Remember Lot’s Wife
A new year is upon us and it is a good time for reflecting on our lives. The Bible speaks about the Christian life like it is a journey we are on; a race to be run, a path to follow, or a pilgrimage to be made. In our resolve to follow Christ, we are travelling from one place to another, moving away from our sinful selves and towards faith and godliness. As believers, we will make this journey for the rest of our lives until we arrive through the gates of death into our heavenly home.
This is the context of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17:20-37, where he is speaking about the coming of God’s kingdom to earth. It will be sudden—therefore, be ready! The Lord could return at any time, or each one of us could be living our last day before tragedy strikes, and thus we should live accordingly. We ought to have our priorities in line with being a follower of Christ, and especially around New Year’s it is helpful to think about the direction our lives are headed.
It is in this chunk of text that the second-shortest verse in the whole Bible appears. Jesus calls on his listeners to…
Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:32)
So let’s take a moment to do that very thing,
Who Is Lot’s Wife?
Lot was the nephew of Abraham. He was married and had two daughters. Lot and Abraham travelled together towards the Promised Land for some time until eventually Lot and Abraham parted ways. Lot chose to live in the region of Sodom and Gomorrah, while Abraham inherited the Promised Land.
What happens next is well-known. In Genesis 19, God determined that the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah has become so severe and vile that he decides to destroy the cities. In mercy, Lot’s family is spared, as God sends angels to take them from the city. “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.”
Moments later, the Lord hurls fire and brimstone out of the sky and completely incinerates the two towns in a striking display of God’s power and disdain for sin. The angels warn Lot, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”
But on their flight towards refuge, something happens. “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26).
What To Learn From Lot’s Wife
Why would Jesus ask us to “remember Lot’s wife”? What does he intend for us to learn from the story?
Simply put, the problem with Lot’s wife was that she looked back. This doesn’t mean she just turned around to witness the carnage behind her. No, it means she looked back because she wanted to go back. She looked back longingly. Though she set out in a different direction, her heart was not really in it. Deep down, she loved Sodom and Gomorrah. Not the kind of love that cares for people, but the kind of love that enjoys the revelry of sin. The kind of love that is in love with the things of the world.
Lot’s wife may have started her journey, but she looked back, and God judged her as a result. We might think she is foolish to have loved such a wicked and sinful place, but are we really that much different? Do we not feel genuine longing for things that God would have us turn away from? Are we really following the Lord with our whole heart, or do we have certain ways in which we are looking over our shoulder, wishing we could have the Lord’s blessing without needing to give up certain things?
Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t just mean we are headed toward something. It also means we are headed away from other things. Jesus warns, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it” (Luke 17:33). When we try to live our Christian lives half-heartedly, or we regret losing that which God calls us away from, we are in danger of repeating the mistake of Lot’s wife. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you made a verbal commitment to Jesus that you are really with him on the journey. The question that matters is, where is your heart?
Take It To Heart
When Jesus tells us to “remember Lot’s wife”, he really means it. Recall the story, mull it over, and ponder how it applies to you. I do not think that we are much different from Lot’s wife. There is a part of us all that wants to go back towards our life of sin. Though we don’t necessarily want to give up on Jesus, deep down we wish we could have him without losing cherished sinful desires. But Christianity doesn’t work that way. Either you are escaping the judgment of God that he, in his mercy, provides, or you are making your home among a world to be judged and destroyed.
Do you believe that what God is leading you to is better than anything he would ask you to leave behind? Do you lack faith in God’s plan for your future? As you enter 2018, do you find yourself being drawn to the life you’ve been asked to leave behind? Or are you ready to square your shoulders and walk directly into the place God is taking you to?
It’s a good time for reflection. Take Jesus up on his suggestion. Remember Lot’s wife.