There really is not much that we can find comforting or encouraging in Genesis 19, but Verse 16 is quite reassuring. Lot is commanded by the two angels to depart from the city of Sodom and warned that if he does not, he too shall be consumed. I like to think that, had I been in Lot’s shoes, those two angels would have had a hard time keeping up with me as I sprinted full-speed for the hills. But, looking back on my own track record, it is just as likely that I would have responded the same way Lot did.
The angels could not have made the urgency of the situation any clearer to Lot and his family. Yet what did Lot do? He lingered. Lot’s co-operation with those trying to save him was not very impressive. How often do we do the same thing when we receive instructions from the Lord? We delay, we procrastinate, we make excuses. He tells us, “Go now” and we answer, “Just a minute.” There were things in Sodom that Lot really had no desire to leave behind. We know that he believed God, but he definitely had one eye on Heaven and one on Earth.
What I find so comforting about this particular verse is the response that the two angels, acting on God’s behalf, give to Lot’s hesitation. Did they tell him that he was out of luck because he did not act quickly enough? Did they stand there and reason with him, argue with him, or continue to try to persuade him? No, there just was not time enough for that. Did they walk away, shaking their heads, telling him that they were sorry but he had forfeited his salvation from Sodom because of his hesitation? No. They laid hold on his hand and brought him forth!
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)
The Lord Jesus is our Shepherd, leading us by His voice. We are His sheep and are guided by His Word. But what happens when we fall behind, when we ourselves linger and become too far away to hear the sound of His voice? He leaves the other sheep to search us out until He has found us (Luke 15:4). He comes back to us, calling out to us all the while. And when He does find us, He carries us upon His own shoulders and brings us to safety (Luke 15:5-6). We see in John 10:27-29 that we hear His voice, He knows us, and we follow Him. But we also see that He is holding us in His own hand.
Lot was saved from the destruction that came upon Sodom (God’ judgment) because he believed God. Lot was not told by the angels: “OK, here’s what’s gonna happen. Good luck and we’ll see you on the other side!” They led him every step of the way, and when he started to fall behind, they took him out by the hand. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we may lose our way from time to time. We may linger and hesitate to keep in step with where He is taking us, but our Salvation is not contingent on our own efforts any more than Lot’s was. Once we have put our faith in Him, once we have become a part of His flock, He will bring us to safety, even if He must take us by the hand and carry us.