2438. For I cannot do anything until thou be come thither. That this signifies that before the Judgment upon the evil they are to be saved who are in the affection of truth, is evident from the fact that the words "I cannot do anything," refer to the Judgment upon the evil, which is presently described by the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah; and that the words "until thou be come thither," signify that they are first to be saved who are in the affection of truth, and who are here represented by Lot; which also is what is meant by Lot's coming to Zoar (verse 23).
 That the good and the just are saved before the evil and the unjust perish, is evident also elsewhere in the Word, as where the Last Judgment is treated of in Matthew, and it is said that the sheep were separated from the goats, and the sheep were told to enter into the Lord's kingdom before the goats were told to depart into eternal fire (25:32, 34, 41). The like was also represented in the exodus of the sons of Israel from Egypt-that they were saved before the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea.
 The same is also signified by the declarations of the Prophets, that after the faithful had been brought back from captivity, their enemies should then undergo their punishments and perish. This is continually taking place in the other life, that is, the faithful are first saved, and then the unfaithful are punished; or what is the same, the faithful are elevated into heaven by the Lord, and the unfaithful then cast themselves down into hell. The reason why these two things do not take place at the same time is that unless the good were carefully withdrawn from the wicked, they would easily perish by the cupidities of evil and the persuasions of falsity, which the wicked continually scatter around like poisons. But in general, before this comes to pass, it is provided that evils should be separated from the good, and that goods should be separated from the evil, so that the former may by means of their goods be uplifted by the Lord into heaven, and the latter by means of their evils may cast themselves down into hell; concerning which subject of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter, at n. 2449, 2451.