Lot’s Wife Looked Back

Remember Lot’s wife.” Luke 17:32 (NKJV)

This seems like a strange statement for Jesus to make. Lot’s wife seems to be an unimportant character in Scripture. She seems to be of so little importance that we don’t even have her name. She’s simply known as “Lot’s wife”. Despite this, Jesus says we are to remember her. Why?

The context of Jesus making this statement is that of His return. Jesus explains that the day of His return will be a day of sudden judgment (Luke 17:26-29). It will also be a day of sudden separation where God separates the righteous from the wicked (Luke 17:34-36). In light of both of these truths, we are to remember Lot’s wife. But still, why do we remember Lot’s wife?

The story of Lot’s wife in Scripture is mostly told through the story of Lot. Lot’s story in Genesis 13:5-13. The story is that Abraham has followed God’s leading and become very wealthy. The blessings of Abraham have overflowed onto the life of his nephew Lot. They both had so many livestock that they could no longer live together. Gracious Abraham gave Lot the first choice of the land. Lot looks at the well watered plains of Jordan and chose that. In choosing the well watered plains of Jordan Lot begins to move his family closer and closer to Sodom which Scripture declares to be filled with wicked men who were against the Lord.

Our next encounter with Lot is in Genesis 19. By this time Lot has left the well watered plains of Jordan and moved into the city of Sodom. By all appearances, Lot has fully assimilated into the culture of Sodom.  Lot’s assimilation is seen in three ways. First in Genesis 19:1 we find Lot “…sitting in the gate…” The gate was where leaders and business men gathered to make decisions and do business. As far as the people of Sodom were concerned, Lot was one of them. Secondly in Genesis 19:7 he refers to the wicked men coming to rape the angels as “…my brethren…” As far as Lot was concerned, he was one of them. Thirdly in Genesis 19:8 Lot offers to let them rape his virgin daughters to satisfy their carnal lusts. Lot basically shared the same values and attitude as the wicked people of Sodom.

But God is gracious and amazing so He planned to deliver Lot and his family from Sodom before the judgment came. But because Lot was so assimilated into the culture of Sodom he didn’t want to go. He hesitated to leave the wickedness of the city despite knowing the coming destruction from the Lord. He basically had to be dragged away from pending judgment. He still wanted to stay in a city. He was still attached to the world and still wanted the things that the world offered. Lot’s time in Sodom had so affected him that he was not noticeably different from the people of Sodom.

As Lot and his family were led out of the city they were instructed not to even look back to Sodom (Genesis19:17).  As they fled God began to rain down fire and brimstone on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-25). As this happened…

But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:26 (NKJV)

Different commentators have some interesting ideas about what she actually did here.

She had slowed down and fallen behind because she didn’t really want to leave.

She turned around and looked longingly at the city she loved.

She turned around and was actually headed back to the city.

All are possible though I think the last is the most probable. In Sodom she was the wealthy wife of an important person. She would arrive in Zoar with nothing more than whatever they were carrying. She couldn’t bear the thought of leaving it all behind and was judged by God because of it. He love of the world, and the things of the world, caused her to look back to the world after she’d been delivered from the world by God.

So when Jesus tells us to remember Lot’s wife, He’s warning us that if we look back as Lot’s wife looked back we run the risk of suffering the same fate she suffered. Namely that rather than escaping the judgment of God, we’ll be consumed by it.

We cannot look back and remain faithful to Jesus.

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The Danger Of Looking Back

And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”  But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:61-62 (NKJV)

But first…

I want to follow you, but first let me go and say good-bye to my family. Jesus told him that wasn’t possible.

If you are going to plow a straight row you have to keep your eyes on where you are going, not where you’ve been.

You have to be focused on what you are doing, not what you’ve done.

With the tools they used for plowing in those days, you couldn’t be halfway involved and plow a straight line. You had to be fully devoted to the task at hand.

So it is with being a part of the Kingdom of God. You cannot be halfway devoted to Jesus and consider yourself committed to Him. You can’t start for the kingdom, go back to the world, start for the kingdom, and go back to the world… You have to choose where your devotion lies and then stick with it. As followers of Jesus Christ there is no place to stop and there is point to turn back or even look back. We are warned about this all through Scripture. One of the biggest warnings for believers is found in Hebrews.

But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:  partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated;  for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.  Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:  “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.  Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”  But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:32-39 (NKJV)

The reading seems to indicate that they started almost as soon as they embraced Jesus as Savior and Lord. There was a “great struggle” with suffering. The next few verses give us a picture as to what this “great struggle” with suffering was. They were made a spectacle. The idea of the spectacle is that what happened to them, happened in the public eye. People saw their great struggle with suffering. People saw their great struggle with suffering and some ridiculed them for it.  People saw their great struggle with suffering and did what they could to make it worse.

