Scripture: And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” Genesis 19:17 ESV
Observation: The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is disturbing. Two of the three manifested angels visited Sodom to assess its moral decline. They intended to spend the night at the town square where they would be unprotected and witness the true character of the city’s people. At Lot’s urging, they instead took residency in his home. Soon, however, Sodom’s men (young and old) pressed on Lot’s front door and demanded Lot to hand over his guests to have their way with them. Lot pleaded that they would not do such a wicked act and offered his daughters. (Yikes!) Thankfully, the angels pulled Lot inside his house, blinded the townsmen, and at dawn escorted Lot and his wife and daughters out of the city with instructions to quickly escape and not look back (above verse).
We know from an earlier warfare story (chapter 14) that bitumen pits (viscous oil fissures) pop-marked this region. So as the story continues and we read of how God rained sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah at sunrise, it would hold that he worked within the laws of nature to perform this supernatural event via a volcanic eruption. Regardless of the means, his prophetic word did not return void. Fiery rocks annihilated Sodom and Gomorrah, leaving no survivors. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife failed to heed the warning not to look back, and the explosive reaction of this catastrophic event entombed her like a pillar of salt.
Takeaway: Don’t look back. When God tells us to move on and not look over our shoulder to pine what we have left behind, it will not go well for us. Whether we wallow in regret of past failures or clamor for the good old days (as Israel did when wandering in the desert after escaping Egypt), looking at life in the review mirror will cause us to miss opportunities in the present and stumble into the future.
There are, however, appropriate times to reflect on past failures and successes, but if the Lord convicts us to move on and not look back, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and press on to the goal. One example that comes to my mind was when Ruth and I lived in England. A young woman who joined our Bible-study group found herself in such a position. A victim of an abusive arranged marriage in a Muslim extremist sect, she fled for her life to our community. This new child of God knew that she could never return to the life she once had and that she must keep moving forward, growing in her knowledge of the Gospel and its graces.
Indeed, Jesus strongly challenged his disciples and all future generations not to look back: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). So when God commands us to flee from evil and move forward in his righteousness, don’t look back. Nothing good will come of it.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for providing us escape routes from the destructive forces of sin. Would you please help us fix our eyes on your Son through your Word and Spirit and not look back but press on toward the goal? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling