Luke 17:32
Man differs from the brute creation in that he learns and profits by experience - he advances. He passes through stage after stage toward the perfection of his life upon the earth. He is the hunter at one period, then the shepherd, then the agriculturist. From the lowest barbarism he reaches, in time, the most refined civilization. But he is very slow indeed to learn, if he does learn at all, moral and spiritual truths. The excellency of thrift, of temperance, of purity, of patience, - how long a time it is taking man to acquire these virtues! Our text opens to us the truth of the danger of spiritual trifling, and indicates that what men were long ages ago, that they still are in this respect.

I. SPIRITUAL TRIFLING. The men of the time of Noah were living in a state of utter worldliness and impiety. They were not without remonstrance and rebuke; Noah was himself "a preacher of righteousness" unto them. But they hearkened not, nor heeded; they made light of his admonitions and his warnings. They found some pretext under which they could easily hide the truth he reminded them of, and they went on their way of materialism and enjoyment. The same with the people of Sodom, and the character and instruction of Lot. And so with us.

1. Men are living in sinful selfishness and worldliness - many in crime, many more in vice; but a very large multitude in practical godlessness. God is not in all, he is not in many if in any of their thoughts. His will is not the object of their inquiry, is not the rule of their life.

2. The religious teacher comes and admonishes; he says, "Man cannot live by bread alone;" the claims of the Divine Father, of the holy Saviour, are the supreme claims, etc.

3. But still the same course is pursued; the better thoughts that are momentarily stirred in the heart are silenced; sacred truths are extinguished; the truth of God is treated lightly; the world and the things that are in the world are uppermost and are victorious.

II. THE PALPABLE FOLLY OF SUCH TRIFLING AS THIS.

1. It is attended with immediate and certain injury. For it is impossible for a human soul to reject the truth or to quench the Spirit of God, and not be seriously the worse for such an act.

2. There is the grave peril of a great disaster. The generation is eating and drinking and marrying, and behold! the Flood sweeps them away. The cities are trading and feasting, and lo! the fires of heaven come down and consume them. They who trifle with the most sacred things are sure to find that, suddenly, in such an hour as they think not, the end arrives. The business plans are all broken off; the brilliant career is concluded; the flow of pleasures is arrested. Death suddenly appears, and deals his fatal blow. These sacred opportunities which have been so little prized, so much disparaged, recede with terrible rapidity and disappear. Opportunity that waited by the side, and waited all in vain, melts and vanishes in a moment. The soul awakes from its long lethargy to see that its powers have been wasted and that its chance is gone!

III. THE ELUSIVENESS OH THIS SOLEMN LESSON. Men have always known this, and they have always acted as if they were ignorant of it. "As it was... so shall it be." So is it to-day. By spiritual trifling men fritter away the golden chance that Divine love puts into their hands. Be wise in time. Realize what you are doing, what injury you are working, what risk you are running. - C.







Remember Lot's wife.
Lot's wife — a nameless sinner in a half-forgotten age!

I. WHAT IS THERE TO REMEMBER IN THE CASE OF LOT'S WIFE? See Genesis 19:26. So soon and so sudden is her disappearance from the stage of history. She only appears long enough to disappear again. She is like a spectre, rising from the earth, moving slowly across our field of vision, and then vanishing away. Hence her history is all concentred in a single point, and that the last. It has no beginning, and no middle, but an end — a fearful end. Its course is like that of the black and silent train, to which the match is at last applied, and it ends in a flash and an explosion.

1. The first distinctive feature in the case of Lot's wife is, that she was almost saved. The burning city was behind; she had been thrust out from it by angelic hands, her husband and her children at her side; the chosen refuge not far off, perhaps in sight; the voice of the avenger and deliverer still ringing in her ears.

2. But, though almost saved, she perished after all. What I want you to observe is not the bare fact that she perished, as have millions both before and since, but that she perished as she did, and where she did. Perdition is indeed perdition, come as it may, and there is no need of fathoming the various depths of an abyss, of what is bottomless. But to the eye of the spectator, and it may be to the memory of the lost, there is an awful aggravation of what seems to be incapable of variation or increase in the preceding and accompanying circumstances of the final plunge. He who sinks in the sea without the hope or opportunity of rescue may be sooner drowned than he who for a moment enjoys both; but to the heart of an observer how much more sickening and appalling is the end of him who disappears with the rope or plank of safety within reach, or in his very hand, or of him who slips into the bubbling waters from the surface of the rock which, with his failing strength, he had just reached, and on which for a moment of delicious delusion he had wept to imagine himself safe at last!

3. Another distinctive feature in the case of Lot's wife is, that her destruction was so ordered as to make her a memorial and a warning to all others. The pillar of salt may have vanished from the shore of the Dead Sea, but it is standing on the field of sacred history. The Old and New Testaments both give it place; and as it once spoke to the eye of the affrighted Canaanite or Hebrew, who revisited the scene of desolation, so it now speaks to the memory and conscience of the countless multitudes who read or hear the law and gospel.

