A Bible Study and Contemporary Application of Genesis 11-19 by Anne Turner

KEY VERSE: Genesis 19:29 "So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."

Chapter Eleven

God Remembered Abraham

The Lord draws his people far beyond their natural capacity to endure; likewise, he requires of himself very great patience and endurance. But the Day of the Lord will arrive. It will be a time of “blood and fire and billows of smoke” (Joel 2:30) as was the Judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, that foreshadowing of the final Day of the Lord.

In that final Day, the Book of Revelation tells us that the earth will be harvested by the sharp sickle of the Lord and everything in the sea will die. Those on earth who bear the mark of the beast will break out in ugly and painful sores, but they will not repent. The sun will be given power to scorch people with fire, but when they are seared by the intense heat they will curse the name of God who has control over their judgment, and they will refuse to repent. Christ will come to tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. Only the horrifying destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah can offer any comparison of its terror and finality.

Christ invoked the memory of these cities as he warned the Jews about the coming of the Son of Man in his Day. He said it would seem to be a normal time as in the days of Lot. “People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulphur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:28, 29) His Words help us to envision Sodom on the evening of the arrival of the two angels who had been at Abraham’s home. Everything seemed normal. No one had any idea what was about to occur.

Read Genesis 19:1-3.

1. And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; 2. And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. 3. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

The Lord had remained with Abraham to hear his intercession but his holy angels who appeared to be men had gone on to carry out their mission. That they arrived the same evening is spectacular since Sodom was a journey of perhaps 40 miles over rugged territory from Hebron where Abraham was residing.

Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city which could indicate he had become a member of Sodom’s ruling council. In that era, a city’s gate was the place where judicial matters were debated and settled. From the following passages, it is difficult to imagine what sort of judicial matters ever were settled in Sodom.

4. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: 5. And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 6. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7. And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 8. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. 9. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. 10. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. 11. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

In the realm of darkness there are rulers and authorities, spiritual forces of evil which we must stand against. (Eph. 6:12) If we will not stand firmly against their attacks they will become our masters and we will be subjected to their tyrannical control of our minds, emotions and bodies. This had occurred in Sodom. These men were controlled by their passions, but ultimately they were possessed by the evil angels who were in control of their hearts and minds.

These fallen angels despised the righteous, so in response to Lot’s plea, “Don’t do this wicked thing—” the men replied, “Get out of our way.” Then they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” (Gen 19:9 NIV)

The Sodomites were enraged at Lot, a relative newcomer to their community, because he held to a higher standard and spoke out against their evil practices. For this impudence they would rape him more violently than they would his men guests.

Lot had done the right thing by being hospitable to strangers, for he had “entertained angels unawares.” (Heb 13:2) They saved his life.

In Lot’s day, certain concerns took precedence over others. It was more important in his mind to preserve his visitors from harm than to protect his own family. Perhaps he also ranked it more important to prevent homosexual rape than heterosexual rape. In any case, his comment regarding his daughters betrays a low view of women.

12. And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: 13. For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. 14. And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law. 15. And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

Did Lot have sons or married daughters and sons-in-law? We are not clearly told. There is some question as to whether Lot’s sons-in-law were married to his daughters or were simply pledged to become their husbands. Perhaps he had older daughters and sons as well. Could it be that this information is hidden so that the full extent of Lot’s tragedy is obscured to emphasize the marvel of those who did escape rather than the plight of those who did not?

We do not read that he went to his sons or daughters or to any close friends who may have been like-minded and deserving of deliverance. There were not even ten righteous people in Sodom. Obviously, had he remained and the Lord not destroyed Sodom, Lot's descendants would have become thoroughly assimilated in the culture. Nothing would have remained of his witness.

16. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. 17. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. 18. And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my LORD: 19. Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: 20. Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. 21. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. 22. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. 23. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. 24. Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 25. And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. 26. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

Lot was an impressionable man, in most cases a follower, so he hesitated, “lingered.” Perhaps being laughed at and discounted by his sons-in-law had undermined his confidence in the angel’s warning, despite their saving him from the men of the city and blinding them— an obvious divine intervention. Therefore, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city.

The perfect number of angels had been sent: one of each of their hands grasped one hand each of the four who were delivered from evil by God’s mercy. Though it is written that they were “led safely out,” that they grasped the hands of these hesitating ones depicts a merciful salvation. This aspect of the story of Lot pictures that man’s salvation is enabled and assured because God draws—even pulls— him into it, away from death and hell. God is a rescuer, a Savior, who leads his beloved children to safety that they might not suffer a fiery judgment.

