We're looking at the story of Lot when judgment rained down upon Sodom, where he was living, and yesterday, we saw that there were members of Lot's family that he had to leave behind. It wasn't for lack of trying - Lot went to his sons-in-law and told them what was about to happen and asked them to leave, but they wouldn't do it. So when Lot ran for the hills, he knew he was leaving at least two daughters behind.
Maybe that's why the angel told him not to look back. Maybe the angel knew that his heart would want to turn back, to look at what was happening, to see if he could see his daughters that he had to leave behind. To see, maybe, if they would come running out of Sodom after him. To see if there was any way....
And now, all of a sudden, it makes sense, doesn't it? The angels telling Lot not to look back, I mean. Any loving father would have, but the Lord knew that looking back would not help him at all. That it would not soothe his soul or satisfy his heart. The Lord knew that Lot would be forever traumatized by watching what would happen to his daughters that he left behind, so God wanted him to keep his eyes on what he did have.
But Lot's wife...couldn't do it. She couldn't not look back.
It's one of those things that has always confused so many of us about Lot's story. Why did Lot's wife look back? Why did she turn, when she was told not to turn? What was so important in Sodom - in sinful, disgusting Sodom - that Lot's wife just had to look back? And now we know: it was her daughters.
This leads us to the second thing that we need to recognize about Lot's story, and sorry, but it's another heartbreak. And this second heartbreak is this: Lot did everything he could to rescue his wife, but even on the edge of the hills, he wasn't able to.
He took his wife and ran with her out of Sodom. He brought her along as far as he could. He did absolutely everything right to make sure that his wife escaped the judgment that God was bringing upon that city, and he even had with him a very good reason why his wife should be running for the hills, too - their two virgin daughters. This entire scenario is set up, and strongly so, for Lot's wife to be saved with him.
Then, she looks back and becomes a pillar of salt.
Far removed from Sodom, right on the edges of the hills, one breath away from the promise, and Lot's wife didn't make it. Lot's righteousness didn't save her. Lot's love for her didn't save her. Lot's insistence that she come with him didn't save her. Lot's instruction, straight from God Himself, that she not look back didn't save her. Lot did absolutely everything right, but his wife - by her own choosing - still looked back and nothing he did, and nothing he could do, could save her.
When we read this story, we read the story of God's goodness to Lot, of how the Lord loves a righteous man, and of how Lot alone was saved from the destruction of Sodom because of his righteousness and faithfulness. We read how he ran for the hills with his family, and we get this happy little picture of a strong man leading those he loves to the safety of God's promise.
But that isn't Lot's story at all. Lot's story is full of heartache. It's full of sorrow. Lot ran for the hills with not all of his family, and he even lost his wife along the way.
This is important. We need to understand this. We have to pay attention.
Why? We'll start talking about that tomorrow.