II. OF WHAT USE CAN THE RECOLLECTION BE TO US?

1. We, like Lot's wife, may be almost saved. This is true in a twofold sense. It is true of outward opportunities. It is also true of inward exercises.

2. Those who are almost saved may perish — fearfully perish — finally perish — perish in reach, in sight of heaven — yes, at the very threshold of salvation. Whatever "looking back" may have denoted in the type, we know full well what may answer to it in the antitype. Whatever may have tempted Lot's wife to look back, we know the multiplied temptations which lead sinners to do likewise. And this terrible example cries aloud to those who are assailed by lingering desires for enjoyments once abandoned, or by sceptical misgivings, or by evil habits unsubdued, or by disgust at the restraints of a religious life, or by an impious desperation such as sometimes urges us to eat and drink, for to-morrow we die; — to all such this terrible example cries aloud, "Remember Lot's wife" — her escape and her destruction.

3. They who are, like Lot's wife, almost saved, may not only, like her, be destroyed in the very moment of deliverance but, like her, so destroyed as to afford a monumental warning to all others that the patience and long-suffering of God are not eternal. God has made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil. They who will not, as "vessels of mercy," glorify His wisdom and His goodness, must and will "show His wrath and make His power known," as "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." They who will not consent to glorify Him willingly must be content to glorify Him by compulsion. This is true of all who perish, and who, therefore, may be said to become "pillars of salt," standing, like milestones, all along the broad road that leadeth to destruction, solemn though speechless monitors of those who throng it, and planted even on the margin of that great gulf which is fixed for ever between heaven and hell. But in another and a more affecting sense, it may be said that they who perish with the very foretaste of salvation on their lips, become "pillars of salt" to their successors. What a thought is this — that of all the tears which some have shed in seasons of awakening, and of all their prayers and vows and resolutions, all their spiritual conflicts and apparent triumphs over self and sin, the only ultimate effect will be to leave them standing by the wayside as "pillars of salt," memorials of man's weakness and corruption, and of God most righteous retributions. Are you willing to live, and, what is more, to die, for such an end as this?

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

; —

I. HER ADVANTAGES.

1. She had a pious husband.

2. She had heavenly visitors.

3. She had Divine warning.

4. She had seen the wicked punished.

II. HER OFFENCE.

1. She acted under the impulse of feeling.

2. She acted under the impulse of unbelief.

3. She acted under a disregard of law.

4. She acted in contempt of warning.

III. HER PUNISHMENT. She was punished —

1. Suddenly.

2. Seasonably.

3. Righteously.

4. Exemplarily.

IV. THE WARNING administered. "Remember"!

1. Not to delay. Flee at once.

2. Not to hesitate. Look not back.

3. Not to draw back. Danger is behind.In conclusion:

1. See here a monument of Divine wrath.

2. See here a beacon to warn coming generations.

(A. Macfarlane.)

I. WHAT ARE WE TO REMEMBER ABOUT LOT'S WIFE? Her sin, and her punishment. A sudden and a deadly stroke was dealt her, for her sin of apostasy.

II. WHY ARE WE TO REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE?

1. Because her example is recorded for that purpose.

2. For our warning.

3. That we fall not into the same condemnation.

III. HOW ARE WE TO REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE?

1. Reflectively.

2. Meditatively.

3. With holy fear, reverence, and adoration.

IV. WHAT AND WHEN IS THE SPECIAL TIME THAT LOT'S WIFE IS TO BE REMEMBERED BY US? It is good to remember her frequently; but we are in a special manner to remember Lot's wife in the time of declining; in declining times remember her that you do not decline. Thus our Saviour Christ brings her in for to be remembered by us, that we do not look back, as she looked back. We are to remember her in times of security, of great security. She is to be remembered by us also, in time when God doth call upon His people by His dispensations to go out of Sodom, and make no delay; for so our Saviour also presses it to you, "Let not him that is on the housetop go down," etc., but "remember Lot's wife." God would have no delay then: so when God calls upon a people to come out of Sodom; make no delay, but "remember Lot's wife." Thus we see what the time is.

V. WHAT GOOD SHALL WE GET BY REMEMBERING LOT'S WIFE? Is there any good to be gotten by remembering Lot's wife? Yes, much every way: Something in a way of instruction, something in a way of caution.

1. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and do live in our memory, then, why should not we stand and admire, and say, Lord, how unsearchable are Thy judgments, and Thy ways past finding out? Here are four, and but four that came out of Sodom, and yet one of the four were destroyed. God may deliver our family in the time of common calamity, and yet some of our house may suffer. God in the midst of judgment doth remember mercy; in the midst of mercy He remembers judgment.

2. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and do live in our memory, then here we may learn by way of instruction, and see how far a man or woman may go in religion, and yet come short at the last.

3. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and do live in our memory; then you may learn and see by way of instruction; that the best relations will not secure from the hand of God, if we continue evil.

4. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and do indeed live in our memory, then here you may see what an evil thing it is to look back upon that which God hath delivered us from.

5. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and live in our memory; here we may learn by way of instruction, that former deliverance will not secure us from future destruction: she was delivered with a great deliverance, and yet destroyed with a great destruction.

6. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and live in our memory, then here we may learn by way of instruction: it is ill sinning when God is punishing; it is good begging while God is giving: but oh, it is ill sinning while God is punishing.

7. If this story be true, and live in your memory, then here you may learn, that those that are exemplary in sinning, shall be exemplary in punishing.

8. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and do live in our memory; then here we may see what an evil thing it is to mischoose in our choosing time.

9. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and do live in our memory; then here we may see by way of instruction, that though God will lay out an hiding-place for His people, in times of public calamity; yet if they sin in the way, they may perish or miscarry in the very face of their hiding-place.

10. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and do live in our memory; then here we may learn by way of instruction, that it is possible that a religious family may have a black mark of God's indignation.

11. And the main of all is this. If the story of Lot's wife be true, and do live in our memory: oh, what an evil thing is it to look back, and to decline in declining times. How quick was God with Lot's wife for looking back. She never sinned this sin before; it was the first sin that ever in this kind she committed; and she might have said: "Why, Lord, it is the first time that ever I committed it, and indeed I was taken before I was aware thus to look back: I did not consider well of what I did." But God turned her presently into a pillar of salt; God was quick with her. Why? For to show thus much, God will be quick with apostates. And thus I have given you these things by way of instruction.

12. As many I might give you in a way of caution, but to instance only in one. If this story of Lot's wife be true, and do live in our remembrance; by way of caution, why should we not all take heed how we look back to worldly interests, in the day when the Son of Man shall be revealed, or in this day of the gospel when the Son of Man is revealed. You see what became of Lot's wife for her looking back; and therefore why should we not all of us take heed how we look back or decline, in this day that the Son of Man is revealed?

VI. You will say, WHAT SHALL WE DO THAT WE MAY NOT DECLINE; what shall we do that we may so remember Lot's wife, that we may not decline, or look back in declining times?

1. If you would not look back in declining times, shut your eyes and your ears against all the allurements and threatenings of the world.

2. If you would not look back in declining times, consider, in the fear of the Lord, what an evil thing it is to look back. Thereby you lose all you have wrought, thereby you will lose all your losses. There is much gain in losing for Jesus Christ. By looking back you will lose all the losses and the gain thereby. Thereby you will lose the testimony of your own integrity. Yet, saith God, Job held fast his integrity. Thereby, also, you will lose the comfort of those glorious times that are to come.

(W. Bridge)

I. WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE CONDUCT OF LOT'S WIFE TO LIVE IN OUR REMEMBRANCE.

1. Her sin.

(1)Inordinate worldly attachment.

(2)Carelessness.

(3)Ingratitude.

(4)Disobedience.

2. Her punishment.

(1)Immediate.

(2)Aggravated. Better for her to have perished in Sodom .than on the way to Zoar.

(3)Signal. A monument before the world of God's power and faithfulness, and His righteous displeasure against apostasy.

II. LET US DRAW NEAR AND READ THE INSCRIPTION ON THIS MONUMENT.

1. The danger of apostasy.

2. Past and present mercies are no security for future safety, unless suitably improved.

3. The evil of worldly attachments.

III. WITH WHAT SENTIMENTS OUGHT WE TO REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE?

1. With gratitude for our own preservation though we have acted a similar, nay, a more guilty part.

(1)She was warned once; we have been warned a thousand times.

(2)She looked back; but have not we turned back?

(3)She looked back once; we have both looked and turned back over and over again.

(4)We have looked back and turned back, although we had her example of warning before our eyes.

2. To increase our salutary fears.

(W. Atherton.)

I. THE RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES WHICH LOT'S WIFE ENJOYED. The mere possession of religious privileges will save no one's soul. Men need besides, the grace of the Holy Ghost.

II. THE SIN WHICH LOT'S WIFE COMMITTED. "She looked back." That look was a little thing, but it revealed the true character of Lot's wife. Little things will often show the state of a man's mind even better than great ones, and little symptoms are often the signs of deadly and incurable diseases. A straw may show which way the wind blows, and one look may show the rotten condition of a sinner's heart (Matthew 5:28).

2. That look was a little thing, but it told of disobedience in Lot's wife. When God speaks plainly by His Word, or by His messengers, man's duty is clear.

3. That look was a little thing, but it told of proud unbelief in Lot's wife. She seemed to doubt whether God was really going to destroy Sodom: she appeared not to believe there was any danger, or any need for such a hasty flight. But without faith it is impossible to please God.

4. That look was a little thing, but it told of secret love of the world in Lot's wife. Her heart was in Sodom, though her body was outside. She had left her affections behind when she fled from her home. Her eye turned to the place where her treasure was, as the compass-needle turns to the pole. And this was the crowning point of her sin.

