Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with what may be the most sobering piece of news you’ll hear today.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Somebody is going to die for your sin. You’re going to die for your sin, or you’re going to trust Jesus—who died for your sin in your place as a sacrifice on your behalf.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for May 3, 2019.
Today Nancy is concluding a series about Lot’s wife. If you missed earlier programs in this series, you can find them at ReviveOurHearts.com. Here’s Nancy.
Nancy: We talked a couple of sessions ago about the city of Pompeii in Italy that was destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption from Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Archeologists began excavating the ruins of Pompeii in the mid-1700s. In 1860 there was an Italian archeologist who discovered soft ashes about thirty feet below the surface of the site.
Those ashes were actually cavities that had been left by the dead bodies. The soft tissue of those bodies had, of course, decomposed over the centuries, but some of the bones were still there. They were in these cavities, and the cavities, because of the soft ash, had retained the form of the bodies.
So the excavation workers filled those cavities with plaster, resulting in what are known today as “the preserved bodies of Pompeii.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and Google it and you can see amazing pictures of these plaster bodies in positions of just whatever they were doing when the disaster struck, because the city was buried within less than twenty-four hours.
It was a massive destruction! Thousands of people were killed. And these plaster bodies look amazingly lifelike. You can such a picture of what life was like in that season. They even know better now how tall people were and about their dental hygiene. There’s been a lot of research done to tell us about civilization in that era.
But what I’m intrigued by, as I look at these pictures, is that you can see that the people died while they were doing everyday normal activities. They were caught off guard. They were not ready to die. When they woke up that morning, they had no idea that this would be their last day; that by nightfall that evening, they would no longer be breathing. It caught them off guard.
Death is often that way, and for sure the final coming judgment will be that way. Let me invite you to turn in your Bible, if you would, to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 17. And in this passage (we’re going to pick up in the middle of it) Jesus is warning His listeners about the coming judgment. He calls it, “the days of the Son of Man.”
Now, the days of the Son of Man will be glorious days, at the end, for those who have believed in Christ. But they will be days of unbelievable devastation and destruction and cataclysmic judgment for those who have resisted the gospel and refused to believe in Christ.
So Jesus harkens back to two Old Testament stories—one of which we’ve been looking at over the past few days. I want to give you a New Testament perspective on this story of Lot. But we pick up first in verse 26:
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 (vv. 26–27).
So some were saved; most were not. They were just going about doing their ordinary things—like those people in Pompeii there in 79 A.D. And the flood came, and it destroyed them all.Verse 28:
Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, [They were doing their ordinary work, their ordinary commerce, just thinking it was another ordinary day.] but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all (v. 28).
In both of these instances, you see there was salvation for a remnant, for a few who believed, but there was devastation and judgment for most . . . and it happened in a day!
It happened quickly! People were just going about their ordinary lives and, by the way, there is nothing wrong with these activities, what they were doing. They’re things that people do every day. They were eating and drinking, they were having families, they were going to work.
And all the while, they were totally oblivious to the danger that they were in . . . the fact that their lives were about to be snuffed out. And then, none of what they were doing before the judgment would matter.
Jesus told his followers these stories, reminded them of these historical accounts, to prepare them and to prepare us for what is to come. He’s saying, “I don’t want you to get caught off guard! I don’t want you to be surprised! I don’t want you to be unprepared! Yes, eat and drink, you marry, you have children, you have families, you go to work . . . Yes, you do these things but you do it mindful that this is not “it.” There’s a judgment coming. A few will be saved—those that have believed the gospel and repented of their sin—and everyone else on this earth will be destroyed.
So He goes on to say as it was in the days of Noah, as it was in the days of Lot, verse 30, “. . . so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Now, even as I’m reading this, I’m thinking about in each of these verses it says “there was a day” when Noah entered the ark and the flood came. “There was a day” when Lot went out from Sodom and fire and sulfur came from heaven and destroyed them all. It happened quickly! And He’s saying, “It’s going to be the same 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 (vv. 31–32).
Jesus didn’t say, “Remember Lot.” He said, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
And again, that word “remember” means, “to be mindful of, to hold in memory, to keep in mind, to call up to mind.” Don’t forget it! Don’t ever, ever, ever forget Lot’s wife! When was the last time you thought about Lot’s wife—before today? (laughter) Remember Lot’s wife. Isn’t it true that we’re so prone to remember the things we ought to forget and to forget the things we ought to remember?
