The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar.
Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.
So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
[Genesis 19:23-26 NKJV]
As a child I was horrified by this story of Lot’s wife, and no one was able to give me what I considered a satisfactory explanation as to why she ended in such a cruel way. To say that she was wicked seemed to avoid the issue. If she was so bad, then what had she done; there seemed no evidence of wrongdoing?
The understanding of a child cannot comprehend in the way that an adult can, and yet the story was unmistakeable — Mrs Lot was transformed into a saline statue because she had looked back! What was wrong about looking back to the conflagration behind you? Who wouldn’t look at such a spectacle? Indeed, in verse 28, Abraham himself looks at the devastation of Sodom and Gomorrah, yet he was not made salt. Why?
As an adult I can understand the ways of the Bible better than I could fifty or more years ago (although I still have much to learn), but even so, I can see now that the difference was one of the heart and a holy walk; a holy relationship with God. Abraham had one; Lot’s wife apparently did not, or at least her position in the matter of faith was one of extreme religiousness. A pillar seems to represent uprightness; right-standing and rectitude; but when coupled with the nature of salt, it would indicate a lack of life. The ‘Dead Sea’ has little or nothing living in it because of the high density of salt in the water. Lot’s wife was consumed by the death and degradation she was leaving behind. She supported and promoted the total lack of a holy life that she was leaving behind. There was no life in her. Interestingly, she is not given a name in the Bible — a name would have spoken of the nature of the life in her; but there was none.
You might counter the argument by saying that we are to be the salt of the earth, which is true, but there is a difference between a little salt to add flavouring, and over-salting which kills any taste but salt — and few can stomach that!
Lot went to live in Zoar, on the shores of the Dead Sea. Zoar means insignificance. Abraham went on in the Lord. We are not God’s chosen people because we give in to temptation and cast our faith to the winds of false doctrine or unbelief. We must stand fast in perilous times.
Nothing has any power to alter a man save the incoming of the life of Jesus and that is the only sign that he is born again.