Introduction Dirk Combrink
We would like to greet everyone this morning in the wonderful Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Firstly, I really want to thank the Lord, and I think there are many others who feel the same, that He granted us a win last night. Notice that I did not say He granted the Springboks or Kolisi a win – He granted us a win. I will say a bit more about that in a moment.
Last Sunday our brother Nico did convey our thanks, on behalf of the mission and especially on behalf of Reverend Stegen’s family, to everyone who assisted and made the funeral of Rev Stegen such a success. Quite a few of us were not here last weekend, so we wanted to repeat it.
As much as it was a funeral, it was also a celebration of Reverend Stegen’s life. Thank you very, very much and may the Lord richly bless you. May He be your reward for what you contributed on that day.
May our lives be a celebration for what God gave us through Rev Stegen’s life.
To get back to my first point, last night, after we had won and the final whistle had blown, I prayed and said, Lord, thank you for giving us this win and may it draw us closer to you as a nation.
I believe, for many people, it is a sign that we as a nation are destined to be one – to be united. We know that it is God’s will for us, as a nation, to be one and to be united. And winning the Rugby World Cup is, as our captain Kolisi said, not just about winning at rugby or winning the World Cup, but that it means so much more to us as a nation.
As he mentioned, despite all the factors that are tearing us apart, we have seen that by uniting by people of all colours, class and walks of life – we can win.
The first thing the man of the match Pieter-Steph du Toit said was, ‘I thank my heavenly Father’. If you take all the rugby teams that competed in the world cup, there are not many players amongst them who would have said that.
South Africa belongs to God and to Jesus Christ, and the people of South Africa belong to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is an enemy, an evil spirit opposing our unity. There are powers at work and people who are trying to separate us and to tear us apart. It is not everybody, but you find it especially in the leadership of this country, the politicians, and maybe to a certain extent amongst the leadership of the private sector.
The people of SA have demonstrated that by uniting, we can win. And the authorities in this country who are pulling in an opposite direction, and there I include the mainstream media, need to understand that we belong to God’s team.
May we continue to persist in prayer that God’s plan may be fulfilled.
I greet everyone here in the Name of our Lord.
If you think of what is going on in the world today - child kidnapping and everything else, God can use a united nation to eradicate all that. When people are united, the Gospel can come.
At the end of the game last night the team came together, made a circle, and prayed. How many teams in the world today would one see doing that today? We have a special country and we must pray for our country.
One can almost take a service about the lessons in rugby. The players had to do that which they learnt. They had to stick to their game plan – no matter how difficult it was. Some had bruises, some had cuts, some had blue eyes. But they had to stick to what they had been taught.
We have God’s word. It is our guideline, our game plan. Every Christian should have a Bible and read it. No matter how difficult it is, we need to stick to our game plan.
That brings me to today’s topic regarding Lot’s wife and looking back.
Yes, there may be times where we need to look back, look back to what God has done for us, through the years. There is more than what we could even mention. We also need to remember what God has taught us, through the revival, through God’s servant - and we may never lose it. We may not change from that foundation.
We can even look back to see whether we are making progress. The sin I struggled with years ago, have I overcome it and have I moved on? Or am I back there? There are times in our lives where it is good to look back. Perhaps I used to get cross and irritated. Can I say, as I look back, God has helped me. I am done with that.
One can’t help thinking back of some older people who have taught us the things they came out of years ago when God began working in their lives. When my father was younger, he used to drink a lot of alcohol. This was before I was born. He would tell us about it and he said it ruined his life. But when he found God, God set him free and he never touched drink again for the rest of his life.
The sad thing today is that some people hear the gospel, they follow it for a time and then they slowly go back to their old ways. It is a tragic thing. It takes one generation, maybe two and they go back to that very same thing. Even sadder than that is that they become worse than before.
1 Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. Genesis 13:1
Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Abraham was his uncle.
