(Sunday’s Lesson can be heard here.)
Paul reminds us in Romans 15 that the Old Testament was written for our instruction. We can learn from the history recorded in it. Jesus was a master at pulling out lessons that we might not otherwise think about.
In Luke 17, Jesus warns that there will be a coming judgement for which people will be unprepared for. Of course, the reason for the warning is so that his followers would be ready. Toward the end of his instruction, he drives the point home when he says:
Luke 17:32 ESV Remember Lot’s wife.
Of course, as he said these words, his audience would no doubt exactly what happened with Lot’s wife: She looked back to Sodom as they were fleeing and was turned into a pillar of salt. The warnings and lesson should be very clear.
We remember her disobedience
The command of the angels was clear:
Genesis 19:17 ESV 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.”
It may be a small thing, as we like to think of it, but when given a clear command like that, one would think that you would know better than to disobey it. Of course, I think it was unlikely that glancing back as the fire and brimstone fell was this issue. (Though that might be.) It is seems more likely that she was looking back with a desire to be back in that city with the comforts, family, and friends.
Matthew 6:21 ESV For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We remember her disbelief.
If she had believed, would she have looked back? Did she want to commit suicide? No, it is more likely that she did not believe. Why would a loving God punish her for looking back? After all, there was so much history in Sodom. Surely, a little longing for what used to be would not be a bad thing? Peter reminds us that our past life needs to be left behind.
1 Peter 4:3 ESV For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
Faith, trusting in God, is so important. Lot’s wife is not the only one who has “looked back.” Israel also kept looking back while in the wilderness.
Numbers 11:4-5 ESV Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! (5) We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.
But, if we look at the world as a place of friendship and good things, we risk making God our enemy.
James 4:4 ESV You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
We remember her destruction.
We may be tempted to minimize disobedience. Some even will say “I will enjoy the sin tonight and go forward and repent in church tomorrow.”
James 4:14 ESV yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
What we might think of small sins, God often views differently. While the ones who are punished do not get the chance to repent, we get to learn from their examples. Think about:
- Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10)
- Uzzah (2 Samuel 6)
- The young prophet (I Kings 13)
- Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)
They all remind us that God is a Holy God and he needs to be honored.
God is a loving God but it does not mean that he will not hand out punishment for those who disobey. Lot’s wife found out the hard way and we, well, we get the opportunity to learn from her mistake and not repeat the same thing.
What can we learn?
The lesson should be obvious but let’s state the obvious anyway. We should believe and obey God or risk destruction. Remember Lot’s wife.