Remember Lot’s wife! (Luke 17:32, NIV)
It is significant that the only two occassions when the Lord Jesus Christ seems to have asked His disciples to commit something to memory are in in Luke 22:19 (concerning His body) and in Luke 17:32 above (concerning Lot’s wife) .
Who is Lot’s wife and why is she so significant that the Lord Jesus Christ would instruct His disciples to commit her to memory instead of someone perhaps more worthy, like Abraham or David?
We don’t know the actual name of Lot’s wife because she is never referred to by name (see Genesis 19). Incidentally, even the Lord Jesus Christ did not refer to her by her actual name, and I think this says something, because the Lord Jesus, being omniscent, would surely have known.
The book of Genesis, however, does reveal that she was among those who were rescued from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 19), but eventually, was not “saved”. Indeed, she was judged for “looking back” [Genesis 19:26; NIV]) and her penalty was that she was turned into a pillar of salt.
Why was her penalty so severe? The NET Bible translation of Genesis 19:26 suggests that when Lot’s wife “looked back” at the burning Sodom and Gomorrah, this wasn’t just a casual look across one’s shoulder, but rather, she had “looked back longingly“. The International Standard Version translation of Genesis 19:26 also suggests that “Lot’s wife looked back as she lingered behind him [Lot]”, implying that she had been relucatant to leave Sodom and Gomorrah, even in the face of its impending doom.
Clement, an early church leader after the apostles, made the following comment about Lot’s wife:
Because of his hospitality and godliness, Lot was saved from Sodom when the entire region was judged by fire and brimstone. In this way the Master clearly demonstrated that he does not forsake those who hope in him but hands over to punishment and torment those who turn aside. Of this his wife was destined to be a sign, for after leaving with him she changed her mind and was no longer in harmony, and as a result she became a pillar of salt to this day, that it might be known to all that those who are double-minded and those who question the power of God fall under judgment and become a warning to all generations (1 Clement 11:1-2; as translated by Michael W. Holmes in The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations; emphasis added)
Double-mindedness was Mrs Lot’s problem, but it is also an attitude that Christians are warned against:
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8, NASB, emphasis added)
What does it mean to be double-minded? It means to be of two-minds, or to have one’s loyalty divided between God and the world (James 1:8; New Living Translation). Indeed, in 1 John 2:15 (NLT), believers are warned: “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.”
Now, let us examine the passage of scripture where the Lord Jesus Christ mentioned Lot’s wife:
28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
31 “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. 36 Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” (Luke 17:28-36; NKJV; emphasis added)
The tragedy of Lot’s wife was that she was rescued but yet not saved because her heart was so affixed to Sodom and Gomorrah. Just as her fixation for Sodom and Gomorrah hindered her from being saved, a believer’s fixation to the world could hinder them from being raptured.
I infer from verse 31 above that on the day of the rapture, God might send angels to some believers, to these believers to their housetops, as they can make their way to the Third Heaven and espape the impending peril that would come upon the earth.
However, some believers might be so overcome by the desire to return inside their homes to take their treasured possessions that they miss the opportunity to be raptured and thus be “left behind“.
Oh, how foolish! There is absolutely no need for any believer to return to his/her house to retrieve any earthly thing for it is not a shack that awaits us, but a mansion (John 14:2).
But why would any believer be so overcome by the desire to retrieve their worldly belongings? I submit to you that it is because they have become a creature of habit. Because their minds have been so fixated on their earthly things, they mindlessly return to these things at the peril of their souls, and neglect the instruction of the Lord Jesus Christ not to do so.
To put it in another way, due to a fixation on earthly things, these believers are not “worthy” to be raptured.
This is also why the Lord Jesus Christ has instructed all of us pre-raptured believers now to “watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”” (Luke 21:36, NKJV; emphasis added)