8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord. Genesis 13: 8 – 14
Lot chose the valleys of Sodom. It says in this text that Lot chose it for himself. We know that the cities of Sodom were known to be extremely wicked.
In chapter 19 we read that the Lord said He would destroy the city with its wickedness, but because Abraham prayed, the Lord said He would spare Lot and his family. The angels came into the city and spoke to Lot.
15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 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: 15 -17
24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:24 - 26
In the Amplified version, verse 26 reads: But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she became a pillar of salt.
There is a lot in this passage which we can apply to ourselves.
Spurgeon says, ‘She is to be a caution to us all, for God will deal with us as with her if we sin as she did. … If our hearts are glued to the world we shall perish with the world; if our desires and delights look that way, and if we find our comfort in it, we shall have to see our all consumed, and shall be ourselves consumed with it in the day of the Lord’s anger.’
Lot’s wife sinned against the Lord and paid the price for it. God put this in His word for us to read, to take note and to obey. Even though we might say it was a small thing, she was only a bit behind the others, maybe she just looked, but in God’s eyes it was a sin.
Don’t be mistaken into thinking that what I do is something small. We say that little irritation I have is a small little thing, that thought is a small little thing. Perhaps in God’s eyes it is an abomination. God instructed Lot’s wife and Lot not to look back!
Is it such a great sin just to look back? Can it be such a sin to have a thought for my family? But in this case God said clearly, this is what you must do and she disobeyed. Perhaps the disobedience is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe there is more to it and this is what I want to look at today.
Why did she disobey?
If I had the opportunity to meet Lot, I would like to ask him, Lot, how did you end up in Sodom? How did you end up among the wicked of the world. Maybe things went wrong when you said, I will do what looks good to me – the fields look good, it all looks good.
Perhaps he should have asked his uncle, What do you say? What do you suggest?
But Lot said, It looks good and that is what I will take. Sometimes we are not sure what to do. We do what we feel is right, and then we ask the Lord, Lord please close and open doors. That is a good thing. But sometimes we stubbornly do what we want to do, we pray and go for prayer, but we have already set our minds on something.
We try and find every way to prove that God is actually in it. And sometimes the Lord will give you your desire. And He will even open that door because of your stubbornness, but you will bear the consequences.
Lot’s wife - note that she has no name. Even history books do not say what her name was. It is significant that in God’s eyes, for our purpose, she has no name. Maybe she knew God, but God did not know her.
Here Spurgeon says: ‘This note of warning we would strike very loudly, for, commonplace as the truth is, it needs often to be repeated that ties of blood are no guarantees of grace.’ Children, especially, listen to this. You think my parents are Christians, or my brother, my mom – they are good Christians. And because of that I am safe.
Dear young person, does God know you? Does He know you by name? Or do you think you are safe because of your parents. Perhaps, wife, you think you are safe because of your husband, or husband because of your wife. God needs to know you personally. Does He know you?
The second point regarding Lot’s wife we find in verse 26: she followed from behind. Not because she was slow or a woman, but there was a reason why she followed behind. Spiritually she was also following behind. Spiritually she was not where she should have been. Spiritually she always had to be dragged along.
The sad thing is that there are some Christians today that need to be dragged along. Tell me, are you running because you want to run? Are you living for Christ because you want to live for Him? Are you living for Him because it is your heart’s desire. Are you living for Him because He is everything in your life?
What Christ is to you on earth, that you will be to Christ in heaven. Whatever Jesus Christ is to you on earth, you will be to Him on judgement day. Think about that! What is Christ to you? That, you will be to Him. If He is your all, you will be His all. If He is nothing to you, you will be nothing to Him.
I wonder how eager Lot’s wife was for the journey. When her husband said, let’s go. Did she jump up, eager to go, or did she do so with complaining? Maybe that is why she was disobedient.
Another point, in the Amplified version it adds – but Lot’s wife, from behind, foolishly, longingly looked back. Another word for foolishly is unwise. You are not wise in what you do. Do you know that God expects us to be wise?
