8 Crucial Lessons from the Story of Lot's Wife
- Chad Napier Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2019 18 Jul
The Bible does not tell us her name in Genesis 19:26, as she is only referred to as “Lot’s wife,” but Jews reflect her name as either Adith or Irith.
Many commentators are of the opinion Lot’s wife was a native of Sodom which would explain her longing for the area and the people, which may have caused her to turn to see its destruction, turning into a pillar of salt.Photo Credit: WikimediaCommons
What happened in the story of Lot's wife?
Lot was considered a righteous man, but was forced to be separated from Abram because of the lack of resources for both their stock and resources. Lot chose the land near Sodom, “while Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan” (Genesis 13:12).
Genesis 13:13 reminds us that “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.”
Lot was warned the land was to be destroyed and to leave immediately when two angels in the form of men approached him. After much hesitancy and his home being physically confronted by the men of Sodom seeking the angels, Lot and his family finally made the move to escape.
They were clearly instructed in Genesis 19:17: “Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!”
While en route out of the city, Lot’s wife looked back at the destruction, against the angels’ instruction. As a consequence, she turned into a pillar of salt.
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Where is Lot's wife mentioned in the Bible?
Interestingly Lot’s wife was not specifically mentioned until the family was visited by the two angels. One can safely surmise that Lot and his wife were married sometime after he had left Haran and was present during journeys that followed.
Scripture mentions Abraham’s wife Sarah, but conspicuously does not even name Lot’s wife as being among the traveling number. We can assume Lot was married for some time because his daughters were of the age capable of marriage themselves at the time of the angels’ visit. Further, the amount of time from Lot’s initial arrival in Sodom until the time of the angels’ warning was not sufficient.
What are the lessons from Lot’s wife for believers today?
We can learn much from the actions and desires of Lot’s wife. As mentioned earlier, Lot was a righteous man who found himself amidst an increasingly sinful people. Here are eight lessons believers can glean from this story:
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1. The Lord always leads.
Lot’s wife assisted in entertaining the angels when they visited the house, warning the family of Sodom’s impending destruction. Often, we don’t receive such a blatant warning of judgment, but the Holy Spirit is merciful enough to draw sinful behaviors or conditions to our attention.
By all accounts, God was merciful to include Lot’s wife in the command to evacuate before the destruction. One can presume Lot’s wife was not a believer and the warning could be drawn as a parallel to her lack of conviction.
In Romans 12:2, the believer is strengthened by the promises of His guidance. Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
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2. Faith requires both feet, and no straddling.
Lot’s wife was so associated and entangled with the world, she could not exit without at least a glance back to what she was leaving behind. In Luke 17:31, we are warned concerning God’s judgment, “On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back.”
Similarly, many who are killed or injured by house fires are those who go back into the blaze to save valuables. When we make the decision to follow Christ, we must fully repent from the past behaviors which drew us into a realization of our sinful state.
Consider the teaching in Zephaniah 1:12 which warns of a time when “I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘the Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’” The man who believes, yet physically allows the flesh to be satisfied by the world, denies God’s righteousness.
Jesus, in Revelation 3:15, rebuked the Laodicean church for its lukewarm condition. He declared, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!”
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3. Remember your first love and flee the bondage of sin.
Lot allowed his wife to unduly pressure him to abide in Sodom. She knew whom she married and his blessed lineage and commitments, yet she had no desire for such spiritual commitment for herself.
In 2 Peter 2:6-8, we learn of Lot’s travails when he spoke of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The author wrote that God “if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard).”
When we are convicted about the sin in our lives, there is no time for delay. We must flee from it immediately. God always gives us “an out” when something or somewhere is not beneficial for our spiritual health. Lot understood God’s warning and knew it was serious. Even though Lot’s wife heard the same warning, she did not full-heartedly exit Sodom because she had doubt it would actually happen. The same is true for us when we fail to act according to God’s direction. There is at least a hint of doubt and hope God will “wink his eye” or turn away on this one.
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4. Set your heart on things from above, not things of the world.
Lot’s wife, whether or not a native Sodomite, lived in Sodom prior to her marriage to Lot. She knew of, but probably did not understand the ramification of her husband’s residence in Sodom. However, she forsook her husband’s spiritual responsibilities by satisfying her own desire to live in Sodom.
