“When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them 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!
Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah – from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all of those living in the cities – and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” ~ Genesis 19:16-17, 24-26
The story of Lot’s wife has always fascinated me. Perhaps it’s because she is such a footnote in the story – barely mentioned – or perhaps it is because her husband is such a wishy-washy fellow you can’t help but be surprised his wife lacks commitment. Maybe it’s because I think Lot didn’t seem to possess very many admirable traits (offering his daughters up to a mob beating down his door? Seriously, who does that?) and yet God didn’t turn him into pillar of salt.
It’s at times like these I wonder what the Bible isn’t telling us. What about Lot’s wife warranted such an instantaneous, permanent punishment? The warning the angels gave Lot and his family seemed to be only encouraging them to get out of Dodge as fast as they could, because at no point did they say, “Oh, by the way – failure to follow our instructions and you’ll wind up seasoning someone’s popcorn.” Even Lot whined about being told to go to the mountains, just sure he would die there anyway. Here were angels sent to warn him about immediate destruction headed his way and he decides that now is the time to bring up his lack of Boy Scouting skills. And yet he survived.
But Lot’s wife didn’t make it. Running from town, she glanced over her shoulder, looking back at her home and blam – she became a human salt sculpture. I think what this story teaches me is that it really is what in your heart that counts. Lot may not have been a great guy, but at least he was honest about himself. He didn’t try to play up that he was a hero or a morally upstanding person. His responses seem to be exactly what he was thinking at the time. Perhaps the flaws in Lot’s wife ran much deeper – a level of deception or maliciousness that couldn’t be seen on the surface. The account in Genesis not only doesn’t name her, but it also doesn’t tell us why she looked back. Maybe she didn’t trust God, maybe she didn’t trust her husband, maybe…we’ll never really know. Whatever her reason, her heart ruled her head in that moment. In spite of the clear directive she’d been given, she looked back.
In this day and age, it can be easy to be complacent concerning God’s directions. Odds are, we won’t face the immediate punishment that this woman did. However, that doesn’t make what God tells us to do any less important. We will still be responsible for giving an account to Him for our actions here on earth. Let’s make sure that our behavior doesn’t run contrary to His instructions, as Lot’s wife’s did.