Most readers here will be familiar with the story already, but for those who are not I will offer a quick recap. God appeared in bodily form to Abraham in Genesis 18. With Him were two other angels (they are described as angels in Genesis 19:15, for example). God told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom. At the end of Genesis 18, Abraham asks if God would spare Sodom if fifty righteous men could be found. The LORD agrees to that. Abraham then asks, “What if five are missing?” and again the LORD says He would not destroy the city if there were forty-five righteous men. Abraham continues until the end of the chapter, where the LORD agrees not to destroy the city if there are but ten righteous men.
After this, the two angels depart and go to Sodom. Lot finds them in the town square and offers them lodging, but the men of Sodom want to take the angels by force. The angels end up rescuing Lot, pulling him into the house and shutting the door, then striking the men of Sodom with blindness. They then tell Lot to gather his family and get out of town. Lot asks if, instead of running to the hills, he can go to the town of Zoar instead, and this is granted to him. After Lot flees, Sodom is destroyed.
So what is the part that I missed before? It is a subtle point located in these two verses:
As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city (Genesis 19:15-16, ESV).We are often told by our Arminian brethren that God respects our freedom so much that He would allow us to go to hell rather than violate our wills. Yet here, God was not willing that Lot should perish, and forcibly removed him and his family from the city. Again, Lot did not choose to depart; he delayed. The angels warned him he had to move and when he did not, the angels seized him.
And this violation of Lot’s will, far from being described as negative, is described as “the LORD being merciful to him.” Just as a Calvinist argues that it is not loving for a parent to stand on the side of the road and beckon his child to come to safety because true love is running out into traffic to actually save the child, regardless of what the child wants, so too, here God’s loving action is to rescue Lot even if it means He has to seize the man and forcibly remove him from the city. When God wishes to save someone, He will do so. He does not need our permission.
And thank God for it!