Scripture: Genesis 19
Key verse: (26) “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”
Reflection: The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is an interesting one. After Abraham negotiated with God in chapter 18 trying to prevent destruction of this city, two angels visited Sodom. Lot offered them hospitality at his home for the night. The city was worse than anyone could imagine. It was full of total wickedness that topped any depravity that could be found then or now. Part of the story reads like a dystopian nightmare. In the middle of this terrible city Lot and his family appear to be the only righteous people left. They offered hospitality to strangers and protected them. In the middle east, hospitality was more than being a good host and taking care of your guests. It was an important code of ethics to live by. The fact that men in the town wanted to harm Lot’s guests was a particular kind of sin against God. At dawn the next day after a difficult night, the angels warn Lot to get out of town as quickly as possible because the city was going to be destroyed, but God was going to be merciful to him and his family. They warn him not to look back or stop until they are clear of the city. Lot, like Abraham, negotiated with the angels about going to the hills and they told him to go to a small town nearby where they would be safe. Once they were safe, the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah killing “all the inhabitants of the cities and everything that grew on the ground.” (v.25) It was like a volcanic eruption that poured down out of heaven.
But, Lot’s wife looked back . . .
This verse has always intrigued me. Why didn’t she follow the angel’s instructions? They were representatives of the living God. There is something so human about her actions. It is so hard not to look back when we are called to move forward. This is part of the human condition. Some Jewish scholars have commented that she turned to salt because she saw the LORD as the LORD was destroying the cities. As a consequence, she died in her tracks, looking like a pillar of salt. The result of the explosion. I wonder . . . how many people have died in their tracks because they looked back? It can be difficult to follow God’s leading, especially if we are called to leave the past behind. Some people look back and end up being frozen in time. Others, remember the past but keep moving forward. This story has many layers, but I wonder what would have happened to Lot’s wife if she had followed God’s command? For me, she is a reminder that the past can have a strong pull on our lives, keeping us from living in the present.
Prayer: Almighty God, your power is immense and beyond our comprehension. Help us as we seek to look forward. May we be people who extend hospitality to strangers and show your love to others. May we continue to follow in your ways and trust in your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].