Sermon 1491. Remember Lot's Wife
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, AUGUST 24, 1879,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"RememberLot's wife." Luke 17:32.
IT was the purpose of God always to maintain a testimony for truth and righteousness in the midst of this ungodly world. Forthis end of old He set apart for Himself a chosen family with whom He had fellowship. Abraham was the man whom God chose,that in him and in his household the witness might be preserved. This chosen family was called out and separated from itsancestors and led to dwell apart as wayfaring men in the land of Canaan. They were not to go into the cities and mingle withother races, but to dwell in tents, as a separate tribe, lest their character should become polluted and their testimony shouldbe silenced. It was the Lord's intent that the people should dwell alone and not be numbered among the nations.
Abraham, being called, obeyed and went forth, not knowing where he went. His separated life gave great exercise to his faithand so strengthened it that it became a calm, unstaggering assurance and this enabled him to enjoy a quiet, sublime and happycareer, dependent only upon God and altogether above as well as apart from man. With him was his nephew, Lot, who also leftHaran at the Divine call and shared with the Patriarch his wanderings in Canaan and in Egypt. He was not a man of so noblea soul, but was greatly influenced by the stronger mind of his Uncle Abraham. He was sincere, no doubt, and is justly calledrighteous Lot, but he was more fit to be a follower than a leader. He also sojourned in tents and led the separated life untilit became necessary for him to become an independent chieftain because the flocks and herds of the two families had so greatlymultiplied that they could not well be kept together.
Then came out the weak side of Lot's character. He did not give Abraham the choice in selecting a sheep walk, but like allweak natures, he selfishly consulted his own advantage and determined to go in the direction of the cities of the plain ofJordan where well-watered pastures abounded. This led to his dwelling near the cities of the plain, where crime had reachedits utmost point of horrible degradation. We read that "he pitched his tent toward Sodom." He found it convenient to be neara settled people and to enter into friendly relations with them, though he must have known what the men of Sodom were, forthe cry of them had gone forth far and wide. Thus he began to leave the separated path.
After a while he went further, for one step leads to another. He was a lover of ease and, therefore, he gave up the tent life,with its many inconveniences, and went to live with the townsmen of Sodom-a thing to be wondered at as well as deplored. Hedid not cease to be a good man, but he did cease to be a faithful witness for his God. Abraham seems to have given him upaltogether from that day, for we find that noble Patriarch enquiring of the Lord concerning his heir, saying, "Lord God, whatwill You give me, seeing I go childless and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?" And the Lord said, "Thisshall not be your heir." Now, this enquiry would have been needless had Lot been still reckoned to belong to the chosen seed,for naturally Lot was the heir of Abraham-but he forfeited that position and gave up his portion in the inheritance of theelect house by quitting the separated life.
Lot, although he dwelt in Sodom, was not happy there. Neither did he become so corrupt as to take pleasure in the wickednessof the people. Peter says that God delivered just Lot vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked. He tried to bear hisprotest in the place, but signally failed, as all must do who imitate him. His witness for purity would have been far morepowerful if he had kept apart from them, for this is the protest which God demands of us when He says, "Come you out fromamong them, be you separate." In the midst of the world, which lies in the Wicked One, Lot lived on-not without greatly degeneratingin spirit-until the kings came and carried him away captive. Then by the intervention of Abraham he was delivered from thecaptivity which threatened him and brought back again.
This was a solemn warning and you would have thought that Lot would have said, "I will go back to Abraham's way of living.I will again become a sojourner with God. Sodom's walls without God are far less safe than a frail tent when
God is a wall of fire around it." His vexation with the conversation of the lewd townsmen ought to have made him long forthe sweet air of the wild country, but it was not so. He again settles down in Sodom and forgets the holy congregation whichclustered around the tent of Abraham. Being, still, a man of God, he could not be allowed to die in such society-it was notto be endured that "just Lot" should lay his bones in the graveyard of filthy Sodom.
If God would save a man, He must fetch him out from the world-no man can remain part and parcel of an ungodly world and yetbe God's elect one, for this is the Lord's own words to the enemy at the gates of Eden-"I will put enmity between you andthe woman, between your seed and her seed." Did He not also say to Pharaoh, "I will put a division between My people and yourpeople?" The Lord will sooner burn all Sodom down than Lot shall continue to be associated with its crimes and dragged downby its evil spirit. And so it came to pass that Lot was forced out-he was placed in such a strait that he must either runfor his life or perish in the general burning.
Happy had it been for him if he had lived all the while in the holy seclusion of Abraham. He would not, then, have lost theinheritance for his seed, nor have passed away under a dark, defiling cloud, nor have missed his place among the heroes offaith of whom Paul writes in the famous chapter of Hebrews-"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, buthaving seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrimson the earth."
Here I must pause, or you will think that I have misread my text and that I am preaching from the words- "Remember Lot"-and,indeed, I might profitably do so, for there is much of warning in the history of Lot himself. If Christian men are so unwiseas to conform themselves to the world, even if they keep up the Christian character in a measure, they will gain nothing byworldly association but being vexed with the conversation of the ungodly-and they will be great losers in their own souls-theircharacter will be tarnished, their whole tone of feeling will be lowered and they themselves will be wretchedly weak and unhappy.Conformity to the world is sure to end badly sooner or later-to the man himself it is injurious and to his family ruinous.
But the text says, "Remember Lot's wife" and, therefore, I must let the husband go and call your attention to her, who, inthis case, is "his worse half." When the time for separation arrived, Lot's wife could not tear herself away from the world.She had always been in it and had loved it and delighted in it. Though associated with a gracious man, when the time camefor decision, she betrayed her true character! Flight without so much as looking back was demanded of her, but this was toomuch-she did look back and thus proved that she had sufficient presumption in her heart to defy God's command and risk herall-to give a lingering love-glance at the condemned and guilty world. By that glance she perished.
That is the subject of our discourse. The love of the world is death. Those who cling to sin must perish, whoever they maybe. Do not omit to notice the connection of the text, for there our Lord bids us hold the world with a loose hand and alwaysbe ready to leave it all. When we are called to it, we are to be ready to go forth without a particle in our hands. "In thatday, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that isin the field, let him, likewise not return back." They were not to hold life, itself, dear, but to be ready to lay it downfor His sake, for He said, "Whoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whoever shall lose his life shall preserveit."
To be divided from the world-its possessions, its maxims, its motives-is the mark of a disciple of Christ and, in order tokeep up the feeling of separateness among His followers, our Lord bade them, "Remember Lot's wife." She is to be a cautionto us all, for God will deal with us as with her if we sin as she did. "The thing which has been is the thing which shallbe." If our hearts are glued to the world, we shall perish with the world! If our desires and delights look to the world andif we find our comfort in it, we shall have to see our all consumed and shall be ourselves consumed with it in the day ofthe Lord's anger. Separation is the only way of escape-we must flee from the world or perish with it!
"Depart you, depart you, go you out from there, touch no unclean thing; go you out of the midst of her; be you clean, thatbear the vessels of the Lord."
I. "Remember Lot's wife." And our first point shall be-REMEMBER THAT SHE WAS LOT'S WIFE. She was the wife of a man who, withall his faults, was a righteous man. She was united to him in the closest possible bonds and yet she perished! She had dweltin tents with holy Abraham and seemed to be a sharer in all the privileges of the separated
people-and yet she perished! She was dear to one who had been dear to the father of the faithful and yet, for all that, sheperished in her sin!