It’s important to remember examples, either positive or negative examples. The writer to the Hebrews talks about, “Remember those who led you spiritually. Remember their faith, follow their faith, and you’ll be blessed” (see Heb. 13:7). But now Jesus is saying, “Here’s a negative example: remember Lot’s wife.”
First Corinthians 10:6 tells us, talking about some of these Old Testament accounts, “These things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” Isn’t that what Lot’s wife did? She desired evil, because evil had a hook in her heart. That’s where her affection was; that’s what she longed for; that’s what she loved; that’s what she turned to.
So she turned back. And Jesus is saying, “Don’t turn back! Don’t get distracted with things going on in this world. Don’t forget that there’s a judgment ahead.” We must all face God. We will give account for whether we have believed and trusted Him to forgive us of our sin. Everybody who stands before God in the end is going to have been a sinner.
I’m not going to get into heaven or pass God’s judgment because I was some good person or because I taught Bible studies or did Revive Our Hearts radio. That’s not going to get me in. I’m a sinful woman.
We are sinners, and we desperately need the forgiveness and the grace of Christ—which is why He says, “Run from the City of Man, the city of this world that is being destroyed, and flee to Christ for grace!”
Now, it’s not enough to know and remember the fact of Lot’s wife and her sin and the consequences she experienced. Because if you’ve been listening to the last few sessions, we all know about Lot’s wife now.
But when he says, “Remember,” it’s not enough to just know about it. “Remembering” implies learning something from her experience, taking it to heart, letting her experience impact the way we think, the way we feel, the way we act, the way we respond, the way we live.
I want to close this series today by just reflecting on some things we need to remember, when we remember Lot’s wife. When you remember Lot’s wife, remember first thatsin and sorrow go together.
The enemy doesn’t want you to believe that. He wants you to believe that sin and happiness go together. Sin and pleasure go together—and they do for a season—but in the end, sin and sorrow go together. Sin is not the pathway to joy and freedom that people claim it is and often believe that it is. Sin and sorrow go together.
Remember, then, that sin brings death . . . always. God said to Adam, Don’t eat from the tree, for in the day that you eat of it [what?] you [will] surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.” Ezekiel 18:20 (NASB): “The person who sins will die.” Every sinner who refuses to repent and believe the gospel is going to be judged by God.
And by the way, as far as we know, the sin of Lot’s wife was far less serious than the sin of the people of Sodom, but she too ended up being destroyed by the righteous judgment of God.
And some would say, “That doesn’t seem fair!”
But, “[Will] not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). That’s what Abraham said to God just before God sent judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. The Judge of the all the earth will do right! Sin brings death, every sin. Lot’s wife sinned; she went her own way.
She resisted and refused to receive the grace that God had to deliver her from Sodom, and that’s because Sodom was in her heart. So for God to have let her continue on would mean she would have taken Sodom with her, and God wanted the sin of Sodom to be wiped out.
Now, every human being still is born with a bent toward sinning, so it didn’t wipe out sin, but in the ultimate judgment, sin will be wiped out, because God will only spare those who have received eternal life through believing in the death of Christ for their sin.
When you remember Lot’s wife, remember that sin and sorrow go together. Remember that sin brings death. And then remember that final cataclysmic judgment is coming on the whole world. Judgment is coming on the whole world! The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah was a micropicture. It was huge, but it was a glimpse, just a glimpse, and a reminder that judgment is coming on the whole world.
Psalm 11, verse 6, you see this theme all through the Scripture: “Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup” (NASB). Judgment isn’t a pretty thing to talk about. We should not be able to talk about the final judgment with glee, with delight: “All those wicked people, they’re going to be judged!” It ought to break our hearts!
It breaks God’s heart! He longs for them to repent! He doesn’t want anyone to perish! And, by the way, it’s not something we should ever, ever joke about! Never joke about hell; never joke about somebody being damned. That’s a serious, serious thing! When the final judgment comes, it will come quickly; it will be cataclysmic.
Like Lot and his wife and daughters, there will be no time to pack up our prized possessions. We need to be sure that the things we cherish and treasure now are things that will outlast the fire, that will last forever. God is longsuffering; He’s showing mercy. He’s giving people everywhere the opportunity to repent and believe the gospel. But the delayed judgment does not mean that the judgment is not coming. It is coming.
