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 Two

It is traditional to contrast Lot with Abraham: Abraham is lauded as God’s friend and Lot is condemned as a fiend. This is a bad tradition. If Lot was an enemy of God, then why do we find a final epitaph for him in II Peter stating that he was a righteous man?

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished… - 2 Peter 2:4-9

A Type of Christian

Let us take the long road through the story of Lot and try to discover why it is in the Bible. Naturally, we’ll examine much of Abraham’s story, since Lot’s destiny was bound up with his better known uncle’s, as one scroll might be wrapped inside another.

In fact, a careful look at the chapters encompassing the story of Lot, might be subtitled, “Abraham’s Youth.” These chapters cover a quarter century of his life from age 75 through 100, so he was not young in years but in faith.

Any Christian could hope for his life to be as Abraham’s whose calling and election were made sure by the testing of his faith. Struggling Christians can take heart that they might press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called them, just as Abraham did, almost in spite of himself.

Not so, Lot. While Abraham is a type of Christian who achieves all or nearly all of God’s good pleasure— along with notable errors, who is sanctified over the course of a lifetime, Lot stands instead as an example of God’s compassionate, merciful love. He was dragged away from a fiery destruction at the eleventh hour because “God remembered Abraham.”

What did the Lord remember about Abraham? How did Abraham become the link to Lot’s deliverance? It is evident that one person can be the cause of God’s outreach to another, but how does this work? There are many points to reason out on the journey to discover why the story of Lot is in the Bible. Indeed, what begins as a fairly simple inquiry grows into a spectacular inquest into a period of Bible history, and ends by illuminating how a Christian ought to approach prayer and how we become intercessors. A tributary leads to a river that flows into a sea, and the sea is the wonderful knowledge of God’s inclusion of the faithful in his plan to save the lost.


Every family has tragedies and challenges, and so did Terah’s:

26. And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 27. Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. 28. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. 29. And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.

Haran, the father of Lot, died while his father was still alive.

What effect did Lot’s bereavement have on him? A child whose father dies or departs often bears some mark of loss in his character or personality. Yet God is a compensator who delights in making up for our losses, and so Lot and his sisters had their grandfather and uncles to love, help and guide them. In fact, Haran's daughters married their uncles: Milcah married Nahor and Iscah, who was Sarai according to historic records*, married Abram.

Regarding these marriages, the joining of an uncle and niece is not specifically forbidden in Leviticus 18, but might be inferred in verse 6, “No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the LORD.” However, in the early years after the dividing of the nations, families maintained their identity by intermarrying. Both Isaac and Jacob were instructed to marry their cousins. In Genesis, consanguinity was common.

AUTHOR’S NOTE - Yet if Sarai was Abram’s niece, why does he call her “my sister” when describing their relationship to Pharaoh and then to Abimilech in Genesis 12 and 20, respectively? It would seem that a patriarchal order determined how ones relations were identified. We never read that Lot was Sarai’s brother or half brother, yet he likely was according to Josephus, an early historian of Israel. Lot is rather identified by his relationship through his father to Abram. Likewise, Sarai is considered Abram’s sister because of her standing as one of Terah’s daughters, though in fact she was a granddaughter. In the same way Scripture identifies men in some passages as the sons of a certain patriarch rather than as grandsons or great grandsons.
* Josephus identifies Sarai as Iscah.

Another travail is shared: Sarah was barren.

30. But Sarai was barren; she had no child.

This unusual circumstance is reported very early in the narrative about Abraham because it is the most central one affecting his life.

Is there an unique or abnormal fact of your life that causes you to suffer? Be aware: God is at work to do something wonderful in spite of it or because of it, in his time.

When Abraham and Sarah were “old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women,” (Gen 18:11) she became the mother of a son, Isaac. Thus was the nation of Israel begun miraculously, by God’s power and plan.

To each person who is a member of that nation, God says through his prophet Isaiah, “Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain.” (Is 51:1b, 2a) And why are we to look to this couple? Because, “When he was one I called him.” (ibid, 2b) That is God’s answer.

The purpose of this answer is to focus our attention on God who has the power to make one infertile and ancient couple into an entire nation. We are not to interpret this act of God on behalf of Abraham and Sarah to mean that the Lord wants to make each of his children into an empire, as a false teacher might deduce. We are to appreciate that God alone built a nation to serve him.

Today he continues to build his nation, and the special focus of this study is how he draws the lost into it, saving them from a fiery end by way of his chosen shepherds. Those elect leaders, however, should take no credit, but recall that God chooses the foolish and the weak to accomplish his ends. (I Cor. 1:26…)

Terah set out from Ur at an advanced age with his son Abram:

31. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. 32. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

In Genesis 11 Terah is depicted as leading the group to Haran, but a second account of this excursion is given by the first Christian martyr, Stephen. In his trial before the rulers of the Synagogue, he defended his faith by summarizing the history of Israel which was the work of God himself, and which began with Abram’s call…

“Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.” (Acts 7:2-4)

Bible commentators agree that it was Abram’s call, not Terah’s. Terah recognized that Abram’s call was urgent and authentic, and as the patriarch of the family, took the lead. However, they went only as far as Haran, which was about 500 miles northwest of Ur. The name was very similar, though not spelled exactly the same in the Hebrew as Haran, Terah’s son and Lot’s father who had died in Ur.

