By Lori Gardner
Have you ever encountered a stranger that you could never forget? There are people we come in contact with that make memorable impressions on us even though we never learn their names. There are quite a few people recorded in God’s Word who fit this description. Many of them are women. Their names may not have been recorded, but their lives are vivid lessons to us. One of these women is simply known as Lot’s wife.
Genesis 13 gives the account of how God had prospered Abraham and his nephew, Lot, after they left their idolatrous homeland of Mesopotamia. They both acquired flocks, herds, and tents, as well as silver and gold. They prospered so much, the land could not contain the possessions of both men. When they separated, Lot chose to “pitch his tent toward Sodom” (Gen. 13:12). The word “toward” means against or equal with. Lot chose to get as close to the city as his tents, herds, and flocks would allow.
The problem was that “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Gen. 13:13). Ezekiel describes the sin of Sodom as “pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness.” They ignored the poor and needy, were haughty, and committed abomination before the Lord (Ezek. 16:49-50). The NIV Bible describes the people of that area as arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned. The abomination that was practiced there is the same sin that today’s society wants us to accept as an alternative life style.
This was the environment that Lot chose for himself and his family. He even “sat in the gate of Sodom,” a position of honor and authority in the city. Most Bible scholars believe that Lot met and married his wife in Sodom. If so, she was from an extremely wicked background. Together they made Sodom their home and had sons, daughters, and sons-in-law (Gen. 19:12-14).
Their story is familiar. God sent two angels to warn Lot of the coming destruction of that wicked place. It wasn’t long before the news of the visitors had spread through the city. Lot’s home was soon surrounded by a perverted mob of young and old men from every quarter, calling for him to send the angels out for their sport (Gen. 19:5). In a desperate attempt to save God’s messengers, Lot offered up his two daughters instead. This enraged the mob, but Lot and his family were saved when the angels “smote the men at the door with blindness” (Gen. 19:11).
Where was Lot’s wife while these events were unfolding? The Scripture doesn’t say, but there is no mention of her trying to intervene. We know that women of that day did not have all the rights and privileges of our modern age, but it is hard to imagine she would not speak up to protect her family.
When the time came to flee the city, Lot, his wife, and their two unmarried daughters were reluctant to leave. As they lingered, the angels had to physically lay hold upon each of them to bring them outside the city (Gen.19:16). The messengers warned them, “Escape for thy life, look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Gen. 19:17).
“Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (Gen. 19:24). Everything was destroyed: the cities, the plain, the people, and the vegetation. Only then do we see Lot’s wife willingly take any type of action. She “looked” back. This was more than just a curious “look” at her hometown. The word “looked” means she looked intently, with care and respect at her city. It is hard to imagine how she could have respect for a city so full of wickedness and abomination. It is possible she was mourning the loss of some of her adult children that chose to stay behind. It is also possible that she was mourning the loss of the life she left behind. As Lot’s wife, she had material wealth as well as respect among the citizens of Sodom. Whatever her reasons, with that look she willingly disobeyed God.
Lot’s wife had a choice. She could have chosen life or death. She chose death. It’s the same decision we each have to make. We can choose eternal life by trusting in the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, or we can choose death, by rejecting Him. Lot’s wife was instantly judged the moment she made her decision. She became a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26).
After all these years, Lot’s wife stands as a reminder to future generations. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He warned His disciples of a time of great tribulation that would occur before His return to this earth—a time of trouble unlike any the world has ever seen. He compared it to the day Lot went out of Sodom just before fire and brimstone rained down from heaven, a judgment that was quick and harsh. Jesus warned Israel to, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). He told them, “When you see the abomination of desolation standing in the most holy place in Jerusalem, then let them who are in Judea flee into the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house. Neither let him who is in the field return back to take his clothes” (Matt. 24:15-18). Jesus’ warning to Israel was much like the one the angels gave to Lot and his wife.
It is important that we who live in the dispensation of grace also “remember Lot’s wife.” Though we do not know her name, her life and the choices she made remain a powerful lesson. The things of her world had such a hold on her heart and mind that she chose to disobey God. 1 John 2:15-17 tells us, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in this world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.” Lot’s wife loved this world, and, as a result, she lost her life.
Next Issue: A Woman with No Name: “Potiphar’s Wife”