say that there will be fire coming from the heaven. People may still believe if you say that the fire of the gas tank will burn a man. But no one will believe if you say that brimstone will burn a man.
Genesis 19:16 says, "And while he lingered..." These words show a vivid portrait. It seems that Lot wanted to speak to his cows and sheep: "O cows, for you I separated myself from Abraham; for you I chose the plain of Jordan. O sheep, you have been in my place for five years, can I desert you today?" It seems that he looked at his furniture, his treasures, his sheepfold, and his warehouse, and thought, "I thought that I could live in Sodom forever. I wanted to build a larger warehouse to store all my goods and belongings. And then I would speak to my soul and say, `Soul, eat, drink, and be merry.’ Am I going to leave all these behind? Am I going to walk away like this today? I cannot suffer losing so many wonderful things!"
Genesis 19:16-17 says, "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. 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." These were the instructions to them after the angels led them out of the city. Today you are in the world, and you may not have much money. But you may be as reluctant to part company with the world as Lot. There was an old lady who only had fifteen dollars, and she counted them every day. We may laugh at her for her obsession with money. But when a person with a box full of property deeds inspects them and treasures them, God in the heavens laughs at him in the same way that we laugh at the old lady. In our eyes fifteen dollars means nothing. But in God’s eyes, a box full of title deeds also means nothing.
The Lord Jesus is coming soon. The destruction of Sodom is a type of the coming destruction of the world. If all your hopes, whether great or small, are built on this world, one day the fire from heaven will consume them all. One day God will destroy them all. When that day comes, you will not be able to escape even if you want to. There will be no way for you to escape. Whatever you cannot let go of today will be let go in that day. At the time of the rapture, God will only rapture men; He will not rapture any objects. God will only save men; He will not put out fire. Therefore, today we should gladly let things go.
Genesis 19:26 says, "But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt." Lot’s wife followed her husband’s desire; she looked back. Even though there was nothing more to see, a glance back at the burning fire would still make her feel better. What she wanted to see indicated what her heart would not let go of. This looking back tells us many things and expresses many inward feelings. This look turned her into a pillar of salt, and she became a serious warning to us even until today! The Lord said, "But on the day in which Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be in the same way on the day in which the Son of Man is revealed...Remember Lot’s wife" (Luke 17:29-30, 32). At the coming of the Lord, this world will also be judged, and everything on the earth will be burned. The ones who love the world will be left on earth. They will be like Lot’s wife, who remained on earth to become a pillar of salt.
Friends, I am afraid that we have paid too much attention to vain things and have forgotten about the eternal things. We are very busy with social activities, with our children’s education, and with our businesses. It is right to educate our children and take care of our business. But the eternal things need our attention too. Friends, particularly young friends, your way may still be long. If the Lord still delays, let us choose today the way which we should take. Let us pay attention today to what is valuable, what is coming from God, and what will last to eternity. Let us hope that our glory is not today, that we will learn to draw near to God, and that we will go on properly in the way ahead.
The detailed catalog from the Gospel Book Room has already been published. Anyone who wants it may request it by mail, and we will send it to you right away.
The Questions on the Gospel will not be published for a while. The first edition of The Little Flock hymnal has already been sold out, and there is no definite date for the second edition. Thank you for your many requests. Hopefully, this will serve as our notification concerning this matter.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 18: Notes on Scriptural Messages (2), Chapter 13, by Watchman Nee)