There are a few verses in the Bible that consist of fewer than five words:
|Jesus wept.||John 11:35|
|Quench not the Spirit.||1 Thessalonians 5:19|
|Pray without ceasing.||1 Thessalonians 5:17|
|Remember Lot’s wife.||Luke 17:32|
I want to study with you Luke 17:32: “Remember Lot’s wife.”
We find the story of Lot in the book of Genesis, but it is spoken of a number of times throughout the Bible. In the account found in Luke, Jesus was telling His disciples what to expect at the end of time, and He said, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
It is an astonishing thing that the few things in the Bible that God calls upon us to “Remember” are the very things that mankind tends to forget. For instance, the fourth commandment begins with the word “Remember,” yet most of the world today believe this commandment was done away with at the cross, or that the seventh-day Sabbath was just for the Jews, or that it doesn’t really matter what day is kept as the Sabbath, just so long as I worship God on one day.
But God said to remember Lot’s wife, so we should go back to the Old Testament and look at the Biblical account of Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to learn why He said it.
Haran, Lot’s father, died, leaving Lot fatherless. Abraham, his uncle, assumed the role of father to him, and when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees and ultimately went to the promised land, Lot was with him.
Early in Lot’s life, he made a choice that proved to be a very serious mistake. Many people make some of the most serious mistakes of their lives when they are young, and the consequences can follow them throughout their life. However, Lot’s mistake didn’t just affect his own life, it also changed the course of world history.
“The wife of Lot was a selfish, irreligious woman, and her influence was exerted to separate her husband from Abraham. But for her, Lot would not have remained in Sodom, deprived of the counsel of the wise, God-fearing patriarch. The influence of his wife and the associations of that wicked city would have led him to apostatize from God had it not been for the faithful instruction he had early received from Abraham. The marriage of Lot and his choice of Sodom for a home were the first links in a chain of events fraught with evil to the world for many generations.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 174
Lot made a poor choice of a marriage partner, but if he had asked the following three questions, he might never have married her.
Is the man or woman I’m planning to marry a proud person?
Marriage to a proud person is a guarantee that you will have trouble in your marriage. Study the book of Proverbs.
Is the man or woman I’m planning to marry a selfish person?
Mrs. White says that Lot’s wife was a selfish woman. No man or woman should ever consider marriage to a person who gives clear evidence of a selfish character. Such an act guarantees sadness in your life, for only an unselfish person can bring happiness to a marriage partner.
Is the man or woman I’m planning to marry an irreligious person?
Mrs. White says that Lot’s wife was not only selfish but also irreligious. This is how the Bible describes an irreligious person:
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle their tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” James 1:26
Mrs. White has this to say about the quarrelsome faultfinder: “I feel an intense interest regarding every faultfinder; for I know that a quarrelsome disposition will never find entrance into the city of God. Quarrel with yourself, but with no one else; and then be converted.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 7, 271
Just imagine being married to someone who cannot control their tongue!
“No one who fears God can without danger connect himself with one who fears Him not. ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’ Amos 3:3.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 174
The marriage of Christians with the ungodly is forbidden in the Bible. The Lord’s direction is, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
Lot made a poor choice and married a proud, selfish, and irreligious woman, but he could not leave her, so he remained faithful to her. (See 1 Corinthians 7.)
Abraham and Lot had large herds of cattle between them, and soon, the Bible tells us, strife rose up. This strife was between Lot’s herdsmen and Abraham’s herdsmen over the pasture land and watering places for the cattle.
“Contention among God’s people is offensive in His sight.” The Signs of the Times, August 19, 1880
“Charity does not rejoice in evil, revenge does. … Avoid every bitter word, every unkind action. Love as brethren; be kind; be courteous. Do not scandalize the truth by bitter envying and contention for such is the spirit of the world.” Ibid., February 14, 1895
It became apparent that a solution must be found. Having a great deal of land, Abraham pointed out that there was no need for fighting, and offered to Lot the ability to choose where he would like to set up his home. Lot chose the good pasture land with plenty of water that lay closest to Sodom. But was this the only choice Lot could have made, the one the Lord would have wanted for him? I’m sure it wasn’t.
Sadly, pride held sway in Lot’s side of the camp, and he was pleased with the obvious benefits of the land. Sodom was a prosperous city, and living near it helped Lot to continue to prosper. It also pleased Lot’s wife.
Abraham, as Lot’s senior, and, acting as his father, could have disallowed Lot from taking that part of the land. Abraham had every right to make the first choice, and whatever was left would have been Lot’s. Mrs. White distinctly says that Abraham was responsible for Lot’s financial success and prosperity. But Abraham was a gracious person, and even though by right he could have made the first choice, he told Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.” Genesis 13:8. Instead, he gave Lot the first choice, and because he and his wife were proud and selfish, Lot looked around, saw how fine the plain of Jordan was and chose Sodom.
“Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Verse 12
It appears that Lot didn’t at first live in Sodom, but he was very close by and it wasn’t long before he moved his family right into the city. The Bible doesn’t tell us how many children Lot had, though we know he had at least four daughters, but there is no record that he had any sons.
Sodom was filled with wealthy, corrupt, and sexually-perverse people. Homosexuality was an accepted practice with the inhabitants of the city, but as far as we know, none of Lot’s family was involved in those practices.
Homosexuality is not our subject here. However, we need to understand that we can be as guilty as those of Sodom—become like the Sodomite—if we involve ourselves in sexual activities that are contrary to the guidance of the Bible and Inspiration.
Do not Submit Your Body
“Any youth who would submit her body to be handled by a man is in no way fit for the kingdom of heaven. All this vile practice and commonness is what is ruining our youth. …
“These are the very sins which corrupted Sodom. Their evil practices did not come all at once. First one man and woman stupefied themselves by unholy polluted habits. Then as the inhabitants settled in Sodom … [and] continued to multiply, these ministers of sin continued in educating them in their own defiling practices … until Sodom became renowned for its pollutions. ” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 125, 126
We must be vigilant that we do not allow ourselves, particularly the young, to participate in this sodomitish practice of petting and handling one another outside the bonds of marriage, else we cannot enter heaven.
Reading again from the Spirit of Prophecy: “Not one particle of sodomitish impurity will escape the wrath of God at the execution of the judgment. Those who do not repent of and forsake all uncleanness will fall with the wicked. …
“Handbills on which indecent pictures are printed are posted up along our streets to allure our eyes and deprave the morals. These presentations are of such a character as to stir up the basest passions of the human heart through corrupt imaginings. These corrupt imaginings are followed by defiling practices like those in which the Sodomites indulged. … Our youth will be defiled, their thoughts degraded, and their souls polluted unless they are barricaded with the truth.” Ibid., 119, 120
Sodom was filled with portrayals of indecent and corrupting activities; and it continues today on billboards, lighted displays, in posters, magazines, movies, and TV shows.
A Stylish Appearance
“Far greater pains should be taken to instruct them so that they shall have beautiful characters and keep the way of the Lord than to have them make a stylish appearance, taking the way of the Sodomites.” Pamphlet 096 – Testimonies on the Case of Elder E. P. Daniels (1890), 16
So what is wrong with a stylish appearance? Too much of what makes up a stylish appearance is designed—intentionally—to awaken sensuality and sexual passions, and if we wear any kind of garment or adornment that arouses sexual passions, we are following the way of the Sodomites.
By Withholding, You are Holier
In the first centuries following Christ’s ascension, the devil introduced the practice of celibacy among the clergy. This practice put forth that if you were celibate, then you were more holy than married people. The practice of celibacy continues within the Catholic church even today. (See History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church by Henry Charles Lea.)
We can never fully imagine how much homosexuality, fornication, adultery, and all other kinds of lewd practices have resulted in the world as a result of this teaching.
Growing up in Sodom
“I have had a sharp pointed testimony for the youth, and I am pained to the heart to see the little modesty and real, good, decent behavior in the young. [There are] young girls so forward as to make advances to young men; so destitute of Christlike humility and elevation of character. The young girls [are] flirting with young men, sitting in meeting and exchanging notes with them at the very time I am presenting a message from God to the people.
“The young women make advances to the young men and get up a flirtation with them. Their forwardness, their common, cheap talk and ways, are offensive to God, and I told them last Sabbath that they were fast becoming like the Sodomites.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 19, 218, 219
Sodom was a place where the young people were flirtatious with each other and spoke common, cheap words.
“Their young men and women think only of how they can get into each other’s society and break down all the barriers of reserve and true decorum. It is a pitiful condition of things. …
“Boys flirting with the girls, and the girls flirting with the boys, seems to be a passion which destroys common sense … and leaves the souls of youth, who might use their talents to the glory of God, as destitute of the Spirit of God as the hills of Gilboa … .
“Unless the moral taste is refined, unless Christ becomes an abiding principle in the soul, but few of the youth will ever see heaven.” Ibid., 219, 220
It is a dangerous thing to grow up in Sodom. Only three people escaped the destruction of Sodom alive; only a few people from the large cities of the world today will escape their Sodom-like influence. We must get out of Sodom. It would be best to physically remove ourselves from Sodom’s influence. It may not be possible at this time, but definitely we must turn our backs from its lifestyle and wicked influences.
“Lot could have preserved his family from many evils had he not made his home in the wicked, polluted city. All that Lot and his family did in Sodom could have been done by them even if they had lived in a place some distance from the city.” Last Day Events, 96
“Enoch walked with God, and yet he did not live in the midst of any city polluted with any kind of violence and wickedness, as did Lot in Sodom.
