PURPOSE OF HEART
In Genesis 19:26, Moses states, “But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” This would have been Lot’s wife who was given explicit command and chose not to follow instruction. Prior to this text, God had sent messengers to Abraham to inform him that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed because of their sins against God. The outcry against these cities had grown great before God as Genesis 19: 13 states. Abraham pleaded for these cities to be spared if righteous souls could be found. He first asked if fifty righteous souls could be found would the cities be spared. Abraham descended in the number of righteous that could be found. He asked for fifty, then forty five, then forty, then thirty, then twenty, then ten. At each account God stated that He would not destroy the cities if righteousness could be found.
Sodom was the residency for the nephew of Abraham. Lot had parted from Abraham several years earlier so that greener pastures could be found for his livestock. The same messengers arrived to warn Lot and his family of the destruction that was soon to take place. Not even ten souls could be found in the city. Lot and his wife and their two daughters were counted as righteous, being able to escape. Lot’s son in laws were also warned but they heeded the news as a joke. When the following morning arrived, Lot and his family were told to escape for their lives. Their instruction was to stay at no place in the plains. Not only was Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed with fire and brimstone but all other cities of the plain as well. The other instruction given was to not look back. Staying in the plain or looking would be reason for destruction (Genesis 19:17). Once Lot, his wife and his daughters got to Zoar, fire and brimstone came upon the cities. They had escaped God’s judgement. However, Lot’s wife looked back. By doing this she became a pillar of salt. What were the reasons Lot’s wife looked back even though great consequence was given for doing so? Did she want to see what was happening? Was it a deeper idea of looking back in the fact that it was a society that she had grown accustomed to and was going to miss life in the city? I believe she literally looked back although a case could be made for her also missing the life she had in Sodom. Regardless, she died because of what she did.
Going against the command of God always comes with great consequence. God dealt differently with people in the days of Abraham. When God gave instruction, those who didn’t follow were often given an immediate consequence. Though God does not deal with us in this manner today, consequence for us not obeying his command will eventually result in death.
As God used to speak personally to man and through the prophets in days of old has spoken to us today through His son Christ Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus is clear on where we need to look. Just as Lot’s wife was given a place not to look, Christians are given a place to look. The Apostle Paul gives us great direction with his example in life. He told the Phillipian church that he forgot those things that were behind and was reaching forward to what was ahead. That which was ahead was the hope of eternal salvation in heaven that can only come through a life in Christ Jesus. Paul had a lot of mistakes in his earlier life and could not focus on what once was. The only direction for him was to focus on Christ.
The same needs to be the focus and concentration for the Christian. It is easy to think in terms of could have, should have, would have. These thoughts are fruitless for the Christian because the past cannot be fixed. It can however be made right. Yesterday cannot be changed but today can be. Focus is not on yesterday but it is on that which lies ahead. Learn from our past but don’t allow it to be the focus of sight. Focus on serving God and following His commandments. If total concentration is on these things, what shouldn’t will become less evident.
It is important in the Christian life to know where we are going. What is the mark that must be aimed for? Jesus said in Luke 9:62, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.” A farmer that is plowing his field must have his eye and total concentration on where he is going. If he looks to the left, he will soon be plowing to the left. If he looks to the right, he will soon be plowing to the right. The same could be said of someone who is driving a car. If focus is lost, the path of the car will be uncertain. Consider also mowing grass. Focus must be maintained on the line that is to be mown. If distraction comes, grass will soon be missed. Both time and expense are lost if focus is not maintained. The picture is vivid and so is the application that if one does not keep their eye on Christ, they will soon be off course.
Scott is the minister at the Elm Grove Church of Christ. Meeting times are Sunday at 9:30 a.m. for Bible class and 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. for worship. Mid-week Bible study is on Wednesday at 6:30p.m. Please visit our website at elmgrovechurchofchrist.org. He invites any questions or comments and love to sit down and study. He can be reached at the Elm Grove Church of Christ at 740-493-2451.