[H]asn’t there been actual physical evidence to prove the story of Lot’s wife being turned to salt?
This is, unfortunately, one of those stories that gets repeated a lot (pun intended) without people doing much fact-checking. Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed for their wickedness (see Gen. 19), were near the Dead Sea. As it happens, there is a rock formation that looks like a woman looking behind her, and that formation has been called “Lot’s Wife.”
There are reasons, however, to reject the claim that this is actually the woman whom God turned into salt for disobeying Him. The most obvious is that the rock is simply much larger than any human being. The second is that there is no reason to believe that a rock formation in the shape of a human would have survived thousands of years, and even if it did, it is less likely that it would still look like a person all these years later.
Apparently, such rock formations, from small to large, are not uncommon in that area. It’s certainly possible that one of them could be Lot’s wife, but it would be impossible to identify which one it would be.
While we’re on the subject of Lot’s wife, though, I would like to point out one more common misunderstanding. Gen. 19:26 says, “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Most people argue that she “looked back” because she longed for her life back in Sodom, and that is the real reason for her judgment. Such an idea is certainly consistent with the rest of Scripture. James 4:4 says that to be friends with the world is to be enemies with God. But I think a closer examination of the passage teaches a much deeper lesson.
Lot took his wife and two unmarried daughters with him (Gen. 19:15), and most people just assume that these were the only children Lot had. Yet the same story also says that Lot tried to warn his sons-in-law, but they thought he was joking (Gen. 19:14). That means that Lot had other daughters who were married, which means it is still further possible that he had grandchildren. So why did Lot’s wife turn back? It is certainly possible that she may have longed for her life in Sodom, but try to put yourself in her shoes just a moment. It was not just her home and social life that was being destroyed. She had children and possibly grandchildren still in the city. Her emotional devastation at losing them clouded her judgment.
There is a direct correlation in the New Testament to this. Jesus said in Luke 14:25-27,
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
God demands absolute love for Him. Few Christians appreciate just how radical this really is. It is easy to say that we should love God more than our families when our families are, with us, striving to please God. But what happens when following Him puts us at odds with them? Christians throughout the centuries have learned the hard way that sometimes they have to choose between Him and their loved ones. Lot’s wife experienced just such a choice. Would she obey God, or would she disobey Him for the sake of her family? Her sin was not that she loved her children so dearly. It was that she chose them over the will of God.
There is a lot that we can learn from her story. Whether or not we ever find her physical remains, her judgment stands in our mind as a firm reminder of the dedication God requires from His children.