Then the LORD rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah – from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus He overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities – and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
This is a highly dramatic moment: Lot and his family have escaped (somewhat reluctantly) from Sodom, and are at the threshold of safety in Zoar, just a few miles down the road. But then at the last minute, despite explicit instructions to the contrary, his wife turns round… and looks… and this delay is enough for her to be caught up in the destruction.
Why did she do it? Was her heart still in Sodom? Did she yearn for what she was leaving behind? Or was it simply that she just couldn’t believe that the city was doomed?
Whatever the reason, her fate is one of those graphic warnings that stick in the mind. According to Jesus, this is the sort of situation that will arise when He returns (Luke 17:28-32). On that day, we will suddenly have to choose between Him and the world, and there will be no concessions to hesitation or half-heartedness. The world (often represented in Scripture by Babylon) is going to be judged, and all who associate with ‘Babylon’ will be judged with her (Jeremiah 51:6).
Actually, this is a choice that we are making all the time. Even though we have committed ourselves to Jesus, the materialism of this world still exerts an enormous pull (Psalm 73:2,3). The story of Lot’s wife is recorded not to frighten us, but to spur us on to remain faithful right to the end (Hebrews 10:39).