“He [Enoch] did not make his abode with the wicked.” Maranatha, 184
“Cities and even country towns are becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah, and like the world as it was in the days of Noah. The training of the youth in those days was after the same order as the children are being educated and trained in this age, to love excitement, to glorify themselves, to follow the imagination of their own evil hearts.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 12, 89
“Those who will take their families into the country place them where they have fewer temptations.” The Adventist Home, 143
Leaving Sodom and moving to the country, if you can, is a good idea. But physically leaving a place doesn’t remove it or its attractions from the mind and heart. It isn’t enough to take your body out of Sodom, you have to remove Sodom from your mind and heart as well; and there’s the rub.
With so much electronic media that can reach even isolated places out in the country, you don’t have to be in Sodom to continue enjoying all its pleasures via radio, television, or the Internet. But if it is your desire to truly be free of Sodom, in every way, then you have some work to do, because if you want to get out of Sodom, you must first get Sodom out of your mind.
There is a principle found in God’s law regarding how we relate to our parents. In the fifth commandment, the Lord said, and of course this would apply to children of any age, that we should honor our father and mother.
One of the greatest problems for Sodom was that they had lost all concept of the principle of honor. They had no respect for themselves nor anyone else. If they wanted something, they took it, even if they had no right to it. But the principle of honor is part of the ten commandments. We dishonor God and our fellow man when we fail to obey these commandments. And if we want to be truly rid of Sodom in our minds and hearts, then we must sacrifice everything to honor and obey God’s law, seeking always to do His will, and to honor the lives of all around us. If not, we will never be a part of the kingdom of heaven.
Out of Time
Looking at the last night for Sodom, we see that angels came to town, and Lot being very hospitable, invited them to his home. There he prepared a meal, but before they could retire for the night, the men of the city gathered around the house demanding that Lot should, “Bring them [the angels] out to us that we may know them carnally (have sexual relations with them).” Genesis 19:5
What was Lot’s response? He offered his two virgin daughters to these men in an attempt to keep them from committing homosexual acts with his guests. He obviously was under a lot of pressure, afraid no doubt, that he and everyone in the house might be killed.
Lot thought he was just entertaining two men who had journeyed to Sodom, but he soon discovered that his guests were far from ordinary men. The angels, in response to the demands of the men of Sodom, struck them with blindness. The Bible tells us that the men then wandered around outside unable to find the door until they became weary from the effort.
The angels then told Lot their purpose for visiting Sodom. “For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” Verse 13
Lot went to warn his daughters and their husbands telling them of the mission of the angels and the soon-coming destruction of Sodom. They laughed and called him insane. “Lot returned sorrowfully to his home … .” The Truth About Angels, 76. The angels instructed Lot, his wife, and remaining two daughters to leave Sodom. But Lot hesitated. “Stupified with sorrow, he lingered, loath to depart. But for the angels of God, they would all have perished in the ruin of Sodom. The heavenly messengers took him and his wife and daughters by the hand, and led them out of the city.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 160
Why did Lot delay? We could say because he didn’t want to leave his children who did not want to leave Sodom, and that would be true. But a whole lot of what made Lot who he was at that moment was there in Sodom. He was influential and wealthy. His wife and children were happy there. Lot didn’t just live in Sodom, Sodom lived in him, and a decision to leave meant having to leave Sodom behind in every way. He would have to give up everything, and he would be asking his wife and children to do the same.
The angels had to take Lot and his family from the city by force and, once outside the city, they left them to return to their work of destruction, instructing Lot and his family to flee to the mountains and not to look back. But Lot pleaded that they could go instead to one of the small towns nearby. He had lived in the city for so long he was afraid to be in the mountains, afraid of wild beasts and snakes, and likely, the inhospitable aspect of living in the wild.
Because Lot hesitated and was reluctant to follow the angels’ instructions quickly and to the letter, it cost his wife her life. Because he lingered and was afraid, his wife manifested unbelief and she disobeyed a direct, divine command from the Lord Himself. She looked back toward Sodom; and immediately she became a pillar of salt.
Friend, we are living in a world that has become a second Sodom. Will you get out alive? Will your spouse and children get out alive? The decisions that you make now, each and every day, will determine if you will. It is not enough to get your body out of Sodom; you have to get Sodom out of your mind and heart.
The Great Controversy tells us that when God delivers His people, they will have given up all for Christ. How much? Everything. From a worldly point of view, all the saints are going to be very poor.
You see, when Jesus comes, this will all be burned up—houses, cars, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, businesses—everything. The only thing that the saints will take from this world to the next is their character; a character free of Sodom, “a character formed according to the divine likeness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 332
“Lot had too much of a lingering spirit. Let us not be like him. The same voice that warned Lot to leave Sodom bids us, ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate … and touch not the unclean.’ Those who obey this warning will find a refuge. Let every man be wide awake for himself, and try to save his family. Let him gird himself for the work. God will reveal from point to point what to do next.
“Hear the voice of God through the apostle Paul, ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.’ Lot trod the plain with unwilling and tardy steps. He had so long associated with evil workers that he could not see his peril until his wife stood on the plain a pillar of salt forever.” Country Living, 6, 7
Remember Lot’s wife.
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.