Stories Jesus told with women in them

Lot’s wife (Luke 17:20-35 and Genesis 19:14-26)

The angels waited until dawn. Lot was a righteous man, he believed the angels, but even though their voices became more and more urgent, Lot lingered; it was so hard for him to let go. He was going to lose everything.

Finally, when Lot’s faith was so weak he hesitated, God did all the rest for him. Look how strong a hold Lot’s habit was of going his own way and ignoring the things of God. Lot didn’t want to go to the place God told him to go, he didn’t believe he could make it, so he begged for further mercy, to go to Zoar, and the Lord once again gave him his wish.

Yet watching this interchange between Lot and the angels, why did Lot’s wife linger, pause, and look back? 

Ø  Lot was no stranger to leaving all behind, he had done it twice before, when he left Ur and when he left Abraham.

Ø  Lot’s daughters were of an age where the future could still hold some promise.

Ø  But Lot’s wife was leaving what had always been her life.

Her past was more relevant to her than her future. She wasn’t willing to consider starting a new life. She didn’t want to let go of all she had known in order to embrace what she didn’t understand. She couldn’t accept a future that did not include what she had grown to love. Looking back was her unwillingness to let go.

But looking back is also denying God’s mercy and wisdom, His intervention in what is not good in His eyes. You and I will become paralyzed in our walk of faith if we don’t set our eyes on what God is holding out for us. Instead of being filled with belief and hope in God’s mercy, Lot’s wife was filled with sorrow, regret, grief over loss, and an unhealthy longing for the city God had judged. Her disobedience was sin, and it ended in death.

The penalty of sin is death, and salvation only comes by looking to God’s mercy in trusting faith, not looking back.

Back in the 1970's thousands of cuneiform tablets were discovered that dated all five cities of the plain to about 2,700 to 2,600 B.C. Under the Jordan Valley is a huge fracture in the earth’s crust which goes all the through the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aquaba—you can Google that on a Bible map—emitting salt and free sulfur. This whole region has also always been known for earthquakes.

Some scientists have suggested that these cities were destroyed by lightning which set fire to the tar pits that saturated the area. Concurrent earthquakes would have caused violent explosions, literally causing fire and brimstone to rain down all over the plain.

Many archeologists believe the discovery of ruins lying today under the waters of the Dead Sea are the remains of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the rest of the Dead Sea cities. Very near this area is a range of hills that are made mostly of salt, in Arabic called “The Mountain of Sodom.” 

As Lot’s wife stopped, turned and gazed at the fire of God’s wrath, burning her beloved city, brimstone must have fallen on her as well, she was caught by the flames and burned where she stood, to Lot’s horrified eyes. Her body must have later been encrusted with the salt as the winds blew across her, becoming the pillar in this verse.

That was quite a word picture the Lord evoked when He referred to Lot’s wife.

He was describing an event the Jews had been looking forward to for thousands of years—The Great And Terrible Day of the Lord, when all their enemies would be wiped out, finally justice would prevail, and the Lord would usher in the great age of peace and prosperity for His people. But Jesus was saying not all the people who associated themselves with God would enter into God’s peace. Some would swept up in the judgement.

In fact, Jesus was saying—by using Lot’s wife as an example—those who cling to their old life, their old and cherished traditions and ways, just like Lot’s wife looked back with longing to her beloved city where she had been born and bred, to the people who were her people, to everything she valued and held dear. will actually, literally, lose their life.

Literally. Lose. Their. Life.

All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.