Genesis 19:23-29 (ESV)
The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.
After all the slack God has cut Abraham and Lot, Lot’s wife gets turned into a pillar of salt for the crime of “looking back.” Wow. Sure, God can show mercy whenever and wherever He wants and those who received justice instead of mercy have no right to complain, but this seems inconsistent.
It’s not, and it’s important to understand why it’s not. There’s a critical difference between what Lot’s wife did and what Abraham and Lot did. She directly defied a command. Abraham and Lot made a bunch of dumb arguments about what should be done. They spoke from ignorance but they were still just arguments. They didn’t disobey anything.
But Lot’s wife committed an in-your-face rebellious act. She violated the only “do not” command she was given. She may have thought the command was silly, but she didn’t ask.
The Bible is filled with examples of God’s wrath against those who directly defy Him (e.g., Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6:6-7, Jonah in Jonah 1:1-6).
But people who openly bring their questions and their confusion before Him are treated like students (e.g., Thomas in John 20:24-27).
This distinction can be boiled down to one word – submission. We should always be in submission to the Lord; otherwise the word “Lord” has no meaning. We can ask questions until we’re blue in the face, but submitting to His answer is a given.
This principle helps shape our prayers. We shouldn’t be afraid to lay our doubts, even our anger, before the Lord. The Bible has a whole book of Lamentations. The best students ask questions. Frankly, you learn and grow fastest when you don’t ignore tough issues.
It’s OK to be wrong as long as you’re straight with God. Be yourself. He expects us to be sinners. Our prayers are not going to be impressive. He wants them anyway – just as they are.
He uses those prayers gloriously.
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