This note of warning we would strike very loudly, for, commonplace as the truth is, it needs often to be repeated that tiesof blood are no guarantees of Divine Grace. You may be the wife of the saintliest man of God and yet be a daughter of Belial.Or you may be the husband of one of the King's daughters and yet be, yourself, a castaway! You may be the child of a prophetand yet the curse of the prophet's God may light upon you! Or you may be the father of a most gracious family and yet stillbe an alien to the commonwealth of Israel. No earthly relationship can possibly help us if we are personally destitute ofthe spiritual life.
Our first birth does not avail us in the kingdom of God, for that which is born of the flesh is, at its very best, flesh,and is prone to sin and will certainly perish. We must be born again, for only the new birth, which is of the Spirit and fromabove, will bring us into Covenant bonds. O you children of godly parents, I beseech you look to yourselves that you be notdriven down to Hell from your mother's side! O you relatives of those who are the favorites of Heaven, I beseech you lookto yourselves that you die not within sight of Heaven in spite of all your advantages! In this matter, remember Lot's wife.
Being Lot's wife, remember that she had, since her marriage, shared with Lot in his journeys and adventures and trials. Wecannot tell exactly when she became Lot's wife, but we are inclined to the belief that it was after he had left Haran, forwhen Abraham left Haran we read that he took "Sarai, his wife, and Lot, his brother's son," but we do not read of Lot's wife.The name of Abraham's wife is given, but of Lot's wife there is no mentioning whatever. Again, we read, "Abram went up outof Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south." "And Lot, also, which went with Abram, hadflocks, and herds, and tents." But nothing is said about his having a wife.
She must have been a person of very small consideration, for even when it is certain that Lot was married, when he was takencaptive and afterwards rescued by Abraham, all we find is this-"And Abraham brought back all the goods, and also brought againhis brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people." We suppose that Lot's wife is included under the word,"the women." Now the Holy Spirit never puts a slight upon good women-in connection with their husbands they are generallymentioned with honor-and in this book of Genesis it is specially so.
Sarah and Rebekah and Rachel have each an honorable memorial and as no mention is made of Lot's wife we may infer that shewas not worthy to be mentioned. She could hardly have been an inhabitant of Sodom, as the Jewish traditions asserts, unlessshe was a widow, as they say, and the daughters mentioned were hers by a previous marriage. For at the destruction of Sodom,Lot had marriageable daughters and it would not seem that Lot had then been separated from Abraham for many years. True, thewomen of Sodom may have been given in marriage at an earlier age than was usual with the Abrahamic stock and, if so, Lot'swife may have been a native of Sodom, for it is possible that he dwelt there for 20 years.
More probably, however, either in Canaan or in Egypt, Lot married a Canaanite or an Egyptian woman-a person utterly unworthyto be taken into the holy household and, therefore, the marriage is not recorded. It was the custom of that elect and separatedfamily, as you know, to send back to Padanaram to fetch from there some daughter of the same house, that the pure stock mightbe preserved and that there might be no connection with the heathen. It was Abraham's desire for Isaac and he charged hissteward to carry it out, saying, "And I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of Heaven, and the God of the whole earth,that you shall not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: but you shall go unto mycountry, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac."
This also was Isaac's desire for Jacob, for we read, "And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said untohim, You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father;and take you a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother." It seems to me that Lot had married a heathenwoman and so her name is omitted. Whether it is so or not, it is certain that she had shared with Lot in the capture of thecity of Sodom-she had seen the ruthless sword slay the inhabitants and she, herself, with her husband, had been among thecaptives-and she had been delivered by the good sword of Abraham. So you see that she had been a partaker of her husband'strials and deliverance and yet she was lost.
It will be a sad, sad thing if there should come an eternal severance between those united by marriage bonds-that we shouldlive together, work together, suffer together and should be delivered, by the Providence of God, many a time
together-and should see our children grow up together and yet should be torn asunder at the last, never to meet again! Thisis a prospect which we dare not think upon. Tremble, you whose love is not in Christ, for your union will have an end! Whatsays the Savior? "I tell you, in that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall beleft. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; theone shall be taken, and the other left." It matters not how close the association, the unbeliever must be divided from theliving child of God! If you cling to the world and cast your eyes back upon it, you must perish in your sin, notwithstandingthat you have eaten and drunk with the people of God and have been as near to them in relationship as wife to husband, orchild to parent. This makes the remembrance of Lot's wife a very solemn thing to those who are allied by ties of kindred tothe people of God.