III. THE PUNISHMENT WHICH GOD INFLICTED ON LOT'S WIFE.

1. A fearful end.

2. A hopeless end. Conclusion: Suffer me to wind up all by a few direct appeals to your own heart. In a day of much light, and knowledge, and profession, I desire to set up a beacon to preserve souls from shipwreck. I would fain moor a buoy in the channel of all spiritual voyagers, and paint upon it, "Remember Lot's wife."(1) Are you careless about the second Advent of Christ? Alas, many are! They live like the men of Sodom, and the men of Noah's day: they eat, and drink, and plant, and build, and marry, and are given in marriage, and behave as if Christ was never going to return. If you are such an one, I say to you this day, Take care: "Remember Lot's wife."(2) Are you lukewarm, and cold in your Christianity? Alas, many are! They try to serve two masters: they labour to keep friends both with God and mammon. If you are such an one, I say:(3) Are you halting between two opinions, and disposed to go back to the world? Alas, many are! They are afraid of the cross: they secretly dislike the trouble and reproach of decided religion. They are weary of the wilderness and the manna, and would fain return to Egypt, if they could. If you are such an one, I say to you this day, Take care: "Remember Lot's wife."(4) Are you secretly cherishing some besetting sin? Alas, many are! they go far in a profession of religion; they do many things that are right, and are very like the people of God. But there is always some darling evil habit, which they cannot tear from their heart. Hidden worldliness, or covetousness, or lust, sticks to them like their skin. They are willing to see all their idols broken, but this one. If you are such an one, I say to you this day, Take care: "Remember Lot's wife."(5) Are you trifling with little sins? Alas, many are! They hold the great essential doctrines of the gospel. They keep clear of all gross profligacy, or open breach of God's law; but they are painfully careless about little inconsistencies, and painfully ready to make excuses for them. "It is only a little temper, or a little levity, or a little thoughtlessness, or a little forgetfulness." If you are such an one, I say to you this day, "Take care: 'Remember Lot's wife.'"

(Bishop Ryle.)

1. It is a solemn warning, when we think of the person Jesus names. He does not bid us remember Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, or Sarah, or Hannah, or Ruth. No: He singles out one whose soul was lost for ever. He cries to us, "Remember Lot's wife."

2. It is a solemn warning, when we consider the subject Jesus is upon. He is speaking of His own second coming to judge the world: He is describing the awful state of unreadiness in which many will be found. The last days are on His mind, when He says, "Remember Lot's wife."

3. It is a solemn warning, when we think of the person who gives it. The Lord Jesus is full of love, mercy, and comparison: He is one who will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax. He could weep over unbelieving Jerusalem, and pray for the men that crucified Him; yet even He thinks it good to remind us of lost souls. Even He says, "Remember Lot's wife."

4. It is a solemn warning, when we think of the persons to whom it was first given. The Lord Jesus was speaking to His disciples: He was not addressing the scribes and Pharisees, who hated Him, but Peter, James, and John, and many others who loved Him; yet even to them He thinks it good to address a caution. Even to them He says, "Remember Lot's wife."

5. It is a solemn warning, when we consider the manner in which it was given. He does not merely say, Beware of following — take heed of imitating — do not be like Lot's wife/' He uses a different word: He says, "Remember." He speaks as if we were all in danger of forgetting the subject; He stirs up our lazy memories; He bids us keep the case before our minds. He cries, "Remember Lot's wife."

(Bishop Ryle.)

I. REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE, AND LEARN THE PERILS OF WORLDLINESS. How terrible her fate! What could be more awful?

1. It was dreadful physically. She lost her life.

2. It was dreadful socially. Her husband was made a widower, her daughters orphans.

3. It was dreadful spiritually. She died in the very act of disobedience. Worldliness was at the root of her sin. She looked back with regret at the valuable possessions that were being abandoned. Let us beware. Prosperity is perilous. Gain and godliness are frequently divorced.

II. REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE, AND SEE HOW POSSIBLE IT IS TO BEGIN WELL AND END ILL. Some are like certain African rivers of which we have read. Rising in some secluded and rocky upland, they increase in volume and beauty as they flow along. Their course is marked by fertility on either side. But instead of rolling on till they reach the ocean and help to swell its waters, they gradually sink and are lost in the sand of the desert. Esau; Saul; Solomon; Judas. Let us not be high-minded, but fear. Let us watch and be sober.

III. REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE, AND BEHOLD THE FOLLY AND SIN OF DELAY. She lingered and perished. Had she not hesitated, she had not been destroyed. Decision is essential to success in all departments of life. "Despatch is the soul of business." A wealthy man was once asked the secret of his prosperity. His answer was significant: "I always recollect what my father said to me when I was a boy — If you have a thing to do, go and do it." No doubt this had much to do with his accumulation of riches. So, too, salvation must be gone about at once. It is no matter for delay. "No hurry " is Satan's masterpiece. It is the almost universal sin. Hear the confession of an old man: — "When I was young, I said to myself, 'I cannot give up the world now, but I will do it by and by. When I have passed the meridian of life, then I shall be ready to attend to the concerns of my soul.' But here I am, an old man. I feel no readiness nor disposition to enter upon the work of my salvation. In looking back I often feel that I would give worlds if I could be placed where I was when I was twenty years old. There were not half as many difficulties in my path then as there are now." An artist once requested that he might be allowed to take the Queen's likeness. Time and place were fixed. Her Majesty was there to the moment. He was not. When he came he found, instead of the royal lady, her message. She left word that she had been, gone, and should not return. The King of kings offers to give us His image. He wishes us to resemble Him. The Incarnate One says, "Follow Me." But He has appointed the period and the locality in which we are to obtain this Divine likeness — the present world and the present time. "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found."

