Wednesday, March 26, 2014

REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE (Luke Chapter 17)

Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

The context of this short reminder is Jesus’ response to a question by the Pharisees regarding the coming of the kingdom of God.  He responded to them and then spoke to His disciples of what would be the nature of things at the time of His second coming.  Using two examples, the days of Noah and the days of Lot, he warned of the apathetic disregard of pending judgment that would characterize the last days.  In Noah’s day “they were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah enter the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27).  In Lot’s day—“they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building,” but then, “fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:28-29).  His counsel then was the need to act with urgency, without hesitating or looking back, as one is fleeing the wrath to come (Luke 17:31).  Lot’s wife’s example illustrates the importance of this truth.

The sin of Sodom was exceedingly great.  God had purposed to destroy the city.  He sent two angels to rescue Lot and his family.  Lot warned his soon-to-be son-in-laws of the coming destruction, but they thought him to jesting (Genesis 19:14).  Lot himself lingered when the angels urged him to flee (Genesis 19:15).  The angels seized him and his wife and his two daughters and brought them outside of the city.  “And as they brought them out, one of the angels said, ‘Escape for your life.  Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley.  Escape to the hills lest you be swept away’” (Genesis 19:17).  Given that warning one might assume that Lot would urgently do as he was told, but instead he argued that he be allowed to flee to Zoar, a small city not far away (Genesis 19:18-22).

Lot came to Zoar and destruction came to Sodom and Gomorrah.  The Lord rained sulfur and fire down from heaven and overthrew the cities, the valley, all the inhabitants, and what grew on the ground.  “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she because a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26).  She looked back and then looked no more.  God’s judgment on her was swift and sure.

She was set forth by Jesus as an example to consider with regards to the attitude we should endeavor to maintain in view of God’s pending judgment.  What can we learn from her example?  She suffered judgment though she had benefited from certain religious privileges.  Her husband was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7).  Her uncle, Abraham, was a godly man to whom God had made an incredible promise.  God had intervened on her family’s behalf that she might be made aware of the judgment to come.  Others received no such warning.  Remember Lot’s wife.  The mere possession of religious privileges or benefits cannot save one’s soul.  She might have been religious, but she was not a woman of faith.

She suffered judgment because of her disobedience.  The instruction of the angel was straightforward and clear, “Do not look back,” but she had no heart to obey and suffered for it.  She looked back, longingly.  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  Her heart was back in Sodom, she had no capacity to contemplate a future home.  She loved Sodom, but was no friend to God (Cf. James 4:4).

She didn’t take God’s warning seriously.  And in that sense she has served as an example to every generation since.  In John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” Christian, having been warned of his city’s pending destruction, shared the news with his family.  They supposed him to be ill and did everything they could to drive away his gloomy outlook.  Burdened by his sins and the warning, he wept and prayed and paced the countryside.  Then one day he asked, “What must I do to be saved?”  Evangelist pointed into the distance and handed him a parchment containing the words, “Flee from the wrath to come.”  After receiving specific directions as to which way to go, Christian began to run, as the pleas of his wife, and children, and neighbors faded into the background.  “Come back!  Come back to us!” they cried.  “Life! Eternal Life,” he replied, in a spirit quite unlike that of Lot’s wife.

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