Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Luke 17:28-30 ESV
The Bible tells us that the Son of Man will be revealed when things on earth are “as in the days of Lot”. What can this description teach us about the upcoming period of God’s wrath and destruction?
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
The “Days of Lot” refers to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis chapter 18, God has come down to speak with Abraham through three “angels”, one of whom appears to be a “Christophany” (Jesus before His incarnation). In His meeting with Abraham, God reveals that “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.” (Genesis 18:20-21 ESV)
Sodom and Gomorrah are mired in sin, and prayers have gone up to God to deal with this situation. Abraham understands that God is about to destroy these cities and makes a series of pleas before Him that He not destroy the city if even 10 righteous men can be found in it. God concedes. Then, God sends his two angels to Abraham’s nephew Lot in the city of Sodom.
Lot welcomes the angels, whom he likely believes are human men, and warns them not to stay in the town square. At Lot’s insistent urging, they come to his house for the night. It seems that Lot knows his city well because before they go to bed for the night, every single man (including his sons-in-law?) from Sodom has surrounded Lot’s house. The men of Sodom demand that Lot release the angels (who they believe are human men) so that they might “know them”. This phrase unequivocably means to have intercourse with them. (Incidentally, the sin of the city of Sodom is where we get the term “Sodomy” from – meaning non-vaginal intercourse). Lot pleads with them not to act so wickedly, and shockingly even offers his own virgin daughters to them to “do as they please”. Lucky for his daughters, the men are only interested in homosexual encounters. The men of the city become so insistent that the angels have to physically pull Lot back into the house and strike the Sodomites with blindness. At this point, you would think Lot might start to catch on that these are no ordinary humans.
Clearly, there are less than 10 righteous men in the city. Apparently, there may only be one – Lot. And given Lot’s deeds before and after this event, it is clear that salvation was by grace, through faith, and not by works in the Old Testament as well! The angels warn Lot of the imminent destruction of the city, and ask him to gather his relatives to bring them out of the city. Lot warns his future sons-in-law, but they think he’s joking.
As the morning dawns, the angels urge Lot to get up and take his wife and two daughters out – NOW! Lot STILL lingers. The angels are compelled by God’s mercy to seize Lot, his wife, and his two daughters, and literally drag them away and set them outside the city. The angels admonish – “Escape for your life! Don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away!” Lot STILL resists and requests to flee to a nearby city instead. This too is granted by God, who tells him to “escape there quicky, for I can do nothing till you arrive there” (v22). Lot arrives at the city of Zoar safely, and:
“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. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace. So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.” (v24-29 ESV)
God, in His mercy, spares the one righteous man in Sodom and Gomorrah before raining down his wrath from heaven.
Seized Out of Harm’s Way
I want you to note a few important things from the example of Lot.
First, in saving Lot and his family, God’s angels literally seize, or snatch, them out of harm’s way. Verse 29 states that God “sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived”. Compare this to Revelation 7:14 – “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.” There is a sense in both situations that the righteous are coming out of (away from) great tribulation (overthrow) as it rains down behind them. This sounds very similar to an upcoming event of being seized by great force, even against one’s will – the Harpazo (rapture)!
Second, God’s angels rescue Lot and his family despite their resistance. The example of Lot should confirm that all true believers will be raptured; not just those who are watching. Whether you believe it or not, you will be taken, as long as you are truly “born again”.
Third, God does not act (cannot act, Genesis 18:22) until the righteous are safely out of harm’s way. In both cases, the situation is urgent; desperate; imminent. God will rescue us, not because of our worthiness, but because it is not in His nature to pour out His wrath upon the righteous. Our worthiness to escape is because of Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us – applied to our account.
Fourth, in both cases the judgement is (will be) by fire:
“the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and wrath— ” (Deuteronomy 29:23 ESV)
God completely destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah (and also Admah and Zeboiim) in His wrath. His destruction was through “brimstone and salt”, and nothing was able to grow there afterwards – the destruction was complete. God’s previous global judgment involved water, this time it will involve fire:
…scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:3-7 ESV).