(T. R. Stevenson.)

I. WITH REGARD TO HER SIN, the state of mind discovered, and the aggravations with which it was attended. Thus, we cannot fail to see in it a low and debased degree of earthly-mindedness, a heart fixed and bent on getting its worldly stuff — ready to incur difficulty for it, danger for it — ay, and the anger of God for it. In this particular connection, the warning of her example seems to be proposed in the text. In that day, when the signs of an advent Saviour are upon you, be not anxious about your worldly possessions. Let the things that are in the house remain in the house, the things that are left in the field be left in the field. "Remember Lot's wife." Again, there was in this sin of Lot's wife the crime of disobedience, with all its actual accompaniments of defiant rebellion and contemptuous unbelief. She had been especially charged that she must not look back, and she did look back; she had been told she must escape for her life, and she loitered even behind her husband. See how many things meet here — the authority of God is spurned, the word of the angel is disbelieved, the wisdom or necessity of the command is questioned, and the impious prerogative laid claim to "Our eyes are our own; we may look on what we will: who is Lord over us?" Now it is easy to see what gives to those offences against a positive precept their character of deep offending. In the case of offences against the principle or spirit of a law, a treacherous and facile conscience will raise a cavil, and even make for itself excuse to the conscience, as not able to do this, when command takes the form of "Do this" or "Refrain from that." We are then made to feel that we are brought face to face with God; we are confronted with the broad, plain letter of His written law. Room for mistake or cavil or misinterpretation, there is none; we must offend with our eyes open, and cast ourselves headlong into the depths of presumptuous sin. But once more, there was in the sin of the woman much of deep and signal ingratitude. Her life had been one of marked and distinguishing mercies. Solemn warding this, to all of us who have been brought up religiously; for those who have in early life enjoyed great spiritual opportunities: it seems that when such people fall, none fall so low; the light that was in them becomes darkness, and, as our Lord teaches, there is no darkness so thick as that. It is like being borne away to perdition on the wings of God's mercy.

II. On the AWFUL PUNISHMENT with which the wife of Lot was visited I will only insist as showing how peculiarly aggravated in God's sight must have been the nature of her sin. Her end was marked by all those circumstances of anger and terror which seem to foreclose all hope. First, it was that which we pray against in our Litany as sudden death; that is, not sudden in the sense of being wholly unlooked-for — that may be a great blessing — but sudden as unprepared-for — sudden, as finding us with nothing ready for our meeting with God, with our hearts yet in the world, and our faces turned that way.

III. Now to gather up a few PRACTICAL LESSONS from our subject.

1. "Remember Lot's wife" as an example of the folly, the danger, the wickedness of trifling with what you know to be wrong, of committing little sins, breaking little precepts, and going on to Satan's ground only a very little way. All little sins, all slight tamperings with conscience, all partial returns to once forsaken evil, all compromises with a renounced and repented habit, are as first steps to a hopeless and disastrous fall. Like Lot's wife, we may only intend to look and look, and then turn back again. Rut we find we cannot turn back; the witchcraft of an evil nature is at work within us; we have seven wicked spirits to contend with now, where, before, we had but one, and so by little and little we are led within the charmed circle of evil till there is no going back and no escaping.

2. "Remember Lot's wife" as an example of the possibility of falling from the most hopeful spiritual condition. How confidently should we have argued of her state; how confidently might she have argued of her own, when, of four persons to be saved out of those vast populations, she was chosen as one.

3. "Remember Lot's wife" as a warning to us that there must be no delays, no haltings, no slackened diligence, in running the race that is set before us. "Escape for thy life" — life spiritual, life temporal, life eternal — lose one and you lose all; and you may lose all by becoming weary and faint in the running.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

I. Consider, in the first place, THE HOPEFUL OPPORTUNITY; or, Lot's wife fleeing from Sodom. It has been thought — and there is considerable reason for the thought — that she was a native of Sodom. When Lot separated from Abraham and went to live at Sodom, we read nothing of his having a wife or children; this is one reason for conjecturing that he married after he came to live at Sodom. Another is her evident attachmerit to Sodom, which, though to be accounted for on other reasons, may have been all the stronger, if that were the place of her nativity and early life. A third reason is, that Lot's "easily besetting" sin, which was covetousness and love of the world, would probably have tempted him to form such a connection with one of the daughters of Sodom, on account of some supposed worldly advantage. Oh! let not Christians despise the word of warning, whispered by the mere probability that Lot married a native of Sodom — an unconverted and worldly-minded person. But although worldly-minded herself, her husband was a religious person, and she had many opportunities of redeeming her character and turning to the Lord. Yet she rejected them. When the testing-time came, she preferred the world to God.