Lot's wife had also shared her husband's privileges. Her husband had not forgotten his association with Abraham and he couldnot have failed to communicate this knowledge to her. The one God was worshipped and Lot's wife was present. She knew of thegracious Covenant which God had made with His separated people and she knew that her husband was one of the families. Shehad apparently cast in her lot with the chosen people of God though her heart was not in it but she, nevertheless, joinedtheir sacred songs and their holy prayers. She saw the daily provision which God made for His people and the joy which Abrahamhad in abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Even in Sodom her husband kept up such separateness as he could in such anevil place and she saw the goodness of the man with all his mistakes.
When Sodom must be destroyed, the angels came to their house and she, herself, helped to entertain them. She received themerciful 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! You come to the Lord'sTable and eat and drink of the memorials of His body and blood-and yet you remain unsaved. You seem to be part and parcelof the Church of God and if there is any privilege or advantage, a share of it is set before you. If there is any fellowshipyou are not excluded-if there is any joy it is not denied you. You will have to say at last, "Lord, Lord, we have eaten anddrunk in Your Presence and You have taught in our streets," and, oh, how wretched it will be to hear Him say, "I never knewyou! Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity." It must be so if your souls are clinging to sin and you are casting a yearningeye to the ungodly world! It must be so and if you need proof, "remember Lot's wife."
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 stayed with him in it and, perhaps, was the cause of his so doing. I suppose he thought he could live above theworld spiritually and yet mingle with its votaries, even as some now do who enter into worldly company and yet hope to walkwith God in spirit. He said to himself, "It is very uncomfortable to wander alone in this deserted wilderness and to dwellin these temporary tents. I wish I had a more abiding dwelling and could mingle on peaceable terms with those around me."He ceased to look for the city which has foundations whose Builder and Maker is God and he wanted to take up citizenship inthe world. I should not wonder if Lot's wife influenced him in that way. He was a man of weak mind and while his uncle hadhim under his wing, he was right enough, except that even then he had what a writer calls, "a lean-to religion"-he did notstand alone, but leaned upon Abraham.
When he was married it is probable that his wife assumed the ruling place and guided the way of his life. She began to thinkthat it was a pity that the family should live in such separation, so unfashionable, so rigid, so peculiar and all that. Shetossed her head and cried, "Really, people must mix with society and not keep up old-fashioned, strait-laced ways! You mightas well be dead as be shut out from life." When her husband had an opportunity of getting out of that rigid style by leavinghis uncle, she said she would like to go down Sodom way because it would be nice for the girls and give them a taste of somethingliberal and refined. The old style was all very well for such an antiquated couple as Abraham and Sarah, but Lot and herselfbelonged to a younger generation and were bound to get into a little society and find eligible matches for their young people.It would be well for them to dress better than they could learn to do if they always kept roaming about like gypsies.
You see, Abraham's people did not study the fashions at all and were a very vulgar sort of shepherds who had no ideas of refinementand politeness. And it was pity that people in Lot's station in life should always associate with mere sheep-shearers, droversand the like. If they got to Sodom there would be nice parties, dances and all sorts of things! Of
course the people were a little loose and rather fast-they went to plays where modesty was shocked and gathered in admirationaround performers whose lives were openly wanton-but then you see one must be fashionable and wink at a good deal! We cannotexpect all people to be saints and, no doubt, they have their good points. By some such talk Mistress Lot gained her husbandover to her way of thinking.