As well, the deliverance of Lot and his daughters shows us that the Lord does not run roughshod over the doubting. He has instructed his strong ones: “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear, hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 23) He is long suffering and gentle with all men. But his patience has an end.

The character of Zoar was not different from Sodom but it was spared because of Lot’s presence. However, Lot’s wife was not spared. She disobeyed the angel’s command not to look back at Sodom, and became a pillar of salt. Christ spoke of her as one who tried to “keep her life.”

“Remember Lot’s wife—” Christ admonished his disciples when he spoke of the Day of Judgment to come. “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” (Luke 17:32-35)

Lot’s wife pictures those who will be left, rather than “caught up… to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thess 4:17) at his second coming. We must live with our eyes fixed on Christ, since while asleep there will be no opportunity to come to Christ, nor could we in the midst of grinding or other work.

27. And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: 28. And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. 29. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

God remembered Abraham. Lot was rescued not for his own righteousness, not for being a good host to the angels, not for his family’s or his own sake, but for Abraham’s sake in response to his intercession. Abraham had love and concern for Lot which the Lord honored. Why?

The Lord had chosen Abraham and sealed his covenant with him. He had said to him, “Walk before me and be blameless.” (Gen 17:1) What makes it possible for a man to accompany the Lord as a friend, a companion? The Holy Spirit, yes, but it is also the Lord’s treatment of the person as a friend, an insider.

False gods command loyalty and worship from their subjects who consider themselves peons, unworthy of being where their gods are or of knowing what they know. But our God is a loving personal deity who desires to be in relationship with his own, to hear them and to make known his love and plans. He is not distant nor deaf, and takes pleasure in proving his faithfulness.

He proved it to Abraham by answering his intercession on behalf of Lot. Moreover, Abraham wouldn’t have known to intercede for Lot if God had not visited him and revealed his plans to destroy the cities of the plain. God knew it would break Abraham’s heart if Lot were destroyed in the Great Judgment, so he drew Abraham to intercede for him, and then he honored his intercession. This is a display of love and planning beyond our ability to comprehend. It shows, too, that intercession is a divine mission. God initiates and sustains us in the intercessions that will succeed.

There are some who receive a direct call from God and others who hear his call through these servants. Abraham was called by God, and Lot followed, for the Lord drew Lot through Abraham.

God reaches some people by way of others. It is his pattern throughout the Bible. “He gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists,” he wrote to the Ephesians, “and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Eph 4:11, 12) But not all are leaders of men. “And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body…those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable… God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it… Are all apostles? Are all prophets?” (I Cor 12:16…29) The answer is No.

God made Abraham the leader, but Lot was the indispensable, weaker man he rescued by way of Abraham, just as he had planned.

We will read in our next and final study that Lot, wisely, was afraid to remain in Zoar, and headed for the mountain as he had been instructed to do. Every believer must head for the Mountain.


The Test of Faith

Jack had left Ur, the place of familiar terrain and experience. He had “pulled up stakes” as the expression goes, first leaving his hometown, then giving up his single lifestyle. Something in him knew he needed Mandy if he was to make any progress in life. Besides, he loved her and wanted to be with her. It was not a hard decision.

Yet, leaving Ur is only the first step. One must also leave Haran, the stopover between the old and the unknown. Parents may take children as far as Haran, but we must go to Canaan on our own.

Mandy knew she had to go forward in Christ, leaving the old associations, traveling toward all the good things promised by a mighty God who has the power to establish his people, but she asked that she not lose her husband.

Jack went with her, but after many journeys together, they separated after a manner. He went toward the well-watered plain to seize and enjoy prosperity, and she settled in the Promised Land, remaining there to intercede for him.

At first he only pitched his tents near Sodom, but then he moved there, and he did not know he was a dead man, laboring under a severe judgment. The very memory of him would have been obliterated, but he was rescued because God remembered Mandy, and there were others praying or interceding for him, too: his daughters, others of his family, Christian friends, and the Bible tells us, Jesus Christ.

Amazed with this marvelous deliverance from death and astonished to realize that he now had life, he consciously chose to leave Zoar, but it was late in the day and things had gotten to an awfully bad point by the time he headed for the Mountain.

Only three days after his conversion, the man with a new heart—who was endowed from birth with extraordinary physical power and coordination — who had been under great stress and demonic oppression, rebelliously coming home long after midnight— this man fainted in the kitchen of the magnificent home he had built for his family.

It was early in the morning, just before breakfast. The ambulance came as quickly as it could to the rural neighborhood and rushed Jack to the hospital.

Had he had a heart attack? A stroke? What had happened? Would he be all right? A deluge of questions poured through Mandy’s mind, but it was only a flash flood. The answer was short and came quickly. No need for extensive testing; the diagnosis would not be shrouded for weeks as doctors conferred and puzzled together. For Jack it would be a swift verdict: lung cancer.