II. THE SERIOUS OFFENCE; or Lot's wife looking back. The world is the great clog upon the wheels of piety.

III. THE REMARKABLE PUNISHMENT.

(J. Hambleton, M. A.)

Separation is the only way of escape. We must flee from the world, or perish with it.

I. REMEMBER THAT THIS WOMAN WAS LOT'S WIFE.

1. She was united in the closest possible bonds to one who, with all his faults, was a righteous man; and yet she perished. O ye children of godly parents, I beseech you look to yourselves that ye be not driven down to hell from your mother's side.

2. Being Lot's wife, remember that she had since her marriage shared with Lot in his journeys and adventures and trials. If you cling to the world and cast your eye back upon it you must perish in your sin, notwithstanding that you have eaten and drank with the people of God, and have been as near to them in relationship as wife to husband, or child to parent.

3. Lot's wife had also shared her husband's privileges. She received the merciful warning to escape as well as her husband, and she was urged as much as he to flee from the wrath so near at hand. Thus is it with many of you who are enjoying all sorts of Christian privileges and are yet unsaved.

4. Lot's wife had shared in her husband's errors. It was a great mistake on his part to abandon the outwardly separated life. but she had kept to him in it, and perhaps was the cause of his so doing. I suppose he thought he could live above the world spiritually, and yet mingle with its votaries.

II. "Remember Lot's wife," and recollect THAT SHE WENT SOME WAY TOWARDS BEING SAVED.

III. Remember that though she went some way towards escape SHE DID ACTUALLY PERISH THROUGH SIN.

1. The first sin that she committed was that she lingered behind.

2. Having slackened her pace, the next thing she did was she disbelieved what had been told her. Faith may be as well exhibited by not looking as by looking. Faith is a look at Christ, but faith is a not looking at the things which are behind. She saw the bright dawning and everything lit up with it, and it came across her mind — "It cannot be true, the city is not being destroyed. What a lovely morning I Why are we thus running away from house, and goods, and friends, and everything else on such a bright, clear morning as this?" She did not truly believe, there was no real faith in her heart, and therefore she disobeyed the law of her safety and turned her face towards Sodom.

3. Having got so far as lingering and doubting, her next movement was a direct act of rebellion — she turned her head: she was bidden not to look, but she dared to look. Rebellion is as much seen in the breach of what appears to be a little command as in the violation of a great precept. You will be judged according to the going of your heart. It your heart goes towards the mountain to escape, and if you hasten to be away with Christ to be His separated follower, you shall be saved: but if your heart still goes after evil and sin, His servants ye are whom ye obey, and from your evil master you shall get your black reward.

IV. Remember that HER DOOM WAS TERRIBLE.

1. Remember that she perished with the same doom as that which happened to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, but that doom befell her at the gates of Zoar.

2. The worst point, perhaps, about the perishing of Lot's wife lay in this, that she perished in the very act of sin, and had no space for repentance given her. It is a dreadful thing to die in the very act of sin, to be caught away by the justice of God while the transgression is being perpetrated.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. OF HER SIN — she looked back. What fault was there in that? you will say. I answer —

1. There was disobedience in it, because it was against the express command of God, given by an angel, "Look not behind thee" (Genesis 19:17).

2. There was unbelief in it; not believing the words of the angel, God's messenger, who had assured her in the name of God that He would destroy Sodom, "Hasten hence, lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city" (Genesis 19:13). Now she would look back, to see whether the prediction and warning were true. An unbelieving heart will easily be perverted and enticed into a rebellion against God, and those that cannot trust God will not be true to Him.

3. There was worldliness in it, or an hankering of mind after what she had left in Sodom; and so this looking back was a look of covetousness, a kind of repentance that she had come out of Sodom; for people are wont to look back who are moved with a desire and remembrance of their former dwelling. So Lot's wife looked back because she had left her heart behind her. There were her kindred, and friends, and country, and that pleasant place which was as the garden of God (Genesis 13:10). From thence this woman came, and thither she would fain go again; as if she had said, And must I leave thee, Sodom, and part for ever from thee! Affectation of worldly things draweth us from ready obedience unto God (Philippians 3:8).

4. There was ingratitude for her deliverance from that dreadful and terrible burning which God was bringing upon the place of her abode. It is said, "The Lord was merciful to him" (Genesis 19:16). He could not pretend to it out of any merit, and might have smarted, for his choice showed weakness in not resting on God's word: "I cannot escape to the mountain, let some evil take me, and I die" (ver. 19). Only this God required at his hands, that he and his family should make haste and begone. Now, to disobey God in so small a matter was in her great ingratitude. The sins of none are so grievous to God as of those that have received much mercy from Him: "After such a deliverance as this, should we again break Thy commandments?" (Ezra 9:13, 14). Oh I think what it is to despise the mercy of Christ, who came from heaven to deliver us; and shall it be slighted?

