Remember Lot's Wife
The story about Lot's wife is in Genesis 19:12-26 and in Luke 24-36 Jesus in discussing His second coming made this alarming comment: "Remember Lot's wife."It is an awful thing to trifle with Divine warnings. Many instances of this kmd are recorded for our learning in the sacred Scriptures. If we pay due attention to them, without delay, we shall escape from the wrath to come, but if we neglect them the awful justice of God will find us out; and we shall perish in our sins. For "He who is rebuked and hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without t remedy"( Prov. 29:1). Remember Lot's wife, and take warning. Her case stands recorded as a warning to triflers in all succeeding ages and those who follow her example, may be assured that the judgments of an offended God will fall with dreadful weight upon their guilty heads. In examining her case, let us consider two things: First, the circumstances in her history which should be remembered; and, Secondly, the advantages which may arise to us, from a recollection of her history.
Remember first the opportunities which she had of making her escape from the fiery rain which came upon her. She had the same opportunities that were offered to Lot and her daughters, and no doubt might have escaped with them. She had the same portion of time that was given to them; she had sufficient strength to pursue the way to Zoar; and she had the company of her nearest and dearest friends to strengthen and encourage her. God graciously affords all of us time and strength to escape our threatened ruin. What can we wish for, in this respect, that we have not? That our time is short is very true, but who lays it to heart? Life at its longest is short. As short as it is, were we to improve it well, we should find it abundantly sufficient. Surely we do not wish to be forced into the way of safety! Who can rationally expect God to force his will on us? He who waits till God compels him to go to heaven, will fall a prey to the devouring flames of justice. God acts upon one invariable plan in all ages. His plan is wise and good. Those who enter into his plan may expect salvation; those who follow any other plan may dread condemnation. But the condemned are painfully conscious that they once had an opportunity of making their escape and that their dreadful sufferings are the effects of wilful and deliberate disobedience.
Moreover, the repeated warnings given to Lot's wife should be remembered. She heard what the divine messengers said on their arrival in Sodom; she heard, no doubt, the commission which was .given to Lot to warn his sons-in-law. She heard the very urgent exhortation given to Lot, on the morning of Sodom's overthrow to escape for his life. The power of God to execute his awful threatenings had appeared the preceding night, when the angels struck the polluted sons of Sodom with blindness. That dreadful circumstance was intended both as a punishment to tliem, and a warning to the family of Lot. God does not suffer sinners to perish without warning. Angels may not be sent from the skies to warn every one, but there are other sufficient warnings to a careless world. Conscience warns the sinner; the Spirit of God warns him; ministers warn him; the written word gives him warning; his pious friends point out his danger; and repeated judgments warn him of approaching storms. Yet all these warnings are too commonly neglected. Wisdom calls, but we refuse; she stretches out her hand, but we regard her not. At length she will laugh at our calamity, and mock when our fear cometh. Perhaps after the present moment, we may be warned no more. The last warning will come, and for aught we know this may be the last.
Let us also remember the unbelief of Lot's wife: Had she fully believed the awful prediction of the angels, she would never have have presumed to look back and be turned into a statue of salt. Perhaps she thought it an idle tale invented to frighten her and her family, especially as there were no visible appearances of an approaching storm. The blindness which fell on the Sodomites, was an argument in proof of the threatened judgment, but unbelief pays little attention to argument. What men dislike, they endeavor to disbelieve. This remark will account for the great number of infidels who may be found in Christendom. They love sin in their hearts, and wish it may not be punished in a future state. This wish leads them to seek arguments against revelation. Their own reflections, and the reflections of other infidels, furnish them with what they choose to call argument, and now they' begin to sin without remorse and rush on without fear. Thus a love of sin produces unbelief; and unbelief opens the flood' gates of sin and death. The history of the Jewish nation, as recorded in the Scriptures, furnishes us with many melancholy proofs of this assertion. Perhaps our own experience unhappily confirms it. Who amongst us is free from the sin of unbelief? Who takes God at his word, either in his promises, or in his threatenings?