And then, when you remember Lot’s wife, remember that God has provided a means of escape! He urges us, He commands us to flee from the wrath to come (see Matt. 3:7). Flee to Jesus! First Thessalonians 1:10 talks about Jesus as the One who delivers us from the wrath to come. There is salvation through Christ. There is a rescue; there is deliverance!
And so, as God kept saying to Lot and his family, “Get out of this city! It’s going to burn! It’s going to be judged! Everyone’s going to die, but there’s time for you to get out!” Now, they lingered, but had they lingered much longer, who knows how many minutes or hours until they would have been consumed in that judgment?
You don’t know that you have until next year to repent and believe the gospel. You don’t know that you have until next month; you don’t know that you have until next week; you don’t know that you have until tomorrow! That’s why Scripture repeatedly says, “Today, if you hear his voice, don’t harden your heart . . .believe the gospel!”
He has provided a means of escape, and how amazing and awesome is that!? How could you say, “God is not a loving God who judges people”? How could you say, “God is not a God of mercy”? He’s extended, He’s opened, the door—the way—of salvation. He said, “Christ is the way! Believe Him and be saved from the wrath of God, be delivered from the coming wrath!”
Listen, the way that you respond to the gospel invitation reveals the bent of your heart, whether it’s toward God or it’s toward this sinful world. Your affections—what you love—reveal where your heart is. And what you love and where your heart is will determine which direction you walk, and the outcome of your life—whether you’re walking towards Sodom or you’re walking away from Sodom.
It’s all dependent on what you love. What you love is determined by who you belong to, what’s in your heart, the bent of your heart. Lot’s wife represents those who profess to know and follow and love God, but whose hearts and affections belong this world.
That’s what Paul talked about in 2 Timothy 4:10 when he references a man named Demas, who is in love with this present world, [and he] has deserted me.” He turned back. Lot’s wife was in love with this present world. She turned back, and she was destroyed.
That’s why the apostle John says in 1 John 2:15–17:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
And the world is passing away along with its desires, [it’s not going to last] but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Do you want to put your stakes in what is passing away, is going to burn, is going to be judged under the wrath of God? Or do you want to plant your stakes in eternity, in Christ, in that which can never be taken away from you?
“Remember Lot’s wife,” Jesus said. And then, I want to point you, in Luke 17, to the next verse, verse 33: “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” Now, you’ve probably heard that verse before, but you may not have realized that it follows as the next verse after, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
In Lot’s wife we have an illustration of this verse. That’s why we’re supposed to remember her. Because a lot of times, we remember stories better than we remember points that somebody makes, right? So, here’s a point Jesus made, but He’s saying, “To help you remember this point, remember Lot’s wife!”
Lot’s wife tried to hold onto her life, and what happened? She lost everything, including her life. God had something far better for her, as He does for us, but in order to have what God had for her, she had to be willing to leave behind her past life.
She almost did it. She got almost to the place, she got out of the city, she got almost to the village God told them to go to, but then when the judgment came, she turned back. It wasn’t just a visual, physical turning—it was that—but it was a turning of her heart to where her heart already was. In her heart she’d never left Sodom. She turned back.
She chose to look back to her past, to stay connected to it rather than to move forward into the future that God was writing for her. And as a result, she turned into a “pillar of salt:” a statue, a permanent, fixed pillar of salt. There’s actually in the Holy Land (I don’t believe it’s Lot’s wife), but there’s a place called, “Lot’s wife.”
It’s near the Dead Sea where there’s a lot of salt. It’s a big salt encrustation that’s very tall. It’s taller than she could possibly have been, but they call it “Lot’s wife” because it looks like a woman who just got stuck there—encrusted, entombed in salt. It’s a visual reminder—though probably not the place or the exact one.
This pillar of salt, what good was it to anyone? Zero. Useless. Now contrast that with Jesus saying, in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth.” We’re intended to be useful. Salt . . . we use it for taste (some of us use too much of it for taste!). Back before there was refrigeration, salt was a critical preservative.
Jesus says the lives of believers in our Sodom-world are supposed to be useful, preserving, keeping from rot and spoilage. We’re intended to be useful in this world. But if we’re not willing to let go of our old life—if we keep turning back in our hearts toward Sodom—we’re going to be more like that pillar of salt, useless, than like the salt Jesus said we’re supposed to be that’s useful to the world around us.