They did not mean to actually go into the worst society of Sodom, but they intended to make a careful selection and go onlya little way. Surely they could be trusted to know where to stop. So they pitched the tent towards Sodom where it was withinan easy walk of the town-a little separated, but not far. If anything did happen that was very bad they could move away andno harm would be done-but until they saw the harm of it they liked the neighborhood and the ways of the townsfolk. It wasno doubt wise, they said, to go and see Sodom and know the people, for it would be ridiculous to condemn what they had notseen! They would therefore try it and give the young people some idea of what the world was like.
Very sweet the city life became. The free and easy ways of Sodom came to be enjoyable. Not the gross part of Sodom life-Lotcould not bear that-and it made Mistress a bit uncomfortable at times, but the liberal spirit, the fine free bearing of thepeople, their gaiety and artistic culture were quite to her mind and so she was right glad when her husband put away the oldtent, had a sale of the sheep and lived as a retired grazier in the west end of the city. I think I am not mistaken in theconjecture that Mistress Lot's influence brought her husband there and when there, introduced him to the best families andfound suitors for the daughters who had been fully imbued with the liberal ideas of the place. At any rate, whatever wereLot's faults, she was a partaker in them. She was with him in the choosing the plain of Jordan; with him in the pitching ofthe tent towards Sodom; with him in actually settling in Sodom and I could almost hope with him in bearing as good a protestas they could against the vilest of Sodom's sins-but certainly with him in giving up the strictness and severity of the separatedlife.
Yet at last she was separated from him forever! For his errors, notwithstanding their grievous mischief to him, did not utterlydestroy the life of God in his soul. As for her, she never had any spiritual life and now, when she is called to leave Sodom,she shows her love to it by a distinct disobedience to God and an open turning to the doomed city. And so she perishes. Oh,you that are Christian people because your friends are Christian people! You that associate with us because it happens tobe the way in which you were brought up! The time will come when the secret attachment of your hearts towards a giddy worldwill show itself most clearly and in a fatal moment you will give a look of love towards sin which will prove you do not belongto the people of God! Then will it happen to you according to the word of the Apostle, "It had been better for them not tohave known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."
II. And now, secondly, "Remember Lot's wife" and remember that SHE WENT SOME WAY TOWARDS BEING SAVED. Mistress Lot so farbelieved the message that came to her about the destruction of the city that she was awakened. She rose early as her husbanddid and she prepared to leave the house. She ran down the streets; she passed the city gate; she reached the open plain alongwith her husband. She was willing, for a while, to run with him, following his example. She did so for a considerable distancetill she began to think over what she was doing and to consider what she was leaving. And then she slackened her pace andlingered behind.
Remember, then, that she did go part of the way towards safety and yet she perished! And so many may go part of the way towardsChrist and they may go a little way out of the world-but if their hearts still linger with the ungodly, they will perish,notwithstanding all. There is one very solemn thought and that is that the angels' hand had pressed her wrist. When they said,"Up, get you gone" and Lot lingered-the men laid hold upon his hand and the hand of his wife. So it is expressly said. Anangel's hand had pressed her wrist to draw her forth to safety and she had gone a little way under that sacred constraint-andyet she perished.
Some of you may have had spiritual touches upon the conscience and heart which you will never be able to quite forget andthe responsibility of this will cling to you, though you have drawn back from godliness and your heart cries after vanityand lusts after its idols. This woman was actually out of Sodom and she was almost in Zoar, the refuge city, and yet she perished!How near she was to the little city of escape, I cannot tell, but she was certainly almost there and yet she perished. Almostsaved, but not quite. Let me repeat those words, for they describe some of you who are present at this hour-and they may beyour epitaph if you do not mind what you are about-"ALMOST SAVED, BUT NOT
QUITE." Escaped from the vilest form of sin, but not truly in Christ! The mind not weaned from its idols, iniquity not givenup in the soul, though perhaps given up in outward deed!
