Run For Your Life
"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. And while he lingered, the men laid hold 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."(Genesis 19:15-17) It has been said, with great truth, that God is the God of a second chance. These verses declare His mercy. I believe we could also assume that He is also the God of the last chance, as a study of Genesis nineteen confirms.
Many preachers have used this story of Lot's removal from Sodom as a type of the Church being raptured before the Tribulation Period. No one can disagree that the moral condition of the world and particularly our own country closely parallel the gross sin of Sodom and it's impending judgment.
Within this parallel of Sodom and the world, there is also a close resemblance between Lot's life and the Church of today. God's message to Lot, goes forth to His body to come out from the world, its lust and greed before it is too late.
Like Lot, much of the Church has been silenced and backslidden, so the message from God's angel is echoed by today's prophets and preachers.
Chapter eighteen recalls the account of the angels traveling to Sodom via the camp of Abraham and explaining to him their destination and reason. They told Abraham that, "...Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and because their sin is very grievous."(Genesis 18:20)
The word cry used in this verse does not mean to weep. Its meaning is to 'announce or convene publicly'. The people of Sodom had no shame. They, with a proud arrogance practiced, promoted and defended their debauchery. Completely devoid of any type of restraint, moral, religious or political. Like today, the sins of Sodom have been resurrected within our nation. They are protected by our political leaders, promoted by our television and recording celebrities, practiced by any willing participant and defended with the abominable cliché, "Don't judge me."
Is it any wonder why the true prophets of God weep over an unsuspecting and seemingly unconcerned church. Proclaiming aloud the wake up call that Jesus is coming! Repent! Crying out to God for a genuine move and revival to ready His bride for His return.
Like Lot though, many in the Church sit idly by, in the midst of a wicked world system.
In verse fifteen of our opening scripture the angels come to Lot with an announcement that has grown very unpopular to today's Church member. It was a message of coming judgment. Unlike today's messages of peace and prosperity, God sees the sin of our land and is giving what may be the final call to some of us to run for our lives unless we be "consumed in the iniquity of the city."
God's message is simple. If we do not lay down our idols and repent of our secret sin, He has no other choice than to allow us to be consumed (perish) with those He directs His judgment towards. Spiritually as well as physically. Had Lot rejected the warning of the angels, his end would have been as the Sodomites.
There is a time of divine ultimatum when we must make a decision to remain in our sin or repent and follow God in holiness and purity.
Notice that the angels "hastened" Lot to get his family together and get out. Time was up. Yet in verse sixteen, Lot lingered (question, hesitate, be reluctant) He may, as many of us, still think we have plenty of time. Or, don't even believe in a rapture or judgment any more. Messages about the rapture and any type of judgment have fallen by the wayside in most churches. "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant..."(2 Peter 3:4)
Lot may have tried to argue that this warning of judgment violated everything he had heard preached at his local church. Maybe he should get a second opinion, or take some time to judge this prophecy.
There are multitudes in the church whom Sunday after Sunday sit under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but linger holding on to secret sins and the lust of worldly things, rejecting the mercy and the grace of God. Nonetheless, judgment is coming, and like the sons and sons-in-law of Lot, along with their wives were consumed in the iniquity and death sentence of the city of Sodom. Dropping off into a fiery eternity despite the grace and warning of a visible visitation from God.
The angels were so emphatic that they literally grabbed the hands of Lot and his family, personally escorting them outside of the city. I know many Holy Ghost filled ministers, who, if it was possible, would likewise grab people by their hands, pulling them from their secret sins, complacency and worldly lusts. Risking the label of what many call negative preaching. Listen, there is nothing more negative than to know a problem exists and not confronting it. Multitudes going to hell is negative. Standing before Jesus at the Judgment Seat and hearing Him ask why we did not speak up against sin is negative. To stand on the wall and watch judgment coming and not put the trumpet to your mouth is negative.
Lot's backsliding did not begin at Sodom, it was compounded. He was already out of God's will when he arrived. Unlike his uncle Abraham, he failed to go on with God.
Abraham had been promised a land, an inheritance. With him he took many members of his family from the bondage of Babylon to a land prepared for him by God. Babylon is a place of idolatry, worldliness, lust and perversion. God's new dwelling place, Canaan means "bend the knee, humiliation". A place of total submission to the Lord.
Lot would have a problem with being totally sold out to the Savior, as many in the Church of Jesus Christ today.
It is reflected in his name. In the Hebrew, Lot's name means "veil, a covering up, loot". There was something hidden in Lot's life. Although he enjoyed being around those who were fully submitted to God, a part of him still remained in Babylon. Like many church members, who have not totally sold out. They believe that they are going on with God, they are associated with a people that see God in genuine manifestation, yet they continue to hold on to the things of this world.
Scripture records in first Peter 2:7 that his soul was vexed by the filthy conversation of the wicked in Sodom. The iniquity of the people of this city wore heavy on the mind and soul of this man. Some believe he became a partaker of their sin, plus there is no record in scripture of him ever taking a stand, rebuking or preaching to these sinners.
What a harvest that may have been brought forth, but missed because of this man's silence.It is so difficult to stand when you are caught between two opinions.
Many in the Church today have tasted of the goodness of the Lord. Seen His miracles, partook of His grace and mercy, yet remain without a witness. Silent, while multitudes nose-dive into hell. Their only excuse is repeating Satan's lie. "One on one witnessing is not my ministry." Evidently it wasn't Lot's ministry either.
In the eighteenth chapter of Genesis, the angels stop on the way to Sodom to inform Abraham of their intention to destroy the city. Abraham immediately goes into intercession. He begins by asking the angels if they will destroy the righteous with the wicked if there be fifty righteous within Sodom. There answer was no. From fifty to forty five, to forty and so on down to ten righteous. Their answer remained the same. "And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake."(1 Kings 18:32) Had Lot been successful in winning his own house, Sodom would not have been destroyed!
Before we pass judgment on Lot's silence we must examine our own lives. This sin of silence is rampant within the Church of Jesus Christ. Can we remember the last time we shared the Gospel? Can we remember the last time we rebuked sin in our home? Forbid certain television programs, or music?
Many parents fill the pews shouting and praising God, yet their family is out of control. There is a veneer of holiness and in their hearts there is a desire to be a follower of Christ, but their secret sin and half-hearted devotion bind them. Their silence, like Lot's, may very well contribute to their loved ones death and damnation.
If we boast so much of our relationship and walk in the Holy Spirit, why don't we ask Him to fulfill His most important mission through us? "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:"(John 16:7,8)
Holding on to the world will also bring about spiritual blindness. In the thirteenth chapter of Genesis a division occurs between the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot. Abraham takes Lot to the mountain top to see all the lands round about them. He tells Lot, "You choose your direction. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right."
Abraham had a mission to accomplish. He was looking for a city whose builder and maker was God. He had to separate himself from those who had not put their whole heart into the journey.
As Lot surveyed the territory, he was drawn to the Jordan valley for his sheep yet pitched his tent toward Sodom. He describes this as "the valley of the Lord." (verse 10) Yet it was full of slime pits, homosexuality, violence, murder and every sin imaginable. Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom because his heart was there and it would soon cost him dearly.
He was saved, but because his heart was not fully surrendered to the Lord he sacrificed his sons, daughters, daughters-in-law and his wife to Sodom. He entered into an incestuous relationship with his two remaining daughters that produced the heads of two pagan, God hating tribes. What a testimony! But Lot was not too different than many in the church of today.
Some have an attitude of so-what if I sin, this is a time of grace. God doesn't judge sin the same way as He did in the Old testament. Wrong! The truth in both the Old and New Testaments will ring in our ears throughout eternity. The wages of sin is death! Run for your life!
Others want to know just how far they can go with certain worldly lusts and still go to heaven. Jesus makes it very clear. "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24) Get your heart out of Sodom!
God is drawing a line in these last days. Those who refuse to heed the warnings will, like Lot, probably sacrifice the things that mean the most to them. Maybe their own soul as well.
As the judgment of the Lord increases on our country and persecution towards the Church intensifies, those who are not fully persuaded like Abraham, will not make it.
They will not believe that a loving God would cut them off. Some believe that all their shouting, praising, dancing and tongue talking some how pacifies a holy God as they continue to compromise with the god of this world.
Escape To The Mountain
In Genesis nineteen verse seventeen, after the angels had saved the lives of Lot and his family, they give him several specific orders. One of them was to escape to the mountain. This is very significant symbolically. I believe this may be one of the reasons Lot did not want to go. "And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so my Lord: behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hath magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:"(Genesis 19:18,19)
Lot still had not gotten the message. Like many of us who have seen God answer prayer or come miraculously to our aid, we equate His intervention with our degree of spirituality. Lot needed more than physical deliverance. He and His family were sin sick. By going to the mountain God was going to reveal to Lot all that was lacking in their relationship. Going to the mountain is symbolic for going into the very presence of God.
All through the Bible great men of God were summoned to the mountain for a divine meeting. With each of these men the meeting had different purposes. To some it was a time of calling and direction. Encouragement, sometimes correction or sacrifice. But it was always a time that brought about a significant change in the life of those He had chosen.
To be in the very presence of God is a fearful thing to many. Particularly when there are ties to the world that have not been severed and continue to control our life. As was the case with Lot.
Backsliders and carnal Christians love to ride the coat tails of those who walk with God. They enjoy being in the overflow of blessings. They talk about revelations, dreams and visions, but are still tied to the world and bound by secret sin.
You can probably find them in every church. They are the gossips, pastoral and church board critics. Their homes are out of control. They see nothing wrong with an occasional social drink. Their language is spotted with profanity, off color jokes and have no reservations about sitting under movies and videos that should make them blush and be ashamed. I'm sure that like Lot, outside the confines of the church walls "gospel silence" also infects their witness.
They are bound to Sodom, and blind to the fact that the only remedy can be found in the presence of the Lord. Being blind they cry, "I'm O.K.! There is nothing wrong with me dwelling in the plains. I'm under grace, I can handle it."
When we enter into the presence of the Lord we are overtaken by the light. His light reveals all of our faults, failings and sin. Secret sin causes us to fear this light and being in the presence of such holiness. Peter, James and John experienced the mountain journey. Elijah, Isaiah, Moses and many others came from the mountain completely changed with a new direction and dedication to the Lord. All who have been saved by His marvelous grace will from time to time have to escape to the mountain in order to move on with Jesus. Some will go on their own for renewed strength, protection and direction. Others will be summoned by the Holy Spirit. But without the mountain experience there is no spiritual growth. Without a mountain experience there can be no revival in our churches or our personal life.
When adversity comes, those who refuse to escape to the mountain can be usually found hiding in the caves. It is a place of man-made safety full of terror and sin. It's walls are decorated with the graffiti of doubt and fear. It echoes, "Where is God? Why doesn't He hear me and deliver me?"
The mountain experience is also a time of being in God's perfect will. The angels were instructed by the Lord to send Lot there. Nothing would have harmed him. No weapon that had been formed against him could have prospered. The angels would have guided him every step of the way and the Lord of Lords and King of Kings would have met him there.
The ties of the world would have been broken as Lot submitted to the directives of God. He would have returned in holiness and purity. His moans would have been replaced with a shout and his silence would have been broken.
A renewed sense of the love of God would have permeated his entire being, along with a fiery hated of sin and compassion for sinners.
I believe almost everyone in Christendom has at one time or another said, "If I could just see Jesus, talk with Him, touch Him, I know my life would be changed." This is carnal. They want to see Jesus physically. But scripture says "God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."(John 4:24)
But there is a basis of truth in this statement. You can have your life changed, talk to God, see Him and touch Him. You must come to the mountain. It is not a literal place. It is a attitude of the heart. Our cry must be, "Jesus, I no longer want to be tied to Sodom. I want to go on to Canaan with a bent knee, contrite heart and all the flesh destroyed. Turn on your search light and reveal to me every sin, every hindrance, every area of compromise in my life. Deliver me from the fear and doubt that keeps me in this cave. Forgive me and cleanse me."
If our life revolves around moving in Christ, with Christ and hearing His voice we will love reproof. We will welcome all the Holy Spirit will instruct and correct in our life to enable us to be more like Jesus. But if our heart is still in Sodom with secret sin we will reject it. We will also reject those who He sends to minister it.
Because of God's love and mercy towards us He will expose our sin to us first. If we reject His conviction and drawing to the mountain we will inevitably fall into judgment, running the risk of sin being exposed to all. Either in this life or the next. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whosoever confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."(Proverbs 28:23)
Don't Look Back
Have you ever heard someone speak of all the things they had to give up in order to be a Christian? They are looking back. Or those who seemingly brag of their sinful adventures prior to salvation? They also are looking back.
We have lost nothing by leaving the domain of Satan to follow Jesus, except the fires of hell.
Looking back is a sure sign we have not been to the mountain. We have not allowed the Holy Spirit to cut the cords of Sodom. We have never fully surrendered our will and possessions to the Lord. There lacks separation from the world, a breaking over our sin, and a laying down of our past life.
In Luke 17:31 and 32, Jesus tells us that when he returns we must be ready and willing to forsake everything, or we will miss Him. He confirms it with, "Remember Lot's wife". Although she accepted the mercy of the Lord to save her life, her heart remained in Sodom. She was told, "Don't look back." When she did she was turned into a pillar of salt.
