Friday, May 11, 2012

Remember Lot's Wife.

A little while ago, I blogged about Abraham.  Did you use it for scripture study?

We looked at the beginnings of his life, his character, and what was promised to him.  He really was a good guy.  He was blessed to be the Father of Many Nations (what a great title).  He was also given a few other titles in the scriptures, and these titles indicate what kind of guy Abraham really was. 

They also indicate what is required of us to receive the blessings of Abraham.

"Friend of God"  -  Look at James 2:23.  What is required of us to become friends of God?

"Father of the faithful"  -  Look at Galatians 3:8-9.  How is faithfulness to God and to our covenants related to the Lord's promises to us?

One of the "jewels" of God  -  Look at Doctrine & Covenants 101:3-4.  What must someone demonstrate to God to become one of his 'jewels'?

Something to think about.

So what's next?  Well, in Genesis 18:20 to 19:38 we read of Sodom and Gomorrah.
I'm fairly certain we speak of two places as a phrase these days, without understanding the events behind the names.

Sodom and Gomorrah were just two of a few places about to be destroyed by the Lord for severe wickedness.  There was a whole section of country so terribly wicked, that they were practically past saving.  That's saying something.

Faithful Abraham, knowing what would happen, besought the Lord to refrain from destroying Sodom.  He really really tried.  He practically begged:

And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 
And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.

And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.
And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. 
And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

(Genesis 18:20-33)

Look specifically at verse 24. 
“Abraham knew that the cities of the plains – Sodom and Gomorrah and other places – were wicked cities, housing wicked, godless people … He was aware that destruction of those cities was imminent; but in his compassion for his fellowman, he begged and pleased with the Lord, “Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city”, will you spare the others of the city?” [1]

Now look at verses 24-32. 
“That pleading being granted, came Abraham again and prayed that the cities would be saved if 45 were found, or 40 or 30 or 20 or down to ten, but apparently there could not be found even ten, in those vicious cities, who were righteous.  The evil continued.  The sin was too well entrenched.  They had laughed and joked about a destruction.  The transgressions for which Sodom had apparently been renowned continued on.  In fact, the people wanted to take advantage of the pure angel men they had seen come into the city.  The vicious men pressed and would have broken down the doors to get to them.  Everything was done that could be done by Abraham to save the city, but it had become so depraved and wanton that to save it was impossible.” [2]

And so the cities were destroyed, and it was done through the power of the priesthood.

Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
(Genesis 19:24-25)

Okay, so we've read about the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other wicked cities in that area.  But what was their crime?  What was such a big deal that they had to be destroyed with fire and brimstone?
What was the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah?

Genesis is pretty clear that the people of these two cities had become extremely immoral, engaging in homosexuality and other abuses.
But the prophet Ezekiel offers us greater insight:
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me:  therefore I took them away as I saw good.
(Ezekiel 16:49–50)

Pure religion.  Heard about it?
James said that pure religion was to “visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep [oneself] unspotted from the world”. (James 1:27)

This is what I didn't fully understand.  The people of Sodom and Gomorrah had not only partaken of the filthiness of sexual immorality, but they had rejected their fellow men in need. [3]

Alrighty then .. what does that convey to us today?  What do you get out of this?

This is what I got out of it:

Do you remember how in the New Testament, it records that time the Saviour cautioned His disciples of the coming destruction of Jerusalem?  He warned them to flee the city without delay, to not bother about going home and getting any possessions.  He then said, almost out of the blue,  "Remember Lot's wife."  (Luke 17:32)
Then the Saviour continued speaking to His disciples, admonishing them that he who seeks to save his life will lose it, and he who loses his life will find it.

Interesting ...  because we all know what happened to Lot's salty wife.

Bruce R. McConkie paraphrased the Saviour's New Testament scripture like this:
“Look not back to Sodom and the wealth and luxury you are leaving.  Stay not in the burning house, in the hope of salvaging your treasures, lest the flame destroy you; but flee, flee to the mountains. Seek temporal things and lose eternal life; sacrifice the things of this life and gain eternal life.” [4]

McConkie makes the implication that Lot’s wife, all the way back in Genesis, started back to save some of her possessions, and was caught in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But we must look deeper.  There is sooo much more to it than that ...

(turns out there are pillars of salt in Sodom)

We read of this in Genesis 19. 
The Lord, “having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to flee because those cities were about to be destroyed.  “Escape for thy life,” the Lord said, “look not behind thee…; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17).  With less than immediate obedience and more than a little negotiation, Lot and his family ultimately did leave town but just in the nick of time.  At daybreak the morning following their escape it says, “The Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities” (Genesis 19:24-25).
“Surely with the Lord’s counsel “look not behind thee” ringing clearly in her ears, Lot’s wife, the record says, “looked back,” and she was turned to a pillar of salt.”
“Apparently what was wrong with Lot’s wife is that she wasn’t just looking back, but that in her heart she wanted to go back.  It would appear that even before they were past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her.  As Elder Maxwell once said, such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon.” [6]

Looking back wasn't the problem - not the main problem at least.  Both Laman and Lemuel did just that when their prophet-father Lehi obeyed the Lord when they were commanded to leave Jerusalem.  All these parties were guilty of looking back with resentment toward what God had asked them to give up or leave behind.
The problem was that Lot's wife looked back longingly.  "In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future.[7]
"To yearn to go back to a world that cannot be lived in now; to be perennially dissatisfied with present circumstances and have only dismal views of the future; to miss the here-and-now-and tomorrow because we are so trapped in the here-and-then-and-yesterday – these are some of the sins” of Lot’s wife. [8]

The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Philippian people, and in it he summarised his highly privileged life before he joined the church.  He had a birthright, a well-to-do education, he had standing in the Jewish community.  Then, in his letter, Paul said that all that was nothing - it was dung - when compared to his conversation to Christianity.  Yup, dung.  Poop.
Paul was really saying 'I've stopped reminiscing about the good old days.  I'm looking forward, "that I may apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me."
There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life – either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others.  That is not good.  It is not Christian.  It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ.  To be tied to earlier mistakes – our own or other people’s – is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cases and desist.” [9]
Then note this in Philippians 3:13-14 : “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

[1] Spencer W. Kimball, “Why Do We Continue to Tolerate Sin?”, Ensign, May 1975
[2] ibid
[3] Old Testament Student Manual, 6-7 
[4] Old Testament Student Manual, 6-8
[5] - [9] Jeffrey R. Holland, Remember Lot’s Wife, BYU Devotional, January 13, 2009  (underline added)   BRILLIANT TALK!


  1. "remember lots wife" was a great scripture for me when I got home from my mission. My mission wasn't Sodom and Gomorrah, but it was sinful to long to be there rather than move forward with faith into the future. Not wanting to turn into a pillar of salt, I repented and moved forward. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I am happy you didn't turn into a pillar of salt.

  2. Great lesson! I hadn't picked up on the other side to Sodom & Gomorrah's wickedness. Much food for thought there.

  3. Very good post. I love studying scripture insights. This was very complete. Thanks for you efforts to put this together.

  4. ps
    Read elder Hollands talk. Simply.awesome.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...