The Journey to Ur
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journey to Ur

Attractive Young People

Jack grew up in Michigan in the midst of mountains and dark, crystal lakes. The region was pristine even though the proving grounds of sportsmen and athletes alike, and Jack was both.

His dad’s liquor store provided a good living for the family and enabled them to own a cabin on a lake where everyone but dad spent the summers. He stayed in town working so the family could enjoy an enviable lifestyle, and mom kept law and order at the lake home, by far the more difficult job.

Jack enjoyed telling stories of his family’s action-packed years together, especially the knock-down, drag-out fights he had with his brothers and their devilish pranks. He had fond recollections of his dad going along with the football team on the bus to out-of-town games, always supplying plenty of snacks and chocolate milk.

He admired his dad for being a man’s man, a great outdoorsman who imparted to him an encyclopedia of knowledge about nature: how to hunt and fish, what to fear in the created world and what to admire, how to prepare food from wilderness expeditions, and how to enjoy it all.

It is no exaggeration to say that Jack became one with nature through his experiences skiing, swimming, hunting and exploring. He became an intuitive type by learning to listen within his heart for what might be around the corner or just over the horizon. Later, as a real estate broker, this ability to detect what was in the periphery enabled him to organize for negotiations which materialized out of the blue.

His training and experience in wrestling, boxing and football made his physique a marvel, but he always hated that he was not tall. At 5’8” he was a square and solid rock of a man who won arm wrestling and snow skiing championships throughout his life.

He had naturally wavy hair full of blond highlights, beautiful skin tone and high cheek bones. His large blue eyes and handsome smile opened many doors for him, some he never should have entered.

After graduating from high school he served in the armed forces with a special unit in England. A parachute jump ended in a difficult landing which crushed several spinal disks, compounding a sports injury and leading to an early but honorable discharge. He often experienced back pain and was tempted to have spinal surgery, but as an active sportsman he knew how to take pain, and over the years, learned to live with it.

With the loan money for college he gained as a serviceman, he followed some friends to a western Kentucky university, and there, as a freshman, met my sister.

Mandy was the first born of three children, she had the responsibility to do the right things and to do things right, which she mostly did.

In her earliest years she won hearts with her blue eyes and naturally blond ringlets, but she entered an awkward age around eight from which she did not emerge until about eight years later. During those years she longed for a leaner figure and then for a larger bust line, and spent more time reading or drawing than in other endeavors. Her thick spectacles defined a glass ceiling to her social life, but contact lenses were invented, hallelujah, and at sixteen, the caterpillar emerged a divine butterfly who was chased by football players and many others of lesser wind and speed. She capped off her high school career with the homecoming queen crown.

Our dad was in the insurance business, and when Mandy entered eleventh grade our mom began an elementary school teaching career. They taught us many disciplines such as proper etiquette, how to dress, good behavior, good grammar, good sportsmanship, forgiving and forgetting, and that it is wrong to be self-centered and demanding. And they taught these things by example, not just by their words. Needless to say, we did not always model their instructions.

Regular Presbyterian Church and Sunday School attendance and strict rules about morality formed our concept of God, and we believed in him. In our home, we normally saw the commands of Christ obeyed, however, the Bible was viewed more as containing truth than as sustaining it, and we did not have any concept of the warfare that all Christians daily encounter. Satan was not viewed to be an entity but rather a tendency within to do wrong. Such things as salvation, faith and righteousness were in our Sunday School vocabulary, but we did not fully grasp how they meshed with daily experiences. Yet, the religious knowledge formed a vague protective cover against gross immorality, guiding our behavior.

Moral notions were not well integrated into Jack’s daily life, though he had been taken to the Episcopal Church as a youth, and he did not enjoy a protective cover against evil and danger.

With his keen sense of life, he knew there was something missing in his experience, and intuitively felt he had found it in Mandy. There was a righteousness in her from all the years of hymn singing, doxologies, sermons, and the example of Christ in our self-sacrificing parents. It shone through her beauty and was desirable to him. Many others could offer good looks and fun, but righteousness was captivating to him. Of course, he would never have admitted this, not in a million years, or so it seemed at that time.

Likewise, so to speak, there was a wildness in Jack from all the years of playing sports, partying, and being an outdoorsman, which appealed to Mandy. Many others could offer stability and kindness, but Jack’s exuberance and reckless spirit were alluring to her.

It may appear that opposites attract, but that’s only an illusion.


“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks."

- Phillips Brooks (1835-1893, author of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’)

Comment on the Westminster Confession

God’s laws were important to Lot but this was not the reason God saved him from the Judgment. How does the Moral Law benefit a Christian? This section of the Confession answers that question.

Westminster Confession Chapter 19
Of the Law of God
6. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.

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