One commentator said this sentence, which I found a really good summary:
We need to look forward to our deliverance, not look back at a world that is passing away and ripe for judgment.
Which way are you looking, which way are you walking? Where is your heart? Where are your affections? What do you love? What are you pursuing? What are you prioritizing? What are you thinking about?
Are you looking back at a world that is passing away and is ripe for judgment, or are you looking forward to our ultimate salvation and deliverance from the wrath of God?
While I was working on this session last night, I kept thinking about Pilgrim’s Progress. I knew there was something in there that was kind of similar to what I was thinking about Lot’s wife, but I couldn’t remember exactly what it was, so I went and found my beautiful gift edition copy of Pilgrim’s Progress. (Robert and I have done quite a bit of reading out of Pilgrim’s Progress since we’ve been married.)
I went to this book. Remember, Pilgrim’s Progress was written in 1678 by John Bunyan. It has never gone out of print! There’s no other book, other than the Bible, that has been in print without stopping—ever—for that many years. Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory of the Christian life. It’s set in the context of a dream; it’s not meant to be literal. It’s meant to be taken as an allegory.
The original title for Pilgrim’s Progress is a little longer than titles we use today. It was: The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come. The pilgrim’s “progress” is a journey; it’s a walk. You don’t just come out of Sodom and immediately you’re in the Promised Land (to mix some metaphors there). It’s a progress from this world to that which is to come.
And the pilgrim toward the beginning of the story—whose name we find out later is Christian—has been reading a book that tells him that he is condemned to die and after that to face judgment. He’s greatly burdened by this realization. And right about that time, he’s approached by a man named Evangelist.
Pilgrim explains to Evangelist his fear of death and judgment. He knows that he’s not prepared to face either; he’s terrified about this. More people need to think about death and judgment; more people need to be terrified, so that they can have happen to them what happened to Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress.
(I’m quoting from a part of the early chapters, there.)
Then Evangelist said, “If this is your condition, why are you standing still?”
That’s a good question! If you’re afraid of death and judgment, why are you standing still? Then he gives him a scroll that says, “Fly from the wrath to come!” Evangelist tells Pilgrim to go toward the “Light at yonder wicket gate.” He’s going to find there what he needs to go on in his journey.
And then, here’s what Pilgrim’s Progress says,
The Man began to run. Now he had not run far from his own door, but his wife and children, seeing it, began to cry after him to return. But the man put his fingers in his ears and ran on crying, “Life! Life! Eternal Life!” He did not look behind him, but fled toward the middle of the Plain.
The Neighbors also came out to see him run and as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return.
That’s always the call of this world: “Return, return! Come back!” That was the cry of Sodom to Lot’s wife: “Come back! Return!”
And among those that did so, there were two that resolved to fetch him back by force. One was named Obstinate and the name of the other was Pliable.
These two men pursued Christian and finally overtook him . . . and tried to persuade him to go back to the City of Destruction with them.
[But here’s what Christian said:] “That can by no means be, for you live in the City of Destruction, the place also where I was born. . . . Dying there, sooner or later, you will sink lower than the Grace, into a place that burns with Fire and Brimstone. No, be content good Neighbors, and go along with me!”
“What,” said Obstinate, “and leave our friends and our comforts behind us!”
“Yes,” said Christian, [and here’s what I want you to remember] “because all which you shall forsake is not worthy to be compared with a little of that that I am seeking to enjoy.”
“I’m not turning back!” he said, “I’ve decided to follow Jesus; no turning back. The world behind me, the cross before me; no turning back. Because all of what you have to forsake if you want to come with me is not worthy to be compared with just a little of that which I am seeking to enjoy!”
Eyes have never seen, ears have never heard all that God has prepared for those who say “yes” to Him (see 1 Cor. 2:9), those who believe the gospel, repent of their sin and follow Him. No turning back!
Oh Lord, thank You for Lot’s wife. I mean, in a strange sort of way we’re glad to have her story. We’re not glad for what happened to her, but we need to know her story. Thank You for the reminder to remember Lot’s wife. May we not forget that sin and sorrow go hand in hand; that sin brings death; that eternal, ultimate cataclysmic judgment is coming for all who refuse to believe the gospel.
