“The Type of People God Rescues”
Ascension Lutheran Church
August 18, 2019
Pastor Don Ginkel
You’ve heard of Sodom and Gomorrah and how they were destroyed.
God sent down sulfur and fire from heaven and wiped the place out
completely. These two cities were located at the southern tip of what we
today call the Dead Sea. However, the sea wasn’t dead at the time, about
4,000 years ago. The Bible says that God was so angry with those cities
because of their sin that He burned out the whole place and nothing was
left living. He even burnt the soil and rocks. There was just a hole where
the city had been when God finished. A body of water filled that hole, and
today that entire body of water is dead and filled with sulfur and salt.
The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the
appearance of the Dead Sea brings a kind of fear to people when they know
how it happened. Yet, I believe that one of the reasons this story is in the
Bible is to show us how far God will go to rescue people and the kind of
people He rescues. God did destroy this area, but not before He made
plans to rescue some of them.
God told Abraham that He was going to destroy these two cities, but
Abraham couldn’t quite stomach that. He debated with God asking that if
He could find 50 righteous people in all the city, would God spare the it? He
finally got down to the number of 10, but God couldn’t find even 10
The next day God sent two angels in the form of men into Sodom to a
house of a man named Lot. If we go back to Chapter 13 we’re reminded that
he was a man of considerable wealth. Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Living in
Lot’s house were Lot, his wife, two daughters, and two sons-in-law. God
wanted to rescue these six people from Sodom. They were the only people
in the entire city who were righteous. He wanted them out before the city
To show you how wicked the city was, when the two angels went there
as men, the Bible says that the young and old men from the city
surrounded Lot’s house and demanded that Lot bring out those two
visitors so that they could be raped. The whole town was filled with
homosexuals, and they wanted to rape two angels. That’s pretty sick.
Lot’s two sons-in-law thought that leaving the city was a joke, and they
wouldn’t go. That is amazing. That is hard to believe. They were given a
chance to be saved and said no. So four people were left to be rescued.
They prepared to leave their city and everything they owned and flee to the
hills. Here is a picture of our merciful God getting ready to destroy tens of
thousands, but taking every step possible to rescue four righteous people.
We have a similar situation today. The end of the world is coming. In the
same way that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and every person in
it—by fire—so Jesus will destroy this world and every person in it who
rejects Him. The end is waiting on one thing: for the last sinner to be found
and brought to saving faith in Jesus. One of the most basic reasons for the
existence of Ascension Lutheran Church is that many people who are not
saved may be born again by faith in Jesus. It is God’s will to rescue
sinners. That should be our desire, too.
What type of people does God rescue from places like Sodom? Weak
people like Lot! Lot will win no Noble Prizes for his strong faith. Lot will
never be held up as an example of what a strong, convincing faith is. We
read in verse 16, “When Lot hesitated, the angels grasped his hand and the
hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the
city, for the LORD was merciful to them.”
It says, “Lot hesitated.” He looked around at his fine home and
possessions, his beer drinking buddies, his fishing partners, his bowling
team, his bank account at Sodom Federal Savings, his 1998 B.C. carriage
parked in the drive and verse 16 says, “He hesitated.”
God gave Lot a big heavenly push. The angels had to literally grab Lot’s
hand and drag him out of the city walls. God was rescuing a person who
had to be grabbed by the hand rather forcefully so that he could be saved.
What kind of people does God rescue? He rescues the weak, the faint
hearted, the stumblers, those who just have a spark of faith.
God rescues those people who build their houses in Littleton, start their
businesses in Denver, join a local soccer team in the summer, a bowling
team in the winter, and who begin to forget that heaven is their home. This
earthly life is terribly comfortable at times. We could live this way for
eternity, couldn’t we? A little hassle here and there, but it’s not really so
But God is in the process of rescuing us from believing that this is our
home. Jesus says in John 14:2, “In My Father’s house are many mansions:
if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for
you.”Jesus says to you, “I came down to this earth 2,000 years ago to
settle your debt once and for all. Your sins are paid for. The victory is won.
The gates of heaven are open. The road is narrow, but you are on that
People say, “He who hesitates is lost.” That’s not always true. Lot
hesitated, but he was not lost. He was rescued by a concerned God who
never lets His people down. Even though Lot was very weak, he did leave
the city. He did obey, a little reluctantly, but he did obey, and He believed
God. It is not how much you believe — it is just, “Do you believe God.”