These Hebrew Christians endured all of this suffering, even to the point of having their stuff taken from them. The picture is that they patiently endured this because they knew there was something better waiting on them. They knew that what they would receive in the future was better than what they were losing in the present. They knew that eternal rewards were better than earthly riches.

Since they knew that there was something better coming than what this world offered, they should not cast away their confidence and turn back from following Jesus. That confidence in Jesus will bring a great reward. But in order to receive that reward they, and we, needed endurance. If they, and we, want the enduring possessions of Heaven, and the great reward for following Jesus, they, and we, must persevere in faithfulness to Jesus. There is no drawing back AND remaining faithful. It’s one or the other. Without remaining faithful and running the race God has set before us there is no receiving the enduring possession of Heaven or the great reward from Christ. Jesus will return, and it’ll be worth it all then, but while we wait we must persevere. We must endure to the end.

God has no pleasure in those who draw back. This means that it does not please God when someone draws back. Why is drawing back so bad? It’s because those who draw back, draw back to perdition. Perdition is the same as damnation and the opposite of salvation. As much as we might like to soften this up we can’t and remain faithful to Scripture. We aren’t told that those who draw back aren’t experiencing God’s best or are missing out on God’s blessings. Those who draw back, draw back to perdition and damnation. That’s pretty serious.

The author does say that he expects better for these Hebrew Christians, and all Christians in general. It’s important to understand that there is no reason for a genuine believer to draw back. Regardless of what anyone may say, a genuine believer drawing back does not have to happen and should not ever happen. However, the fact is that those who draw back, draw back to perdition.

Scripture is filled with examples of people to looked back, turned back, and went back. This week I’m going to write about some of those people and the consequences that followed their decision.

Prayers For The Salvation Of Others

Here are some specific Scripture based ways to pray for the salvation of others.

Pray For Them To Hit Rock Bottom. This may sound strange but I think it’s an important and often overlooked aspect of praying for the lost to be saved. Think about the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-20). He asks for his share of the inheritance and goes off an lives a wild life. As long as his life is great, he sees no need to go back home. But eventually, he did see a need to go home. Anyone remember why?

There was a famine in the land and he runs out of money.  His friends are gone. His money is gone. So he takes a job feeding pigs. Pretty much the worst possible job a Jewish guy could take. He takes it because he’s nearing rock bottom but he’s not quite there yet. Then one day feeding the hogs he looks at their food and says, “I’m so hungry I wish I could eat that.” It’s only at that point that he realizes where he needs to be and heads home. I do not believe he ever would have gone home as long as his money, friends, and good times continued. He only realized his need to go home AFTER he hit rock bottom.

Now, if this is a picture of someone coming back to God, and I believe it is, then a principle we learn from it is that some people will never turn to God until they’ve lost pretty much everything else in their lives. That’s rock bottom.

Someone hitting rock bottom is a bad thing. It’s hard to watch someone we love get to that place. But the reality is that some people will remain lost until they have nowhere to turn but to Jesus. I think in some cases we have a Biblical mandate to pray this way.

deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 5:5 (NKJV)

Paul is essentially calling on the church to withdraw any blessings, good, and spiritual protection they bring to this guy so that Satan can have his way with him. The reason for this is so that the guy will turn to Jesus and be saved. This is the part we have to key in on. Praying for someone to hit rock bottom isn’t so that they’ll get what’s coming to them. It’s not so they’ll realize we were right and they were wrong. Praying for someone to hit rock bottom is so that they’ll see their need for Jesus, turn to Jesus, call on Jesus, and be saved by Jesus.

I do find it interesting that Paul didn’t call for this to be done to every unbeliever that needed saving or every believer who strayed but he did here. The principle I take from this is that while we may not need to pray this for everyone, every time, there are times where we should, and in fact must if they are to be saved. Better for them to suffer now so they can spend eternity with Jesus than for them be at ease now and suffer eternally in Hell.

Pray For Laborers To Reach People. One of the greatest needs for bringing about the salvation of the lost are for people who will reach out to the lost and do what they can to bring them to Jesus. This has always been the great need.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.  But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38 (NKJV)

As Jesus looked at the world and saw that they were lost, needy, and burdened to the point of collapse. He also saw the tragic problem that there were more people who were lost, needy, and burdened then there were people to help them.

The problem then is the problem now. There is no shortage of people in your community and the surrounding communities that are lost, needy and burdened. So we must pray to God who is the Lord of the harvest to raise up people who will see as Jesus sees, care as Jesus cares and go do what they can to help. While we pray, we should also be ready to be the answer to that prayer.

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