Don't Look Back

The Bible is full of many stories of people or groups running from someone or something. Jacob ran from Esau, the Israelites fled the Egyptian army and David ran from hot-headed Saul. Perhaps one of the most familiar stories is that of Sodom and Gommorah with Lot's family fleeing for their lives as fire and sulfer rained down from heaven on this despicable place.

Sodom and Gommorah were well known for being towns of the most wicked human behavior. Abraham's son, Lot, settled his family here for a while and when the Lord sent two angels to warn and rescue the family before the city's destruction, the men in the town pounded on Lot's door because they wanted to rape the angels. I'm not making this up - read Genesis 19 for yourself - the Bible is not a boring book. Lot kept the door shut as the crowds pushed and pounded, demanding the two men (angels) be brought out for violent sexual escapades.

The angels struck the men blind who sought to violate them. They then directed Lot to take his daughters and wife to escape the city before God brings mass destruction. The angels gave specific instruction, "Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” Lot even tries to negotiate how far he must run making it quite obvious he doesn't realize how important it was to distance himself from this place and these people.

Have you ever been prompted to leave a situation but you only get a short distance away? Perhaps you end a friendship in person but you continue to interact online. Maybe you quit a habit that is harmful to yourself or your family but remain close friends with those who partake. Have you been prompted to physically move away from toxicity but you only remove yourself emotionally? Sometimes God requires drastic changes to protect ourselves and our families.

As Lot and his family escape, fire and sulfer begin to fall from heaven. God had finally had enough. When God has had enough He will wipe the slate clean. The fiery hail and sulfer would surely destroy everyone and everything in its path. One scientist compares the destruction to that of a hydrogen bomb. It must have been a spectacle. Something cataclysmic. I imagine that although the people there were horrendous, Lot's family likely cared for someone behind them. Maybe there was a neighbor who shared bread or some children they helped look after. Even though the time spent there was hard and ugly, I wonder if Lot's family felt like it would have been easier to stay in a horrible situation because it was familiar. The angels knew better and wanted to get them out of Sodom before Sodom became too much a part of them.

Lot's wife neglected the specific instruction and as they fled, she looked back. Immediately she becomes a pillar of salt. A statue. Rendered useless. God wastes no instruction and while we may have our own feelings and emotions about a situation, He tells us to run for a reason. Do not look back and cling to a mess for any reason because we become useless. We become a monument or relic of the former times instead of the new creation He intends us to be.

Many a motivational speaker will tell you the windshield of your car is larger than the rear view mirror for a reason. We cannot safely operate a vehicle if we can not see clearly what is in front of us. The rear view mirror serves as a way to check and remember where we've been and to help us see who or what is following us but if we drive with our eyes on that rear view mirror constantly we will wreck ourselves and others. Remaining in the past renders us powerless and ineffective to our family and ultimately, God's kingdom.

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Sadly, it appears that even though Lot and his daughters escaped safely, they continued in dysfunction. Deception and incest would now be written into their story. Even though they physically did not look back, their hearts hadn't been cleansed of Sodom. Instead of living out in the open in the freedom God offered, Lot fearfully hid himself in a cave with his daughters where they recreated their own version of Sodom. God does not only demand physical and practical changes in our lives but heart change. God can only work in a surrendered heart.

The children born out of this dysfunction were the fathers of idolatrous nations who committed human sacrifices. The threads of Sodom were woven deep within this family. Thankfully, God knew that man needed help because left to our own striving and attempts to clean up our act, we fail miserably. We either look back or we repeat. Jesus Christ comes to stand between the past and the future. He comes to walk with us out of the prison and into promise.

Whether you're being told to run, are in the middle of the escape or you are remembering the former life; meditate on this promise and what it means for you:

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

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