Physically looking backwards may result in a stumble or fall but looking back spiritually can be life-threatening. One who spiritually looks backwards, resorts back to their sinful past (Heb. 10:35-39). Once we obey the Gospel of Christ, we are a new creature, forsaking the old man of sin (Rom. 6:1-6; Col. 3:9-10). Before one is baptized into Christ, they ought to consider that they must stop living in sin. No one is perfect and we all sin (Rom. 3:23), but a “Christian” continuing to sin is not faithful (1 Jn. 1:5-2:2; 3:4-9). When a Christian looks back, they long for the fleeting pleasures of sin they gave up when they first came to Christ (Heb. 11:23-27). As Jesus stated, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62). Let us examine the dangers of looking back instead of forward to Christ.
Lot’s wife is a great example of someone looking backwards spiritually. While escaping the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels instructed Lot and his family not to look back on the city (Gen. 19:12-25). What we must understand is that Lot’s wife looking back was because she did not want to let go of her physical possessions. What mattered more to her, the home and possessions she left in Sodom or following the commands of God? Notice, when commanded by the angels to flee, Lot and his family lingered. They lingered to the point that the angels had to physically grab their hands and lead them out of the city (Gen 19:14-16). Why would they desire to remain in such a sinful city (Gen. 19:1-7)? It is a sad reality that most people will endure rampant sin all around them because of the riches a location like that offers (Gen. 13:10-11). Lot’s wife was not looking back out of curiosity to view the destruction, but she looked backwards because of what she left behind (Lk. 17:28-33)! Her home, possessions, and riches were destroyed and these things mattered most to her. Do riches and possessions cause you to look back instead of focusing forward? Lot’s wife laid up riches on earth, where are yours (Matt. 6:19-21)?
The Israelites in the wilderness were rarely looking forward, focusing on God as they should have. Instead, they looked backwards at their former lives in Egypt and wished they were still there (Ex. 16:3). Did you catch that? The Israelites, who were mistreated slaves back in Egypt (Ex. 1:9-16; 3:7-9), wanted to return back to servitude. They looked back at Egypt several times while wandering in the wilderness. In their minds, slavery with a full belly trumped being free and trusting in the Lord who delivered them (Ex. 17:1-3; Num. 14:1-4; 20:2-5). Though their physical bodies left Egypt, spiritually they remained behind. Their desire to return back to Egypt was such an issue, God had to command when a king of Israel arose, he was not allowed to send the people back to Egypt to obtain more horses (Deut. 17:14-16). God even issued a warning to Israel that if they did not obey His law, He would send them back to Egypt as slaves (Deut. 28:58-68). It is clear from the Old Testament that Israel did not keep the commandments of God and the Lord sent them into slavery to the Assyrians (Hosea 11:5). The real reason Israel desired to return to Egypt was because they feared the unknown and did not fully trust in God to provide for them. Even after Israel conquered Canaan and a few centuries passed by, the children of Israel still trusted in Egypt’s might more than they did God’s (Is. 31:1-3). Does God have your complete trust, or do you look back and place your trust in the things of this world (Col. 3:1-7)?