A large tumor had grown over his heart and had pinched off the blood supply, causing him to faint. Quite an unusual diagnosis for a man who never smoked and had influenced everyone in our family to quit smoking. Death would come quickly.

When I learned the prognosis it was as though a red hot poker had been thrust into my heart. I could not conceive it. Only a few days to revel in the joy of answered prayer? Had my sister not had enough suffering? Must the girls lose their brand new dad who had shown such tenderness and warmth after only a few days of being in Christ?

What was happening? This had to be a mistake! I shuddered as I thought of all the years that Jack had hardened his heart to God. So many people had spoken to him of Jesus’ love. So many had prayed for him. Mandy and his daughters had shown him what the love of God is: forgiving, lasting, merciful. He had known God’s hand of protection, grace and favor, yet had remained aloof and cold. He liked the ways of the world.

After so many years of being hard-hearted, had the Lord now given him a hardness over the top of his heart to remind him of his sin? A tumor to reflect the reality of what he had been like until very recently? Was this an ultimate irony that we could not deny nor embrace, leaving us to contend within our spirits for an outlook that would somehow show faith, and not betray our deep disappointment and confusion?

No, God does not mock us. Far from being a divine joke, irony or retribution, this was his will being done and it was an answer to prayer. In a perfect way, God had brought Jack through the labor and delivery process to new life in Christ before he knew he was dying. Otherwise, perhaps Jack would have been reluctant to receive the gift of eternal life. In the throes of death, he may have had trouble distinguishing whether he wanted salvation for the right reason— namely, to be with the Lord— or, simply because he wanted to avoid the negative consequences of dying without assurance of his eternal destiny. If it was only to avoid hell, did he really desire to have the mercy and gifts of God and to be his true friend?

God did not want there to be uncertainty in his heart, so when he gave Jack salvation, it was freely given to a seemingly well man whose conscience was stricken. It was offered as a cure for sin sickness: a way of release from guilt and shame, a door to a beautiful world where love, joy and peace rule; where Christ is Lord and man is his servant and yet his brother. What a very different place from the world where strife, stress and lack of concern for others are the common denominators, and self is ruler so that there are millions of small kingdoms vying for dominance rather than one single place of harmony and happiness.

Jack did not receive his new life as a welcome alternative to hell, but for what it actually is: abundant life, streams of living water flowing freely from the heart, the knowledge of the living God poured out and experienced in the depths of his being; the wonder of love that looks beyond a man’s wrongs; forgiveness, freedom and heaven, too; the glad acceptance of life with Christ.

Salvation is more than a ticket to an eternal destination. It is a rescue from the wells of delusion, evil and self will which are the straightjackets of those who have no commitment to Christ. It is a deliverance from the dark land of uncertainty to the higher and firm ground of understanding, wisdom and faith— a positive knowledge of ones identity and reason for being; a turning from habits and behaviors that have been cruel taskmasters; a newly found ability and strength to say NO to the thoughts and deeds that bring suffering.

Then after freeing Jack from Judgment, God elected to establish him in his new life by giving him a terminal illness.

The Lord tests hearts to be sure that those who belong to him know it, so that their relationship is not a one-way street, only the love of the Father for the child. He tries our faith so that we can experience and demonstrate devotion to Him. In the same way, with a married couple it is not enough that one is committed to the other, certain of his depth of feeling, willing to share all things. Both must be completely in love. There is no such thing as a one-sided relationship.

Jack understood this test of his faith as a discipline. He did not resent the Lord for not preventing the lung cancer. Rather, he accepted it as a punishment and was glad that God treated him as a son. He could not forget certain sins he had committed and his years of rebellion against God’s ways. Evidently he had known for a long time what he ought to do, but had not done it.


“It is good for us to keep some account of our prayers, that we may not unsay them in our practice."

- Matthew Henry

Comment on the Westminster Confession

Point 3 of the last chapter of the Westminster Confession gives Scripture-based reasons for why Christ wants people to be enlightened about the coming day of judgment and yet not know when it will be.

Westminster Confession Chapter 33
Of The Last Judgment
1. God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father. In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged; but likewise all persons, that have lived upon earth, shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
3. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity: so will he have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.

For further study and contemplation, go here.


Fleeing Sodom

The artist’s depiction of Lot’s wife is inaccurate because she looked back with longing on a city not yet destroyed. Fire did not rain down on Sodom until Lot’s family reached Zoar.

Woodcut illustration by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld were originally printed in Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden. Scanned by Publications for Latin America, WELS.
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Fleeing Sodom