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Why did Lot’s wife turn to salt?

By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:23-26

Lot’s family was certainly dysfunctional. They adopted all the characteristics of their corrupt city. For starters, Lot offered his daughters to be raped instead of his angelic guests. His future sons-in-law laughed at God’s judgment. Lot’s daughters later had sex with their father. Yet through all this, God tried to protect them.

The angelic messengers warned Lot not to look back. Looking at the destruction did not cause someone to turn to salt. Abraham saw the destruction and did not die, but he was not a citizen of the cities and stood far from the disaster.

God knew looking back would only slow them down. Looking back also indicated, possibly, a longing to go back. Lot’s wife must have longed for the lifestyle Sodom and Gomorrah offered, fond memories of sinful fun, her heart breaking for the corruption she grew to love and the people she sinned with. Maybe she ran back to the city for something. Maybe she wanted to die with the city.

God wanted to protect Lot’s family physically and spiritually. Lot’s wife refused to listen.  She disobeyed and when you disobey God, there are always consequences.

By turning to salt, Lot’s wife, in essence, turned to ash, the ground, her body returned to the earth. At first glance, it appears God turned her miraculously into salt. Then again, maybe she got too close to the burning sulfur and it burned her to ash. It is also a metaphor for how sin leads to the disintegration of our lives into dust.

God wanted her death to be a reminder for us not to look back and feel nostalgic for our sinful past. If we look back too long, we will eventually go back in our hearts.

We must instead look ahead to the grace and forgiveness God offers us all.