WHY AND HOW DID LOT’S WIFE DIE?
Genesis chapter 19 gives a very interesting account of Lot and his family. Lot, being the nephew of Abraham, took up dwelling in the city of Sodom with his wife and two daughters, but the city and surrounding cities were very corrupt and was due for destruction.
Most people have heard of the account of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt because “she looked back” according to verse 26, but no one actually reads the account accurately. They will all say she was running away from Sodom and disobeyed the angel, looked back and was killed, and there are numerous pictures on the internet which shows the destruction taking place in the background. But did it really happen this way? Were they running away at the time? NO! They were NOT!
Just imagine a storm was coming your way and you are running to get to a shelter, you can hear the roaring of the thunder and see the lightening striking, it is only human nature that you would look back just to see how close the storm was getting. Is this really what the angel meant when he told them not to look back or they would be swept away? Again, the answer is NO! It is NOT what the angel told them.
The chapter gives a detailed account of what took place when the two angels visited the city. Read the chapter with me and be amazed to actually see the truth enfolding.
19 v1 “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” 3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” 9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. 10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. 12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking. 15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” 18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favour in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” 21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.) 23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt”. End of the bible’s account.
Did you see what actually happened? The first 15 verses shows just how disgusting the city had become when even visitors to the city was not safe from being sexually abused. The next few verses show the reluctance of Lot to leave the city and he was finding it very hard to just walk away and leave everything behind. That was why the angels had to take them to the city gate early in the morning by holding onto them, they were insisting they leave right away.
But if you noticed verse 22, it holds the key to the events of the destruction that was to take place. Lot did not want to flee to the mountains so he asked the angel if they could flee to the nearby town of Zoar instead, this, the angel granted them. This city was a short distance from Sodom. Note! The angel tells them 21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)
23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.
Yes! The angel is very explicit here, “I cannot do anything until you reach the city”. So by Lot’s wife looking back to see the destruction is NOT RIGHT! It also shows they reached the city before the destruction started. So how did Lot’s wife get caught up in the destruction as stated in verse 26, “but Lot’s wife looked back”?
The destruction did not start until AFTER they reached Zoar and was SAFELY INSIDE the city. Then the destruction started. The picture of the destruction in the background while they were fleeing is TOTALLY WRONG!
Just imagine being with a group of people and one of them says, don’t look now but so and so is behind us, it is only human nature to turn your head to see, and in Lot’s case, there would have been nothing to see by turning around to look because they were told the destruction would not even start until they reached safety anyway.
So how did Lot’s wife “look back” and was killed when she was safely inside Zoar?
She looked back in her heart longing for her home and possessions and allowed that longing to override her actions and she left the city of safety without telling her family and was caught up in the destruction. We know Zoar was only a few hours away, as the account shows, they left Sodom as the sun came up and reached Zoar when the sun had risen high. The destruction of sulphur that rained down could be likened to a very heavy snow storm, when the snow sticks it can cover you quite quickly disorienting a person, and the sulphur would have affected her breathing. “A pillar of salt” indicates she was stood upright and became covered very quickly.
The conclusion being, Lot and his family did not want to leave Sodom as they had settled down well in that city so they found it hard now to leave everything behind and to walk away from it all, that is why the angels told him, do not look back referring to looking back in their hearts at what they were leaving behind but to go forwards to a new life. The angel certainly was not saying don’t look back at the destruction taking place because nothing was going to happen until they reached safety anyway.
Luke’s reference to Lot in chapter 17v28-32 shows the Jews fully understood what happened to Lot’s wife. “Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot–they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all–
so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back.
Remember Lot’s wife”. (ESV)
Thus confirming the events of what happened to Lot’s wife, she tried to return to her home to retrieve something without telling her husband, hence behind his back, she may have thought it is a short distance so she could make it without anyone knowing, and she was caught up in the destruction. Had she remained in the safety of Zoar, she would not have died.
It was the same promise that was made to Rahab the harlot, when she saved the two spies in Jericho, all those within her house were promised safety, but only if they REMAINED inside, but if they left the safety of her house they were not under the promise of safety. (Joshua chapter 2v1-22)
This shows how very important it is to read every word and not to jump to your own conclusions especially if you are teachers of God’s word.