Do you remember the story of Lot, Abraham's nephew? He moved to Sodom, a very sinful town, and he was the only man to offer hospitality to the traveling angels that night, trying everything he could to shield them from the sin of the townsfolk who had come to do unspeakable things to them. Thus, when God decided to rain judgment down upon Sodom and Gomorrah, He had His angels instruct Lot to take his family and flee.
And he did.
Most of us, when we read this story, read that Lot took his wife and his daughters and ran for the hills, and we take this to mean that he rescued his whole family with him. But that's actually not what happened.
Remember when the townsfolk were coming after the angels and Lot told them that he had two virgin daughters that he would offer them if they would only leave these men alone? Well, right after the angels tell Lot to flee, the Bible tells us - right there in the middle of the story - that Lot went to his sons-in-law and told them it was time to get out of there. And they refused.
Now, in case this is still a little cloudy (it's so easy to read right past), let's work through this a bit. Lot has two daughters at home who are virgins. He also has sons-in-law. That must mean, therefore, that Lot has daughters who are not at home with him, daughters he still cares about so much that he wants to save them from the judgment that is about to befall their hometown. He tries to save them from this judgment. He goes to their husbands - which means these are not his virgin daughters we're talking about - and begs them to leave Sodom. And they won't do it.
Lot left Sodom without all of his children.
In fact, if you read the story carefully, you'll see that the angels tell him this is what he must do. They directly say to him, "There's no time. Take the daughters that are home with you, the ones that are in your care, and get going." Without saying it, what they've said is, you'll have to leave your other daughters behind.
That is a really hard pill to swallow. That's tough to do for anyone. Especially for a righteous man who is just trying to protect those he loves, those who belong to him (even though in that culture, his daughters no longer belonged to him - they belonged to their husbands, though Lot never stopped loving them, of course).
This is an important part of this story. It's an important part of our story. It's not something we see a whole lot in the stories of the Bible, although it's there in a few places. A lot of the time, we see things like Noah - who brought all his sons and their wives onto the Ark. So it's just natural for us to assume when we see Lot running for the hills with his wife and daughters that he's taken his whole family with him.
But it's important that we understand that he didn't. And there's something else important about this story that we need to understand, too. We'll look at that tomorrow, and then on Wednesday, we'll start to talk about why Lot's story matters so much for so many of us.