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PART 2: The Lord Appears to Abraham and Lot—A Study in Contrasts

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Genesis 19:1  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.

 Previously, we looked at Abraham’s response to the arrival of the Lord.  If you haven’t read Part 1, I recommend you read it before reading this.

Lot’s response to the appearance of heavenly messengers was dramatically different from Abraham’s.  First, Lot was sitting at Sodom’s gate!  Lot was “flirting” with death/evil/temptation. What a contrast.  Lot was not sitting at home outside of his own door, which is where he should have been.  He was sitting at the very entrance of evil—a place so evil, God couldn’t stand it any longer and was planning to destroy it any minute.  And it wasn’t God who came to Lot but two messengers.  Lot probably wasn’t in the habit of conversing with God.  Now, Lot DID rise up to meet the angels when he saw them, but he obviously didn’t see them when they were far off because he wasn’t looking.  Abraham had run to meet them.  Lot merely rose up to meet them and then bowed toward the ground.  Perhaps he rose initially because he didn’t even realize they were from God; then upon recognizing them, he bowed.

Sometimes, when we are out of step with God, we don’t see the things He does to get our attention.  It might take us a couple of times before we get it.

The fact that Lot bowed down tells me he knew the difference between holiness and evil.  He knew he was in a Holy Presence.  Another thing that tells me Lot knew good from evil is his response the men’s plan to sleep in the city square. When they said they didn’t need to accept his offer of housing, Lot pressed them greatly.  The Amplified Bible says Lot “entreated and urged them greatly until they yielded.”  He was a pest about it.  I think he wanted them to come to his home because he knew how evil the city was and what might happen to the men if they slept in the street all night.

I suppose it is also possible that he wanted them to come because he understood they were God’s messengers, and he wanted them in his home.  But he really didn’t offer them much in the way of hospitality.  He basically said, “Hey, come to my house and spend the night and then you can get up early tomorrow and leave.”  No wonder they said no the first time.  Kind of a lukewarm invitation, don’t you think?

So, Lot brought the men home with him.  However, Lot brought the trouble of the city into his own home as well.  He was hanging out at the city gates and the trouble of the city followed him home.  When we flirt with sin, it doesn’t just affect us; it also affects our loved ones. We carry it with us and it spills onto others’ lives whether we mean it to or not.

Lot’s offering of refreshment was greatly different from Abraham’s, too.  He offered them unleavened bread.  This was probably something that was on hand—not something that would require a lot of thought, time, preparation, or expense on the part of Lot.

What do we willingly offer to God when our hearts are not in the right place?  Do we try to give him the very least we can, just to keep up appearances? That’s what Lot’s actions make me think.

Now comes the part where the evil followed him home.  The men of the city show up demand the strangers come out.  “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may know them [intimately].”  (Gen. 19:5 AMP) And what was Lot’s response.  He tried to negotiate.  He offered his daughters instead.  He tried to sacrifice his own children to protect the godly messengers.  What was he thinking?  Was he trying to protect his own reputation with God? Was he afraid?  Probably both.

Lot also tried to persuade the evil men that their behavior was inappropriate.  He encouraged them to “not do something so wicked,” but then promptly offered up his own daughters.  The men respond by telling Lot he is in no position to dictate their behavior.  Obviously, Lot has no credibility as a godly man.  They don’t listen to him.  Lot had placed himself and his family in a position of danger. 

The men from the city violently attacked Lot, and the angels opened the door and reached out to save him.  The angels also saved Lot from total destruction the next morning.  But again, because of Lot’s lack of credibility, he failed to save his future sons-in-law because they didn’t believe him.  When he told them the city was going to be destroyed, they though he was joking.

Lot had been so caught up and enticed by evil, that he himself had trouble leaving Sodom behind.  The Bible says he lingered.  A word study of lingered will give you the literal definition meant here:  “To remain or stay in a place longer than is usual or expected from reluctance to leave.”  That definitely applies to Lot.  But I found the second definition of linger to be significant symbolically.  “To remain alive; continue or persist although gradually dying, ceasing, disappearing.”  Wow.  I think Lot was definitely remaining alive while gradually dying. He was continually persisting in flirting with the evil that surrounded him.  He made no move to change or take himself and his family away despite knowing the difference between right and wrong. He didn’t have to be living in that city.  He was not living the victorious life he could have had.  He was not living under the blessing of God like Abraham was. The angels saved him by snatching him out.

Lot had allowed himself to be tainted by evil.  Even after the angels saved him from certain death, Lot’s heart was not totally turned to God.  The angels told him to run away (from sin and the destruction) and NOT to look back.  They said, “Do not stop ANYWHERE in the valley.  Get to the mountains! But Lot literally says, “Oh no! Not that!”  I can’t run to the mountains.  I will die.  Let me just go to that little city over there.  It’s not far.

That city, Zoar, was STILL part of the valley.  The angels had just said not to stop anywhere in the valley.  Was Lot even listening?  No. . . let me just dabble in a bit of sin.  Let me get away from evil, but not too far away. Just far enough to save my life.

