Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Remember Lot's Wife

(Luke 17:32 NKJV) Remember Lot’s wife.
This is one of those verses kids love to memorize because it only has three words.  But what does it mean?  Who was Lot's wife and why should I remember her?

The story is told in Genesis 19.  God has decided to judge the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by raining fire and brimstone on them.  Before bringing this destruction, however, God sends angels to rescue Lot and his family.  Rescuing this family turns into quite a chore, however.

First of all the men who are supposed to marry Lot's daughters don't believe him when he tells them.  They think it is a big joke and just laugh at Lot.  Secondly, Lot and his wife and daughters can't seem to get ready to leave.  In verse 16 they "lingered" in spite of the warning to hurry.  So the angels actually take them by the hand (by God's mercy) and bring them out of the city.

He wants to be saved, but not right now.

At this point the angels tell them "escape for your life..." and warn them not to stay anywhere on the plain and not to look behind them, but to run for their lives to the mountains.  But even here, Lot dithers.  He doesn't want to go to the mountains.  He wants to stay in the small city of Zoar.

He wants to be saved, but not THAT saved.

Finally, as the family is fleeing to Zoar, the fire and brimstone start falling on Sodom and Gomorrah.  I suppose that it must have been pretty spectacular - similar to a volcano erupting nearby.  (The probable location is now the lowest place on earth - near the Dead Sea.) I imagine there was a lot of ash and smoke and noise.

They should have been highly motivated to keep on going... But Lot's wife looked back - and was turned into a pillar of salt.  (I think of her when I see people who have been excavated from Pompeii - turned to rock when they were engulfed in hot ash.)

This is the history of the instruction to "Remember Lot's wife."  In Luke 17, Jesus is teaching about the coming day of judgment.  He is saying that we should be intent on escaping and not hesitate.  This will be true in the final days that Jesus is predicting, but it is also true today.

People are today confronted with the Gospel.  They admit they are sinners who deserve God's judgment.  They believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to save them from their sins.  They know they should call on Jesus for salvation.

BUT... they hesitate.  They want to be saved, but not right now.  They want to be saved, but THAT saved.

They want to be saved, but they turn back for a last longing look at their past life.

And that can be their undoing.  They don't make it.  They are ensnared in their past life.  They are frozen there - a pillar of salt at the edge of the destruction - entrapped and entombed.

Remember Lot's wife.

Don't hesitate.  Don't look back.  Give up your old life.  Give up this world's values.  Keep your eyes on heaven and run for your life!

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