II. OF HER JUDGMENT — she was turned into a pillar of salt.

1. It was sudden. Sometimes God is quick and severe upon sinners, surprising them in the very act of their sin; as Lot's wife was presently turned into a pillar of salt. So Zimri and Cosbi unladed their lives and their lusts together (Numbers 25:8); and Herod was smitten in the very act of his pride (Acts 12:23); "The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar" (Daniel 4:33); "In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain" (Daniel 5:30). Thus many times judgment overtaketh the wicked in the very instant of their sin; and God will give the sinner no time. Therefore we should not tempt and presume upon His patience. Surely it is!the greatest mercy to have grace to repent; but it is also a mercy to have space to repent. But God's patience must not be wearied.

2. It was strange. For here a woman is turned into a pillar of salt. Strange sins bring on strange punishment. The stupid world is not awakened by ordinary judgments, but looks upon them as some chance or common occurrence; and therefore God is forced to go out of the common road, and diversify His judgments, that by some eminent circumstance in them He may alarm the drowsy world to take notice of His hand.

3. It was shameful; for she is made a public and lasting monument of shame to herself, but of instruction to us.I must show how profitable it is for us to meditate on this instance, even for all those who are called from wrath to a state of rest and glory.

1. That it concerneth such not only to consider the mercies of God, but also now and then the examples of His justice, that "we may serve Him with fear, and rejoice with trembling" (Psalm 2:11). We are in a mixed estate, and therefore mixed affections do best. As we are to cherish the spirit or better part with promises and hopes of glory, by which the inner man is renewed day by day, so we are to weaken the pravity of the flesh by the remembrance of God's judgments, not only threatened, but also actually inflicted!; for instances do much enliven things. Now, what was done to them may be done to us — for these judgments are patterns of providence — and if we would blow off the dust from the ancient providences of God, we may easily read our own doom or desert at least. The desert of sin is still the same; and the exactness of Divine justice is still the same; what hath been is a pledge and instance of what may be.

2. That not only modern and present, but ancient and old judgments are of great use to us, especially when like sins abound in the age we live in, or we are in danger of them as to our own practice. If others have smarted for disobeying God, why not we, since God is impartially and immutably just, always consonant and agreeable unto Himself? His power is the same, so is His justice and holiness.

3. This particular judgment is monumental, and so intended for a pattern and spectacle to after ages; and it is also here recommended by the Lord Himself — "Remember Lot's wife." He exciteth us to look upon this pillar, and therefore certainly it will yield many instructions for the heavenly life.(1) This seemeth to be a small sin. What I for a look, for a glance of her eye, to be so suddenly blasted into a pillar of salt! This seemeth to be no great fault; but it teaches us that little faults in appearance many times meet with a great judgment. There may be much crookedness in a small line; and the matter is not so much to be regarded as the majesty and authority of God that commandeth — as in garments the dye is more than the stuff. But that I may at once vindicate God's dispensation, and enforce the caution, I shall prove —(a) That sin is not to be measured by the external action, but by the circumstances.(b) This woman's sin is greater than at first appeareth. For here was —(i.) A preferring her own will before the will of God. God said, Look not back; but she would look back.(ii.) There was a contempt of the justice and wrath of God, as if it were a vain scarecrow: "Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than He?" (1 Corinthians 10:22).(iii.) Here is also a contempt of the rewards of obedience, as in all sin (Hebrews 12:15, 16).(iv.) There was an abuse of the grace offered for her escape and deliverance (Romans 2:4). All these four things are in every deliberate sin, seem it never so small.(c) Because we think we may preserve the smaller sins for breed, and that God is more severe in remembering these than we are faulty in committing them. Therefore think of and seriously consider that small sins are the mother of great sins, and the grandmother of great punishments. As little sticks set the great ones on fire, and a wisp of straw often enkindleth a great block of wood, so we are drawn on by the lesser evils to greater, and by the just judgment of God suffered to fall into them, because we made no conscience of lesser. The lesser commandments are a rail about the greater, and no man grows downright wicked at first, but rises to it by degrees.(2) This was a sin committed by stealth. As she followed her husband, she would steal a glance, and look towards Sodom; for it is said, "His wife looked back from behind him" (Genesis 19:26). God can find us out in our secret sins; and therefore we should make conscience, as not to sin openly, so not by stealth. In short, to be an open and bold sinner in some respects is worse than to be a close and private sinner, because of the dishonour done to God, and the scandal to others, and the impudence of the sinner himself; but in other respects secret sins have their aggravations.(a) Because if opens sins be of greater infamy, yet secret sins are more against knowledge and conviction.(b) This secret sinning puts far more respect upon men than God; and this is palliated atheism.(3) The next lesson which we learn hence is, that no loss of earthly things should make us repent of our obedience to God, but that we should still go on with what we have well begun, with. out looking back. "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).From the whole —

1. Remember that in getting out of Sodom we must make haste. The least delay or stop in the course of our flight may be pernicious to us.