Have you known people who are like this?  I’m saved, but I don’t really want to be ALL in as a Christian.  I’d have to give up too much.  I still want to control my life.  I don’t want to do what God says; I’d rather make my own decisions.  God’s plan is too hard.  You want me to climb a mountain?  No.  I can’t do that.  Let me go to this place that’s close by.  I can get there by doing the same things I have always done.  It’s on the same level.  It won’t take that much effort to get there, and I won’t have to change my ways too much.  Thanks for saving me, but I’ve got things under control.

The angels permitted Lot to go to the city.  Why?  Because God never forces us to follow Him.  He leads us, but ultimately we choose how far we will go with Him.  I wonder what Lot missed out on by not going to the mountain top.

Eventually, Lot had to flee from Zoar out of fear, but he had already lost his wife and his potential sons-in-law.  His desire to control and run his own life impacted his daughters.  They made similar choices and decisions to take control of their own lives.  They decided they have missed their opportunity to be able to have children unless they get their father drunk and sleep with him, which they both do. They want to preserve their race through their own offspring.  But going outside of God’s plan is never a good idea.  Lot’s decisions had severe consequences for the rest of his family. God could still have redeemed the mess of their lives and provided them with husbands, but they didn’t wait.  They took the situation into their own hands.  

(Side note:  These girls were related to Abraham.  They were his grand nieces.  If they had grown up around him and heard his life story, they would surely have heard about Abraham’s experience of trying things out on his own. . . thus producing Ishmael.  They would surely have learned from Abraham that trying to do things your own way instead of God’s way has unforeseen consequences.  When kids miss out growing up with older generations, they can miss out on some great teaching.  Lot took his family away from Abraham.  Yes, Abraham sent him to choose his own part of the land; however, the relationships could have been maintained.  I don’t think they were.  I think Lot’s daughters might have had a different response to their situation if they had had Abraham as a role model.)

Lot really wasn’t serving God.  God basically saved Lot because of Abraham.  Genesis 19:29 (AMP) says, “He [earnestly] remember Abraham [imprinted and fixed him indelibly on His mind, and He sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when He overthrew the cities where Lot lived.”

Remember when Abraham entreated God to save Sodom if there were just ten righteous men.  There really weren’t any.  The only people who got out were Lot and his two daughters.

The lesson is clear.  We are much better off when we wholly follow after God and let Him direct our paths.  Sometimes we think if we let God direct us, we are going to miss out on things we want.  We are selfish.  But God’s plans are so much better.  When we follow Him, we really only miss out on destruction.

Follow wholly after God.

PART 1: The Lord Appears to Abraham and Lot—A Study in Contrasts

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GENESIS 18: The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

Yesterday, as I read about Abraham, I noticed his response when the Lord appeared to him.  It was an interesting study.  However, today when I read about Lot’s response to the Lord’s appearance, the contrast was striking.

Let’s examine this.

Abraham was sitting quietly in front of his tent.  Perhaps he was sitting there on purpose because he wanted quiet time with the Lord.  It says as he sat, he lifted up his eyes.  Now, he may have lifted up his eyes in the sense of looking to God in prayer, or he may have lifted his eyes to look out on the vast country God had given him.  Either way, he was prepared to see the Lord.  He was tuned into God.

When Abraham did lift his eyes, he saw “three men,” which we understand to be the Lord.  Whether the Trinity, or the Lord with two angels, which is how the men are described later in the chapter, isn’t really significant.  What is significant is Abraham’s response to seeing them.

First, Abraham RAN to meet them.  Abraham recognized them as God and/or God’s messengers.  He ran eagerly to see what it was all about.  However, he didn’t forget to offer hospitality.  He asked God if he could serve Him, provide for Him.  What a great response.

God doesn’t need what we have; it’s all His.  But He does want us to willingly give back to Him the things He has given us to use in service to Him.  Abraham begged to serve God and offer Him refreshment.  It was probably customary to offer food, drink, and rest to weary travelers.  We should use what God gives us in hospitality.  Abraham cooked a calf for them and told Sarah to make cakes with fine meal. Then he served this to them with milk and butter.  He made them a delicious meal, and they ate it.

When the visitors had finished eating, they spoke to Abraham.  “And they said to him…”  Why is this important?  Because Abraham was in a place and in a frame of mind to hear what they had to say to him and to be able to respond to whatever God’s message was.  And it was quite an important message.  They told Abraham that he and Sarah were going to have a son! It is recorded that Sarah laughed in disbelief; however, Abraham apparently believed them because nothing is mentioned about his reaction.  And then the men rose to leave.

But, Abraham rose to follow them. He wanted to remain in God’s presence. Abraham followed after God.  Eventually, the two others went off toward Sodom (verse 22,) but God stayed and talked with Abraham.  And you know what happened?  God told Abraham things in His own heart.  He said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (verse 17)  This tells me that Abraham and God were close.  They were friends.  This is further illustrated by Abraham’s comfort in talking to the Lord.  After God let Abraham know what was in His heart, which was to destroy Sodom, Abraham boldly intervened, and asked God if He will not save Sodom for the sake of ten righteous people.  And God agreed.

This illustrates two important lessons.  First, we should talk to God as we do to a friend.  Not that we should be irreverent, but we shouldn’t be afraid to share what’s in our hearts and ask God whatever we want to know.  Secondly, it tells me that prayer (talking to God) affects what happens.  Because of Abraham, God changed His heart.

Tomorrow we will look at Genesis 19 and Lot’s reaction to the appearance of God’s messengers.

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