O you who are ALMOST SAVED, BUT NOT QUITE, "Remember Lot's wife."
III. This brings me to a third point of remembrance, which is this-remember that though she went some way
towards escape, SHE DID ACTUALLY PERISH THROUGH SIN. The first sin that she committed was that she lingered
behind. Moses tells us, "Lot's wife looked back from behind him." That is, the good old man was making such haste as he could,but she, though she had run side by side with him, lingered in the rear-I should not wonder but what the same angel had oneof them by the right hand and the other by the left while the other angel brought the two daughters on behind. But Lot's wifeslackened her pace and fell behind.
That is the first sin with most people who profess religion, but are not true to God-they begin to backslide by creeping alongvery slowly-they are not half so earnest as they used to be, so they lag behind. One service a day is sufficient. A very littlereading of the Bible contents them. They do not quite give up the appearance of prayer, but still there is very little ofit. They do not see the good of being in such a fury over religion. They do not see why they should exercise any sacred violenceto take the kingdom by force. They linger. It is because, after all, the world is master of their hearts! They would, if theydared, be as worldly and as ungodly as others-and they finally prove their true character by slackening their pace.
Having slackened her pace, the next thing she did was she disbelieved what had been told her. You must remember that theirflight out of Sodom was to be an act of faith, for the angel said, "Look not behind you." That Sodom was to be destroyed didnot appear at all likely, for it was a bright morning. They were to fly with as much haste as if they could see the fire-showerfalling, but they were not to see it. Their flight was to be urged forward by faith in the angels' words. Faith may be aswell exhibited by not looking as by looking. Faith is a look at Christ, but faith is a not looking at the things which arebehind. Lot's wife saw the sun rising, so we are told-"the sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar."
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 beingdestroyed. What a lovely morning! Why are we thus running away from house, goods, 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 lawof her safety and turned her face towards Sodom. Yet, mark you, she had received the angels in her house; she had seen themblind the wicked mob around her door; she had heard their majestic words of persuasion and felt their kind compulsion-shehad plenty of evidence that God was speaking-but she doubted the truth of His Word and here was the very essence of her sin!
What if some of you that have mingled with the godly-and have been numbered with them and have participated in their worship,should-nevertheless come short because of unbelief? It is by no means improbable, for out of all that came out of Egypt therewere only TWO that entered into Canaan! They could not enter in because of unbelief-their carcasses fell in the wilderness.May it never come to pass with any of us that we shall leave our carcasses outside of the eternal hope because we, too, donot believe in Him who is invisible, but must walk according to the sight of the eyes! Having gotten so far as lingering anddoubting, her next movement was a direct act of rebellion-she turned her head- she was told not to look, but she dared tolook.
Rebellion is as much seen in the breach of what appears to be a little command as in the violation of a great precept. Ourfall at the first came from the plucking of forbidden fruit-and this woman's death came by a look! Take care of little things.There is life in a look and here is a case in which there was death in a look. She looked, but why did she look? I supposeit was this-her heart was that way. She loved Sodom and she abhorred the separated life. She had led her husband and her childrenaway from the peculiar people of God, for she felt that she would rather mix with the reprobate multitude than with the chosenfew! She was not of the spirit that could walk with God, alone-she clung to society and to sin. Though she was running forher life, she thought of her household stuff and of the ease of Sodom-and she looked back with lingering eyes because shewanted to be there.
And it came to this, that as her eyes went back, her whole body would have gone back if time had been allowed. She alreadylingered. She would have soon turned. That one glance betrayed which way her soul was going! A little thing in professorsmay show what they are and we may readily betray the inward turning of the soul by an act as simple as that of
turning the neck to look towards Sodom. This was her sin. Now, dear Friends, let us remember Lot's wife, each one of us, bylearning a personal lesson. Here is a hard thing-we must go outside the camp or utterly fail. Can you maintain the life ofGod and walk with Christ and be separate from the world?
