By Diane Bucknell
“Remember Lot’s wife!
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”
Perhaps one of the most chilling warnings in Scripture can be found in the words Christ spoke to his disciples, “Remember Lot’s wife!” The context pertains to his Second Coming but this verse presents an abiding truth that is applicable to all professing believers (cf Mt. 10:39). A little background will help us understand why Christ would single this woman out as an example to be remembered.
More than 2,000 years earlier the LORD called Abram out of Ur and promised to make him a great nation (Gen. 12:1-5). Abram headed for Canaan with his wife Sarai and nephew Lot and after a side trip into Egypt they ended up at Bethel. Tension arose between their herdsmen regarding the livestock so they separated and Abram stayed in Canaan while Lot chose the fertile Jordon Valley settling in the city of Sodom.
“Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.” Gen. 13:13
2 Peter 2:7-8 says Lot was a righteous man who was distressed, even tormented by the depraved conduct of the Sodomites. We might wonder why he even chose to live there but ultimately it was God who guided Lot's steps for a much higher purpose (1 Cor. 10:11). He became well established in this society and sat in the city’s Gate, which was the public square where prominent leaders of the city conducted business and legal matters.
Meanwhile, the LORD visited Abraham in Canaan by the oaks of Mamre where three “men” appeared in human form—one was the LORD and the other two were angels. The business at hand was twofold; one regarded the promise that Sarah would bare a son the following year and the other concerned Sodom and Gomorrah's wickedness (Gen. 18:20-21). When the angels set out to obliterate those cities Abraham interceded and the LORD agreed to spare them if they could find even ten righteous people.
Arriving in Sodom Lot insisted the angels stay with him but after dinner his home was surrounded by every man in the city, demanding that Lot bring the two men out so they could have relations with them! (Gen. 19:4-5) Lot begged them not to behave so wickedly and wanting to protect his celestial guests, he compromised his virtue by offering them his two virgin daughters. This only infuriated the mob and when they vowed to do Lot great bodily harm the angels pulled him to safety and miraculously struck all the men with blindness. The visitors then asked Lot if there were other relatives not in the house so he went out to warn his sons-in-law (probably betrothed to his daughters), who thought he was joking.
When the 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. And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” Gen. 19:15-17
Lot lingered. Was he stunned? Did his benevolent heart tremble for those who would perish? We don’t know why he hesitated but we know that Lot and his daughters did not look back and tragically, his wife did.
“But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Gen 19:26
Though her name is never mentioned we know Lot's wife was privileged with exceptional graces despite living in a depraved culture. She was married to a righteous man who was daily vexed by the evil in their city. She had the example of godly relatives, Sarah and Abraham, and surely knew of the plagues God had brought upon Pharaoh in Egypt to deliver them (Gen. 12:17). She had witnessed debauchery and violence towards her guests, her husband, and potentially even her daughters, and the miraculous intervention of God’s messengers. She was mercifully drug to safety while the heavens rained fire and brimstone, and yet she looked back. This was no ordinary glance and the Hebrew word "wat·tab·bêṭ" which is only used 3 times in the Old Testament implies that her heart was still tethered to Sodom.
"That look was a little thing, but it told of secret love of the world in Lot's wife. ... Her eye turned to the place where her treasure was — as the compass needle turns to the pole. And this was the crowning point of her sin. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4). "If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15) …She was no murderess, no adulteress, no thief; but she was a professor of religion, and she looked back.” J.C. Ryle (1)
We need to “Remember Lot's wife” because we’re commanded to examine ourselves to make sure our faith is genuine (2 Cor. 13:5). Do we maintain a religious façade to satisfy our conscience or the expectations of family or church members? Is our heart secretly delighting in forbidden pleasures, riches, or the applause of this world instead of Christ who died for us? Can we say with Paul "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. "?. (Gal 2:20). Let’s not deceive ourselves—the Bible warns that our life could end today and judgment will come as quickly as it did to Lot’s wife. (Luke 12:20; Heb. 9:27). .
However, this story should also encourage every true believer because it powerfully demonstrates how God rescues the righteous, illustrating the New Testament promise that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able but will provide a way of escape that we may endure it (I Cor. 10:13). Parents can take real comfort in this as well, seeing that our children are growing up in an increasingly godless and hostile world. The Lord has promised to preserve his remnant and to deliver them!
“and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment” 2 Peter 2:7-8
About the Author: Diane Bucknell lives in Northern Nevada, with Robert, her husband of 40 years. They have 3 children, 6 grandchildren and an adopted stray cat named Mrs. Spurgeon. You can find her blogging here at Theology For Girls.