Be Of Good Cheer
One of the most curious things in the Bible to me is the story of Lot’s wife in Genesis 19:
15 When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” 16 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that hesaid, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”
18 Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords! 19 Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. 20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.”
21 And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.”
Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
I have often wondered if she literally became a pillar of salt, or if this is some kind of expression to describe what she looked like when she died due to looking back. The scripture says that God rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. I looked up brimstone and it means “sulfur”, which also happens to be a substance which comes out of volcanoes (in addition to fire and gray ash). I wonder if some kind of hot ash fell on Lot’s wife killing her as she lagged behind the rest of the family, thus she turned into “salt”.
Nevertheless, whatever happened, the scripture says she turned into salt because, and only because, she looked back, after being sternly warned NOT to do so. Even Jesus warned about not looking or turning back in Luke 17:31-32 and in Luke 9:62:
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.
62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
In Genesis 19:26 it seemed to imply that Lot’s wife lingered, as the scripture says she was “behind” him. It appears she really didn’t want to move on, even after the miracle of the angels taking them by the hand and out of the city, and their warnings of the danger of being “consumed” and “destroyed”. She STILL looked back. I guess the temptation was too great to see what was happening to her home, her town. Maybe she was sentimental. Maybe she didn’t like change. Maybe she had a rebellious heart. Maybe curiosity just overwhelmed her. It must have been quite a sight to see fire and sulfur from heaven falling on a city.
My point is the temptation for us to look back is great, great, great. And I do speak for myself. I have a weakness that I need God’s help with, and that is to look back at my life with regret. Regret for decisions I’ve made or not made, regret for sins committed, regret for relationships lost, regret for unfairness done to me, etc. Oh, I could have some kind of pity party, but Jesus told us to “remember Lot’s wife” and NOT look back, in order to preserve life. Remember, the angels said the same thing: “Do not look behind you….lest you be destroyed.”
So, what causes us to look back? Who causes us to remember all our failures, our weaknesses, our mistakes, our stupid decisions, our acts of evil or hatred that we regret? It might be the Lord, so that we will repent and ask Him for his forgiveness. But if we have done this, and we are still plagued with regrets, what is going on? Maybe we have a little help from the enemy. And we know we must FIGHT the enemy, who is a spirit, through spiritual means.
One of the best spiritual warfare scriptures in the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
For this article, let’s just consider the underlined passage above. We must bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus. So, if Jesus said, “remember Lot’s wife”, in other words, “don’t look back, don’t look behind you, so you can preserve your life and be fit for the Kingdom”, then we had better bring the thoughts into captivity that are making us do the OPPOSITE of what Jesus said. It is time for warfare, and we’d better get busy. We cannot be LAZY about not fighting the enemy, or we will be CONSUMED and DESTROYED.
There is another interesting passage in Jeremiah chapter 7 about going backwards. And notice how angry the Lord is about it, again referring to burning a place, hearkening back to Sodom and Gomorrah:
20 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, My anger and My fury will be poured out on this place—on man and on beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground. And it will burn and not be quenched.”
21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. 22 For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. 23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. 26 Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.
So, once again, we find a warning of not listening and not obeying (like Lot’s wife), and going backwards as a result. This thing of lagging behind, looking back and going backwards is serious stuff in God’s eyes, and it all has to do with not listening and not obeying to God’s voice, but to the voice of the enemy instead.
So, if Jesus said “remember Lot’s wife”, we should remember Lot’s wife, not look back, and not have a pity party, because if we don’t, we will be going backwards, and that is abhorrent to God. Oh, and there is something else Jesus said that we need to remember every day, though sometimes it’s hard. He said in John 16:33:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
So, here is yet another command from our God: to be of good cheer. He’s not saying, if you feel like it, cheer up. No, he is giving a command. Be of good cheer, be of good courage, be encouraged, be cheerful. Be peaceful with a smile. “I have overcome the world.”
So, if we don’t obey what God told us to do, that is to be of good cheer, we are in sin. It’s as simple as that.
So to sum up this lesson:
- Don’t look back, don’t go backwards. Listen to the voice of God and obey Him only.
- Take every thought into captivity, especially the ones that make you look back.
- Then be of good cheer. He has overcome the world.
Just as you have gotten into the habit of looking back and wallowing in self-pity, you can get into the habit of squashing those thoughts by saying, “Stop! Stop! Cancel! Cancel! I am NOT going to think about that! I am going to take that thought into captivity right now! I remember Lot’s wife, and I am NOT going to look back! I am going to be of good cheer, because Jesus told me too! And I want to be FIT FOR THE KINGDOM!”
Then as a wise man once told me, you PUT a smile on your face, even if you have to take your fingers and pull your cheeks up to make yourself smile! Ask Jesus to put His peace in your heart and before you know it, those nagging memories will stop plaguing you. And now you’re ready to share the peace and joy that only Jesus gives with a broken world.