In 2 Peter 2:9-10, we are taught about judgment regardless of family connection. The author wrote, “...the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings.”
In Colossians 3:2 and Colossians 3:5, we are encouraged to “Set your mind on things above not on earthly things,” and to “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.“
Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt when she ran out of the city despite the warning not to do so. When we are so indwelled and so enthralled with “the world”, we ultimately meet the same demise.
Christians are called to be the “salt of the Earth” as salt has always been used as a preservative for foods. When we are the correct witnesses for Christ, we exemplify his goodness and lead others to seek a relationship with Him.
Ironically, by becoming a pillar of salt, Lot’s wife became an eternal part of Sodom. John Gill in his “Exposition of the Bible” noted that Josephus wrote that the “pillar continued to his times, and that he saw it.” Additionally, “Irenaeus, and Tertullian speak of it as in their times, a thing incredible.”
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5. Trust divine inspiration.
Lot and his family knew of the sin and corruption within the confines of Sodom. Yet, they both continued to blend in among the worldly society. The angels warned the family of the imminent and complete destruction.
The evil and sinful desires of the Sodomite society was fully illustrated when the men of the Sodom sought “relations” with the angels.
In 1 Corinthians 2:4, Paul explains “my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.”
Believers have the same divine inspiration today by and through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The gift of discernment allows the Christian to spiritually interpret the intentions of people and situations. His guidance can always be trusted because he is the “spirit of truth.”
We are reminded of this assurance in John 16:13, “when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
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6. Close to grace isn't sufficient.
We are specifically told in 2 Peter 2:7 that Lot was a righteous man. He was the nephew of Abraham, who was promised that his family would be spiritually prosperous. Lot’s wife shared many of the adventures and trials with her husband.
During a period of unrest, Lot was taken captive and ultimately rescued by Abraham. Lot’s wife experienced this ordeal as well, yet, remained lost and untouched. Lot’s wife arose early the morning the family was to escape Sodom. She made the first step toward safety by beginning the flight with her husband.
However, she then lingered behind before ultimately looking back toward the city. By her hesitancy and disobedience, she was struck dead and her “grace period” expired. Even though Lot was caught up in the sinful state of Sodom, he was ultimately “saved” from destruction by his faithful withdrawal. There is no such provision as “half-saved” or “half-lost.”
King Agrippa, in Acts 26:28, told Paul “Do you think in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Despite the preaching and witness of Paul, Agrippa was able to see the benefits of Christ but was unwilling to make such a commitment.
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7. Backsliding is gradual.
We are told from the scripture that Lot’s wife lingered behind during the rush to vacate Sodom. When we make the decision to follow Christ, we make the faithful effort to stand by his side.
However, as time passes, we can find ourselves drifting back and settling into our past habits and company. Consider the fall of Peter in the second chapter of Luke. In Luke 22:30, we see Peter’s misplaced self-confidence. Here, as in the gospel of Mark, Peter insisted he was ready to go with Christ no matter whether it is to prison or to death. Peter’s conceit then soon led to a life lacking in prayer.
In Luke 22:40, Peter was instructed by Jesus to pray, but instead was found asleep when Christ returned. Just as Lot’s wife “lingered behind,” we are told in Luke 22:54, Peter “followed at a distance.”
When we find separation from Christ, there is a hindering of the fellowship and channel of communication.
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8. A strong family needs a strong mother.
Immediately after Lot’s wife perished, each of his two daughters contrived the plan to get him drunk and “lie with him” for the purpose of preserving his seed. The daughters reason in Genesis 19:31, “there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth.”
They certainly all could have benefited from the presence, wisdom, and guidance of a loving mother.
In Proverbs 31:12, we learn that a righteous woman brings her husband “good, not harm, all the days of her life.” In verse 27, we are told of her priorities: “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
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Losing your life to Christ is victory.
In Luke 17:32-33, Jesus Christ says, "Remember Lot's wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.”
As you follow after God, know that every bit of His Word of is for you. His truths are worth looking toward, holding onto, and learning from, every day.
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Chad Napier is a believer in Christ, attorney at law, wannabe golfer, runner, dog lover, and writer. He enjoys serving his church as a deacon and Sunday School teacher. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and at his golf devotion par3sixteen.com. He and his wife Brandi reside in Tennessee with their canine son, Alistair.