Here are two important notes. Important note # 1: The degree of faith is
never measured when it comes to being rescued.
Lot got outside the city and was told to run for the hills or he would be
destroyed. You would think that after being one of four rescued in a city of
thousands Lot would do anything he was told. But he said to the two
angels in verses 18, “No, my lords.” No? This guy is so bad I don’t think we
would even let him join our church.
We’d say, “Zap him! He isn’t worth it! He’ll even mess up our various
ministries and maybe a lot of other things.” Just what kind of people does
the Lord rescue? People who argue with God’s directions, people who are
slow to follow, people who try to live life the way they want to. All of this
calls for more of the Lord’s mercy, not bitterness, but mercy! Verse 16b,
“…for the LORD was merciful to them.” Say those seven words with me:
“…for the Lord was merciful to them.”
The type of people God rescues wouldn’t be listed among “Who’s Who”
very often. Lot wasn’t, but he was rescued, and he is in heaven, and it’s by
grace alone. Important note #2: Who does God rescue? God will not rescue
anyone who turns back. Lot’s wife turned back. There is a difference
between turning back and being weak. Weak people have a spark of faith in
Christ as their Savior. People who turn back give up the faith. That’s what
Lot’s wife did.
Verse 26 says, “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of
salt.” A Sunday School teacher was telling her 1 st graders about Lot’s wife
turning into a pillar of salt. One boy interrupted her and said, “My mommy
was driving our car and she turned into a light pole.” It’s my understanding
that there are a lot of pillars of salt at the southern end of the Dead Sea
today. Who knows, maybe one of them is Lot’s wife. Evidently her heart
was in the city.
She is very different from my wife, Nadine, who sincerely loves the Lord
Jesus. We were in Maui a few years ago enjoying a Starbucks coffee. The
weather was perfect. The Pacific Ocean was in front of us. She really likes
Maui. She said, “I would like to retire here.” I said why here when you can
retire in a much better place?” She said, “Where?” I said, “Minnesota.” She
said, “You really mean that, don’t you?” I said, “You betcha!” But the
difference between Nadine and Lot’s wife is like night and day. Judgment
came upon her.
Years ago Billy Graham was writing a book and his wife Ruth was
looking it over. She had just finished a section about the degradation of
America’s morals, the corruption of religion, and the abuse of the blessings
God has given us and she turned to Billy and said, “If God doesn’t punish
America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” I wonder what
Ruth would think of America if she were alive today.
Lot’s wife didn’t even have good intentions. All she had was unbelief. No
saving faith. She looked back for her house, her rose garden, her herds and
possessions, her onetime comforts. She became a pillar of salt, a tragic
figure, her feet pointed towards Zoar, her face pointed towards Sodom,
petrified and turned into salt. It was no small mistake she was making. It
cost her life in this world and in the world to come. Look at what Jesus
says in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife! Say those three words with me:
Remember Lot’s wife. In other words, don’t forget what she did and what
happened to her) Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever
loses his life will preserve it.”
God doesn’t rescue those who don’t want to be rescued. Judgement
comes upon those who turn back. Yet, for you and me there is no reason to
turn back. The hellfire and brimstone came down upon Jesus 2,000 years
ago. He was the victim of God’s wrath upon the cross of Calvary. Because
of Jesus we are cleansed of our sins. There is no reason to turn back.
Here’s some good advice: Don’t get too attached to the things of this
world. We’re on a journey. We’re going someplace. Time is passing by. It
won’t be long. Don’t give up now because heaven is just around the corner.
Our Lord is guiding us every step of the way. Yes, sometimes we are weak
and weary. Some of us are burdened down with battle scars. But don’t turn
back now. Take the Lord’s arm. Believe His Word. Rely on His power. It
won’t be long before we’ll be home. And one more thing. Let’s do all we
can to bring our unbelieving friends and relatives to Jesus while there is
still time. It’s vitally important. It’s eternally important.
We pray: Dear God, thank You for the message this morning on the type
of people You rescue. We confess that there have been times when we’ve
been a lot like Lot. But You rescued him and You have rescued us. Thank
You, God! Thank You! Help us remember Lot’s wife. May we have
compassion on people around us who want nothing to do with You. Give
us courage to share our faith with them. We know You love them just as
much as You love us. Thank You, dear God. In the name of Jesus. Amen!