31 “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.
32 “Remember Lot’s wife.
33 “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
Off the southwestern tip of the Dead Sea there is a mountain called, appropriately enough, Mount Sodom. The mountain is five miles long and three miles wide, and it is made completely of halite – i.e. rock salt. On one end of Mount Sodom stands a lonely pillar of halite, probably separated from the main rock by thousands of years of erosion. That pillar has long been known to the local Israelis as “Lot’s Wife.”
I think you all remember the story:
So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”
24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.
25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Why did Lot’s wife look back? Didn’t she hear the order from the angel telling them NOT to look back? Although the angel wasn’t specific about what would happen if they DID look back, such an order still carries the full authority of the Lord God, so you’d think one would just obey without question. Right. We are SO good at obeying God’s orders without question, aren’t we? Perhaps not. But when destruction is involved… Alright, we’re not very good at following God’s clear leading at any time, regardless of the conditions He sets. So you and I might look behind us just out of curiosity. “Rubber-necking” as it is called.
From today’s passage from the Gospel of Luke, it’s clear that Lot’s Wife didn’t look back out of curiosity. She looked back as if trying to save something of her past life. In this passage, the Lord Jesus is instructing His disciples about His second coming, “the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” (v.30) He is telling them two things about those days:
1) The coming of the Son of Man will be unexpected. People will be working away, going about their business, and then suddenly some will be taken up. In what is the most graphic description of the Rapture, Jesus explains that two will we side-by-side at work, in bed, in the field, and one will be taken and the other left behind. (vv. 34-36)
2) When we suddenly realize that the Son of Man is coming, we should not turn back to try to save anything or anyone from our past. (v.31)
There is nothing we can do to change God’s timetable about when He intends to return in glory. NOTHING.
42 “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
44 “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
But we CAN do something about not looking back. From today’s verses, we see that Lot’s wife turned around out of a sense of wanting to save something she thought she’d left behind. Perhaps it was a favorite loom upon which she had woven fine clothes. Perhaps she remembered a particular place where she and Lot had set up their tent just outside the city when they first arrived. Perhaps she was looking back as she realized that a lot of the people she had known the past several years were about to be destroyed. Perhaps Lot’s wife was thinking about the times of pleasure she had had there in Sodom. Perhaps it was all these things wrapped up into one thing: nostalgia.
When we come to Christ and our lives start to change, there is a certain nostalgia for those old, familiar days when we had fun in our sinfulness. We think about old friends, old places, and perhaps even relatively new things we did. We look back at those times and faces because we are still a little afraid of this new place we are going. Like Lot, we’re afraid of the mountains, so we want to stay near Sodom in little Zoar. (Genesis 19:19-20) The Lord will allow us our Zoar, our familiar place that is a little step away from our sinful past, but He will NOT allow us to look back with longing at where we have been.
Looking back is an indication that we have not severed ties with Sodom, that the “king of Sodom” – Satan – still rules in our lives. (See Genesis 14:21) Looking back means there are things there that still draw our attention off the path to righteousness and salvation. Looking back will only lead to temptation.
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Lot’s wife gave in to her desire for the “good old days” and knowingly rebelled against God’s order to not look back. As a result, she died.
Let us not look back with any sort of nostalgia. Let us instead fix our eyes upon Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) Let us keep going, past the walls of Sodom, past Zoar, past the well-watered plain of Jordan, past the mountains, and on into the salvation that only comes through Christ Jesus. And no matter when the day comes, let us be ready for the Lord to take us up into the clouds of glory, with nary a thought for what once was but only for what is to come.
Our Father in Heaven, we praise Your holy name. Like David I must ask “Who am I, O LORD God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” Thank You for saving me from Sodom and setting my feet on the right path. Help me to never look back, Lord, to always look forward to the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen.