Why did the sons-in-law of Lot think he was joking when he told them that Sodom was going to be destroyed?
Lot’s righteousness was well-known throughout the ages. Even Jesus referred to him as an example of this important characteristic. But as righteous as Lot was, his sons-in-law did not listen to his call for them to flee Sodom. They thought he was joking. Because his extended family did not listen to this warning, nearly all of Lot’s family was lost in the destruction of the cities of the plain. Even though they mercifully received the call to flee Sodom beforehand, the sons-in-law of Lot perished in its destruction. Why did they not listen to this divine warning? Several reasons come to mind.
1. Sodom’s terrible spiritual state. Prior to Lot’s moving there, Sodom was a city filled with wickedness and they sinned before the Lord exceedingly. Through indulging their sins, they cast off their reverence for God and accepted nothing from Him, even though it would save their lives. Bear in mind that this rebellious state did not occur instantly, but gradually. The people of Sodom eventually turned away from God after a period of time. Each successive generation after another emboldened the next one in their rebellion against God. Lot’s sons-in-law were the product of the spiritually terrible generations before it.
2. Lot did not lead by example. Lot was truly a righteous person, as aforementioned. But rather than protect his family from such a corrupting environment as Sodom, he moved them right into it. The beauty of the plain of Jordan and the potential earthly rewards and benefits of dwelling in the city seemed better to him than a life of dwelling in tents. But the very life he left behind could have been the very means by which he could have reached his sons-in-law. Had they been drawn away from Sodom, his extended family could have learned about the Lord and from the example of their righteous father-in-law. They would have learned about the God that moved upon Lot to leave Haran to follow his uncle Abram. But all they could see of Lot in those days was a man with the same desire for earthly gain as they had.
3. Lot chose the wrong sons-in-law. Lot, as the head of his family, had the final say in who would marry his daughters. Like Abraham, Lot could have sent a servant to the land of his kindred and the Lord would have chosen suitable husbands for his daughters just as He chose Rebekah for the son of Abraham, Isaac. But Lot chose to approve the marriages of his daughters to men in the land of Sodom whom he knew were sinners before the Lord exceedingly. The environment of Sodom had so vexed his mind, Lot chose these corrupted sons who ultimately cost him at least two of his daughters their lives.*
There are many among God’s people who are repeating this terrible lesson, even as we speak. Jesus taught the people that the world would be as Sodom in the days before His return. The world will be just as wicked and sinful than it was in the days of Lot, even more so. 6000+ years of humanity rebelling against its Creator will culminate in a global generation so wicked that they will bring the final judgment upon the earth.
But rather than live the godly example that would potentially deliver their families-in-law from this judgment, many among God’s people are repeating the history of Lot. They are drawn in by the outwardly beautiful appearance of sinful habits, practices, and lifestyles. They are attracted to the earthly rewards and benefits of this life, giving no regard to the eternal well-being of their families.
Were God’s people to live the life reflecting the understanding that the kingdom of heaven was nigh, countless relatives of theirs would have learned by their example and turned away from their sins. But all many of them see are men and women like them who indulge the same sinful passions they do. Marriages to the ungodly are blessed by those having a form of godliness while denying its power.
What will such a walk before the Lord yield them? Will not their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters-in-law believe them to be making a joke when they tell them about Jesus’ coming? Will they not dismiss their call as a symptom of their “religion”? Will they not remain behind to their own destruction as many did in the days of Lot?
Those among God’s people must realize that history is about to repeat itself. Jesus told His followers that the days before His coming would be just as they were in the days of Lot. That means that many of God’s own people would vex themselves with sin just as Lot did. God’s people must seek the Lord and pray that he will free their minds from this deadly affliction. Only then can their families and their families-in-law see the example in them they need to see before these things happen. Only then will they gradually understand that the coming crisis and our coming salvation is not a joke.
*Based on Gen. 19: 12, 15, we know that Lot had at least four daughters.
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