Saturday, January 19, 2008

Remember (if we must) Lot's Wife

“But his wife [Lot’s] looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” (Gen.19:26) “Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32)

Why, I wonder. Surely it would be more helpful and instructive for us to remember Lot. We know far more about him than we do about his unfortunate wife. Her story was told in fifteen words; the sad story of a woman whose only crime appears to have been that she hastily looked back over her shoulder at the destruction of her home and city. Seems innocent enough. And for this she was turned into a pillar of salt. Evidently, she was the only one of the four (Lot, his wife, and two daughters) who did look back. But then they were specifically instructed not to (v. 17), which gives us our first clue as to why she was penalized when she did.

In order to understand this woman a little more, it might be helpful to look at her daughters, for they often (but not always) are a reflection of their mother. If we use this gauge, we will find no redeeming quality here. Both girls married men who had little respect for their father, and even less for the warnings of God (v. 14). And not two days later, we are faced with the repulsive picture of Lot and his two daughters engaged in drunkenness and incest. No, these were not the kind of girls who would rise up and call their mother “Blessed.”

But what of Lot then? Does he not bare some of the blame for this dysfunctional family? Yes, he does. But I can’t help thinking of another wife whose husband was prominent in their city (Prov. 31:23). But, unlike Lot’s wife, this woman had a husband with a contented heart who considered himself a blessed man; while it says of Lot that every day he lived in Sodom, his soul was “vexed” (2 Pet. 2:8). It would not be too much of a stretch, I think, to assume that he stayed (and possibly went) because of his wife, whose heart, we know from this story was ever and always in Sodom.

Are we coming closer now to the reason for her seemingly harsh judgment? In reality, I wonder if it was not so much a punishment as simply giving her what she wanted. Though it was destined for destruction, Sodom held her heart as tightly and as surely as the cords of sin hold a man or woman to this world. Little wonder then, that when she slackened her pace, and fought for one last, longing look back, God stopped her in her tracks—forever.

Nothing is said about anyone mourning for this woman. Lot did not weep for her as Abraham did for Sarah. And, frankly, if God had not told me otherwise, I would gladly have ignored such a foolish woman. But, alas, God said to remember her. So, here’s an idea: If God directed you or me to turn our backs on something or someone in this life, would we do it? without looking back?

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