It was, seemingly, an after-thought when Jesus tucked that obvious warning in His recount of the escape of Lot and his family from the impending destruction of Sodom, first recorded in Genesis 19. In that account, the two angels ushering them out of the city warn them not to look back, but Lot’s wife disobeyed and was turned into a pillar of salt.
But Jesus was comparing that time with how it will be in the coming of the Son of Man, along with how it was with Noah and Lot in their generations, in Luke 17:26-33:
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Likewise, as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
The account continues with the same consistency, in the mode of those leaving behind all that is considered unworthy to be taken along. It is a major problem in interpretation that those taken are taken to judgment, and I do not hesitate to challenge that position, for in the days of Noah and of Lot, those left behind are left to judgment, not those taken away. Those left behind are judged right there. As the account of the Rapture makes it plain—“the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, for when they shall say, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction will come upon them…” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).
The portion having to do with “remembering Lot’s wife” is this:
“In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Verses 31-33)
“In that day,” the day that the Son of Man is revealed, He will come quickly, as a thief in the night, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52) and there will be no time to gather up anything held dear to take along. Obviously, it will be a translation from mortal to immortal, physical to spiritual, transaction that takes place. Nothing physical will go along.
The emphasis on remembering Lot’s wife seems to stress the importance of being sure of your relationship with Christ. There will be many, no doubt, whose Christianity is merely a membership in a local church, or a once-upon-a-time going forward at an invitation to become a Christian, getting baptized and joining the church.
When Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again,” it was not an “Oh yeah, don’t forget to be born again, too” kind of thing. It is a “must” kind of thing. It is a God-thing, for He does it in response to a person realizing his ungodliness and utter sinful nature and his receiving that gift of salvation made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. To be born again, one must allow Christ to come into his life and live in him. (See Revelation 3:20 and John 1:12-13.)
That passage also speaks to the issue of total commitment to the Lord and a watching expectation of meeting Him face-to-face. Until we read Peter’s testimony of the righteousness of Lot do we understand the security of the believer. In 1 Corinthians 3:11 and following, we are told that the only foundation that can be laid is that of Christ in the life of the believer, and we build upon that foundation any works that will remain after the test of fiery judgment of them. Even if no works are remaining, even then, the foundation that has been laid will be sufficient to allow that person entry into the presence of the Lord. That is the great promise of the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. According to Ephesians 2:10, good works follow after conversion.
It is an admonition that when we commit to be a follower of Christ, we forsake the world and its place in our life. Matthew 6:24 tells us that we cannot serve two masters, for we would love the one and despise the other. Luke 9:62 says, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
That is strong stuff, but true. Casual Christianity is the mode of America today, so perhaps as the times and seasons are moving ever closer to that time when the sound of the trumpet is heard by those with spiritual ears, the current devastating events in our physical world are an announcement of that impending appearance.
One of my earliest pastors told of a time in his youth that a lady who helped his mother with the housework remarked about a man whose Christian testimony was evident in his lie, “My, but he sure does wear the world like a loose garment!” With that picture in mind, think of the passage in Luke above about being ready for the Lord in the blink of an eye, or sooner if our time of mortal life is upon us.
- B. Phillips paraphrases Romans 12:2 with these words, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its own mold,” and one can almost feel that squeeze as we read it! Thank God for promises like Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Another rendering of that says, “He is abundantly available for help.” And He has promised to keep us as His own purchased possession!
The strange fact that, as we are told, Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt may have some intended implications as well. Believers are said to be the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, it is good for nothing but to be put underfoot and trampled upon. Salt has three services aside from its place in the makeup of nutritional benefit to our bodies—pleasure in seasoning, purifying and preserving food products. Those qualities are desirable in the Christian’s life as well, as he engages in life among others (Matthew 5:13).
Was that pillar of salt to be a marker for anyone coming that way, out of the judgment of God and into His fellowship, must have those qualities of life, coming from the indwelling Spirit of God, or he will not be allowed to pass through?
One might look back with regrets for the kind of life he has lived. Certainly the Apostle Paul could have done that, but he fully claimed the forgiveness that Christ offered him, saying, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
In another place he wrote, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
The whole range of current events—spiritual, political, geophysical—is a wake-up call, or may well be, that His claim for that purchased redemption made with His own life-blood is about to be made. Our assurance of our readiness is also made for us in the promise of Romans 8:11:
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
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