Her name is never mentioned. She is known only as Lot’s wife. She, her husband and their children go along with Abraham and his wife to the Negev. They move from Negev to a place between Bethel and Ai. The land cannot support both Abraham and Lot because of all their possessions and there is quarreling between their herdsmen. They have to separate. Lot chooses the whole plain of Jordan and sets out toward the east. He and his wife pitch their tents near Sodom.
Lot’s wife is settling down in Sodom when she, her husband and their possessions are taken in a war that ensues against the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham, her husband’s uncle hears about this and calls out all the trained men in his household and goes in pursuit as far as Dan. Lot’s wife and her family along with their possessions are recovered and brought back.
Sodom is an exceedingly wicked city but it is now home to Lot’s wife who has been moving from place to place, longing for somewhere to settle down. She has become used to living in the city. She is living in a house now instead of a tent. Life in the city was preferable than life out in the open. But now, two angels are telling them that they have to uproot themselves and move again. Despite the people’s threats against Lot when he refused to let them sleep with his visitors and the warnings that the city was about to be destroyed, Lot’s wife is reluctant to leave her home.
The angels grab hold of their hands and lead them to safety outside of the city because the LORD is merciful to them. Once outside, they are told to “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” – Genesis 19:16, 17. When they reach a nearby town called Zoar, Lot’s wife looks back and becomes a pillar of salt.
Why does she look back? Is she longing for the house she is leaving behind? Are there possessions that she wants to go back and get? Is she thinking about the married daughters she is leaving behind? Is she so used to life in the city that she cannot or does not want a new life somewhere else? Jesus gives us an idea when He warns, “Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” – Luke 17:32.
Lot’s wife is clinging to the world and to the life she was leaving behind instead of clinging to the life God was leading her and her family to. She is rejecting God’s offer for salvation. Instead of dying to self and accepting God’s offer of salvation, she is looking back on the world she is leaving. She is looking back at this life and the possessions she is leaving behind instead of looking toward the life God is calling her to.
Lot’s wife is a warning to us. At the coming of the Kingdom of God, we are not to be like her. We are not to go back into the house to get any possessions we are unwilling to part with. It is like if a house is on fire and we go back to get a box of jewelry or a favorite photo album and the roof crashes in and we are killed. God promises us a better life with greater possessions such as eternal life, joy, immortality and incorruptible bodies. Lot’s wife placed her hope in the present world instead of in God who richly provides us with everything we need. Lot’s wife does not turn away from the life she is leaving behind and she ends up losing hold of the life that is truly life.
Paul says, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” – Hebrews 10:38, 39. Lot’s wife draws back and is turned into a pillar of salt because God’s soul has no pleasure in her. Without faith, it is hard to please God and Lot’s wife doesn’t have faith. Faith is going forward, trusting God to take care of you and not looking back. Faith is drawing back from the world and life of sin and drawing near God. Faith is letting go and letting God. Lot’s wife cannot let go of her old life and her possessions. In holding on to them she loses her life. When we place the world and all of its possessions before God, we lose more than we bargain for. We lose the promise of eternal life.