May 6, 2009 • By Ed Wrather
The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. - Genesis 19:23-26 NKJV.
In Fresno, California, a 20-year-old man is back in jail, again. The man had been arrested and incarcerated being charged with child abuse and marijuana possession. He was released from jail (It is unknown whether those charges are still pending.); however, he has now been arrested and incarcerated for the felony charge of receiving stolen property. What was the stolen property? A Fresno County Jail T-Shirt with the word, “PRISONER” on the back. He apparently had taken the shirt with him when he was released on the first charges. Why? Maybe he had enjoyed his stay in jail so much that he wanted a souvenir to help him to remember the good times that he had while he was there. Of course, now he gets to wear his “PRISONER” shirt for real.
Lot’s wife appears to have had a problem similar to that of the man in the Fresno County Jail. Lot and his family had been delivered from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the delivering angels had warned them, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you (Genesis 19:17b).” But Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. What was it that she was missing back there in Sodom and Gomorrah? Why was it that God destroyed the place with fire and brimstone? Abraham is told in Genesis 18:20 that it would be destroyed, “because their sin is very grave (NKJV) (grievous - KJV; immense - The Message; flagrant - NLT; extremely serious - Holman).” Did Lot’s wife miss the immorality of the place so flagrantly h_mos_xual that the men of the city demanded that Lot send out the angels so “that we may know them carnally (19:5c)?” Or, was she missing her material possessions, a house, and other things that she was leaving behind?
Do you see the parallel to the Christian life? Lot’s wife had been saved from immediate death - angels had been sent to personally deliver her and her family. She had seen the angels with her own eyes, but still looked back, apparently wanted to go back. So many of us as Christians have been saved from eternal destruction, we have been rescued by Jesus who suffered and died in our place. However, we are like Lot’s wife, and sometimes we try to go back. Sometimes we start acting like we used to act before we were set free. We start wearing our “PRISONER” shirts around acting like we are still in jail for our sins.
What would God tell us to do when we are tempted to look back? Perhaps he would tell us what the apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “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.” May we all forget those things that are behind us, that we have been saved from, and reach forward, pressing on for “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”