Theme: Remember Lot’s Wife
This week’s lessons press the importance that it is not enough to merely show an initial interest in following Christ; one must persevere in obedience to the very end.
Scripture: Luke 9:57-62
When Jesus said of these individuals, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God,” He was not just making a statement, of course. He was giving a warning. It is this warning that we must now consider.
I turn here to another warning of Christ that must be taken with His words from Luke 9. This warning is found eight chapters farther on in Luke’s gospel in a section dealing with Christ’s second coming and the danger of being caught unprepared on that occasion. Jesus says, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32)! This woman, the wife of Lot, the nephew of Abraham, is the classic biblical example of one who did not press on in discipleship but rather looked back and perished.
She had been living in Sodom with her husband. She had been visited by angels and had been warned (along with her husband) to flee from Sodom, which was to be destroyed. She left at the angels’ insistence. But on the way to the mountains she looked back in disobedience to the angels’ strict command and was turned into a pillar of salt. Jesus said, “Remember” this woman. Remember her advantages, her disobedience, and her frightful end.
We will never appreciate the force of this warning unless we realize that Lot’s wife was a spiritually privileged individual. To begin with, she had a saved man for her husband. True, Lot was far from being a model disciple himself. He chose the cities of the plain with their seductive pleasures rather than the mountain country occupied by Abraham, and he paid for it. Nevertheless, Peter calls him “a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives” of the lawless (2 Pet. 2:7). Lot’s wife had the advantage of this saved husband, yet perished in spite of it.
Lot’s wife also had the advantage of a godly man’s friendship in Abraham to whom she was related by marriage. Abraham’s faith would have been no secret to her. His knowledge of the true God would have been communicated to all who were members of his household, which Lot and his wife had been for many years. She would have participated in Abraham’s worship of the true God. She would have seen evidence of God’s power in delivering herself and the others who had been taken captive by Kedorlaomer and the other kings who had overthrown Sodom on an earlier occasion. Indeed, Lot’s wife had even received the advantage of a special angelic visitation when the angels came to Sodom to warn her family. She was even one of that small group of four whom the angels helped escape. In that day not one person in many hundreds of thousands had such spiritual advantages. Yet in spite of her advantages Lot’s wife turned back on the way and was judged for it.
What was wrong with Lot’s wife? It is no mystery. First, she was disobedient to God’s word through the angels. When the angels came to Sodom with the announcement that they were about to destroy the city and that Lot and his family would have to leave, they said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away” (Gen. 19:14, 17, emphasis added)! Those commands were as urgent and explicit as any found in Scripture. Yet Lot’s wife disobeyed them. She began by delaying. Delay then erupted into outright disobedience as she disregarded the angels’ command and looked back.
Second, Lot’s wife disbelieved. The angels had said that unless the family fled for their lives, refusing even to look back to Sodom, they would be lost along with those living in the city. But the woman must have reasoned as many reason today: “Surely God cannot mean what I have just understood Him to say. God will not really destroy the great city of Sodom. Or if He does, surely He will not destroy me just for turning around to see what is happening.” But, of course, that is exactly what God did. God said what He was about to do, and He did it, as He said. Lot’s wife perished for her failure to believe the word of God.
Third, Lot’s wife loved the world and its pleasures more than she loved God. If you had talked to Lot’s wife before the angels’ visit and had asked her of her faith in God, she would have told you that she was a believing woman. She would have said—perhaps with an air of smug superiority—that she was not like the citizens of Sodom, who had no knowledge of God and were pagans. She worshiped the God of Abraham. She wanted to serve him. She might even have told you what she was doing in Sodom to witness to the claims of this true God. She would have been one of the “better people” of Sodom. Still, her heart was not with God. It was with Sodom and its pleasures. Her true affections were revealed in the crisis of God’s judgment.
In what ways was Lot’s wife a spiritually privileged person?
What three things led to her downfall and judgment?
Reflection: In what ways do we exhibit some of the same behavior as Lot’s wife? What lessons or warnings can we learn from her story?