But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. [Genesis 19:16 NASB]
God’s work is sometimes strange to me. God can annihilate wickedness and yet at the same time exhibit grace to resistant humans. God can, as we see in this account, reach the end of His patience and bring righteous judgment and at the same time show mercy because of a man’s intercessory prayer. Sodom is destroyed but Lot with his wife and two daughters are delivered from destruction because of Abraham’s plea.
Lot is described as a righteous man but his spiritual health was in a weakened state due to some bad choices. He was living as a leading citizen in a city that openly defied the laws of God. He was mocked by people and by his own family. His ‘testimony’ for God was invalidated by his life. I suspect that Lot knew in his heart of hearts that he needed a change. He had been lingering around sin for too long. The Holy Spirit warns us that ” … we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” [Hebrews 2:1 ESV] Lot failed to pay close attention.
As with any salvation provided by God, it is He who takes the steps for deliverance. Lot hesitates to leave. God grabs the hands of Lot and his family and pulls them away by force because He is always merciful even when we are ignorant and resistant to His reformation. God was merciful and did not leave Lot to perish because he was lingering, not wanting to leave his worldly possessions that he acquired over the years. Lot was not saved because of his merits or forethought or awareness of the stench of sin that surrounded him. He was saved only by the mercy of God, as we all are. Our salvation can only be acknowledged in light of God’s mercy, not our own good works.