Saved: to Spare

This morning I made my first search on the term “saved.” I found over 231 verses with some form of the verb(s) used that mean something to the effect of “to save.”

painting1The earliest reference to saved that I can find is in Genesis 19:19 & 20. This surprised me since I would expect to find this term in Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve sinned or especially in Genesis 6 when God saved Noah. I would also expect to find this term in Genesis 12 when God spared Abraham from Pharaoh’s hands after Abraham lied about his relationship with Sarah his wife.

In Genesis 19, there are two messengers sent to Lot. The messengers warned lot about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for its wickedness. I am not sure how righteous Lot was in the land he lived that was filled with such wickedness. But we know his wife was more attracted to her lifestyle in Sodom than her life of rescue to the mountains. For that reason, she turned back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

Lot’s decisions in this passage, however, are dumbfounding. When the townsmen came after the messengers in Lot’s home, Lot offers his virgin daughters to them to appease their barbarism. I am not sure if there is any cultural information that we are missing that would explain this in any satisfying kind of way, but I am better satisfied just assuming that Lot’s mind was nearly as warped as the culture he lived.

At the last job I worked there was a sign that read, “If you witness an offense but do not report it, you are just as guilty as the offender.” We never want to be in a place were we live complacently with sin. We know that Lot and his wife were comfortable enough in the culture they lived, that they did not try to escape its sin. Lot’s wife gazed back at her lifestyle she was expected to leave behind. Consequently, she died in it.

But Lot was different. He ultimately went where the messengers instructed without gazing back. So, we have in vs. 19, “You have shown me lovingkindness by sparing my life.” And then in vs. 20, Lot petitions the messengers that he should flee to the small town of Zoar that as he states, “my life may be saved.”

In a word, this use of the term salvation connotes the idea of being spared. Lot wasn’t necessarily rescued. Though he was. This passage is emphasizing life that had been spared to Lot. Or, Lot’s life was spared. Also, Lot’s salvation was brought about by two messengers (Angels). God’s gratuitous gift (lovingkindness) was brought about by means of two people who warned Lot of the judgment to come. The messengers also gave the means of escape and Lot listened. The result of Lot’s decision was that his life was spared.

Notes about how this relates to salvation today:

  • When we speak of salvation today, we normally refer to our eternal state and deliverance from judgment and damnation for living in rebellion to God. While this is not directly what this current passage refers to, we know that the eternal life of those who trust in Christ will be spared because God’s justice was served on the cross, His wrath was satisfied and our sin was expiated (atoned for) allowing for the opportunity for God’s righteousness to justly live in those who walk with Him.
  • Second, there may be times in our life when God sends us people who warn us to leave the circumstance we are in so that we do not live under the judgment and experience the ultimate consequences that our decisions are rendering, which ultimately could be our death. For example, God continually warns the addict to flee from his destructive behavior. This is accomplished through messengers such as Christians who minister or even secular institutions who have common sense about choices and consequence. When one flees from his addiction in time, his life is spared.
  • Third, the Christ follower can say his life is spared because of the ministry of a disciple of Jesus who told him about the coming wrath and day of judgment, and that deliverance from the said wrath was possible by walking the path of faith and life in Christ. King Jesus will spare the one whose heart is loyal to him.
  • I picture it like living in a city that is in the land of the King. While the King has been away, I have at times lived in a way that is contrary to his law. But someone brought to my attention, “Hey dummy, the King is coming back. You might want to think about what you are doing or it will not go well with you.” Well, the King knows of my rebellion, and he has executed his judgment (I’m guilty). But because my heart and life turned back to His laws, His Kingdom, His people, His plans and His ways once I heard about the return of the King and was faced with the reality of my rebellion, God showed mercy on me and poured out His wrath on Christ instead of me (substitution) and was satisfied (expiation) and graciously has allowed me to serve Him and be in right relationship with Him again (salvation).
  • And when that happens with any of us who rebel against the King and turn back to Him, Scripture says that heaven rejoices. Our life is spared in this life (We might avoid sins that can lead to our destruction) and the one to come (We will enjoy life with Christ forever).

Wow! That’s not bad for day number one. I was highly encouraged by God’s word. Praise the Lord!

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