Genesis 19: 16-17 “ And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain: escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
Genesis 19: 23-26 “The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven: And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”
This account in Genesis is one of the basic lessons we learn in Sunday school. In Genesis we find Abraham and his nephew Lot arriving in the land of promise. God was blessing Abraham with great wealth of all manors. In the mist of these blessings given to Abraham, Lot also reaped great rewards. Both men’s herds grew to the point of the land unable to support the animals. Herdsmen from both houses began to fight among one another for water and grass. Abraham became very concerned over these incidents and feared they would escalate into more than arguments. He came up with a solution and spoke to Lot with a compromise.
Abraham counsels Lot and gives him the choice to make. “If you go to the right I will go the left, or if you go to the left I will take the right.” The decision was left to Lot and a wonderful concession was made to him by his uncle.
Genesis 13: 10-11 “ And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.”
Abraham continued to prosper in the land of Canaan and Lot chose the cities of the plain. Lot chose to take a direction in life, which in the final outcome would prove to be his undoing. The daughters of Lot were given in marriage to men of these cities. By moving in the direction chosen, Lot is putting himself under the subjugation to the kings of five evil cities.
Genesis 13: 12 “Abraham dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.”
The destruction of these cities is an account you know as well as I. God looked upon the idolatry, and the sexual perversion until he could no longer remain silent. We should also notice, God was in the process of raising up a great nation out of Abraham. God did not want this new nation belonging to him tainted by these cities. God was willing to spare them from his judgment; he even made concessions to Abraham on their behalf. In the end, Sodom and Gomorrah would face the final judgment of God. The day comes for God’s movement; he dispatches angels with a message for Lot. He is informed of the coming destruction of these cities, he and his family must leave or face the same fate. In this scripture you will find angels had to literally carry Lot and his family from the city. A warning is given to them, “ run to the mountains not the plain and do not look back.” As they flee the sounds can be heard of the brimstone and fire falling. For whatever reason the wife of Lot cannot restrain herself. Against the commandment of God she looks back to her home and is turned into a pillar of salt.
This scripture is not only on the judgment power of God, but also his compassion. The judgment was seen in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. When Abraham asks God to spare these cities for the sake of ten righteous people, compassion is shown in his agreement to do so. One of the startling facts was Lot’s family was not counted in the righteous. “He pitched his tent toward Sodom”, which included all of his possessions herds and the herdsmen, money, family members, and his testimony. Lot was not ignorant of the truth of the one true God; he had spent too much time with Abraham. There is no doubt in my mind while they were traveling together Abraham shared his faith with Lot. This brings us to a very sobering thought. Including the house of Lot, ten righteous people could not be found in all of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Now we come to the question this question begs us to ask. Why was Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt of all things God could have done?
The most obvious answer, God could have forgiven her for this act of disobedience. God could not do this for she had broken his commandment to not look back. We must understand God had forgiven so much and made a way of escape for her. In that escape was rules to be followed, a plan laid out. Lot’s wife broke the plan God set out for her, he quite literally asked her to turn her back on her old life. God was telling her, “I have made a way for you to escape punishment for your sins.” When she turned her face back to Sodom and Gomorrah she was in essence refusing God’s salvation. Her action demonstrated a longing for what had been a life unchanged, a heart untouched. By the same understanding God has forgiven us of so much and has made a way of escape and in the escape are rules we must also follow. God has forgiven us of so much by the power of his son; he is our escape from punishment for our sins. He turned this woman into a pillar of salt to show us his disdain for unrepentance.
To answer the question of, “Why the pillar of salt?” We must go to the New Testament and the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:13 “ Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
Here is our lord on a mountain in Israel with the vastness of humanity before him. As Jesus looks at the sea before him there are Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, Levites, the common man, those who are sick, those with broken bodies, many with broken hearts and burdens of life, and some who have come to hear the words of life. For whatever reason, they have been drawn to the greatest preacher who ever walked the earth. As they gather closer he opens his mouth and begins to preach such as man has never heard before. In this powerful sermon he speaks the truth of God with reason and clarity. This scripture I point you to may help us come to a better understanding of Lot’s wife turned to salt. It is clearly pointing to our relationship with God and our obedience to his commands. Whether we follow God’s commands or not quite literally has an effect on our testimony for him. As Jesus speaks he points out, salt with no savour is cast out to be trodden under foot. This salt he describes has lost it’s ability to bring about change as it was intended to do. Salt had many applications in biblical times, such as preserving meats, seasoning food and it was also rubbed on the body of newly born babies believing it would purify them. Salt is a remarkable substance mankind cannot survive without. It is essential for our good health, without salt our health would fail.
Jesus tells the church protect your testimony for without it man will trod you under. Our obedience to God validates us as being the salt of the earth.
Lot speaks to God telling him they will be unable to reach the mountains for safety and asks for permission to stay at Zoar. Zoar was one of the coalition of five cities in this area involved with Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s intent was to destroy this city also but when Lot asked permission to stay in this city God spared it. Lot and his family would arrive in Zoar as living testimonies of God’s judgment and compassion. They could share with the entire city God’s deliverance of them. Lot and his family could point to Sodom and Gomorrah demonstrating to the citizens of Zoar God’s judgment of sin. As they spoke and as they would live Lot and his wife could be the salt of the earth. These actions would help to preserve a relationship with God. Sadly Lot’s wife chose another direction, which brought about her death. Her salt (testimony) had lost it’s savor and God demonstrated quite powerfully it was to be trodden under.
Over the course of the years as the winds and rains fell in this area, it would wash away the last remaining parts of this pillar of salt. Man would walk by and trod it under, on lonely roads.
Brother Joe Davis