Remember Lot’s Wife! (Part One)

dscn1467Luke 17:32

The Lord Jesus will suddenly return in power and great glory, and his coming will suddenly end all the normal activities of life—all that most people spend their lives in. When the Lord comes, there will be no escape, and it will be the time when God finally separates the godly from the ungodly. In our verse, Jesus provided an example of someone who was not spiritually prepared for the judgment of God. We know her only as “Lot’s wife”.

“When the time for separation arrived Lot’s wife could not tear herself away from the world. She had always been in it, and had loved it, and delighted in it; and, though associated with a gracious man, when the time came for decision she betrayed her true character. Flight without so much as looking back was demanded of her, but this was too much; she did look back, and thus proved that she had sufficient presumption in her heart to defy God’s command, and risk her all, to give a lingering love-glance at the condemned and guilty world. By that glance she perished… The love of the world is death. Those who cling to sin must perish, be they who they may” (Spurgeon, “Remember Lot’s Wife”, 1879). So then, let us remember Lot’s Wife!

Remember that she was Lot’s wife. She was married to a man, who with all his faults is called a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7). Since she was married to Lot, she had numerous spiritual advantages, yet she failed to profit from them. She had the privilege of being a member of a family that God had chosen and called. Yes, this election and calling were not saving, but they did put her in a position to know the true and living God, when most of the world stumbled around in dark idolatry. For many years, she traveled with Abraham, a man of great faith and to whom God spoke. She was there when Abraham built an altar and called on the name of the Lord. She was there when God acted with his mighty power to deliver Sarah from Pharaoh. She saw God bless their whole family greatly. She knew what God could do!

Yet Lot’s wife failed to make use of those great advantages. She, like the people of Israel of a later day, did not combine these privileges with faith (Hebrews 4:2). She is like many in our day—the wife of a man of faith, the husband of a godly wife, children of believing parents, or parents of children who follow Christ. The Bible only teaches one covenant family in our day—the church, those who follow Christ by faith. Yet to be related to someone in covenant with God is a tremendous spiritual advantage.

She had the benefit of sharing in Lot’s experiences. Some of those experiences were mixed blessings at best. Lot chose the plain of Jordan, but soon he pitched his tent near Sodom (Genesis 13:12), and the next thing we hear of him, he was a resident in Sodom (Genesis 14:12). Beware of walking in close friendship with the world in rebellion against God! You might soon find yourself living their way of life. Yet God remained merciful. Mr. and Mrs. Lot shared in the experience of God helping Uncle Abraham rescue them (Genesis 14:16).

In the midst of Sodom, Lot’s wife still received blessings. She could see her husband’s heartache of soul as he was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (2 Peter 2:7). But especially she was in the house the night before judgment fell on Sodom. She saw the angels deliver Lot from his foolish behavior. She heard the solemn warning of judgment. She felt the angel grasp her hand to lead her out of the city.

Sadly, none of God’s blessings helped Lot’s wife. Is God’s blessing helping you? Think of how God has answered prayer for you this year. Did God’s kindness help you to live more for him? May God give us grace to learn from Lot’s wife.

Grace and peace, David

The Lord’s Sudden Coming

dscn0009Luke 17:26-30

People like stories. Sometimes we call them movies or plays, but they are all stories. We like to follow the carefully crafted plot where the protagonists encounter various trials or tragedies through all the breadth of human emotions yet emerge happy and victorious in the end. But sometimes we willingly suffer through a tragedy in which the protagonists meet a sad end, such as Romeo and Juliet. We read or listen to movie or book reviews by the critics and recommendations by friends, so that we spend our time and money on the best stories. Who wants to attend a movie and be bored to tears or disturbed needlessly for two hours or more?

Our lives are part of a great story that we call history, and people love to write their own “reviews” about the way the story should go. Basically, people only “write” a couple different kinds of reviews:

  • History is absurd and meaningless. Nothing makes sense. This answer does not satisfy most people, and if it is true, even their review is senseless.
  • History is an unending story, endlessly repeating itself. This view is getting a lot of attention today as people listen to psychics, mediums, and so on. Fabled ancient Atlantis must have been a gigantic place, because “everybody” seems to have lived there at least once! All of this lacks the least proof.
  • History and humanity are getting better and better. Oh, there might be a few downturns, but look at the progress we’ve made! This is the view of most people, regardless of how they vary the story line. This “non-Christian view believes in a gradual and indeed an inevitable progress. It may sometimes describe the progress as being the result of the interaction of action and reaction, or of thesis and antithesis, but it still believes that there is within the world a principle at work which, slowly but surely, is leading steadily in the direction of an ultimate perfection” (Lloyd-Jones, Evangelistic Sermons, p. 282).
  • Opposed to all these is the Biblical view that history is moving toward God’s goal. As has often been said, “History is His story; that is, God’s story.” The plot focuses on God proclaiming to humankind his infinite value and how we can experience joy when we turn back to God. History has a destination, but it involves two destinies for people: glory or judgment. History does not inevitably get better. No, instead it involves a series of crises in which God works in grace and judgment. Think of the Flood, Sodom, the formation of Israel, and the cross of Christ.

In this passage, the Lord Jesus Christ tells us about the great event that will bring about the end of this world’s history: His sudden return in power and glory.

The Lord Jesus will return unexpectedly.

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 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 sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:26-30 ESV).

Notice that the normal activities of life will be going on (17:27-28). When Jesus lists these activities, he is not condemning them. In fact, he created us to do them, in the proper way (1 Corinthians 10:31). Human life is the same as in ancient times. We like to imagine amazing changes, but the basics of life remain. Only our technology has changed. We might get our water from a reservoir and a water treatment plant instead of a muddy river, but we still drink water.

The problem with the people referred to by Jesus was that those people were immersed in those activities apart from a concern for God. They were not glorifying God and enjoying him as they enjoyed God’s gifts. God was not in their thoughts; therefore, all these things “have become evidences of gross materialism, false security, and often cold selfishness” (Hendriksen). This is the root problem that the Bible calls “worldly-mindedness”. The people who lived in the days of Noah and of Lot committed many acts of wickedness, but the Lord passed by those things to expose the underlying attitude. Greed, violence and sexual immorality spring from the same source or heart attitude, worldly-mindedness. Remove the root and the weeds disappear. Worldly-mindedness ignores the highest part of human nature and lives only for the lowest. People were made to relate to God and not to live solely for the mundane parts of creaturely existence. God made us to eat, drink, marry, buy, sell, plant and build. All are lawful activities, until you begin to live for them. What are you living for? Do you have and make room for God in your thoughts and way of life?

Grace and peace, David

On Groundhog’s Day

A very happy Groundhog’s Day to you! And a Happy Birthday to my lovely daughter, Sarah Janelle! I was born near Punxsutawney, PA, and so Groundhog’s Day was always an event in our family, and when Sarah was born on February 2, it became more special. I must admit that our family never made the pilgrimage on Groundhog’s Day to “Punxy” as my grandparents usually called the town. But I did take Sharon and our children there one day, while we were on the way to visit my grandparents, who lived in good old Homer City. There are a lot of towns with different names in that area, including Coral, Black Lick, Commodore, Glen Campbell, which was not named after the singer, and my birthplace of Indiana. Many times when asked, “Where were you born?” I would answer, “In Indiana.” Before I could complete the phrase, they would ask, “What town in Indiana?” But I digress.

Today Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, and so according to legend, “Spring is just around the corner!” This is a rather safe prediction, since the vernal equinox is on March 20 this year. If he had seen it, six more weeks of winter would have been a confident prediction as well. You can do the math.

However, that is not my subject today, but rather it is this: What forecasts do you build your life upon? Most people obsess over weather forecasts and the over-hyped storm warnings that promise even a couple inches of snow or even rain. “Ladies and gentlemen, we might get up to an inch of rain today! For your own safety, please stay inside! This might signal the coming apocalypse!” Okay, I made up the last line, but I’ve heard the middle one too many times. Other people are into horoscopes, card and palm readings, and psychic predictions. Why do people love the forecasts, predictions and prophecies of so-called experts? Could it be we have a problem with fear of the future? What “future fear” are you struggling with this week?

There is a forecast that we ought to pay attention to. It is one of the oldest in human history, beginning with Enoch (Jude 14-15) and confirmed by Christ (Matthew 24:44) and his apostles (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:10-13). The Lord Jesus Christ is going to return. He will come to judge his enemies and to rescue his dearly loved people. Are you thinking about that certain future event? If we are wise, we will be ready for it, and living according to it. We do not have to fear it, if we know the King of kings and Lord of lords who is coming to take us to himself.

Grace and peace, David