Many of you cannot. You may pretend to do so, but you cannot, it is beyond you. I fear that the number of true Christiansin the world is very much less than we suppose. We are encumbered with a host of people who call themselves Christians, butare as much of the world as other people-whose inheritance is in the world, whose pleasure is in the world, whose speech isworldly-and who are altogether of the world. And because they are of the world the world loves its own and, therefore, thereis little or no strife between them and the world! Alas, I fear the Church is not true to itself and, therefore, the worldbegins to love it. It says, "You have come to live with us and do as we do. You do not bear your awkward protests as you usedto do and so we need not to burn you as we did your fathers. You are hail fellows well with us and, therefore, we will treatyou kindly."
Only let as live as Christ lived and we shall find the dogs of this world howling at us as they used to do at our forefathers!My Hearers, can you live the separated life? If you can, God help you and bless you in it! But if you cannot, remember thoughyou do not so go into Sodom as to indulge in its most gross sins, yet the very looking at it, the wishing for it, the desiringto be there shows where your heart is and your heart's tendency is your true character. You will be judged according to thegoing of your heart. If your heart goes toward the mountain to escape and if you have desired to be with Christ to be Hisseparated follower, you shall be saved.
But if your heart still goes after evil and sin, his servants you are whom you obey and from your evil master you shall getyour black reward!
IV. Here comes our remembrance of Lot's wife in the fourth and most solemn place and that is-remember that HER DOOM WAS TERRIBLE."Remember Lots wife." Remember that she perished with the same doom as that which happened to the inhabitants of Sodom andGomorrah but that doom befell her at the gates of Zoar. Oh, if I must be damned, let it be with the mass of the ungodly havingalways been one of them! To get up to the very gates of Heaven and to perish there will be a most awful thing! To have livedwith God's people. To have been numbered with them and to be joined to them by ties of blood-and then, after all, to perish-willbe horrible, indeed! To have heard the Gospel. To have felt the Gospel, too, in a measure, and even to have amended one'slife because of it. To have escaped from the filthiest corruption of the world and to have become moral, amiable, excellentand yet to still not have been weaned from the world, not to have been divorced from sin and so to perish-the thought is intolerable!
That same brine and brimstone which fell upon the inhabitants of the four cities overtook Lot's wife! She was on the marginof the shower and as it fell she was salted with tar-she was turned into a pillar of salt where she stood! Dreadful doom!On the verge of mercy to be slain by justice! On the brink of salvation to be the victim of eternal wrath! This came uponher all of a sudden, too. What a picture! She stops as she is fleeing-she turns her head! She scarcely looks! The gaze isnot long enough to single out her own house-and, lo, she is turned into a pillar! The fire-salt has fallen on her! She willnever move again! She had not time to start or turn and, with her neck just as it was, she stands as a statue of salt-a warningto all who should pass that way.
I do not suppose Lot's wife to be standing there now, as some travelers have imagined-the pillar was not even there in Christ'sday, for if it had been, as Bengel very properly remarks, our Lord would have said, "See Lot's wife." But as she was not there,He said, "Remember" her. Her doom came all of a sudden, without a further warning or a moment's time to consider. What ifsudden death should strike some of you down at this moment? You professors who still love the world-what if you now fell dead?You professed Christians who sneak in among the ungodly to have a suck at their pleasures, suppose you should be struck downin the theater one of these days! You that pretend to be Christians and frequent the dance saloons-suppose you should falldead there! It would not be a new thing under the sun, for God deals severely with those who profess to come under His Covenant-Hehas jealous laws for those who join His Church and yet have not the Grace of God in their hearts.