The love of Lot's wife for filthy Sodom should be remembered. Probably she thought more about her property, relations, and friends in Sodom, than her own safety. Her looking back implied a desire to return. She had left the place, but her heart was not weaned from it. He who goes to heaven, must be willing to give up all he has on earth. The world has a thousand charms to the natural man, but he who is spiritual is dead to all its charms. Had Lot's wife been dead to Sodom, she would not have died on the plain. It was a poor object of love for abominable wickedness reigned in Sodom, and God was dishonored day by day. And what is our depraved world today? As the work of God it is beautiful and fruitful, but as a place, of sin it is full of deformity and wretchedness. This world is doomed to destruction. It will be consumed by raging fire, and those who love it will perish in its fires. We cannot look to the world without danger. The heart inhabited by God, must be free. 0, let the world go! Give it up for ever. God has provided a better place for man. Let us seek that happy place. But if we are resolved to perish in the world, let us look at things which are seen, with the most ardent desires ; recollecting, however, that like Lot's wife, we may perish while we look.
Let us carefully remember how Lot, and his wife and daughters, lingered in Sodom. They seemed undetermined what to do. Probably she was the sole cause of that delay. Religion is either right or wrong. If it be right, let us pursue it with vigor; if it be wrong, let us oppose it with all our might. God said to Israel, "How long will you halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him"( 1 Kings 18: 21). To be fully resolved on the subject of religion is one-half of the conquest. Our greatest hindrance, from first to last is a want of firm and unshaken resolution. Not that mere resolution can accomplish any thing, but when the mind is fully resolved, confidence is imparted, and hard things become easy and rough paths plain. But while we trifle and linger, we arc in danger. Poor Samson, by a wavering unsettled temper, fell into the hands of a vile prostitute; and, when he was deprived of his strength, she said, "The Philistines be upon thee, Samson." It is probable that the mind of Lot's wife was violently agitated by opposite principles after she left Sodom. One moment, she thought of going forward; the next, of turning back again. Who can tell the inward straggles of her heart before she looked back? In her circumstances there was no time to trifle. The cloud of vengeance was ready to burst. The loss of a moment was a loss that could not be redeemed. And have we more time to trifle with than she had ? Perhaps, if we linger another moment, all may be lost for ever!
Again, let us remember that she looked back. The springs of action are in the mind. Unbelief and a love of Sodom produced that fatal look. The eye of the body follows the inclinations of the heart, and if the heart is not well guarded it is vain to think of guarding the eye. To look is to desire. She desired Sodom, turned round, and fixed her eyes upon it. There was her wealth, there were her friends. To her it appeared a lovely place. She might think, "The mountain is barren, dreary, and gloomy. If Sodom must be destroyed though I cannot think it will, let me look at it once more."' It did not say, "She turned back, " but "She looked back" and no doubt if she had been spared a moment longer, her feet would have followed the desires of her soul. How often has this been your case? You have said in your heart, one more look at the world, one more pleasure, one more sin, and then I will flee for my life. The person who can look at sin with pleasure is not a true Christian. Turn your eyes to better things ad you are safe. A look ruined Eve; a look ruined Lot's wife, and a look will ruin you. Only look and you are overcome; only look and you will rush into danger. If you have any idea of escaping from the world of sin, and the fiery destruction that is fall on this earth, look no more. As the angels said to Lot's wife, he says to us all, "Escape for your life and don't look back." Sinner, how often has this been your case ? You have said in your heart, One more look at the world; one more pleasure; one more sin; and then will I flee for my life. The man who can look at sin with pleasure, is not a true penitent; if you he resolve to sin once more, you are likely to be hardened in sin. Look at worldly pleasures, and you are ruined ; turn thy eyes to better things, and you aret safe. A look ruined Eve; a look ruined Lot's wife; and a look may ruin you. Only look, and you are overcome. Only look, and you t rush into danger. If you have any idea of escaping from the world and sin, look no more. All human beings are literally running for their lives, as Lot's family was running for their lives..
