Never Look Back

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:24–26).

- Genesis 19:23–26

Before we examine today’s passage, consider again Lot’s request to flee to Zoar instead of the hills near Sodom (Gen. 19:20). This plea, we have seen, was not motivated entirely by faith; it instead reveals doubt in God’s provision. Yet the Lord grants it (v. 22), showing us that He hears the prayers of His people even when they are impure. John Calvin offers an insightful application: “Since God so kindly and gently bears with the evil wishes of his own people, what will he not do for us if our prayers are regulated according to the pure direction of his Spirit, and are drawn from his word?”

Despite his lack of purity, Lot quickly heeds the word from God to flee Sodom. In the Middle East there is barely half an hour between the first light of dawn and sunrise; obviously, Lot did not delay once he was allowed to go to Zoar (vv. 15–23). With Abraham’s nephew out of the way, the Lord rains sulfur and fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah, eradicating all people, animals, buildings, and vegetation (vv. 24–25). So thorough is this destruction that sulfurous fumes and deposits of asphalt remain today in this formerly lush and desirable area (13:10). Fire and sulfur reappear later in the Old Testament as instruments of the Creator’s retribution (Ps. 11:6), warning men that destruction awaits all who impenitently defy the Lord.

Lot escapes with his life, but not everyone who leaves Sodom is so fortunate. Ultimately, Lot loved God more than he loved the world, and thus he fled, never looking back as the angels had commanded. But his wife was so attached to sin that she forfeited the salvation offered to her. In looking back at her beloved city, she identified her- self with the condemned civilization and was likewise judged (v. 26).

The first readers of Genesis, those Israelites liberated from Egyptian slavery, were tempted to view life in Egypt nostalgically during the arduous trip to the promised land (Num. 11:1–6). Lot’s wife, therefore, taught them not to look back to Egypt with fondness but unto the Lord for salvation. Today, Lot’s wife shows us we must not yearn for the days in which we were in bondage to sin. Let us never return to the slavery that once defined our lives (1 Peter 4:3).

Coram Deo

Some of you reading today’s study may be newborn Christians and especially tempted to engage in the sinful activities that once defined your lives. Others may be susceptible to looking to the culture to determine their attitudes and treasures. Whatever the case may be, all of us can unwittingly fall back into sin if we are not careful. Pray that you would be wary of the devil’s wiles and avoid places of temptation this day.

Passages for Further Study

Num. 14:1–38
Jer. 44
Matthew 8:18–22
Luke 17:32

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