Thank You that You have provided a means of escape! I pray, Lord, that You would search our hearts. I pray for some who are listening—maybe they’ve been listening to Revive Our Hearts for weeks or months or years—but Sodom is still in their hearts. They still are drawn like a magnet to the City of Destruction, the City of Man.
I pray that You would pull them out! Take them by the hand, as those angels did Lot and his wife and their daughters. Bring them out of the city, and then may they turn and face You and run to You. May they flee to Christ for salvation, and may they not turn back.
Oh yes, there are times for all of us when we’re tempted to turn back, when we feel drawn toward that which is familiar or comfortable, that which we miss about this present world, that which maybe we love more than we should. But the evidence that we belong to You is that our hearts don’t stay there, that we want to keep following Jesus.
For those whose hearts keep going back to Sodom, I pray that You would show them that they have no reason to believe that that is not their home and their ultimate end.
So before it’s too late, Lord, would You redeem and rescue sinners by Your mercy and Your grace; that the day of judgment for this world might be a day of salvation for many who have been listening to this program; that today they will repent and believe the gospel! We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been exploring a moving Bible story to remind us of the devastating power of sin and the amazing work of grace that Jesus has done for us. By God’s grace, this message of hope is going around the world. Here’s one example: a woman wrote to tell us how she’s taking the biblical truth she hears from Revive Our Hearts and sharing it.
Woman: For the past five summers, my husband and I have gone with a team to a group of people in Ethiopia that lives in a city trash dump—with about 120,000 people! Each year before going, I pray with a group of ladies about how we can be an encouragement to the teen girls we meet there.
What do you offer teen girls who have no material possessions and who are most often orphans? Using Nancy’s book, Lies Young Women Believe, we’re able to offer them God’s truth that they are loved, valued, and adored by Him—even when the world says otherwise. To hear stories from these girls and see their tears as they recognize the truth is such a blessing!
Thank you, Nancy and Dannah, for the book that makes it easy for us to share truth with teen girls across the world!
Nancy: Well, thank you, Lord, for taking this book that Dannah Gresh and I wrote together and getting it into places we never could have imagined! When Dannah and I wrote Lies Young Women Believe, we didn’t know it would be used in a garbage dump in Ethiopia! But God’s plans are so much bigger than ours!
Each of is just called to do what we can and then watch God multiply it, right? And when you give to support Revive Our Hearts, it’s kind of like that. You give what you can, others give what they can, I give what I can . . . and then we trust God to multiply it and use it to feed multitudes.
This past year we’ve seen Him bless this ministry in some remarkable ways. Let me just give you a few quick examples.
The Lord has raised up a dear friend to translate and record Revive Our Hearts material into Farsi, so that it can be transmitted into Iran. And we released two new Bible studies and podcasts in the Women of the Bible series.
Then, we’ve watched the Lord work in an amazing way at the first-ever Revive Our Hearts conference in South Africa. There were women there not just from South Africa, but from other African nations and Europe and Latin America who were so eager to see God move in these different countries of the world.
As I’ve listened for literally hours to the testimonies of women who have been impacted through this ministry, I just think of how all this has been made possible thanks to friends like you who have prayed and encouraged and given to support the ministry this year.
This time of year is when we close up one set of budgets and make plans for the year ahead. We call it our fiscal year-end, and we’re trusting the Lord this month to provide $775,000 to make that possible. So your gift at this time is really important as we make those plans.
Would you consider giving whatever amount you can, knowing that the Lord can take that gift and use it in ways beyond what you could imagine? And when you support Revive Our Hearts this month, we want to say thank you by sending you a new resource called Refresh. This is a beautifully designed resource to help refresh your walk with the Lord over the next thirty days.
It includes a booklet that has a number of devotional readings, and then cards with Scriptures to meditate on, and a place to journal your response to those Scriptures and to some reflection questions. It’s all designed to help you experience times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord over these next thirty days.
We’re making this resource available to you when you support this ministry with a gift of any amount this month. You can make your gift and request the Refresh resource when you visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959.
Thank you so much for the role that you play in helping Revive Our Hearts call women around the world to experience greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.
Leslie: What does it mean to be a “spiritual mother”? On Monday, Susan Hunt will help you understand and participate in spiritual mothering. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to find salvation in Jesus Christ. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.