2. That till our resolutions be firmly set for God and heaven, and there be a thorough bent and bias upon our hearts, and the league between us and our secret lusts broken, after we have seemed to make some escape, we shall be looking back again — "For where our treasure is, there our heart will be" (Matthew 6:21).

3. That to look back, after we have seemed to escape, doth involve us in the greatest sin and misery. The apostle tells us (2 Peter 2:20, 211.

4. That if we would not go back, we must not look back. Evil is best stopped at first; the first breakings off from God, and remitting our zeal and watchfulness. He that keeps not a house in constant repair will be in danger of having it fall down upon him. So, if we grow remiss and careless, and keep not a constant watch, temptations will increase upon us.

(T. Manton.)

1. Remember Lot's wife, in the hour of conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit strives. The danger of damnation is seen and felt as never before. "Up! flee for your life!" is the voice of the Spirit. Delay, hesitation, casting longing looks back on a life of sin, then, may be fatal. You may lose the golden opportunity.

2. Remember Lot's wife in the hour of fiery temptation. The only safety is in precipitate flight. Escape from the presence of the tempter. To parley, to hesitate, to cast a look at the proffered bait, is all but certain ruin.

3. Remember Lot's wife, when any question of duty is pressed upon you. This woman had no excuse for hesitation or reluctance. A clear, Divine call to duty cannot be trifled with without incurring fearful risk, if not of the loss of life physical, at least life spiritual.

4. Remember Lot's wife, amid the assaults of unbelief.

5. Note what Christ says in Luke 9:62, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back," etc.

(1)He is not intent on the work in hand.

(2)His earthly ties and interests are stronger than those which pertain to heavenly things.

(3)He has really surrendered himself to temptation.

(Anon.)

Over sand-bars and hidden rocks in the sea are sometimes placed buoy-bells, which are rung by the action of the waves. So God has set great danger-signals in the sea of time. Such is the story of Sodom and Lot's wife.

1. Remember her surroundings. Sin is often seemingly beautiful and attractive. Beware of the alluring power of evil associations.

2. Remember her danger. This world is a Sodom, and against it has been declared the condemnation of God's law.

3. Remember her warning. Sacrifice everything. Look not back for companions or possessions. Delay not for a better opportunity, for greater conviction, etc. Linger not in the plains of a professed morality.

4. Remember her delay. Procrastination is most perilous.

5. Remember her disobedience.

6. Remember her doom. Disobedience develops into the deadly fruit of death.

(G. Elliott.)

There is a story of a high mountain on whose top was a palace filled with all treasures, gold, gems, singing birds — a paradise of pleasures. Up its sides men and women were climbing to reach the top; but every one who looked back was turned into stone. And yet thousands of evil spirits were around them, whispering, shouting, flashing their treasures, singing love-songs to draw their eyes from the treasure at the top, and to make them look back; but every one that looked back was turned into stone. So is every one who is seeking heavenly treasures tempted by earthly music and sinful joys; but whosoever yields is lost.

(W. Baxendale.)

As might be expected, conjecture has been busy as to the manner in which this transformation was effected. There is no harm in such speculations, if they are not allowed to go farther than this, that they only seek to account for a result by natural agents, where natural agents would be sufficient — that they acknowledge the interfering hand of God in the matter, whether He create for the purpose a new thing in the earth, or merely press into His service the means and agency which exist already. In the present instance, it does not seem an impossible thing that judgment upon Lot's wife should have been brought about by natural causes; in other words, that in consequence of her standing still too long, she might get covered with the sulphureous matter which was being rained from heaven, and this, congealing and encrusting upon her person, would make her appear as a pillar of salt. In fact, of the leading features of the phenomenon, traces remain in the physical geography of the neighbourhood to this day. Thus, of the petrifying qualities of the waters of the Dead Sea we have many trustworthy accounts; whilst, as illustrative of the saline property of the waters, one of our great Eastern travellers tells us, that after bathing in them he found a thin crust of salt upon his face, and a similar crust left upon the shore wherever the waters had overflowed. By natural agents or by a miracle, however, it is certain that Lot's wife has been made to stand in the midst of that awful plain, a petrified monument of God's displeasure against backsliders, for upwards of two thousand years; for, "I have seen it," said Josephus, "and it remains at this day." The testimony of later Christian travellers as to the identity of the scene we should have to receive with more caution. Stones with the Jews, we know, were a kind of standing revelation. The story of them was handed down from father to son with a jealous reverence; so that it is not unlikely that among our Lord's hearers were men who, in common with Josephus, had visited this heaven-blighted spot, and on whose minds these words would tell with solemn force — "Remember Lot's wife."

(D. Moore, M. A.)

On the coast of Normandy, where Mont St. Michael stands, the sea goes out about five miles, and comes in like a race-horse. In 1875, two ladies were at some ruins on the sands. "Come away," said the elder, "don't run any risk." "Just let me finish this sketch," replied the other, an English young lady. While she sketched, the tide rushed in, and she was drowned.

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