Seriously remember the end of Lot's wife. She was doing her own work; and God proceeded to do his work. Fire and brimstone descended from heaven, and fell upon her. In a moment she lost her life. Thus the sinner perishes before God. When justice overtakes him, he has not a moment afforded for the exercise of prayer. Should this be our case, and perhaps it may, God will be clear. Slighted warnings merits exemplary punishment. In that dreadful moment, when Christ appears clodied with terror, what would the sinner give for a short respite ? How little does the world appear, how insignificant its greatness, how vain its pleasures, when the sword of justice is drawn, and ungodly and un righteous people fall perish before the God of all the earth! That, moment will soon arrive, and if you are not a faithful Christianm heaven has doomed your ruin, Our ruin is from ourselves. Life and death are set before us; but we choose death. Who, then, can complain ? Who can justly charge God with having ruined him ? " Shall not the judge of all the earth do right"( Genesis 18: 25).
Lastly, remember that Lot's wife was set forth by Jesus as a warning to the world. She became a pillar of salt, and remained in that state for many ages. Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century, is reported to have said, "I have seen it, and it remains at this day." There have been many awful instances of this kand. Sinners have been nade examples to deter others. The apostle Peter said to Christians who were looking back to the world and its pleasures, "If God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved to judgment, and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, brining the flood on the world of the ungodly, and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an examle to those who afterward s would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked, for that righteous man, dwelling among, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds"(2 Peter 2:4-8). Peter made a fitting comment on the fallen angels, on the pre-flood world and on what happened to Lot's wife, and on what happended to Sodom and Gomorrah. If God did not spare Satan and his angels that sinned, if God not spare the ungodly people who who perished in the flood of Noah, if God not spare Lot's wife and all people in Sodom and Gomorrah, God will not spare you if you disregard thee warnings in the Bible and especially the warning of Jesus to "Remember Lot's wife."
Finally we learn by this short history about Sodom and Gomorrah that one relative cannot save another. They may teach, advise, exhort, warn, exhort and encourage one another, but unless a person uses the means himself, not power can save him. It is very sad to see families divided on a subject of such vital importance ass that of religion. Nor is there any remedy for this, unless each individual takes an active part in the work which God has given all to do. Lot and his daughters were safe in Zoar, while the unhappy wife and mother perished just outside the gate of Zoar. Let us not depend on pious Christians. Let every one think of his or her own safety; let every one flee from the terrible destruction that will fall on this world at the second coming of Christ. If our relatives be inclined to go with us, we will rejoice and remder them every assistance in our powr, but if they wil not, let us leave them behind and go alone. If they will not be saved with us, let us resolve not to perish with them. Sodom was destroyed; this world will be destroed, and you will be destrroyed if you refurse to become a member Christ's church which He purchased with His own blood. O, remeber Lot's wife. Come to Christ; He alone can save you.
A remembrance of this history will teach us the need of being in earnest in the duties of religion. Lot's wife lingered on the plains of Sodom.. O fatal delusion! How truly may we say, "No room for mirth. or trifling here!" Destruction is behind us ; but safety is before us. Let us flee for our lives. But what will our careless professors say to this ? A trifler in religion is a reproach to his profession, and a grief to the pious! God frowns upon him; his conscience torments him; and punishments await him! This disposition in worldly affairs is hateful and ruinous ; how much more so in religious affairs ? If there be any cause on earth which requires firmness and ardour, it is that of religion. On this, our all depends in both worlds. He who trifles, discovers ignorance, wickedness, and all that is base and vile. 0, be fully resolved; call forth all your powers; arid exert all your might!. Run swiftly; do not linger on the plain; but let every moment, as it comes, find you nearer heaven. Soon your race will end! Eternity isv just at hand! The world where you will live for ever, will soon open to your view. Is danger nothing to you ? Is safety nothing to you ? Is religion unimportant ? Satan is busy; men are busy; let the Christian be busy; and may God help him in his work! While we remember Lot's wife, we shall see the necessity of perseverance in religion. Let us never harbour a thought of turning back. We set out at first, with a determination to find our way to heaven. Let us never stop till we arrive diere. Difficulties may be found in the way; but God will help us through them all. If we tire in the way, we lose all the advantage of our former exertions; we lose the heavenly crown; and sink into everlasting ruin. Perhaps we are more than half the way: A few more steps may end our journey. Heaven is full in view ; and its lovely gates will soon open to receive our immortal spirits. Say in your hearts, We will never give up our heavenly inheritance.*
This message is a reproduction of a sermon preached by Jonathan Edmondson,a preacher in England in the 1950's.