One-a-Day...for the Heart: Don't Look Back!
“Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away!” ... But Lot's wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.
Genesis 19 records the sad story of Lot and his wife as they attempted to flee from Sodom, a town that, along with Gomorrah, was destroyed by God’s fire and brimstone because of the grievous level of iniquity there.
Two angels warned Lot that he and his family must run for their lives to avoid the burning sulfur and consuming fire the Lord would rain down on Sodom and Gomorrah. It meant leaving their home, belongings, and future sons-in-law, who thought Lot was joking when he told them of the mandatory evacuation. Lot lingered a few moments before the angels seized him, his wife, and two daughters and escorted them outside the city (Genesis 19:15-18 ESV).
As with hurricane or flood evacuations, the orders came quickly, and the family had little time to gather their possessions or say goodbyes. God’s mercy was being extended exclusively to Lot and his family because he was the only righteous person in the wicked city of Sodom. Imagine a church of one! But Abraham, Lot’s uncle, had pleaded with the Lord that God would spare the city if even ten righteous people were found in Sodom. Ten were not found; only Lot--and God provided a way of escape, frantic as it was.
Lot’s wife could not bear to leave her world behind. Sodom was her home, and all her comfortable things were there. Can you relate? Families who lose their homes to fires or natural disasters go through the same horror and grief. Loss of anything precious is profound and life-changing, but nothing was left of the entire landscape of Sodom and Gomorrah—total desolation. God wiped the two cities off the map.
Genesis 19:26 says, but Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt. This was not a casual side glance. The Hebrew word for “looked” is nabat, meaning to scan, i.e., look intently at; by implication, to regard with pleasure, favor, or care. The interpretation is that Lot’s wife looked longingly at her home and town as Lot and his daughters ran ahead to safety.
Her hesitancy to obey the Lord resulted in her death, most likely as she was consumed by burning sulfur. Regarding the “pillar” of salt, one unnamed author writes: The Bible isn’t clear whether Lot’s wife was covered in the salt that rained down with the brimstone or if her remains were dusted with a coating of salt later. But, it is interesting that she is described as a “pillar.” The Hebrew for “pillar” refers to a garrison or a deputy, that is, something set to watch over something else. The image of Lot’s wife standing watch over the Dead Sea area—where to this day no life can exist—is a poignant reminder to us not to look back or turn back from the profession of faith we have made, but to follow Christ without hesitation and abide in His love (GotQuestions.org).
That is the lesson from this gripping account of loss. Jesus warns us in Luke 17:32-33 (ESV), “Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” If only Lot’s wife would have feared God as her husband did. She would likely not have hesitated but would have fully heeded the instructions never to look back. She would have had enough time to make it to safety, too.
Sometimes the world calls to us, and the pleasures of sin beckon us to flirt with them again. In times of weakness, we are tempted to look back longingly—to “nabat” our former lives of sin and to miss the carefree pleasures of our old ways. Jesus lovingly steers us back toward our new life in Him. The Apostle Paul tells us how to avoid looking back, No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT).
The MESSAGE translation expresses Paul’s words with such clarity and relatability, Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward — to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. So, let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision — you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it (Philippians 3:13-16).
Dear brothers and sisters, let’s pray together for God’s supernatural ability to keep the past behind us. Lord, help us never to look back but to forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead! Please help us stay on the right track, finishing our race strong! We ask this in the mighty Name of Jesus. Amen.
© 2023, Chris Werre