Fifth, sexual immorality is one of the reasons for judgment:
Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:5-7 ESV)
The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities was sexual in nature – they pursued sexual immorality and unnatural desire. This is clearly identified to include homosexual interactions.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:26-28 ESV)
When a society refuses to acknowledge God, God gives them over to immorality. While the absolute incidence of homosexuality/bisexuality has remained relatively constant over the last while (~2%), the acceptance of it has markedly grown over the last several decades. Within the span of one generation, homosexuality has gone from being considered a mental illness to being publicly accepted as a viable “lifestyle option” worldwide in virtually all non-Muslim nations. While mankind’s perception of homosexuality has changed, God’s certainly has not. Likewise, sexual activity outside of marriage has gone from being looked down upon, to being extremely common – even in the “church” – within one generation. Once again, God’s view on this is clear. Sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is a sin.
The Righteous Will Be Spared
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. (2 Peter 2:4-10 ESV)
Peter informs us that God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was done as an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly. Peter also refers to the rescue of “righteous Lot” right before this destruction. He states that Lot was greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of those in his city that he witnessed day after day. In using this comparison (and the one of Noah), Peter states that the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, while keeping the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment. This sounds exactly what God is going to do as we continue in Luke 17:
I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left. (Luke 17:34-35 ESV)
God will rescue the godly from trials (peirasmou – temptation, testing), while leaving behind the unrighteousness to face judgment. Just as He promised.
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial [peirasmou] that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10 ESV).
Regular Life Goes On… Until It Suddenly Doesn’t
Let’s examine the other aspects of the days of Lot that pertain to the coming of the Son of Man:
“Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” (Luke 17:28-33 ESV)
Jesus tells us that on the day when the Son of Man is revealed it would be “just as it was in the days of Lot”:
- people would be going about normal, everyday activities
- believers will be plucked out
- God’s wrath will rain down
This emphasizes the sudden nature of the escape route and the subsequent wrath. Elsewhere the Day of the Lord is described as coming like a thief in the night, like a trap, or like birth pains.
Remember Lot’s Wife
The “remember Lot’s wife” admonition terrified me for awhile – did this mean that anyone who looks down during the rapture wouldn’t be taken? Could you “do the rapture wrong”? At the rapture would I turn back???? I taught my kids – whatever happens, keep looking up!!!!! But is this fear appropriate?
I prayed about it a lot, and God led me to understand that what this is referring to Jesus also taught in Luke 9:62 (ESV). “Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Lot’s wife wasn’t looking back for her family, for her kids – they were with her. She was looking back longingly, because her heart was in Sodom. Jesus has never encouraged half-hearted devotion, and this is what the reference to Lot’s wife is warning against.
…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:52 ESV)
The rapture will occur too quickly to have the opportunity to look back. It’s all about the heart – where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Examining the “Days of Lot” reveal the following observations regarding the coming of the Son of Man:
- The righteous will be rescued before God’s wrath can be poured out
- The rescue will be via a “snatching” or “seizing”, emphasizing speed and force
- All the righteous (those who are “born again”, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ) will be rescued. There is no “partial rapture”. Even if we don’t believe the wrath is coming, we will be rescued.
- On the other hand, those who go by the name “Christian”, but whose hearts are firmly rooted in the world, should not expect to be rescued. Remember Lot’s wife.
- Life will be “as usual” when the rescue and the wrath take place, catching people unawares.
- God’s destruction is going to come via destructive fire (fire and brimstone) this time.
- We can expect to see a rise in sexual immorality and homosexuality as the coming of the Son of Man draws near.
- God always keeps His promises.
Jesus’ comparison of His appearing “as to the days of Lot” confirms that He will rescue His righteous saints prior to pouring out His wrath. This is what is commonly taught as the pre-tribulation, or pre-wrath, rapture of the church. In addition, there is strong suggestion that in the days nearing the time of His coming, there will be an increase in sexual immorality and homosexuality, in particular. I can think of no clearer way that this is being demonstrated in our society than the adoption of the rainbow – God’s symbol of promise after the Flood – as the symbol of homosexual pride.
As in the days of Noah and Lot, indeed.
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
The Bible is infallible. I am not. Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!