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Lot’s Wife

Genesis 19:17-26

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“As soon as the angels got them outside, one of them said, ‘Run for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away!’ [18] But Lot said to them, ‘No, Lord—please. [19] Your servant has indeed found favor in Your sight, and You have shown me great kindness by saving my life. But I can’t run to the mountains; the disaster will overtake me, and I will die. [20] Look, this town is close enough for me to run to. It is a small place. Please let me go there—it’s only a small place, isn’t it?—so that I can survive.’ [21] And he said to him, ‘All right, I’ll grant your request about this matter too, and will not overthrow the town you mentioned. [22] Hurry up! Run there, for I cannot do anything until you get there.’ Therefore the name of the city is Zoar. [23] The sun had risen over the land when Lot reached Zoar. [24] Then the Lord rained burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of the sky. [25] He overthrew these cities, the entire plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and whatever grew on the ground. [26] But his wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.” (HCSB)

 In this text, Lot’s wife becomes a pillar of salt because she looked back at Sodom as she fled from the destruction of the city.  In a minute, we’ll talk about why that happened, but before we do, I want to talk a bit about salt—not the common variety of table salt that resides on our Superbowl snacks, but the significant commodity of the Bible days.  In the Bible, there was a salt city, Nibshan (Joshua 15:62) a valley of salt (2 Samuel 8:13) salt pits (Zephaniah 2:9) and a Salt Sea (Gen 14:3).

 Those references underscore the value of the substance, but there are others that probably do so even more.  According to the Old Testament, all animal sacrifices had to be seasoned with salt (Leviticus 2:13), it was used in ratifying covenants (Numbers 18:19) and Elisha throws some into the pool of Jericho to purify it (2 Kings 2:20).

 The New Testament uses salt figuratively in a couple of places.  Paul says our speech should be “seasoned with salt,” (Col 4:6) and Jesus calls us “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).  This quick look through the scriptural use of salt shows a progression of meaning.  Because it was something of great value to those in the ancient near-east, it became a metaphor of the transformational power of the presence of believers in the world.  Now I want to be careful here, because I don’t mean to imply that God chose to turn Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt because she failed at being the “salt of the earth” that Jesus spoke about on the Sermon on the Mount, but I do find it ironic.

 Lot certainly was “salt” in Sodom.  In Genesis 18 Abraham negotiated with God about the destruction of the city.  God said he wouldn’t destroy it if Abraham could find 50 righteous people; Abraham haggled the number down to 10, but failed to deliver anyone except Lot.

 The day before the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, two angels came to warn Lot and to urge him to get out of town with his family.  The verses immediately preceding our text today say, “At the crack of dawn the angels urged Lot on: ‘Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.’ [16] But he hesitated, so because of the Lord’s compassion for him, the men grabbed his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters. And they brought him out and left him outside the city.” (Genesis 19:15-16 HCSB)

 Now what do they do?  Well after arguing with the angel a bit about their final destination they moved on and started their new lives.  Their old lives were gone; they escaped with just their memories intact as God destroyed the wicked city.  Lot and his daughters pressed on, but his wife looked back and God turned her into a pillar of salt. 

 Why did she look back?  Well I don’t think it was a casual glance.  Perhaps she didn’t want to leave the city because some of its dark ways had crept into her heart.  I don’t know, but I’m sure it was more than 

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