I love names. Their meanings, the different spellings, famous ones, unique ones, names in books and especially biblical names. However, the woman we will be studying today is not known by her name(it remains a mystery) but how she turned back to look at a burning sinful city and turned into a pillar of salt. This woman is just simply called: Lot's wife. I wish I could call her something like Avon(Hebrew name that means “sin of lust”) or maybe something more common like Lola which means “lady of sorrows”, but whatever her real name was, there's a lot to learn from her short appearance in the book of Genesis.
The city of Sodom and Gomorrah was wicked and full of sexual immorality, pride, selfishness, and greed. They had an abundance of food and wealth but they did not care for the needy. This is where Lot and his family lived. In Genesis 18:20-21 God says
“The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
He then reveals to Abraham that he will not destroy the city if he finds ten righteous people in it(spoiler alert: there was only one).
In Genesis 19 two angels came to Sodom and Gomorrah to rescue Lot and his family. Just before God's judgment came upon the city, the angels warned his whole household to flee the city.
While most of the family was difficult to convince, eventually the angels had to drag out Lot, his wife, and two daughters by their hands to the city outskirts. There one of the angels said:
"Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!"
I'd say that seems pretty clear. Look, the city is in sin so bad, that God must destroy it. If you stop, you'll die. Well, Mrs. Lot didn't seem to take it quite so seriously. As Lot reached the little village they were heading to the Lord “rained down fire and burning sulfur” onto the city. Just then, Lot's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.
Why turn around? The famous question of this story! Well, she could have tripped, or maybe she was scared, or more likely, she lacked in some qualities that Lot did.
NO REVERENCE FOR GOD
Reverence means to to have a feeling or attitude of great respect. In the Bible it is called the “fear of the Lord”. However, it doesn't mean to literally be afraid of God, but to have respect for who He is and the power he possesses. In the case of Mrs. Lot, she should have had fear of the coming judgment! She lived right there in the sinful place. Instead, she brushed it off. Proverbs 1:7 states
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The wise choice would have been to follow the Lord's instruction, but without reverence for God, a foolish decision was made instead.
NO TRUST IN GOD
The angels clearly said that they were going to be saved from the destruction, but still, Lot's wife did not take what she was given. She didn't believe that where she was going was going to be better than where she was. All she could see literally was what she was leaving behind. If she kept her eyes focused on her future where she was following the will of God, we would know more about her today.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
She may not have understood the gravity of the situation. She may have felt uncomfortable about leaving so quickly. But regardless, she should have put her faith in God from the beginning.
HELD ON TO SIN
Sodom and Gomorrah was a sinful place. They must have had wild parties, feasts, plenty of wine, and generally comfortable lives. Lot's wife likely had a life of luxury. The angels had to drag them all out by their hands. She didn't want to leave! Her material possessions, social status and wealth all stayed in Sodom and Gomorrah. It looks as though Mrs. Lot was willing to die for her lifestyle. In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus says
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
To truly find life is to give our lives to God. Lot's wife held on to her life of sin and in that, she lost it. In our life, we need to give up our sins to follow Jesus.