Having Godly wisdom means we strive to see life from God’s perspective. That is wisdom – to see things the way God sees them and to act accordingly.
Not showing good judgement or understanding is being unwise. You miss the mark. Often, we miss the mark. But we can ask God for wisdom.
If I make a mistake and things go wrong, then I ask myself, where did I go wrong? If there is strife between people, I ask myself, where did I go wrong? God can teach me wisdom.
We can pray for wisdom. The Bible instructs us to do so in James 1:5
5 If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. Amplified
Ask God for wisdom. We don’t ask and that is why we don’t have wisdom.
Another point we read is longingly. She considered the world, paid attention longingly, longed for the world. She was longing for something else. She fled, but at the same time she longed for something else.
How often don’t we say, Do I have to do this? Must I really go this to this extreme? Must I really do this? Oh, it is so much work. I am so tired. Our minds are somewhere else.
Is your mind somewhere else? Are you longing for something else? Perhaps the comfort of the world? Longing to be somewhere else? Maybe longing to do less? And because you are longing for something else, disobedience will follow.
Towards the end of World War 2, the Allies were winning. The enemy printed a little pamphlet. It fitted into a matchbox. When it was pulled out it was a long string of instructions.
The message began by saying: as a soldier you have done all you could, you have fought so well until now, but now the war is almost at an end. How sad wouldn’t it be if you would die so close to the end.
The purpose of it was to demoralise the Allies. The Allies were winning at that time. It appealed to those who were not fully committed. It continued, asking whether it was worth it to die in the last few seconds of the war? Nobody would blame a person for trying to save his life.
Then they gave steps on how to fake an illness. They took four or five illnesses in that area of that time. They told the soldier exactly how to fake each illness so that the doctor would put them in hospital.
This happened in Italy. They even gave them the Italian names of ingredients they would need to fake their illnesses. In some areas the soldiers faked these illnesses. Why? Their hearts were not fully committed – they were longing for something else. Perhaps to go home. Many soldiers faked their illness.
But interesting, some troops were not influenced at all. They read it, threw it away and continued the fight.
Children, if your mind is somewhere else, longing for the world – the devil will grab that and get you away from God’s word. You don’t have to be in the world or part of the world, you just need to long for the world. Maybe adults as well!
There is much we can say about disobedience. Ask yourself – am I an obedient servant?
Another point to consider is that Lot’s wife almost made it. She left the city. She ran. She did everything Lot did, but she perished - in front of the gates of the next city.
Spurgeon says, ‘Though she went some way to escape, she did actually perish through sin. Remember that she perished with the same doom as that which happened to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, but that doom befell her at the gates of Zoar.’
Is there anything sadder in this world than a Christian who tries his whole life, but he misses the mark and he perishes. It is not worth it, rather go all the way.
I’ll close with these numbers from a survey done amongst Christians. They had to write what makes them fall into temptation: 84% of the time they said they could resist temptation when praying. (In other words, 84% of the time when temptation came, I prayed and I overcame.) We aim for 100%, but at least it shows prayer does something.
76% of the time they could overcome by avoiding compromising situations.
They said, 81% of the time when they neglected their time with God, they failed.
57% of the time they said, when they were tired, they failed. (I remember Rev Stegen once told me, be on your guard when you are tired. Be extra careful that you don’t make a mistake.)
Then only 52% said that they could resist temptation because they were accountable. That’s a shocking number. So, someone would not murder if he knew he would be caught.
Someone told us that where laws against littering are enforced, even the crime rate drops. This is as soon as people know I will be held accountable.
How much more Christians. God knows everything, He will hold us accountable for every word we speak. We will account for each word. That should make us to put a guard before our mouths. That should help us to watch our steps every day. That should keep us from sinning. Because God will hold me accountable.
I’ll close with these words: Luke 9 62: No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
So let us run like people who want to run. Let us live like people who want to live for Christ. Let us run like never before. Let us not look back and not reach the goal.