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The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.
30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.
34 The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 35 So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day. – Genesis 19:23-38
Maybe you grew up with a Sunday school concept of Bible characters. I didn’t learn about David and Bathsheba until I was well out of my younger years. I didn’t recognize some of the personality quirks of Peter, Thomas, Philip, Paul, or the Sons of Thunder. And one time I was in a group of adults when I learned that Jacob was a rogue character. Let’s not even mention Amnon (2 Samuel 13), and now Lot’s daughters. Bible characters are not two dimensional flannel board cutouts. They’re real. They are crusty. They behave badly. Even God’s chosen people faulted and fall. Sometimes the failures are colossal. This is no excuse. It’s just a fact.
But the consequences of sin of any and all kinds are real and far-reaching. In this case, the colossal failure of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah comes to a screeching halt as God rains down fire and brimstone on these cities. The destruction was complete. And while this destruction is swift and cataclysmic, the event itself requires only 2 verses to report. The collateral damage is remarkable as Lot’s wife is turned to a pillar of salt.
Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin is well known. But what of Lot’s wife? She merely looks back! Why is she so dramatically punished? Might she have lingered and simply been destroyed with these two cities? Or was this simply a wistful longing for that place and even the life she was forced to leave behind? She ignores the expressed prohibition of the angels, “Do not look back.” For whatever reason she does. And the consequences are swift and severe.
Even though we may be forgiven for any and all sin, God’s people are not immune from the consequences of our actions. And there are prohibitions and warnings even to us who live in the New Testament era. We must not ignore them!
The sins of the world in which we live do not escape his attention. And this is no fairy tale world. Whether it’s the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the horrific destruction of earthquake, famine, or hurricane, God’s people are not exempt from life as it really is. These may be direct acts of God’s judgment or the real and harsh consequences of life in a fallen world. But in any case these are God’s call to repentance and fair warning of a more grave and ultimate judgment.
Thanks be to God that there is a place of safety in our Zoar: Jesus Christ our Lord. In him we have redemption, rescue, life, and salvation. We can hold to that hope in the midst of all of life.