God is drawing a line in His Body in preparation for His return. On the one side of the line will be those who have forsaken everything in order to follow Him. He is calling to Himself a people who are willing to lay all on the altar. Their life, families, jobs, possessions and ministries, just to be identified with Him.
If the call is rejected, we will be consumed in the iniquity of those things we will not give up.
Before the apostle Paul's conversion he was considered one of most prominent members of the Sanhedrin. He knew and loved the Word and was zealous in carrying it out as it pertained to the Law. He was probably a wealthy man, yet after meeting Jesus he forsook all to follow Him. "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them as dung, that I may win Christ."(Philippians 3:7,8)
This contradicts much of the attitude about things taught in many churches. Paul considers the acquiring of things as dung (garbage) in comparison to being possessed with Christ. Today we count greed as spiritual. We kid ourselves when we believe the story many "name it and claim it" people use, "It's all right to have riches, as long as riches don't have you." Listen, if you are trying to manipulate God's Word to acquire riches, they already have you!
The true man and woman of faith has laid everything down. When needs arise they know God has everything under His control. After all, He had a raven for Elijah, meal and oil for the widow, a fish for Peter, and five loaves and two fishes for five thousand men plus women and children. "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."(Psalms 37:25) Their cry is as Paul's. "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Philippians 3:10,11)
They have heard what may have been their last warning. "Escape for your life!" Forsaking all, they have headed for the mountain into the very presence of God.With no regret of what must be sacrificed to follow Jesus, they have no desire to look back. Their eyes are focused and locked onto the righteousness and holiness of God, the genuine "mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) On the other side of the line are those who will not take the warning seriously. They will no doubt perish. They will reject a God given opportunity to partake of His grace, mercy and forgiveness, blindly trading their seat in heavenly places for one in the slime pits of Sodom. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) Many men and women of God have fallen victim to the wooing of their past. When surrounded by those who have sold out to Christ they manage to stay on target. But once on their own, their strength and reliance on the grace of God wanes. It doesn't matter how much of the power of God they have witnessed or possessed, if the ties have not been cut they will fail. Paul wrote Timothy that even his close friend in ministry, Demas, had left him." For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica." (2 Timothy 4:10)
How Can I Be Free
Many who are reading this message are continually overtaken by secret sin. For one reason or another, it has been excused, even though the Holy Spirit has sent His conviction.
We hold onto pride, gossip, unforgiveness, even homosexuality and adultery is common place in many churches. Time after time we have promised God we would never do it again. Yet, when the temptation comes, we fall. We fear being exposed, but even this doesn't restrain us.
Those who have accepted their sin, excused it away or will not deal with it, may very well be given over to their darkness. Conviction will cease and they will be consumed with their iniquity.
Countless others have passed though every prayer line in the city. They have cried out often for God's deliverance to fall on them. "Will I ever be free?" is their cry. Jesus answers, "YES, YOU CAN BE FREE!"
It very well may not come through a deliverance service, prayer line or someone laying hands on you. But it will come by a determined action on your part. It will take a dedicated act of your will.
"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."(Hebrews 12:1)
We must first repent of our sin. Secondly we must realize that the power of the Holy Spirit that is in us is tremendously more potent than any temptation we face. His power will always be released to us as we humble ourselves and ask for strength.
Our temptation usually begins in the mind. Satan gives us a thought and we react to it. In the books of Exodus through Numbers you can see how Moses reacted. Although most of his testing came from people who were used by Satan, our reaction must be the same. Quite simply, Moses fell on his face before God. In humility he announced he didn't have the answer, he couldn't cope with the pressure, God had to intervene.
He had resigned himself to the fact that he could not lead, instruct or correct from his own mind or flesh. He had died to himself becoming a vessel of God's grace and judgment.
Paul said, "I die daily." Every day he had to put his flesh under subjection to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. When confronted, he had to literally and probably cry out loud, "God this is more than I can stand! I don't want to fail you, I don't want to be a cast away. Give me your grace to overcome the enemy!" It will work every time.
Next we must push forward in the race we have entered. That simply means don't look back. Separate yourself from the places you used to go, things you used to do, and the people you used to be involved with. We are not only commanded to come out from the world. Paul told the Thessalonians to, "Abstain from all appearance of evil."(1 Thessalonians 5:22)
God is on our side. He hates our sin, but loves us. He watches over us and yearns for us to call on Him during trials and temptations. Through the blood of His dear Son He has provided us with everything necessary to walk before Him in holiness.
Let us run for our life into the presence of God. Laying down our idols and secret sin and cry out to Him for His forgiveness and strength to be an over comer. Amen.