These men die not the death of common men, but are often overtaken by strange punishments that the world may see that theLord has set a wall of fire around His Church which none may break through on peril of their lives. Ananias and Sapphira enteredthe Church, but they could not live there-a glance of Peter's eyes and they fell dead before him! Such judgments still purgethe ranks of the professing Church as all that observe must know, for the Lord will be sanctified of
them that come near to Him. "For this cause," says the Apostle, "some are sickly among you, and many sleep," because the disciplineof God goes on in the midst of His visible Church. He lets the world alone till the fire-shower comes, but to those that professto be His people, He is always a jealous God. I speak strong things-strong things are needed in these compromising days. Maythe Holy Spirit impress these weighty facts on all your hearts.
The worst point, perhaps, about the perishing of Lot's wife lay in that she perished in the very act of sin and had no spacefor repentance given her. In the instant she turned her head she was a pillar of salt. It is a dreadful thing to die in thevery act of sin-to be caught away by the justice of God while the transgression is being perpetrated! Yet such a thing mayhappen and let those who profess to be Christians and yet parley with sin, "remember Lot's wife" and how swift God is to dealout His judgment against professors who betray His holy name and cause. I cannot help going back to the text I started with,which was one of my own making, and that is, "Remember Lot." Though Lot himself was a righteous man and escaped from the doomof the wicked city, yet I cannot help tracing the death of Lot's wife, in some degree, to her husband.
When a man walks with God and imitates God, he gets to beget character-that is Abraham. When a man walks with a holy man andimitates him he may rise to be a good character but he will be a weak one-that is Lot. But when one walks with Lot, the weakcharacter, and only copies him, the result will be a failure-that is Lot's wife. It is like the boy's copy book. If he willcopy the top line, the boy makes an Abraham line. But if the next time he does not look at the top line, but imitates thesecond-that makes a Lot line-very far short of the first. If he next copies No. 3, the Lot line, the result will be a pooraffair-that is Lot's wife. Beloved, we are to live having the perfect Father for our example, looking and following in Hissteps! And if we do so by the power of the Spirit, we shall reach a grand, noble, Abrahamic character.
But suppose you get to imitate some good man and he is your standard? You will make a second-rate Christian! It will be aweak affair, like Lot. And then if your wife and children get to copying you, oh, the mischief that must come of it! Lot oughtto have been firmer, more steadfast, more thorough. He had no business going to Sodom. If he had said to his wife, "No, myWife, we belong to a chosen people. God called us out of Haran and away from the gods of our fathers that we might live aseparated life. And here I am going to stay and you must stay with me," she would have had to obey, or else if she had notdone so, Lot was not to do evil to please his wife. She could not have learned the ways of Sodom- she might have given herheart, still, to the world, but she could not have been so clearly mixed up with it and her daughters could not have beenso evil as they were if he had resolved to live apart from the town's people.
I Believe that fathers and husbands ought to take the lead in the management of their families and parents are bound to arrangetheir households after a godly fashion. Do not say, "Oh, we cannot manage our families." You must do it! Eli failed in thisand, instead of being firm, he timidly said, "Do not do this, my sons." Poor dear old Eli-he did not like to get into troublewith his sons by finding fault with them. But what did his softness cost him? The Lord smote his family because he had notordered his household aright. If Christian men leave their families to go anyway they choose, they will soon find the Lordhas a quarrel with them. And if the children and if the wife should, after all, perish, it will be a horrible thought forthe head of the household, even if he is a saved man, that it was his ill example which caused their ruin.
It was partly Lot's own doing that his wife became what she was. If Lot had never gone to Sodom, his wife would not have perishednear it. Look to yourselves lest you lead others astray! Keep near to God and you will be blessed and become a blessing toothers. Abraham did not have this trouble with Sarah, nor Isaac with Rebekah, for they walked with God and their influencewas felt in their tents. Live near to God and let your own life be according to the command which God gave the Patriarch-"Walkwith Me and be you perfect," and you shall see that He will bless your household and your children after you.
But if you do not thus walk before the Lord, you will have to "remember Lot's wife." May God add His blessing on these words,for Jesus' sake. Amen.