In the book of Genesis (1), we find the angel of God leading Lot & his kin away from the place of God’s wrath. God wishes to destroy not just Sodom & Gomorrah, but all the cities of the valley for their unrepentant sin. Lot claims that he cannot escape to the hills in time & instead begs shelter in a nearby town- a town named Zoar. The angel grants him safety in this place & thereby grants a reprieve to all others in Zoar also.
As I’ve pondered this passage, I’ve wondered what the residents of Zoar took from this shocking testimony of both sides of God’s character (justice & mercy). Did they immediately repent of their own transgressions as burning sulfur(2) poured down from Heaven all around them? I would imagine they did. But was it real repentance, extending beyond the live testimony of a living God who demands justice for sins?
Likewise, God has revealed to me the reality & necessity of Hell as righteous judgment for the sins of those who refuse Christ as their Lord & Savior. Logically, God’s one & only Son’s death was real, so sin’s requisite punishment must be equally real as well. Otherwise, as Galatians 2:21 informs us (5), Christ would have died for no reason.
The residents of Zoar did not deserve protection for any inherent “goodness.” The grace that was bestowed upon them was a matter of God’s sovereign grace. Similarly, God has chosen to lead me to see, worship, & receive salvation in the Lord Jesus. I don’t know why He has done this for me, but what I do know is, like those ancient Zoareans, it wasn't because I was deserving of such splendid grace.
So, as I muse on the ultimate fate of the residents of that place, I sense God’s Spirit instructing me to not neglect “so great a salvation.” (3)
“Purse” is a reference to Luke 12:29-34:
“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This passage does not demand us to be fiscally insolvent; rather it demands spiritual bankruptcy of the soul. Bankruptcy is defined as a person unable to pay his debts & an exegetical examination of God’s Word along with the enlightenment of God’s Spirit (4) convicts us of our own utter moral bankruptcy. My “purse” or treasury is the safe deposit box where I place my most prized possessions- the things I “set (my) heart on;” & this blog is a place where I will share my most valued treasure- apprehensions of faith & understanding of Jesus Christ as our (5) & my (6) Savior & Lord.
(1)Gen 19:20-25 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there--is it not a little one?--and my life will be saved!" He said to him, "Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
(2) Though I don't necessarily agree with all of the conclusions of this link (city locations), it nevertheless gives intriguing evidence of that "burning sulfur."
(3)Hebrews 2:1-4 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
(4)John 16:7-8 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.
(5)Gal 1:3-5 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
(6)Gal 2:20-21 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.