Don't Look Back

“Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32 NKJV) One of the shorter verses in the Bible. But it packs a lot of punch. And it really makes you think. What was Lot’s wife’s fatal mistake? Simply put, she looked back.

In Genesis 19:26, we read: “But his [Lot’s] wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” What was she looking back at? Sodom, and Gomorrah, and all the cities of the plain, and all of the inhabitants of those cities, and all of the agriculture there. God had rained down fire and brimstone on all of it, in a decisive act of final judgment, after Abraham’s intercession for it had failed, because God couldn’t find even ten righteous people there.

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were irredeemably wicked, but Lot’s wife, it seems, sorrowed over their destruction, and longed for them and the way of life she was having to leave behind. But long before she looked back that fateful morning, Lot’s wife had allowed Sodom to wrap its wicked tendrils tight around  her heart. She may have been leaving the city physically, but she had left her heart behind to roam its bloodied streets.

God wanted to deliver her from that wicked place and give her a new life, but she wasn’t willing to pay the price for it: she wasn’t willing to fully leave her old way of life behind.

Jesus’ admonition to remember the cautionary tale of Lot’s wife comes near the end of a fairly lengthy discourse about the future coming of the Kingdom of God and the “days of the Son of Man”. He had shared this information in response to a question posed by the Pharisees regarding the timing of the coming of the Kingdom of God.

The Pharisees were looking for a Kingdom they could see with their eyes, but Jesus’ reply probably shocked them and rocked their eschatology: “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation” (v. 20; in other words, you can’t see it) and “the Kingdom of God is within you” (v. 21; in other words, it’s spiritual, not physical). The Pharisees, pious and righteous as they were, engaged and related with the world around them primarily by means of their five physical senses, and they expected and wanted to be able to engage and relate with God’s Kingdom in the same way, i.e., “sensually”.

But Jesus engaged with the world spiritually, and He was calling his disciples to do the same, because they were to enter His Kingdom already then in their spirits, and then, when it would arrive in full manifestation in “the days of the Son of Man” (v. 26), they would be ready to enter into it as it came down around them, even as they had already walked with it living and reigning within them.

The sensual vs. the spiritual; the temporary vs. the permanent and eternal. Is there something today in this world that has its tentacles gripped tight around your heart? If Jesus were to come back today, would you be ready, willing, able, and joyful to leave this world behind and enter into His Kingdom fully come, or would you look back in longing for this world, its glitter and appeal, and your way of life in “the here and now”?

Are you engaging and relating to this world primarily through your five physical senses, or through the eyes, ears, and heart of your born-again spirit? Does this world have a hold on you, or does God have a “holy hold”* upon your heart? In 1 John 2:15 (NKJV), “the disciple whom Jesus loved” wrote: “Do not love the world or the things in the world.

If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.” Don’t look back. Be “all in” for God and His Kingdom. Where is your heart today?

* “Holy Hold” is the title of a song by the 77s.
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